Chapter 33:

(Jessica) Enemies to Lovers

Cafe Eris

I think cafés are my new thing. They’re just so chill and aesthetic. You get to meet all kinds of cool people, and you get all the tea, literally and figuratively. Café Eris’ food is also kinda good. Bookmark here

Me, Maisha, and Sana don’t get to hang out at school too often, either Maisha’s always studying, or Sana has some meeting. They’re two of the hardest working people I know. Bookmark here

Me, on the other hand - I’m just vibing. Bookmark here

My grades are fine, we’re passing. Actually, I’d say they’re pretty good. English is my best subject. Ms. Whitfield stopped me in the halls today to tell me how my “Co-existence of Self Identities” essay was brilliant. I simply have to agree. Bookmark here

You know who else stopped me in the halls, that idiot Ada Vedew, the one that keeps saying the dumbest donkey drizzle about where Maisha lives. It’s ok though, I heard her family's assets got seized because her dad embezzled money from his company. Bookmark here

Usually I find these things out through my brother's case files, but this time I heard it from Genu. He’s this cool ston- I mean, chill dude that does computer science at Norm Alperson Uni. He’s in his fourth year and he knows literally everything about everyone. It’s sick! That’s why his hair is so messy, it’s full of secrets. And dandruff it seems.Bookmark here

He probably plans to work for an information company or something, I’m actually not sure what his current job is, I just assumed he was a student since he seems to spend all his time at the café. Despite his disheveled appearance, he’s way smarter than you think. This one time he told me this:Bookmark here

“Just listen, and watch. You pick up more that way.”Bookmark here

Damn. The power of observation. I took that to heart. And he was totally right, you definitely do. Bookmark here

Today he was on his laptop, in the corner as usual. His pajamas were different though, probably to suit the colder weather. A sick graphic hoodie, black flannel pants, chunky winter boots, AND cool looking headphones. Very chill. Very effortless.Bookmark here

We greeted each other with a fist bump, “Ayyy what’s up. Haven't seen you around here in more than a week,” he said, taking off his headphones.Bookmark here

“Yea! School’s been kind of hectic. Well, not for me, for those two,” I pointed at Maisha and Sana. “They’re like, super smart.”Bookmark here

He took out two energy drinks and offered me one. Bookmark here

“Oh, no thanks,” I waved it away. He nodded and his hand receded.Bookmark here

“You got good friends, you should keep those two around,” he said, tilting his can in their direction, “You draw in the energy you put out in the world, you get what I mean?” Bookmark here

“Totally.”Bookmark here

I opened up a pack of chips from my bag and offered him some, “You know, that weird raccoon keeps showing up in the string of theft cases around here. Eyewitness statements keep saying that apparently it gets fed and… ‘talked to’ by some bald guy,” I paused, “Omg, you don’t think it’s café owne-”Bookmark here

“Oh, it probably is. That’s super interesting though, I’ll look more into it. By the way, that case we were talking about last week got resolved. The one about the Vedew’s.”Bookmark here

I frowned, “What?? No way, how’d they get away with that? Who was their lawyer?”Bookmark here

Genu paused to sip his energy drink, “Thomas Lemoteur, your brother.”Bookmark here

I obviously looked surprised because Genu quickly put his hand up and said “BUT, I wouldn’t say this is from a very reliable source. Being in the information industry is kinda tough because it’s all very ‘he said, she said’. Don't worry about it too much.”Bookmark here

“Huh… yeah, I guess so…” The Rue Tomel Law Firm was one of the most prestigious in this city’s downtown, I’m sure it’s all just hearsay. Bookmark here

“What’s confirmed though is that Russia’s sent a representative to investigate this café. Can’t disclose how I got that info, but they’re looking for something. Some sort of artifact.”Bookmark here

“Woah!” I looked around cautiously, “Who do you think it is?”Bookmark here

“Not 100% sure yet, but I have some ideas. Let’s just say they’re a real entertainer.”Bookmark here

I don’t know why but the first person that came to mind was, “Jimothy!” I blurted out.Bookmark here

I covered my mouth with my hand, “I mean ew, but just imagine…”Bookmark here

He laughed, “Oh no, that kid’s just an idiot. Although he does qualify for multiple cases of drug possession and harassment.” He continued typing in some coding language, “I think that artifact has something to do with a regular here. Must be historic.” He stopped typing.Bookmark here

“One thing I’ve learned in this industry is that the past always catches up to you.”Bookmark here

I was about to say something back but then Scanta, the café owner and potential racoon whisperer, clapped his hands super loud to get everyone’s attention. He stood by the reading corner and announced for everyone to contribute something small to Sana art project. It was a nice gesture, and everyone did actually get up to give something. Bookmark here

I rummaged through my bag to find something, and settled on a scrunchie. After dropping it in, I waved goodbye to Genu and headed back to the table my friends were sitting at.Bookmark here

As I got closer I noticed Maisha looking my way nervously. I paused. Bookmark here

“Maisha? What's wrong?”Bookmark here

I realized she was looking past me. Sana turned to see what I was talking about.Bookmark here

“Hey… Are you ok???” she said.Bookmark here

Maisha muttered something about a “Trevor Neat” under her breath.Bookmark here

“Hey, uh, you’re Maisha right? Maisha Ali from Absol Lutberat Elementary?” a deep voice behind me said.Bookmark here

I turned around and there was a cute guy standing behind me waiting for Maisha’s response. I sat down in one of the chairs.Bookmark here

“NOPE,” her hands were kind of shaking as she cleared her throat, “I have NO clue who you’re talking about.”Bookmark here

He gave her a lopsided smile, “But uh, it says your name on your worksheet,” he said pointing to the papers on the table.Bookmark here

Sana and I looked at each other. Oh my gosh, is this what I think it is? Bookmark here

“Maisha, Sana and I are going to the washroom for a few minutes,” I smiled, grabbed Sana’s arm, and dragged her away. I am SUCH a good friend. Bookmark here

“She’s panicking, we should go back there!” Sana whispered.Bookmark here

Ugh. I love my friends but sometimes they’re so oblivious. “No! Oh my gosh, this is great!” I pointed at them, “LOOK. It’s MAISHA and a BOY interacting!!”Bookmark here

Sana looked unconvinced, “Listen, I told her I wouldn’t tell this to anyone but that guy, Trevor Neat, was in her 3rd grade class. This one time she didn't want to do her speech assignment, so she… she like, ate the paper-”Bookmark here

WHAT?Bookmark here

“- but it wasn’t her paper, and like there was a mixup so she accidentally ate Trevor’s speech instead.”Bookmark here

I couldn’t help but laugh, “That’s kinda… that’s cute and funny, she was like 8. Why is it such a big deal?”Bookmark here

“BECAUSE she threw it up all over his desk right after.”Bookmark here

Oh. That’s pretty bad.Bookmark here

“Ok well that’s fine. It was like 9 whole years ago, and they were kids. Who hasn’t thrown up in the middle of class?” I said.Bookmark here

“Me-”Bookmark here

Ok me too but- “It’s fine…” I peeked over at them, they actually seemed a lot more comfortable. My plan was working.Bookmark here

I nudged Sana, and she took a look as well.Bookmark here

I grinned, “Dude. This is the ultimate enemies to lovers story.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.