Chapter 12 | The Calm Before
This morning I woke up smiling. Blissful happiness. The wonderful silence that surrounded my bed was so calming. No alarm clock to interrupt my peaceful thoughts. No parents barging in as they decided to take a weekend away with each other. Truthfully that is what they both need right now.
I woke up and happily strolled into my bathroom, ready for my morning wake-up shower. I felt the heat coming from the curtain and I knew the water was now the perfect temperature.
I stepped inside and sighed under the warmth.
Tonight is Connor’s birthday party and I am excited.
The reason behind my happiness also has absolutely nothing to do with Connor.
I have made up my mind. I am going to come clean to everyone and I am going to tell Mark that I want to be with him. Now, I know what you are thinking... you are going to ruin Connor’s birthday.
Well, I don’t think I am... because I am going to wait until the party is almost over before I make my announcement. I’ve waited long enough and I can’t keep living with this huge lie. I wanted to be an immaculate deceiver, but all I’ve done is create chaos in my life and in the lives of my friends.
It all needs to end. Whatever outcome this may bring, I’m prepared.
Most of all, I just want Mark.
I texted Callie and Lucy and told them that we should all meet up to go shopping for an outfit for Connor’s birthday party tonight.
Since we don’t have school today, we have all day to get ready and set up.
I made Callie text Red to confirm his arrival at Callie’s house, just to get them both talking more, and she told me she would take care of it with a smile.
“We should get our nails and toes done first.” Lucy said with a smile, dragging Callie and I to the nail salon inside of the mall we were currently walking around.
“It’s just a house party... we don’t need to get all done up.” Callie sighed, hating going inside nail salons.
“Oh be quiet. We all have to look hot!” Lucy cheered, as she gave the color she wanted to the stylist.
Lucy decided on scarlet red nails and toes. Callie decided on a plain nude color and I went with a dark sky blue, close to a navy color.
“We seriously need to get our own house that we can all three live in, and we definitely need to buy one of these!” Lucy sighed as she set her massage chair to high.
“Whatever you say, Luc.” I chuckled, knowing that after tonight, she will feel completely different about wanting to live with me. She probably won’t even want to look at me anymore after tonight.
I planned to cherish these last few hours I have with her as my best friend, because I know once I tell everyone the truth about Mark and me, our friendship will be over.
I don’t know if Callie will pull more towards Lucy’s side, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she did. She and Lucy have a tight bond now, and with me out of Lucy’s life, she is going to need Callie. More so than I will.
I frowned a little while watching the stylist paint my toenails. This will be the last time Lucy and I will ever come here together.
We’ve been coming here ever since we became friends, always getting our nails and toes done whenever we felt like pampering ourselves, or if one of us had a bad day.
I know everyone is going to think I am insane to tell the truth now, of all times, but I need to. I can’t keep holding in this guilt and sadness of not being with who I want to be with.
Mark is everywhere, and I can’t escape him. I thought I could if we ended things, but that only made me want him more. Every time I see him, I want to plant a kiss on his soft pink lips, but I know that I can’t and it literally kills me from the inside out.
He means so much to me, and I never would have thought that I would fall for someone as destructive as Mark. He is rude, a player and takes advantage of girls feelings... but he is also Mark. The same Mark who cried in front of me. The same Mark who showed me his real side and his real feelings. The same Mark who I am in love with, and probably always will be.
“Hey, Whatcha thinking about over there?” Lucy suddenly asked, breaking me from my trance.
“Oh, nothing. Just making sure I have everything checked off for Connor’s birthday.” I lied, smiling at my two best friends, soon to be former.
“You worry too much Naveah, everything’s all set up and ready to go. Tonight’s going to be amazing!” Lucy smiled. If only you knew.
Once we finished at the nail salon, we decided to grab a quick bite of lunch before heading to the dress shop.
“Ugh, I love Chinese food. If I could, I would marry that chef over there. He’s a wiz with this orange chicken.” Callie moaned while stuffing her face. Lucy and I laughed.
“You’re insane.” I smiled, enjoying my grilled chicken Caesar salad.
“No, you are for choosing lettuce over delicious chicken.” Callie smirked, pointing her fork in my direction.
“Hey, this has chicken...” I pouted, looking down at my half-eaten salad.
“Yeah, but not this chicken.” Callie gloated.
“Okay, you two are annoying now.” Lucy sighed, sticking a French fry into her chocolate frosty. Thank God they have a Wendy’s in this mall, its Lucy’s favorite, even though she works at a Wendy’s herself. You would think working at the place would turn her off of it, but it doesn’t. Soon, I won’t get to eat there with her anymore. I wouldn’t be able to show my face at any Wendy’s for as long as I live.
Okay, now I am being dramatic... but it’s how I feel.
“You’re going to turn into a Wendy’s French fry.” Callie teased, stuffing her face with more orange chicken.
“Like you’re one to talk.” I defended Lucy.
“Ha, my best friend has my back!” Lucy smirked, waving a French fry in Callie’s face mockingly.
Not for long.
“Whatever. You both can suck it.” Callie shrugged, finishing her last bite of fried rice.
“Give me a time and place, girl.” Lucy smirked, laughing in the process. We all joined in.
I am really going to miss days like these.
“I love you both. I hope you know that.” I said, causing Lucy and Callie to look at me with serious expressions.
“Are you dying or something?” Lucy chuckled, pulling me in for a side-hug.
“No you moron. I just wanted you both to know!” I sighed, playfully nudging her side.
“Well, of course we do. We are the amazing trio!” Lucy declared a little too loudly causing heads to turn.
“The embarrassing amazing trio...” Callie said with a straight face.
“Hater.” Lucy commented.
“Okay, well let’s get going! Times ticking and we still need to find our dresses!” I said, standing up and throwing my garbage away.
“True that.” Lucy said, doing the same. Callie followed and we made way to the store of our choosing.
As corny as it sounds, Lucy practically forced us all to match. Great so I’m going to ruin my best friend’s life, but hey, at least we will be matching!
Lucy bought long white pants that hung over her heels. They were tight around the waist and showed off her curves. She paired them with a shiny belt and a crimson red top with sleeves that ended right above the elbow and that showed off her cleavage. She wore her hair straight and placed a shiny clip over her bangs, one that matched her belt.
Callie went with crimson red high-wasted skinny jeans, which clung to her body perfectly. She paired them with nude heels and a white top that had full long sleeves and still showed her curves and cleavage. She didn’t really accessorize, but she did put her hair up in a messy bun, with a few curls falling loosely around her face.
I bought the same crimson red top as Lucy, and instead paired it with a white flowy skirt that ends a few inches above my knees. I put on a thin black belt around the skirt and paired it with black heels. I left my hair down, but curled it letting it fall in waves around my shoulders.
After we did our minimum make-up, we were all pretty pleased with how we looked.
“Man, we are so hot. These guys aren’t gonna know what to do with themselves!” Lucy grinned in the mirror, referring to Connor, Mark and Red.
“I can’t believe you made me buy high-wasted skinny jeans.” Callie sighed, feeling a little self-conscious.
“Cal, you look amazing. Red is one lucky guy.” I said, placing my hand on her shoulder from behind in reassurance as she looked at herself in the mirror beside Lucy.
“Naveah is right, perk up girl. You’re slaying that outfit right now!” Lucy smiled, nudging Callie’s shoulder with her own.
"Never use the term ‘slaying’ and myself in the same sentence please.” Callie shuddered. I suppose she thinks the slang nowadays is a little cringe-worthy. I can’t say I don’t disagree much.
“Whatever Debbie-downer. Keep your worry-wart ass comments to yourself.” Lucy shrugged, smirking in Callie’s direction.
I rolled my eyes at their immaturity.
“Can we go down stairs now? The party is in full swing already and we can’t keep the guests or the boys waiting!” I smiled, standing up and picking up my small clutch, placing my phone inside of it.
We all decided it was easier to get ready at Callie’s house that way we could still help set up, and then we wouldn’t have to rush to get ready.
“Right! Let’s go bitches!” Lucy cheered as she opened Callie’s bedroom door and strutted out into the hallway, her heels clinking against the tile floors.
Callie rolled her eyes at Lucy as I chuckled and placed my arm over Callie’s shoulders. “You’ll be alright girl.”
“One can only pray...” Callie mumbled as we followed Lucy down the long hallway.
Upon entering the long stair case, everyone’s eyes left whatever it was they were focusing on, and placed them directly on us.
“Please help me welcome, the hosts of the party... Naveah, Callie and Lucy! And boy do they look great! Especially Callie...” Red announced over his DJ speakers. Everyone smiled at us three girls and cheered. Connor and Mark walked to the bottom of the staircase, waiting for us to walk down.
Lucy and I smirked at Callie after hearing Red’s announcement and all Callie could do was slightly blush while crossing her arms over her chest.
“Relax a little. That was so sweet!” Lucy whispered beside Callie. “I agree.” I whispered into her other ear.
“Both of you go get a life and join your men.” Callie smiled, though I knew she was trying not to.
Callie strolled off into the crowd, heading towards Red and his DJ equipment in the corner of the huge living room.
As Lucy and I neared the end of the staircase, I could feel a pair of eyes on me but they weren’t Connor’s. I tried my best not to look at him, but I failed. I casted a quick glance to Mark who wasn’t even hiding the fact that he was staring at me.
“Wow, you look beautiful Naveah.” Connor said, startling me. I looked up at him and saw the genuine smile on his face, but something about it seemed off.
“Thank you. You look very handsome yourself!” I smiled back, leaning up to kiss his cheek. Connor has on dark-washed blue jean pants with a white button up shirt, which has the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He honestly did look really good, and I felt so bad about what was to come of this night.
“Lucy... holy shit girl. You know how to wear that outfit.” Mark lazily complimented, pulling Lucy into his side while slinging his arm over her shoulders.
Lucy beamed up at him. “Thank you Mark. You look amazing too!”
Mark is wearing dark blue jean pants with his famous black T-shirt and his hair styled the way he normally does. He has on a pair of new, shiny white sneakers and he smells amazing.
Yes, I caught a wiff.
“Hey Nave-Naveah, cool party. Your boy here is one lucky guy.” Mark casually stated while standing beside Lucy. “Anyway, we’re going to get some drinks. Catch you kids later.” Mark shrugged, pulling Lucy with him.
Lucy waved at me with a smile and I waved back.
“Would you like something to drink?” Connor asked, pulling me into his side a little too hard.
“Oh, um sure. Let’s go.” I smiled up at him, feeling a tad bit weird but shrugging it off.
Once Connor and I got our drinks, we went to mingle with some friends. Everyone kept telling Connor happy birthday, and I joked to him saying I bet we have already heard the phrase around a thousand times tonight.
After a while, I met back up with Callie and Lucy and we all three danced a few songs away on the dance floor. I smiled for Callie seeing her light up whenever she would look up at Red while he was DJ’ing. I knew they were going to make an amazing couple.
Red is a southern boy, originally from Tennessee, but he moved here a few years back with his dad after his mother passed away. Or... that’s the story I have heard. I never really got the chance to confirm it and it felt awkward just randomly bringing it up, so I never did.
He has light brown hair and even lighter blue eyes. He’s tall and lean, but still has muscles. He loves wearing his boots with his jeans and crazy T-shirts, each always sporting a different phrase or design. The girls drool over his southern accent, but I’m sure Callie will put a stop to them as soon as she catches the girlfriend title, which will probably be tonight.
“He really likes you.” I yelled over the music towards Callie who’s cheeks turned red.
“Shut up.” She huffed, still dancing along to the beat of the music.
“She’s right. You’re about to be his wifey!” Lucy smirked, dancing circles around both Callie and I.
“Ugh, you and your dumb slang words. Give them up.” Callie smirked, finally stopping from dancing and trying to catch her breath. “Man, he really knows how to put beats together.”
“Aw, she’s already admiring his work. They’re going to be so cute together.” Lucy cooed beside me, playfully nudging my shoulder with her own. I can tell Lucy has had a bit to drink tonight.
“I’m getting another drink, if I have to put up with both of you, I might as well be drunk.” She shrugged, heading over to the coolers of beer that are sitting in the kitchen.
“That’s the spirit!” Lucy cheered, still dancing circles around me.
“Okay, let’s take a break shall we? You’re going to sweat off all your make-up.” I teased, pulling Lucy with me towards the back door that leads out into the back patio.
A few teens were sitting around the large in ground pool in the lounge chairs, while some sat on the plush chairs on the patio.
“I’m having such a great time. I wonder where Mark is.” Lucy’s eyes searched around the backyard, and when they come up with no sign of Mark, Lucy frowned.
“Want me to go look for him?” I asked, not really knowing why I offered in the first place. I suppose I wanted to make sure he wasn’t off with some chick somewhere.
Lucy nodded and sat down on one of the lounge chairs by the pool.
I really hope she doesn’t pass out. I still need to confess later tonight.
I left her lounging, and went back inside. I decided to start right at the bedrooms, so I discreetly went upstairs.
After entering a few rooms, I finally found who I was looking for. Only, he wasn’t with someone, he was completely alone.
“What are you doing up here?” I asked, startling him.
He brought his eyes to meet my own, but immediately brought them back to the empty space in front of him.
“I just needed to be alone.” He shrugged.
“How come?” I knew I was pushing it, but I honestly felt concerned. The look in his eyes told me there was something big happening with him.
“It’s just, my mom.” He sighed, finally turning around to face me.
He was sitting on the edge of the bed, while I stood near the doorway.
I, without thinking, immediately walked over to him and sat down on the bed beside him.
“What happened?” I looked into his brown eyes and frowned a little, knowing his mother and their history.
“She just... she won’t change. I have tried everything. Threatening to drop her off at a therapy facility, everything. She just claims she will run away once I leave. I can’t keep doing this with her Nave, it hurts. All she cares about is booze and getting laid. Why doesn’t she care about me Nave?” Mark looked as though he were about to cry. I didn’t ask him why he was suddenly thinking about his mother in the middle of Connor’s birthday party, all I did was wrap my arms around his neck and pulled him into me.
Mark immediately responded, wrapping his arms tightly around my waist. I wanted to stay right there in that bedroom forever. Just him and me, with nobody else around.
The music blaring from downstairs went silent, as all I could hear is the steadiness of Mark’s heartbeat against my own.
“If she doesn’t care about you, it is her loss Mark. Her loss.” I softly whispered against his ear, internally smiling at the feel of his goosebumps emerging from his skin.
“Do you care about me Navey?” He whispered back.
I swooned over the new nickname.
“Of course I do. In fact, I’m going to make everything right tonight. I’m going to tell them everything Mark. Connor and Lucy... they deserve to know.” I confidently stated, but soon regretted it after Mark suddenly stood up and paced away from me.
“You’re going to tell them tonight? At Connor’s birthday party? That’s low Naveah.” He scoffed.
I winced at his use of my full name.
“But Mark, I can’t keep living with this lie. After what you told me yesterday in that classroom, I can’t stop thinking about it. The truth is, I want to be with you too Mark. I always have. This entire time. It’s been you.” I sighed, tugging at my loose curls.
“You... you can’t do this now. I already said my goodbyes. I’m here with Lucy. I like Lucy. We can’t be together now. It’s too late.” He calmly stated, turning to face the window again.
“How can you say that to me?” I felt tears threatening to spill over my eyes.
“Because. Now get out.” He demanded. “I’ll wait a few minutes before going down stairs.
“How did this turn bad in like point five seconds?” I angrily huffed, turning around to grab the door handle.
As I left the bedroom, I almost thought I heard Mark whisper, “I’m sorry”, but I shrugged it off and kept walking down the stairs.
I went straight for the coolers in the kitchen and grabbed two beers, determined to drink both of them myself.
I went out back to tell Lucy that I couldn’t find Mark, but as I approached the lounge chair I left her in, I noticed she wasn’t sitting in it anymore.
I sighed and looked around the backyard, still not able to find her.
I went back inside and looked around for her, but still, she was no where to be found.
“Hey guys! Let’s party!” I heard a familiar voice yell.
Mark came strolling onto the dance floor, with Lucy in his arms.
“Lucy, where have you been?” I asked, walking right up to her, not caring that Mark was standing right next to me.
“Well, I went inside to find you and I found another beer and... oh I guess I found this guy too. Wooh!” Lucy cheered in my face, and then proceeded to dance with Mark to the beat of the music.
My nostrils flared with anger as I marched away, needing to find Connor.
I found him chatting with some of his friends near the DJ booth and flung myself at him.
“Hey babe, ready to dance?” I asked, trying to be seductive.
I quickly opened and chugged one of my beers and threw the can on the floor.
“Um, sure. Let’s go.” Connor sighed, pulling me onto the dance floor.
We were only a few feet away from Lucy and Mark. Lucy was absent-mindily dancing against Mark, swaying her hips back and forth against his front-side.
With the mixture of alcohol and jealousy, I grabbed Connor and began dancing even more provocatively, my eyes never leaving Marks. Lucy never noticed our stare-off, but Connor did.
“What are you doing?” He asked, coldly.
“Nothing, just dancing.” I shrugged, smiling up at Connor and wrapping my arms around his waist.
“Why are you looking at Mark?” He demanded.
“I wasn’t, I was looking at Lucy. We’re all just having fun, what’s wrong?” I frowned.
“Nothing.” He kissed me, but I felt nothing. The spark that once came to my lips every time Connor would kiss me is not there anymore and I know it never will be again.
“Hey, who wants to play never have I ever!” Callie yelled over the music, pulling Red along with her to a corner in the living room. I smiled and pulled Connor with me. Not long after Mark came strolling up and Lucy hanging on his arm.
“Yay games!” Lucy drunkenly cheered.
She really needs to lie down somewhere.
A few other couples came to join us, and that is when things really started heating up.
“Hey Red, how can the music still be playing if you’re sitting here?” Lucy asked, causing everyone to laugh at her drunken state.
“Well Luc, I’ve got this thing called auto-play, and it plays the songs for me while I take breaks.” He smirked, pulling Callie closer to his side cutely.
“Whoa. Mind blown.” Then she made the little blow-up sound while throwing her arms in the air.
I have to admit, Lucy has always been fun when drunk.
“Alright, my turn!” One of the girls said while her boyfriend just kept kissing her neck, clearly not caring that they were playing a game.
“Never have I ever... cheated on my significant other!” She smirked, waiting for people to start taking drinks.
One guy took a drink, who earned a slap from the girl sitting on his lap. Well that is not going to end well.
I am not sure if it was just the alcohol, or simply me not caring about anyone at this point... when I decided to pick up my drink and take a long swig, making sure everyone’s eyes were on me.
Everyone’s eyes widened except for Mark’s, whose expression I could not quite read.
I waited for it. I waited for the explosion, the fireworks, the yelling and the crying... but it never came. I looked to Lucy who obviously didn’t know yet that who I cheated on Connor with was in fact, the guy who brought her as a date to this party and the same guy she’s been crushing on since freshman year.
I looked to Connor, whose expression was only blank.
“Well...” I yelled over the music. “No questions?”
Everyone was sitting completely silent, waiting for Connor to explode on me.
Instead, the one thing happened that I never even thought would be possible... He smiled.
Connor just found out that I have cheated on him, and he is smiling.
My eyebrows furrowed in complete confusion as I watched him slowly lift his drink to his lips and take a very long swig of it, completely emptying the contents of his cup.
Wait, he... took a drink?