Chapter 9 | Everybody Wins
“Hello? Earth to Naveah?” Lucy snaps her fingers in front of my face.
“W-What?” I blink, finally looking up at my blonde friend.
“There you are. Dreaming about Mark huh?” She smirks while taking the seat Mark was just in minutes ago.
“Where on earth would you come up with an idea like that?” I roll my eyes.
“Because I just saw him outside, and that look on your face screams Mark.” She says casually.
I blink at her again. “Whatever. How was your class?” I try to change the subject.
“It was fine, but you’re not changing the subject. What happened?”
Why is she my best friend?
“Nothing really. We talked.” I shrug.
“About… things. Namely the past.”
“Ah, yes, the past.” Lucy gives me a knowing look. “And how did that go?”
“As good as it could have, I suppose. It didn’t end in a fight, so that’s a step in the right direction. In fact, Mark actually gave me an ultimatum.” I admit.
“Really?” This spikes Lucy’s interest even more.
“Yes, but I can’t talk about it now, I need to get to my next class before I’m late.” I sigh while standing up. I throw my trash away and wave to Lucy who only winks at me.
As I walk to class, I think about my options. Those options being Mark and Dylan.
Speaking of Dylan, I haven’t heard from him in a while. I wonder what’s going on with him.
I decide after class, I’ll call him so we can meet up.
I make it to class, and barely manage to stay awake throughout the lesson.
Once class is over, I walk outside into the quad and find a table to sit at. I pull my phone from my bag and see a text from Riley.
Riley: Girl, you need to call Dylan ASAP. I think he’s planning on leaving.
My eyes widen. What, he’s leaving?
I check the time on my phone to see that Riley texted me an hour ago. Great.
I dial Dylan’s number and press the phone to my ear as I get up to walk to my car. As I start driving to Dylan’s place, the call goes to voicemail. I immediately hang up and call him again.
Finally, after many rings, he answers.
“Dylan? What’s going on? Riley said you might be leaving. Where are you?” I rush out as I drive down the road.
“Whoa, relax love. I’m at my place right now.” He replies, completely dismissing my question about him leaving. That does nothing to settle my nerves.
“I’m on my way now.” I rush out again, before hanging up and continuing to drive.
Around fifteen minutes later, I make it to Dylan’s. As I walk toward the front door, my stomach begins to knot. I reach to knock, and moments later Dylan greets me with a kiss on the cheek.
I try to smile as I walk inside.
“What’s going on?” I blurt out, not wanting to deal with any small talk.
Dylan eyes me, and eventually lets out a sigh.
“Love, I think I need to go home for a little while.”
“What? Why? You literally just got here.” I can feel myself beginning to panic. To say that Dylan has become my security blanket is a bit of an understatement.
“Mum is missing me, and well, I’m missing some of my mates. It’s nothing personal, honest. I’m not saying I’ll never come back.” He tries his best to explain. Not even his amazing accent can distract me from the sadness growing in the pit of my stomach.
I can’t help but feel like there’s more to it.
“Is that all? You’re home sick?” I raise an eyebrow.
We have a three-second staring contest, before his eyes falter to his feet.
“What else is going on? You can tell me.” I urge.
“It’s just… what’s going on between you and Mark?”
My eyes widen. I try not to look as though I’ve been caught in some lie, but my facial expression does nothing to ease Dylan’s worry.
“Mark and I… we’re complicated, but nothing has happened between us since I’ve been back home from Europe.” I defend myself. “We actually had a talk today, and he gave me a choice.” I admit.
“A choice? Let me guess, me or him?” Dylan narrows his eyes at me.
God he looks delicious when he’s mad.
Not the time, brain.
“It’s not that simple.” I shake my head.
“It is that simple Naveah. You either want to be with him,” Dylan then walks over and gently places his hand against my cheek, “Or you want to be with me.”
My heart tears from either side, both pieces yanking in the opposite direction.
“Dylan…” I trail off, on the verge of crying. Why am I so emotional?
“I really like you Naveah. I don’t think I’ve connected with anyone like this in a long time.” He says gently, pulling on more of my heartstrings.
My brain is in full panic mode. I don’t want to lose Dylan forever. He’s become so close to me.
Then again, my heart is crying out for Mark, and I’m afraid it always will be.
As my heart and my brain both feud with each other, I do the least rational thing I can think of.
I kiss Dylan.
At first, he hesitates to reciprocate, but eventually he deepens the kiss pulling me just a fraction closer.
His lips burn with passion, while my own only burn with a plea. A plea to stay. A plea to stay in my life, and not go back home to his home in Europe.
This kiss is wrong. This kiss is so completely wrong, and I am wrong for initiating it.
Wanting him to stay, is no reason to lead him on and make him think that I choose him.
To be honest, I don’t know who I choose yet. I can’t get Mark out of my head, but at the same time Dylan has been my comfort all summer, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings.
Why is this so hard?
Dylan runs his fingers through my hair, pulling me even closer to his chest. We collide, and I can’t find the will to pull away from him. He deepens the kiss so intensely, and so fast, that I barely have time to think.
Suddenly, he’s lifting me up off the ground, as my legs automatically wrap around his waist.
This is wrong. This is so wrong.
He takes two steps to his right, and eventually slams me up against the wall of his apartment. In a split second, he’s managed to turn me on, causing me to immediately forget about anything else.
I run my fingers through his hair as I try to pull his body even closer to mine. The only thing in between us is the fabric of our clothes, and even then, I can still feel the heat rising around us.
“You don’t know what you do to me, love.” Dylan pants softly against my lips. He leans his forehead against my own, and his large hands are right underneath my ass, holding me up.
He gives a slight squeeze, causing a soft moan to escape from my lips. He smirks, doing it once more.
I get lost in him for a moment, and suddenly he’s lying me down against the cotton sheets of his king sized bed.
He wastes no time in pulling my clothes off, as I reach for his own. In seconds, we’re both naked and panting heavily. Time seems to stop as everything continues to move at full speed.
I can’t even blink before he’s reaching for a condom and sliding it on.
How did one talk turn into this?
I can’t go through with it.
My brain is trying everything to get my lips to speak, or make my arms push Dylan away, but nothing of the sort happens. Instead, we spend the rest of the night together.
It’s not until I wake up the next morning, that I realize how big of a mistake I had just made.
| Mark’s POV |
After my talk with Naveah yesterday, I decided that I needed to end things with Jessica once and for all. I can’t continue to lead her on, and I don’t want to waste any more time not being with Naveah.
As I’m walking along campus, I spot Jessica leaving one of the nearby buildings.
It’s now or never, don’t screw this up.
“Jessica!” I shout to gain her attention. Her face lights up when she sees me, which does nothing to calm my nerves for what I’m about to do.
“Hey!” She jumps into my arms for a hug. “How’s your morning been so far?”
“Oh, uh, great. Listen, do you mind if we go talk for a few minutes?” I ask, trying not to make it sound as serious as it actually is.
I watch her eye me, probably a million different scenarios going through her head, before she eventually nods and follows me to a nearby table.
“So what’s up? You’ve got that serious look in your eye.” She gently smirks.
“Listen, I really like you.” I start, and I can already see her face fall as she probably already knows what’s about to come after that.
“But I can’t continue to lead you on, when I still have feelings for someone else.” I admit as nicely as I can. “I am so sorry if this hurts you, it’s hurting me too. I don’t want you to think that everything we’ve been through, has been for nothing. I do care for you, but I think I’m still in love with her.” I confess.
“Still in love? Are you talking about your ex?” She raises an eyebrow.
“Let me guess, it’s Naveah?”
“What? Why do you think that?” I blurt out.
“Because, while you said you were only friends, I could see how you looked at her. You’ve never looked at me like that.” She frowns.
“Jessica…” I trail off softly, not even wanting to look her in the eyes.
It’s true, I’m a coward when it comes to girls’ emotions. I hate it when a girl cries. Even when my mom used to cry, after she’d wake up from being drunk the night before, I’d always forgive her for whatever it was that she had done.
I glance back up, to see her glistening light green eyes.
“So you’re in love with her?” She asks.
“The entire time you’ve been with me, you’ve been in love with her? What was even the point of us?”
I knew the anger would soon follow the tears. It always does.
“You don’t understand. I wanted nothing more than to forget about her completely. I really liked you from the start, and I knew that the only way to finally get over Naveah was to put all my time and emotions into this.” I gesture between the two of us as she slowly nods. “The last thing I ever wanted to do, was hurt you, but let’s face the facts here. We were never actually official.”
I don’t know why I said that last part. My inner asshole is showing, and I need to control it.
Jessica’s eyes slightly widen as she takes in my last words.
“I’m sorry Jessica, I really am. I don’t know what else to say.” I frown.
When she doesn’t respond, I take that as my cue to leave her be.
I go to get up, but in a second, Jessica is standing and walking toward me.
“Wait.” She says as she eyes something behind me.
I turn to her as a way to allow her to continue, and before I have any time to protest, she’s latching her lips onto mine. The kiss is completely forced, my eyes never even close. She tries wrapping her arms around my neck, but I grab her hands just as she pulls away from me.
“Tell me you felt something.” She whispers, pleadingly.
“I’m sorry Jessica.” I shake my head. “Please understand.”
She gives me a very small smile with a nod. “Thank you for being honest with me.”
I nod, and lean to give her a hug. She wraps her arms around my waist, and we stand there for a second, as a final goodbye.
After she pulls away, I watch her leave. As soon as I grab my bag and turn around to walk away myself, my eyes immediately stare into a familiar pair of brown ones.
I can’t read her expression. Her eyes are sad, but she’s wearing a tight lipped smile.
“Nave…” I trail off, walking a few steps closer to her.
“So listen, I think it’s best if we just remain friends, or even acquaintances if that’s easier to deal with.” She blurts out, not at all seeming as though she means her words.
“What?” I breathe as my lips begin to turn downward.
“I’ve thought about it, and if we were really meant to be, things wouldn’t be this hard. Besides, I think you and Jessica make a great couple. She’s really nice.” Naveah rants.
“No, Naveah, you don’t under-“, but she cuts me off before I can finish.
“It’s okay Mark, really. You have Jessica, and I have Dylan. Everybody wins.” She gives a weak and rather forced smile.
“Naveah, wait a damn second,” I sigh as I run my fingers through my hair, “Jessica and I were just talking and-,” but she cuts me off a second time.
“I think this is for the best anyway. We were simply just too complicated. I’m late for class, but maybe I’ll catch you around, alright?”
She doesn’t even give me time to process her words, let alone reply before she’s sprinting away from me.
What in the actual fuck just happened?
I feel a pain in my chest, a pain I’ve never felt before. A pain far worse than anything I felt after my car accident. This isn’t just a physical pain, this runs deeper. This is an emotional pain, one of the worst kinds.
I’m breathing heavy when I hear footsteps behind me.
“Hey, are you alright man?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” I ask sarcastically, pure rage in my tone.
“Well judging by your facial expression and tone of voice, I’d say someone has thoroughly pissed you off.” He says in a teasing voice.
“Now is not the time dude.” I manage to say.
“What happened?” He presses.
“I said it’s not the fucking time. Leave me alone.” I spit, as I storm off and away from my best friend.
“I’ll be here when you need me!” Connor shouts, despite my rude outburst.
I roll my eyes.
Sure, you’ll be here Connor… but she won’t be.