Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 17 | Stupid Jellyfish

Things have been a little strained with Riley ever since the incident involving Dylan.

She’s hardly said two words to me, and every time I try to bring it up, she instantly shuts me down. I don’t know what she wants from me. She knows that Dylan kissed me, and not the other way around.

“Good morning.” Lucy smiles while walking into the kitchen.

“Hey.” I reply, looking up from my bowl of cereal. Frosted Flakes are more than good, they’re great!

Sorry.

“Where’s Riley?”

“Still in her room.” I say, once I finish my last bite of cereal.

“Is she still ignoring you?” Lucy asks as she grabs some orange juice from the fridge and pours a glass.

“How’d ya guess?” I reply sarcastically.

I walk over and place my bowl into the sink after rinsing it. Lucy playfully smacks my arm as I walk by.

“I don’t know, I guess I just need to let her work through it and come to me when she’s ready. I just hope this doesn’t last too much longer, because my birthday is coming up.” I sigh.

“That’s right, it is! What are we doing?” Lucy smirks as her gears begin to turn inside her brain.

“Nothing too fancy. I don’t need anything big.” I shake my head. “Just a small get together is fine.”

“Wow, that’s boring. Are you sure you aren’t turning fifty?”

I glare at Lucy who only shrugs. “Come on, I had to ask.”

“Whatever. But honestly, nineteen isn’t even that big of a deal.”

“If you say so. We’ll figure something out, don’t worry.” Lucy smiles.

I really don’t want to make a huge fuss over my birthday. Last year, things were hectic, so Lucy and Callie just had a sleepover with me for my birthday. We didn’t do much, just movies and pigging out on food. It wasn’t even worth mentioning.

I don’t know if I’m in the mood for a big party. The last party I threw, something tragic happened, and I really don’t need something like that happening again.

Connor’s birthday is in a few months, and I don’t know if I should throw another party for him. I think I’ll let Marissa handle that, thank God for her.

Mark’s birthday is toward the end of the year, and I have no clue what he wants to do. Lucy and Riley both had their birthdays over the summer, so we used our vacation as a way to celebrate them. Let’s just say, neither of them remembers what happened on that night. I hardly do myself.

“Hey.” Riley suddenly greets as she enters the kitchen.

I’m pretty sure she was talking to Lucy, but I reply anyway.

“Hey.”

“What’s up?” She asks, turning toward me.

The three of us don’t have any classes today, so I’m not sure what we’re going to do. Mark had an early class, so he’s already left.

“No idea. I was just getting ready to ask Lucy what she wanted to do today.”

“Beach?” Lucy raises an eyebrow.

“I’m down.” I nod.

“Sure.”

Riley leaves to go back into her room, I assume to change into a bathing suit. Lucy and I do the same, and the three of us meet back in the living room once we’re finished.

“Hey Riley, do you still have that black bathing suit cover? The one that I like?” I ask her, pushing my luck.

“Yeah, go get it. It’s in my top drawer.” She motions her head toward her room, and I’m honestly surprised that she’s being so civil toward me. It’s a nice change from the cold shoulder I’ve been getting.

After I grab the black wrap, I pull it over my body and then grab my beach bag. I brought three towels, some snacks, and a few water bottles. I put on my sunglasses before following the girls out to the car.

The drive is long due to traffic, but eventually we get to the beach. I park, and pay the parking meter, giving us roughly three hours here at the beach. I doubt we will end up staying that long, but better safe than sorry.

“Did anyone bring sunscreen?” Lucy complains while looking through my beach bag.

“I thought Riley grabbed it.”

“I thought Naveah grabbed it.”

Lucy glares at both of us. “Great, now I’m going to burn.”

“Relax, we can buy some.” I roll my eyes.

“Riley, did you bring any money?” I ask.

“I thought Lucy brought the money.”

“I thought you brought the money.” Lucy says to me.

I give them both a deadpanned look. “So nobody brought sunscreen, and nobody brought any money?”

“Well, you had the money for the parking meter. Forgive me for thinking you brought extra.” Lucy rolls her eyes.

“I only brought change for the meter. Ugh.” I sigh dramatically.

“Wow, we’re a mess.” Riley laughs.

I chuckle before spotting a female about five feet away, with an entire bottle of sunscreen.

Bingo.

“Excuse me miss?” I ask, walking over toward her. She looks up at me and wrinkles her nose in disgust.

Alright then.

“Do you mind if we use some of your sunscreen? We left ours at home, and shockingly enough don’t have any extra money to buy more.” I smile at her, trying my best to be friendly.

“Sorry, I don’t share with strangers.” The girl says before walking away, tucking her bottle of sunscreen into her beach bag.

“Wow, bitch.” Riley mumbles.

“Well, that worked well.” I sigh again.

“Let me try.”

I watch as Lucy walks up to a couple of guys near the entrance to the beach opening.

“Hey guys, do you have any extra sunscreen for me and my friends?”

The guys all look at Lucy, trailing their eyes up and down her body.

Surely they will let us have some sunscreen.

“Sure, here.” The one older guy hands Lucy the bottle, and Lucy takes it with a smile.

“Thanks!”

“But what do my friends and I get in return?” He winks at Lucy.

Gag me.

“You know what, never mind.” Lucy then throws their bottle of sunscreen in a nearby trash can before walking away.

“Bitch!” One of the guy shouts.

“You could have just left with the bottle.” Riley deadpans. “Now we’re back to square one.”

“It cannot be this difficult to find sunscreen at the beach.” I laugh.

“Well maybe you should come prepared.” We hear a familiar voice from behind.

The three of us turn to see Connor and Marissa walking up to join us.

“What’re you two doing here?” Lucy asks, practically jumping at Marissa’s bottle of sunscreen.

“We didn’t have any classes today, so thought we’d have a beach day.” Connor shrugs. “I guess great minds think alike.”

“You’re a real life savior.” Lucy smiles to Marissa. “I knew I would become a lobster before the day was over.”

“Happy to help.” Marissa laughs. “You guys want to sit with us?”

“Sure.” We all nod, following Connor and Marissa down the beach to an empty spot. We all lay our towels out, tucking the corners underneath the sand to keep them from flying away.

After everyone has more than enough sunscreen on, Connor goes to find a game of volleyball, while the girls all lay out in the sun together.

I’m in between Riley and Lucy, while Marissa is on the other side of Lucy and Connor’s towel is on the other side of Marissa.

I turn my head to face Riley, who has her face turned the opposite direction.

“Hey.” I say, nudging her with my arm.

She turns her face to look at me. “Yes?”

“Are we okay?”

She sighs. “Yes, we’re fine.”

“I just really don’t want this to come between us. After all, Dylan did kiss me, and I know that it probably infuriates you but I just wanted you to know that I did not want it at all.” I explain all in one breath.

“Are you done?” She raises an eyebrow.

I nod sheepishly.

“I was a little mad at you after hearing what happened, but not because Dylan kissed you, because you didn’t come to me right away and tell me.” She says, causing me to frown.

“I’m sorry! I know that! I just needed to figure out how I was going to do that. After everything that happened last year with me and Callie, I just didn’t want anything to come between us. Callie and I almost lost our friendship over secrets and lies, and I just needed to find the right way to tell you. Also, I really needed to tell Mark first, because well, you know why.” I sigh.

“I understand. Just next time tell me first, don’t let someone else tell me.” Riley says, giving me a real smile.

“You have my word.” I smile, leaning over to give her a quick side hug.

“Awe, are we all besties again?” Lucy comments from the other side of me.

“Shut up.” Riley laughs, “But yes, we’re fine.”

“Good cause I was about to hold an intervention… or whatever it’s called.” Lucy says, though it’s muffled as she has her face in her towel blocking the bright sun.

I told her to bring sunglasses, but she never listens to me.

“No need for that.” I say, nudging her side.

“I guess Connor found a volleyball game.” Marissa joins the conversation.

“Boys will be boys.” Riley says in reply. “Actually, I think I want to play, see you gals later.”

Riley gets up and leaves to find Connor. The rest of us decide to go into the water for a bit.

“Thank God the water is cool. That sun is blazing” I sigh in content as the water engulfs my body.

“Oh my God! Something just touched my leg!” Lucy screams, swimming over toward Marissa and me.

“Shut up would ya, you’re gonna put everyone into a panic.” I laugh, slightly splashing Lucy with some water.

“No I’m serious, it was slimy!”

“It’s probably just seaweed, you goof.” “Marissa says.

I walk over toward where Lucy said she felt something touch her leg, and I start looking around, even though the water is a little murky.

“I don’t even see anything.” I sigh.

I turn around to swim back over to the girls, when I finally feel something slimy swim by my leg. I jump while letting out a high-pitched scream, which also causes Lucy and Marissa both to scream as well.

Then suddenly, I feel a sting, and not long after I feel intense pain in my leg.

Great, I’m dying. Just what I needed today.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God… it bit me. Something bit me. It stings. I’m going to die. Someone call an ambulance. Someone call my mom, oh God!” I start thrashing around in the water, trying to pull my leg above the water to look at it.

“What the hell?” Marissa shouts, just as Lucy reaches out for my arm. She and Marissa pull me to shore and I lay out on the sand, of course being dramatic.

“This is it. This is the end. I love guys.” I say to Marissa and Lucy who only roll their eyes.

“I think you might’ve been stung by a jellyfish.” Marissa comments after looking at my leg.

“Quick someone pee on her leg!” Lucy shouts.

“EW NO!” I glare while shaking my head. “I’d rather die.”

“It could help!” Lucy defends.

Just then, Riley and Connor come running up to us, all four of them crowding around me as other people from the beach begin walking over to investigate.

“Actually, peeing makes it worse. The pee thing is a myth.” Connor states.

“See Luc, your urine will cause me more pain.” I state frantically, “Now, can someone PLEASE CALL AN AMBULANCE BEFORE I DIE!”

They all roll their eyes at me, but Marissa runs up the beach to grab her cell phone. She calls for an ambulance, and soon after they arrive.

“What happened?” The paramedic asks Lucy.

“Jellyfish I think.” She shrugs. “I’m not an expert in marine biology!”

The paramedic gives her a deadpanned look, before beginning to inspect my leg.

“Jellyfish is right. We need to start her on anti-venom medication stat. Leo, bring the gurney over, we need to transport her to the ER.”

“Great. You try to have one nice day at the beach.” I mumble as the paramedics lift me up onto the gurney.

“We’ll meet you at the ER and we’ll call your parents.” Lucy says before the doors to the ambulance close.

I highly doubt my parents will drive all the way here just for a jellyfish sting.

Apparently, I was wrong.

The second I’m placed into a room for treatment, my parents come barging in with my friends.

“Naveah! My God! What happened? Are you alright? My poor baby!” My mom whales as dad pinches the bridge of his nose, clearly embarrassed by his over dramatic wife.

“Dear, it’s fine. It’s just a jellyfish sting. They happen all the time.” Dad says, rubbing mom’s back gently.

“How is your pain level? Do you need anything?” Mom asks, a little less frantic.

“I’m fine, it just stings a little. They’re going to give me an IV for pain meds and to extract the venom from the jellyfish out of my leg.” I explain calmly.

“You have got to be more careful!” My mother scolds.

“Like I could’ve predicted this…” I huff, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Naveah, we’re going to go, feel better!” Connor says with a wave as he and Marissa turn to leave my room.

“Alright, thanks guys!” I shout back to them.

“We’ll wait here until you’re discharged. Obviously you’ll need a ride home.” Lucy says, talking about her and Riley.

“Yeah, thanks.” I nod. “Sorry for having to cut the day short.”

“Hey, you took that sting for me as far as I’m concerned, so thank you.” Lucy smiles wide.

I glare at her in return.

Suddenly, Mark comes bulldozing through the door.

“Naveah? Baby? What happened?” He rushes over to my side, kissing my cheek and looking me over.

“Oh for crying out loud, it was just a jellyfish sting.” I exclaim as I slam my head against my pillow.

“Where?”

I lift up my blanket, showing my bandaged leg.

“Ouch.”

“You’re tellin’ me.” I sigh.

“Someone’s grumpy.” Lucy mumbles.

“Alright, I need a drink. Anyone else?” Riley stands up, walking toward the hospital door.

Everyone but Mark raises their hand.

“I’m fine.” He says to Riley, and then he looks back down at me. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes babe, I’m completely fine.” I smile, “You can go now.”

“Well sheesh, fine. Forgive me for checking on my girlfriend.”

“Wow, everyone’s got sarcasm fever today.” I deadpan. Mark kisses me, but before he can leave my dad stops him.

“I don’t believe we’ve officially met. I’m Naveah’s father.”

“Dad!” I sigh. “You don’t need to do the interrogation thing right now!”

My parents have met Mark before, but it’s always been brief as he’s only ever been my friend and/or acquaintance. I haven’t yet officially introduced him as my boyfriend.

We did just start dating a few weeks ago, after all.

Mark shakes his hand anyway, saying hello. “It’s nice to finally meet you properly, under the strange circumstances.”

I snort at how formal Mark sounds.

He glares at me for that.

“Anyway, Mark is leaving, say bye Mark!”

Mark says goodbye to my dad and to my mom, before leaving and heading back to campus.

“I don’t understand why you’re so irritable.” Mom comments.

“Because, you people are making such a fuss about this. It’s nothing.”

“You’re in the hospital dear, that’s not nothing.”

“It’s not like I was shot or fell off a bridge.” I mumble.

“Naveah! I don’t want to even think about anything like that, for heaven’s sake!” My mother cries dramatically.

“Oh my God… kill me now…” I mumble just loud enough so I can hear.

My dad laughs. Apparently he heard me too.

“So, like, I forgot you didn’t bring any money.” Riley says as she walks back into the room empty-handed.

“Oh for the love of cheese toast!” I throw my hands up in the air, completely done with today.


Stupid jellyfish.

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