Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 19 | Fragile Secret


I sigh, slowing turning around to see Jessica walking up to me. I hoped I had seen the last of her, but apparently I was wrong.

“Yes?” I raise an eyebrow.

“I just wanted to make sure everything was okay?”

“Okay with what?” I question.

“With Mark and I being partners in our chemistry class.” She shrugs.

My stomach drops a little. Mark never mentioned anything.

“Uh, yeah, I guess I don’t have a problem with it.” I finally say, giving her a fake smile.

“Are you sure? I know it has to be awkward, I mean, we will have to be studying and working together a lot for this project. Sometimes even through the night. I just don’t want this to be weird.” Jessica smiles.

It doesn’t take rocket science to know that her smile as almost as fake as her seemingly innocent encounter with me. I know she’s just trying to rile me up because of her and Mark’s past.

“Honestly, I’m fine with it. I trust Mark. It’s totally cool.” I nod with another fake smile of my own, “See you later.”

I turn and walk away from her before she’s able to say anything else. Now it’s time to find Mark, because it seems weird that he would hide this from me. Maybe he just didn’t want me to freak out over nothing? Either way, telling me is way better than trying to hide it. I’ve learned that many times from my past. Hiding things and keeping secrets never works out well for anyone.

As I’m wandering around the quad looking for Mark, someone else runs into me that I wasn’t expecting.

“Oh, hey.” I sheepishly smile.

“Hey.” Dylan rubs the back of his neck awkwardly.

“How have you been?” I ask, trying to be as nonchalant as possible.

I haven’t spoken to Dylan since the confrontation in my apartment. We both said what we needed to, and that was it. I know Riley is still seeing Dylan, though I’ll never know why. I want to be supportive, but I just don’t want Dylan hurting my best friend. She deserves the world.

“I’m fine, love, crap I mean Naveah. I gotta get used to not calling you that.” He sheepishly smiles.

I let out a small laugh. “Yeah, it’s an adjustment.” I nod, “But that’s good. I’m glad. How are things with Riley?”

“Eh, we’re working on things. She doesn’t really trust me anymore, but I suppose that’s on me. I just need to prove to her that my vendetta against you is over. I do like her, and I want us to work.” He says sincerely.

“Well good. I’m glad. She deserves to be happy and I don’t want her to regret giving you a second chance.”

“Absolutely. I’m going to be on my best behavior. Scouts honor.”

I roll my eyes, but smile. “Hey, have you seen Mark around by chance?”

“Yeah, he’s in the café with his mate, Connor I think right?” Dylan raises an eyebrow.

I nod. “Yep, that’s correct. Well, see ya.” I wave.

“Bye Naveah.” Dylan smiles, watching as I walk away.

Okay so that wasn’t entirely awkward, just a little weird. I just hope in the future, things can be somewhat normal between us. I do miss having Dylan as a friend, I just don’t want any weird vibes between us.

I walk over toward the café area and walk inside. I see Mark and Connor sitting at a table with Marissa.

I walk over and take a seat beside Mark who smiles at me.

“Hey gorgeous.”

He leans in for a kiss, but I move my face, dodging it.

“Uh oh, someone’s in trouble.” Marissa teases with a smirk. “What’d you do now?”

“No idea. Care to enlighten me?” Mark asks me, leaning his head against my shoulder.

I shrug it off, turning to face him.

“I got a pleasant visit from Jessica earlier.”

“Yup, that’s our queue to go. See ya.” Connor says while he and Marissa stand up to leave us alone.

“Great support system you are!” Mark glares to Connor.

“See ya buddy!” Connor smirks as he and Marissa walk away.

“Alright, I think I know what this is about.” Mark sighs. “And I was already planning on talking to you about it.”

“Oh really? When? Next semester?” I deadpan.

Mark rolls his eyes. “No, of course not. We only found out about the project this morning Nave. I’m already emailing with my professor to change partners. I’m just waiting on his reply.”

I look down at my hands with a sheepish frown. “Oh.”

“You gotta stop letting other people, especially people who don’t matter, get inside of your head.” Mark sighs while pulling me into his side. He kisses the top of my head as I lean into him.

“I know. She just really irks me for some reason. The way she said you and her would be working long hours, even at night. Then the fact that I hadn’t heard anything about it from you, I guess I thought you were trying to keep it from me in some weird plan to protect me or something.” I ramble with a sigh.

“What the hell am I going to do with you?” Mark smirks at me, “Always so quick to believe the worst. You honestly think I would let Jessica stay with me all night for some stupid project? Come on, give me some credit.”

“I know, I know! I’m sorry.” I huff. “I have some insecurities I’m still working out, bear with me.”

“I’ll bear with you forever, babe. Just try not to let people get into your head. Unless you hear it from me, nothing else matters.”

I nod, leaning into him further. His arm tightens around me as he slowly reaches his other hand under my chin, lifting it up so I’m looking into his eyes. He leans down to kiss me, slowly deepening it as I move as close to him as possible. I grant him access into my mouth, and just when I’m starting to feel flustered, I pull away.

“We’re still at school ya know.”

“Honestly, I completely forgot for a second.” Mark grins at me adoringly.

“That happens to me all the time.” I whisper against his lips.

“I know it does.” He says just above a whisper, his lips just barely grazing my own.

I softly bite my lip, and this causes him to groan. “Ugh, stop doing that to me in public. You know what it does to me.”

“My, Mark, are you flustered?” I grin teasingly.

“Shut the hell up.” He laughs, “Are you done with classes for today?”

I nod. “Just finished my last one. Finally.” I sigh.

“Want to ride with me to work? You can sit with me and Tony while I go back and forth,” He laughs, “Then I’ll get some food for us when I go on my break, and then we can just go back to your place after my shift?”

I nod. “Sounds good, just let me go return these two books before we leave, meet you in the parking lot?”

Mark nods, leaning in to kiss me. I return the kiss before getting up and walking out of the cafeteria. As I walk to the library, I feel my phone vibrate.

I open it to a text from Riley.

Riley: Have you seen Dylan at all? He’s supposed to be meeting me in the parking lot. We’re supposed to be going back to his place but I can’t get a hold of him.

Me: I did see him about twenty minutes ago actually, if I see him again I’ll tell him you’re looking for him.

Riley: Thanks girl!

I shove my phone into my bag just as I near the entrance to the library, but I stop dead in my tracks as I peer through the small window looking inside of the library.

My eyes widen at what I see. I quickly pull my phone from my bag again and open up the camera. I snap a picture and shove my books into the return slot outside of the library door, before rushing away and back out to the quad.

I save the photo and shove my phone into my bag again.

My stomach drops at the realization. I can’t believe this.

What the hell am I supposed to do about this?

| Riley’s POV |

I become increasingly annoyed when Dylan still doesn’t show up.

Me: Any luck?

I figure I can check again with Naveah since she said she would look for him.

ThatBitch1: Nope, no luck, sorry!

Wow, she typed that back really fast. Odd.

I decide I’d text Lucy just to be sure he wasn’t at the apartment looking for me, though I could’ve sworn he said he would meet me after his last class for the day.

Me: Hey, is Dylan there by chance?

ThatBitch2: Nope, haven’t seen him.

Well fuck.

I start to give up and begin turning to just walk home, since Naveah has already left for the day with Mark, and Lucy is at home with the car.

As soon as I make it off campus, I hear my name.


I turn just in time to see Dylan rushing toward me, his hair a mess and his bag hanging loosely over his shoulder.

“Where have you been?” I ask with a glare.

“Sorry, got caught up in class. I had some make-up work to do and lost track of time.” He shrugs casually, running his fingers through his hair.

“Why is your hair such a mess?” I raise an eyebrow.

“The wind babe, my hair can never be tamed.” He laughs, giving me a smirk. He wraps his arm around my shoulder and starts steering me toward his car at the back of the parking lot.

As soon as the wind starts blowing, I smell it and stop dead in my tracks.

“Why do you smell like Chanel?”

“What?” He asks, clearly taken off guard by my question.

“Perfume, why do you smell like perfume?”

I begin to get very impatient, very fast.

“I honestly have no idea. I was just doing my classwork. Maybe it’s from my professor, she was sitting next to me helping me work, and her shit is always strong.” He says casually.

“Are you… are you messing around with your professor?” I ask as my eyes widen.

“What? Are you serious? She’s like fifty, love. That’s disgusting.” Dylan gives me a look, his nose scrunched up in disgust.

“How do I know how old she is?” I cross my arms.

“I can take you to her now if you’d like, she honestly reminds me of my Nan.” He smirks.

I give him a pointed look, and then sigh. “I’m sorry… just perfume plus your hair a mess and you being late, it was an honest thought.” I shrug.

“Love, I know you’re still learning to trust me again after everything that happened with Naveah, but I promise you, I’m not doing anything with anyone other than you. I really do like you.”

He’s giving me that fancy, British smile, and suddenly I find myself smiling back at him.

Call me crazy, but I can’t resist a Brit boy.

He’s right, I need to start learning how to trust him again. I know things have been weird between us since everything that happened with Naveah, but Dylan promised me that he’s done with her and that he really wants to try with me.

I need to let him do that. I can’t be insecure.

Unfortunately, as much as I try to showcase some strong, tough girl… I’ve always been easily breakable.

My breakup with Tommy taught me that.

I hate being fragile. It’s my only weakness.

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