Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 20 | Morons

I didn’t say a word the entire ride to Ashlynn’s.

Mark brought me to the back of the restaurant with him, where he clocked in to start his shift. He already had tables lined up for him, so he kissed me against the cheek and went to start waiting tables.

I’m sitting beside Tony, spilling everything to him as he washes dishes.

“Wow, that’s harsh.” He comments.

“No kidding! How the heck am I supposed to tell her what I saw?” I sigh as I lean back in my chair. “Why does my life have to be so complicated all the damn time?”

“One thing life always is, is complicated.” Tony shrugs simply.

“Not helping, T.” I deadpan.

I started calling him T, because he doesn’t really look like a Tony to me. His skin is a little too pale, and his dark beard is way too long. He should wear a hair net on that thing.

“When are you going to start calling me by my name?” Tony smirks.

“Sorry, but Tony shouldn’t have been your legal name.” I shrug, giving him a smile.

“Actually, don’t tell anyone, but my legal name is Anthony.”

My eyes widen. “See, now Anthony goes with your look. Just saying.”

Tony shakes his head, “Whatever you say woman, whatever you say.”

I laugh just as Mark comes rushing into the kitchen.

“What’s so funny?” He smirks at us.

“Oh nothing.” I grin.

“You need to handle that, Mark. Your girl is kind of whacko.” Tony chuckles as he places a clean plate into the empty dish rack.

I glare as I smack Tony’s arm. “Excuse you. I am not.”

“Do I need to separate you two?” Mark teases.



Mark shakes his head with a smile as Tony and I shout responses in unison.

“Babe, you hungry yet? I’m ready to take my lunch.” Mark asks, looking over at me.

“Why yes, babe, thank you for asking.” Tony smiles lovingly, soon after laughing.

Mark rolls his eyes, but looks to me again for an answer. I smile with a nod as he walks over to talk to one of the cooks in the restaurant. After thirty minutes, Mark hands me a plastic to-go container full of chicken Alfredo pasta.

“You really do know the ways to my heart, Mark.” I smile happily, taking my fork and loading it with pasta before shoving it into my mouth.

“Slow down there little lady, there’s plenty of pasta to go around.” Tony laughs as I wipe Alfredo sauce from my lips.

“You can’t tame this one when it comes to pasta. She’s nuts over the stuff.” Mark smiles, glancing at me as I shove another fork full of pasta into my mouth. “And apparently all eating manners go out the window too.”

“I don’t have to be a lady when it comes to pasta. Get over it.” I say simply, before digging in for more.

Mark eats his own container of pasta, before we both finish and toss the containers into the trash.

“That hit the spot.” I sigh, rubbing my stomach happily.

“Glad I could be of service.” The cook smirks in my direction, hearing my comment on his delicious food.

I wave over to him with a smile, and Mark shoots me a glare.

“What? I’m allowed to wave, sheesh. Simmer down caveman.” I roll my eyes.

Mark leans in to kiss my cheek before rushing back out to finish his shift.

“T, do you think I should tell her?” I ask, bringing up our conversation from before Mark interrupted us.

“Honestly? Yes. She would want you to tell her, as her best friend. If she found out that you knew and kept it from her, well in my experience that never works out well.” Tony shrugs simply, finishing up a load of silver ware.

He turns as he drapes a towel over his shoulder, drying his hands in the process.

“But what if she somehow gets mad at me?”

“All you can do is be a good friend and tell her, whatever happens after that is on her, at least you know you did the right thing regardless.” Tony explains.

I nod. “I suppose you’re right.” I then glance up at Tony, “Ew.”

He laughs while hitting me with the damp towel from his shoulder. “I can see why he’s sweet on you.”

“What do you mean?” I raise an eyebrow.

“Mark. I knew he was smitten the second he saw you walk into the restaurant that first day with your Brit boy-toy, as he called him.” Tony laughs, referring to Dylan.

“Really?” I smile, thinking back to that day. I was so nervous, and that was before I even said anything to Mark.

“Oh for sure. He couldn’t keep his eyes off you. He’s a good kid, and I think you two are really good for each other.” Tony smiles at me.

I smile back. “Thanks T, that really means a lot. Well, sort of.” I smirk, sticking my tongue out at him.

“He’s definitely got his hands full with you, that’s for sure.”

“I know. But he doesn’t mind. I’m amazing.” I shrug casually, feeling a little too full of myself.

After Mark finishes his shift, and the two of us say bye to Tony for the night, we get into his car and he drives us home to my place.

“Come on, spill it.”

I glance over at Mark just as he pulls into my driveway. “What?”

“You’re wanting to tell me something, I can tell.” He says while pulling the keys from the ignition and turning to face me.

“Well…” I begin, fidgeting with my fingers a bit.

“Uh oh, you’re fidgeting. This can’t be good.” Mark frowns.

“It has nothing to do with us, so to speak. Or maybe it does, I don’t really know.” I sigh, reaching to pull out my cellphone.

“Did someone send you a nude? Because I will slide into their DM’s myself and handle that.”

I roll my eyes. “No, doofus, stay with me here.”

Mark glares at my not-so-sweet nickname for him, as I pull up the picture I took earlier outside of the library.

I slowly reach over and hand him my cell phone.

“What the hell, is that…?” He begins, and I nod to confirm his question.

“Exactly. Now you see my dilemma here.”

“Does Riley know?”

“Not yet, I haven’t seen her to tell her anything.” I admit.

“I knew I hated that guy.” Mark glares, still looking at the picture.

For a quick second, I think he’s glaring at the girl in the photo, as opposed to Dylan.

“Does that bother you?” I suddenly ask.



“Of course not, why would it?” He asks while handing the phone back to me.

“I don’t know, seemed like it affected you.”

“It doesn’t, I just can’t believe he’s doing this to Riley, and with Jessica of all people.” Mark sighs.

I immediately nod. “I know. How did they even meet? Do you think they’re doing this as a way to get back at us?” I wonder.

It’s the only logical explanation.

“I’m not sure, but you need to find that out and stop Riley from seeing him. He’s a total creep and she deserves better.” Mark says, to which I agree.

“Alright, let’s go inside.”

Mark and I get out of his car and head for my apartment door. As soon as we step inside, we hear laughter.

We walk into the dining room to see Riley, Dylan, Lucy, Connor and Marissa all seated at the table.

“Uh, what’s going on here?” I ask, catching everyone’s attention. They all look up at Mark and I, and urge us to sit down to join them.

“Hey, how was work?” Connor asks Mark, leaning over to give him a quick slap of the hand.

“Fine. What’s up?” Mark asks, looking around the room.

“Well, if you must know, we’re all planning your big birthday bash!” Lucy smiles wide at me, causing my eyes to widen.

“I told you specifically that I didn’t want to do anything big.” I glare.

“Oh come on, you’re turning nineteen! We have to do something fun!” Lucy whines, the rest agreeing with her.

“She’s right, you can’t just sit at home and do nothing.” Riley says.

I turn to face her, my glare disappearing immediately as I watch her sit on Dylan’s lap comfortably.

“I wasn’t going to do nothing, I was going to have a quiet night with Mark.” I shrug. “That’s all I need.”

“Wow, what are we? Chop liver?” Lucy glares, crossing her arms over her chest.

Always overdramatic, I swear.

“I just don’t need a big birthday.” I say, “I’m not trying to harsh your vibes.”

“Come on babe, you deserve to have fun.” Mark nudges me softly, reaching to put his arm over my shoulder. I lean into his side and let out a sigh.

“Whatever, plan away.” I say before pushing away from Mark and walking into the kitchen alone.

“What’s your problem? And don’t think I didn’t catch how you looked at me.”

I tense at the sound of Riley’s voice. She’s going to make me show her the picture with all our friends sitting in the next room. Great.

I turn around and face her with a fake smile. “I’m sorry, I’m just grouchy today. My period must be coming.”

“You are a horrible liar. We’re synced up and our periods just passed two weeks ago.” Riley gives me a pointed look.

Son of a…

“Okay, I didn’t want to do this in front of everyone…” I begin, reaching to grab my phone from my back pocket. I open my phone and click on the picture of Dylan sucking face with Jessica inside of the library at school today.

I slowly, and hesitantly hand the phone over to her, careful not to take any of her soon-to-be wrath.

As she looks down at the screen, her expression turns stoic. It’s almost as if she knew about this already, or suspected foul play on Dylan’s part.

She hands my phone back to me and walks over to get a glass of water.

“Are… are you okay?” I slowly ask. “I swear all I was trying to do was return my library books. I didn’t want to get in the middle of this, but not telling you would have been worse, right?”

Riley nods. “Right. Thank you for telling me.”

She walks back into the dining room and sits back onto Dylan’s lap, slowly taking sips from her glass of water. I walk out and see it, my expression confused.

Why isn’t she freaking out? Why isn’t she screaming? More importantly, why is Dylan still alive?

I sit on Mark’s lap and he immediately wraps his hands around me, resting them on my thighs.

I lean back into him and watch as everyone else talks about my birthday party.

I still don’t want anything crazy, but apparently I’m out numbered when it comes down to it. Marissa and Lucy are planning everything down to the last detail. If there’s one good thing that comes out of this, it’s that I didn’t have to plan my own birthday party. They’re doing all of the work for me. I knew I kept them around for a reason.

We all decided to host my birthday party here at our apartment, since it’s got a decent sized living room and a pretty big kitchen. Marissa and Connor are in charge of getting food, while Lucy is in charge of getting drinks. None of us are twenty-one yet, but apparently Lucy has a connection.

Riley also agreed to her, me, Lucy and Marissa all going shopping together to get outfits for the party. We all agreed that we wouldn’t be matching. Last year for Connors birthday, Lucy, Callie and I all matched our outfits, and that party didn’t turn out so great. We didn’t want anything to jinx itself.

The conversation died down, and I glanced at Riley to evaluate her expression again.

I’m just waiting for her to explode.

I’m fidgeting with my hands, and Mark notices. He softly takes my hands in his, and slowly rubs his thumbs over the tops of my hands.

“Everything is fine.” He whispers into my ear.

“I showed her in the kitchen.” I whisper back, turning to face him.

His eyes widen. “Why isn’t she freaking out?”

“No idea, hush now.” I whisper discreetly, turning to face everyone again.

“So, I have an announcement.” Riley suddenly says while standing up.

Annnnnd here we go.

“It’s come to my attention that my idiot boyfriend, isn’t faithful. Well, actually, I should say ex-boyfriend. Right babe? I really hope Jessica’s slimy lips were worth it, because this is done.”

She reaches over and grabs her glass of water, dumping its contents all over Dylan’s head. He jumps up and wipes at his face, pushing his hair from his eyes.

“What the bloody hell?” He gasps.

“You may excuse yourself from this house now. We’re done. Bye!” Riley waves with a smile, slamming the glass cup onto the dining room table.

Everyone else has wide eyes as they watch the scene unfold. Marissa is smirking at Riley, and Mark is trying not to laugh at the soaking wet Dylan, a fresh glare on his face.

“Whatever, bitch.” Dylan glares, and that’s when Mark stands up, almost knocking me over in the process.

“Alright, it’s time to go!”

Mark grabs Dylan by his collar, and drags him toward the front door to the apartment. Dylan tries swinging on Mark, but Mark dodges it, opening the apartment door and shoving Dylan so hard he falls onto the concrete outside.

“Buh-bye!” Mark smiles with a wave, before slamming the door in Dylan’s face.

Once Mark is back at the table, I glance at Riley to see her stoic expression.

“Are you okay?”

She nods and turns to walk way, I go to follow her but she stops me.

“Just leave me alone, please.” She begs, before turning and walking down the hallway. The rest of us hear her bedroom door slam, the room completely silent.

“Awkward. Who’s ready for pizza?” Connor suddenly asks.

“Me!” Mark accepts happily.

Lucy, Marissa and I all glare at them, while Marissa and I simultaneously slap our boyfriends against their chests.


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