Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 22 | Surprises

Just as everyone pulls into the driveway, the front door to the apartment opens.

Mark comes strolling out to greet us, but the second he sees me stepping out of the car, my face and shirt bloodied, he’s sprinting over to me, his arms instantly going around me.

“Baby! What the hell happened to you? Are you okay? Did someone jump you? Who the fuck do I need to kill?” Mark begins cursing. I pull away from him and reach forward, placing my hands onto his shoulders.

“Mark, shut up! I’m fine.” I sigh.

“Yeah, she totally killed Jessica today!” Marissa smiles as she and Connor get out of Connors car.

“What? Did you fight Jessica? Why?” Mark asks, his eyes never leaving mine.

“She just really pushed my buttons today. I don’t know what happened or what came over me. One minute I was fine, the next I saw red. She looks way worse than I do. Most of this blood isn’t even mine.” I shrug, turning to walk inside.

Mark follows close behind, ready to help clean me up.

Once everyone is inside, talking about the fight, Mark and I go into the kitchen so he can clean me up.

I take my shirt off, leaving me in my bra, and Mark puts the shirt into a plastic bag so I can wash it later. Hopefully all of the blood comes out, though I doubt it.

“Lucy, can you go grab Naveah another tank top?” Mark shouts toward the living room.

“Sure thing!”

Mark grabs a paper towel and dampens it, slowly wiping the blood off my face. The cut on my eyebrow has stopped bleeding, but the gash is still slightly open. It isn’t deep enough to need stitches, but it’s surely going to leave an ugly scar. Once Mark grabs the first-aid kit from the bottom cabinet, he slowly bandages my eyebrow.

Once that’s clean and taken care of, he begins on my lip. The cut is small, and there isn’t much blood, so Mark just wipes the dried blood away and places some Neosporin on the cut to help it heal faster.

My face is completely clean and bandaged accordingly, but then Mark sees my knuckles. Both hands are bruised and there are a few cuts along my knuckles with some dried blood. He pulls me toward the sink, so I lean forward and hold my knuckles under the warm water. Mark grabs some soap and pours it onto the cuts, making me hiss as the stinging sensation begins. Once they’re clear of blood, I dry softly with a towel, not caring about Band-Aids.

“I can’t believe you got into a fist fight. That’s so not like you.” Mark finally says, leaning against the sink to look at me.

“I know, I wasn’t planning on getting into a fight, it just happened. I don’t know why, but I just snapped.” I admit. “I’m pretty sure that was my first and last fist fight.”

“Wait, that was your first fist fight and you did that much damage to her? Do you train or something?” Mark laughs, causing me to grin.

“Nope, I guess I just have natural talents.” I shrug playfully, walking over to look up at him.

“I can’t wait to see her face tomorrow.” Mark smirks. “My baby can throw down.”

“Damn straight.” I nod, just as Mark leans forward to kiss my forehead.

I internally thank him for not trying to kiss my lips right now. The bottom lip is sore and I doubt he wants to taste Neosporin. It’s not pleasant.

“Just promise me, no more fights. Unless I’m there of course to watch.” Mark chuckles, kissing my forehead a second time.

I lean into him as he wraps his arms around me, hugging me tightly.

“You got yourself a deal.”

We stand there for a few seconds, before a grin appears on my face.

“Mark, spider!” I shout suddenly, causing him to push me away and run out of the kitchen with a yelp.

I’m dying laughing as everyone else comes rushing into the kitchen. “What the hell was what?” Lucy asks with a smile.

“Told you he was scared of spiders.” I shrug playfully.

“Fuck you all!” We hear Mark yell from upstairs.

“Oh here, you might need this.” Lucy smiles sheepishly.

It’s then that I realize I’m still standing in my bra. I laugh as I grab the tank top, pulling it over my head, careful not to hit my eyebrow. Connor looks away the second he sees me, causing Marissa and Riley to laugh.

“Come on, it’s not like we all haven’t seen them. Well except for me, I’ve never seen you in a bra, not bad by the way.” Marissa winks as I laugh.

“Thanks toots.” I smirk.

“Coast clear?” Connor asks.

“Yep, all covered.” I say.

We all go back into the living room while Riley goes to use the bathroom.

Mark eventually comes downstairs, joining us.

“Spider.” Connor says under his breath.

Mark shoots him a glare, knowing that Connor already knew about his hatred for the insect.

“Alright, that’s enough, stop teasing him.” I laugh, pulling Mark beside me on the couch. He resists at first, but eventually gives in, leaning into me with a pout.

So cute.

“Alright, let’s go before I decide to take a nap. I’m exhausted.” I yawn, standing up.

The girls all stand up, Marissa kissing Connor goodbye, since he’s staying with Mark until Mark goes off to work.

I lean down and kiss Mark. “You’ll probably be at work still by the time I get back here, so just come over after your shift.”

“Can’t babe, I got that project to start working on with Johnny. My professor let me change partners so I don’t have to work with Jessica.” Mark smiles.

I grin at him, “Good. I don’t wanna have to hurt her any more than I already have.”

“You’re sexy when you’re acting tough.” Mark smirks, causing Lucy to groan.

“Ugh, can we go now? This is nauseating.”

I laugh with a nod, kissing Mark once more before the girls all pile into our car. Marissa tells Connor she will meet him back at his dorm later on this evening.

I’m pretty sure the guys are just going to lounge around the apartment until Mark goes to work.

“Should we start at the mall?” Riley asks, since she’s the one driving. I’m sitting in the passenger seat as I nod to her.

“Mall works.”

The drive is about ten minutes, and once we park we rush inside. I know that I want to wear a dress, I just have no idea what style or color yet. Lucy is on the hunt for a specific pair of skinny jeans, while Riley and Marissa glance at numerous racks inside of the first store we walk into, not really looking for anything in particular.

After a few hours of shopping, we finally manage to find pretty decent outfits.

Lucy found her blue skinny jeans that are high-wasted and match perfectly with her white lace crop top. Marissa found a sleek, black romper with matching knee-length black boot heels and a nice shawl to go around her shoulders. Riley chose to be the most simple out of all of us, only buying a pair of black high-wasted jean shorts with a vintage grey T-shirt that she says she’ll tie at the bottom to fit tightly around her waist, showing a little bit of skin.

It took me the longest to find my outfit, since I was dead set on a dress. Marissa actually found the perfect dress for me. It’s white, but has some lace to it, ending mid-thigh. It also has lace sleeves and a cute silver belt to go around my waist.

It’ll look great with my brown heels and brown clutch I have at home.

Once we’re done shopping, we decide to hit the food court for dinner.

“Hey, you guys go ahead, I’m going to go meet Connor. We’re supposed to have dinner together on campus.” Marissa says just as we reach the food court.

We all give her a hug before she rushes outside to call an Uber.

“That was exhausting, but I’m glad we each found an outfit. Although I can’t believe you only went with shorts and a T-shirt.” Lucy says to Riley.

Riley only shrugs. “You only went with jeans and a crop top, not exactly the fanciest either.”

Lucy and Riley both stick their tongues out at each other as I laugh at them.

“Well I, for one, love my dress!” I smile proudly.

“Yeah, yeah. You’re supposed to dress the nicest. It’s your birthday, after all.” Lucy says in a duh tone.

It’s my turn to stick my tongue out at her, just as we walk up to the cashier for some Chinese food. Once we place our orders, and get our food, we go to find a table to sit at. Once we start eating, the conversation starts up again.

“So, be honest, are you excited about this party?” Riley asks me, just after she pops a piece of chicken into her mouth using her chopsticks.

I can never use those things, I always end up frustrated while stabbing my food just to eat it.

“Honestly? A little. I don’t know why, I just really didn’t want a big party this year. It’s fine though, I don’t want you guys to feel bad. I love that you’re doing this for me. It means so much to me.” I smile, both of them smiling back at me. “I kind of wish Callie could be here though.”

Riley and Lucy both frown, before giving each other a weird look.

I let it slide as we continue eating, and before long, we’re done and heading back outside to the car to head back home.

As expected, Mark is already gone and at work. I’m sad he won’t be coming back tonight, but the girls and I all decided to make tonight movie night in Mark’s absence.

I’m not complaining, movies sound perfect.

“I’m going to go up and shower first. You guys set up the blankets and the snacks.” I smile as I leave Riley and Lucy alone in the kitchen.

Once I’m upstairs and in the shower, I sigh in content.

My muscles are still sore after this morning, and I hate to admit that Jessica got a few good hits in. She’s pretty tough, but not as tough as I am.

Maybe she’ll think twice next time, before trying to fight me, especially at school in front of everyone.

I did enjoy the audience though.

| Lucy’s POV |

“Is the shower going yet?” I ask Riley, who is listening at Naveah’s closed door.

“Yep, just started.” She confirms, walking back to sit with me in the kitchen.

I smile as I pull my phone out of my bag. I go to my contacts list and click on a familiar face.

Her face appears on my screen, because I’m addicted to Facetime.

“Hey you!” Callie smiles wide, her hair blowing in the wind as she sits on a bench.

“Hey!” I smile, happy to see one of my closest friends. “What’s up?”

“Nothing, just left class. Waiting for the bus to take me back to my place. What’s new over there?”

“Oh you know, fist fights, drama, exes turning into boyfriends, boyfriends turning into exes… that sort of thing.” I say casually, which causes Callie to laugh.

“Wow, I’ve missed a lot huh? Is everyone alright? Who got into a fist fight?”

“You’ll never guess, but Naveah did this morning.” I grin, thinking about it. Riley showed me the video she took, and I must say, Naveah packs a pretty mean punch.

“Seriously? Shit, that is surprising. Was she fighting over Mark or something?”

“Not exactly, but in a way you could say that.” I nod.

“I can’t believe they finally got together, and for real this time. I was hoping they would.” Callie says while standing up to walk onto the bus.

“Speaking of Naveah, you know her birthday is this weekend. We’re throwing her a big bash this weekend.” I smirk, Riley giving me the same smirk from beside me. She pops her head into view and waves at Callie, who waves back.

“Yep, already have my alarm set for midnight to call and leave her a message.”

“How about you do one better, and tell her in person?”

“That would be amazing, but I would have to talk to my teachers and school about taking a short leave.” Callie says, thinking it over.

“Sorry to ask last minute, but at least this gives you a few days to get the okay. I have enough money to buy your plane ticket round trip. So you don’t have to do anything but show up!” I smile wide.

“That’s awesome! Thank you! I will talk to everyone tomorrow and let you know tomorrow night. Is that enough time for you to order the tickets?” She asks excitedly.

“Sure is, can’t wait to see you!” I shout.

“Me either!” Riley says after me, leaning over to wave at Callie again.

“I can’t wait either, talk to you tomorrow, I’ve gotta go!” Callie waves with a smile, before the call ends.

“You think she’ll be surprised?” I ask Riley.

She nods, “Definitely. It’ll be the best birthday present ever!”

We both smile at each other, just as we hear the shower go off in Naveah’s room. Riley rushes to grab some blankets while I grab some snacks, the two of us meeting in the living room.

Once we have everything set up, and a movie ready to start, Naveah walks out and sits in between us on the couch, pulling the blankets over our laps.

“What’s up?” She asks both Riley and I.

“Nothing.” We say in unison, reaching for snacks while I also hit the start button for the movie.

Naveah gives us a weird look, but shrugs it off, reaching for some chips.

Gotta love surprises.

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