Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 23 | It's My Party

I wake up to the smell of pancakes.

I’m thankful that I have no classes today or tomorrow, as tonight is finally my birthday party. Lucy and Riley have both been acting strange, but I suppose it’s just from the stress of putting everything together.

As I slowly get out of bed, I frown at the empty space next to me. Mark hasn’t spent the night in three days, working on that stupid chemistry project with Johnny. Today is Friday and the last day they’re working on it, since they have to turn it in first thing Monday morning.

Mark is with Johnny right now, trying to finish it before my party later tonight. He’s so cute when he’s focused on school work, especially when it’s for me.

“Naveah, get the hell out here!” I hear Lucy shout from the kitchen.

I sigh as I push the covers off my body, slowly sliding off my queen sized bed.

“I’m showering first!” I shout back, walking over to my bathroom and closing the door behind me. I start the shower and step inside, washing my hair as quickly as possible.

Once I finish rinsing, I get out and wrap a towel around my hair, pulling on my robe once my hair is tied up.

After I get dressed in a simple pair of blue-jean shorts, accompanied by a red tank top, I take the towel off my hair and brush it out, leaving it to air dry.

As soon as I walk into the kitchen, I’m met with a dozen balloons and three large pancakes with a chocolate chip smiley face covered in syrup.

“This is what I rushed for?” I tease, walking over to hug my two crazy friends.

“Of course. Why would you expect anything less?” Lucy grins, urging me to try the pancakes she says she slaved over.

Once the three of us finish our breakfast, I take pictures of the balloons and post them to my Instagram page, also adding a picture I took of the pancakes before I devoured them.

“So, what’s on the agenda today?” I ask.

“Well, Riley has one class she has to go to this morning, and then after we are treating you to a day at the salon.” Lucy smiles wide. “It will be perfect for the party tonight.”

“Okay sounds good!” I nod, accepting the plans.

“Oh, and I have one errand I need to go take care of, so are you cool to hang here alone for a bit?” Lucy looks at me for an answer.

“Uh, sure. What errand would that be?” I curiously ask.

“Nothing major. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.” Lucy waves as she grabs her bag and heads for the door. “Come on Rie, I’ll drop you off at campus on my way!”

Riley comes rushing out of her room, her bag slung over her shoulder. They both wave to me one last time, before rushing out of the apartment together.

Odd. Oh well.

I walk over to the couch and lounge as I scroll through Netflix.

Riley told me to check out a show called Stranger Things, so I suppose I’ll do that while I wait for them to get back.

It seems interesting, though the kid with the curly hair and missing teeth seems odd. He’s kind of a cutie though, in a nerdy way.

Before I know it, both Riley and Lucy are strolling through the door, both smiling.

“Hey, whatcha watching?” Riley asks as she steps into the living room.

I am far too focused on the TV screen to even notice her.

In my peripheral vision, Riley glances at the TV and smirks.

“I knew you’d like this show!”

Riley rushes over to sit beside me, just as I jump.

“Holy shit! The lights are moving! How the heck is that kid talking to his mom through Christmas lights?” I shout, not believing what I’m seeing.

“Because doofus, he’s trapped in the upside down!” Riley says to me.

I glance over at her, “The what?”

“You’ll see. Just keep watching.” Riley smirks.

“Sorry to break this up, but we have to get to our salon appointment.” Lucy says, walking over to turn the TV off.

“Hey!” I pout, “It was getting good!”

“You can watch it tomorrow while you nurse your hangover from tonight.” Lucy grins, urging Riley and I to get up and follow her out to the car.

Lucy drives us to the salon, and one of the employees rushes me into a chair to begin working on my hair. I tell the middle-aged woman that I don’t want it cut short, just a little more layered. She nods and gets to work, also preparing to add more platinum blonde highlights throughout my golden hair.

Lucy only gets her hair trimmed, while Riley gets bold and adds blue tips to her dark hair.

Once our hair is complete, the women get to work on our nails. Riley went for dark, navy blue nails to go with the dark blue tips she added to her hair. Lucy decided on a simple French tip, while I went with dark brown coffin nails to match my brown heels that pair nicely with my white lace dress.

By the end of our appointment, the three of us look refreshed and ready to party.

“Thanks April!” Lucy shouts to the woman standing behind the register.

“Take care!” April shouts back, waving goodbye at the three of us.

Riley and Lucy insist on taking me out to lunch for my birthday, so the three of us end up at Buffalo Wild Wings.

“You guys didn’t have to do all this, really. It’s a little much.” I admit, glancing at them over the top of my menu.

“Just shut up and order.” Riley sighs just as the server appears beside our table.

By the time we all finish lunch, it’s already been about three and a half hours since we left our apartment. It’s getting late, and I’m worried if we don’t head back home soon, we won’t be ready in time for the party to start.

“Can we go home now? We still need to get ready.” I sigh again, Lucy and Riley both telling me no.

We’re driving down the road, heading to campus.

“I just need to return a book to the library, and then I have to go talk to one of my professors about an assignment.” Riley says, just as Lucy pulls into the school parking lot.

“And why didn’t you do this earlier this morning, you know, when you were here on campus?” I ask from the backseat.

“I forgot.” Riley shrugs, “It won’t take that long, plus you can go see Mark while you wait.”

“No, he’s working and I don’t want to distract him.” I reply, annoyed with them keeping us from getting ready for the party.

Almost an hour and a half later, the three of us are finally heading back to our apartment.

“You do realize we only have an hour to get ready before people start arriving?” I say from the backseat, still annoyed with my two best friends.

“Relax, we have plenty of time.” Lucy smiles as she drives down the road. “Besides, you’re allowed to be fashionably late to your own party.”

“Yeah, yeah.” I sigh, leaning back into my seat.

When we finally pull into the driveway, the apartment lights are already on.

“Who’s here?” I ask, “Did you guys forget to lock the door again? What if someone broke in and is robbing us?” I exclaim, leaning forward in my seat.

Riley rolls her eyes. “It’s probably Marissa, I left my key under the mat so she could start setting up before people started to arrive.”

“Thanks for not telling me.” I scold, rushing to get out of the backseat once Lucy parks and shuts off the car.

Riley and Lucy dart toward the apartment door first, rushing inside. I try to follow after them, but then they slam the door in my face before I actually make it inside.

“What the hell? Really?” I shout, reaching for the door.

Great, it’s locked.

“Let me in you traitors!” I shout again, pounding my fist against the door.

“Just a second!” I hear Riley shout.

I take in a deep breath, and let it out through my nose, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Come on, we’ve been gone for almost six hours and I still need to get dressed for the party!” I shout again, having zero patience for my very suspicious friends.

“Alright, alright.” I hear before the door swings open.

I barge inside and push past Riley, entering the living room.

“You guys are so de-“, but I can’t even finish my sentence.

My eyes widen as a genuine smile appears on my face.

“Surprise!”

“Callie!” I shout, rushing over to her and grabbing her into a tight hug. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I’m here for my best friend’s birthday party, of course!” She smiles wide as we pull apart.

“How are you?” We both ask in unison, laughing right after.

“I’m great, I love New York! I just wish you guys were with me.” Callie admits, “Also, when did that happen?” She glances over to Marissa who just finished putting up another banner.

“Long story, I’ll fill you in later.” I laugh, “I can’t believe you’re here! How?”

“Those two.” She points to Lucy and Riley. “They emailed me my ticket last night, and I got on a plane first thing this morning. Five and a half hours isn’t exactly fun, but it was definitely worth it.”

“How long are you staying?” I ask.

“I fly back Sunday morning, so for the rest of the weekend I’m yours!” She smiles wide, just as I pull her in for another hug.

“This is amazing, you guys are incredible!” I say, turning to look at Lucy and Riley who are both grinning at me.

“I will admit, this is a pretty awesome birthday present. I don’t think I’ll be able to top it.” Marissa says, walking over to us. “By the way, how are you Callie?”

“I’m fine.” Callie says to Marissa. “And you? Are you still with Connor?”

“Sure am!” Marissa nods with a smile, “He should be here any minute now, he went to pick up last minute food items.”

“Cool.” Callie nods awkwardly.

I know she probably feels a little weird after everything that happened last year in high school. I know she and Marissa had their little time together after Callie and I had our big fight. I don’t think her or Marissa have kept in touch since last year, so things seem a little strained right now.

“Well, I want to hear all about New York, let’s go talk while the three of us get ready!” I say, urging Callie to follow Lucy, Riley and I into my bedroom. We decided to all get ready together.

Since our hair and nails are done, we only need to get dressed and do our makeup. Callie is already dressed in a beautiful red romper, her long curly hair falling down her back in waves. She looks amazing, and a little more mature since the end of summer.

I can’t believe it’s already been months since our summer trip.

After Callie tells me all about her amazing school, and some new friends that she’s made, the four of us walk out into the living room just as Marissa has music blasting.

“Perfect timing.” Marissa smiles at us. “You all look amazing by the way!”

Marissa is already dressed in her party outfit, her knee-length heel boots looking killer on her long legs.

“So do you!” Lucy smirks, “All of us are fine!”

“Okay, where did you want the chips and dip to go?” Connor asks as he walks out of the kitchen.

“Callie? Is that you? How did I not know about this?” Connor exclaims, dropping the bags of chips in order to hug Callie.

Callie smiles, “Hey Connor, how are you?”

“I’m great! It’s so good to see you! How’s New York?”

As the two of them get lost in conversation, I pull out my cell phone to call my boyfriend.

“Hello?”

“Mark, where are you?” I ask, “The party just started and people are starting to show up, I need my boyfriend.”

“Sorry babe, I’m trying to finish up here. We’ve got a few more things to add, and it should be done. I will be there as soon as I can!”

“Okay, I love you.” I say, a frown on my face.

“Love you too, be there soon, promise!”

He hangs up the phone, and I sigh, shoving my phone into my brown clutch. I walk over and place my clutch on the table with the jackets and bags of other guests. A few people from campus have already arrived, but I know there will be a lot more.

“What did Mark say?” Connor asks as I walk back over to my friends.

“He says he’s almost finished, and he should be here soon.” I shrug, “We’ll see.”

“I’m sure he’s working as fast as he can, I know he doesn’t want to miss your birthday.”

“In the meantime, who wants a drink?” Lucy cheers, “Max just got here with the drinks and a keg!”

“Who is Max and why does he have access to a keg?” I raise an eyebrow.

“Uh, he’s a senior at campus, and I promised him a date for supplying the alcohol.” Lucy shrugs, “The things I do for my best friend.”

“Oh joy.” I laugh, “Fine, get me a drink then.”

“As you wish, birthday girl.” Lucy winks, rushing over to the kitchen.

The entire apartment is jumping with music, reminding me of when Red, Callie’s ex, used to show us his different mix tapes and CD’s.

I asked Callie if she’s heard from him since their break up, but she hasn’t. I supposed they’ve both moved on, and are both living very separate lives. She isn’t upset anymore, she knows sometimes people just drift apart.

I’m well into my fifth drink when I finally realize Mark still hasn’t shown his face.

I rush over to the table with different coats and bags, digging through until I pull out my clutch. I open it up and grab my cell phone, checking to see if Mark has texted or called.

He hasn’t.

It’s almost ten o’clock and I’m beginning to worry.

I try calling him, but it rings until it eventually goes to voicemail. I decide to leave a message.

“Babe, where the hell are you? The party started over two hours ago and you’re still not here. Tell Johnny he can finish the project without you, I am more important!” I shout into the phone, “Love you, and please get here fast!”

I end the call, but decide to call him again. It keeps going to voicemail, until eventually it doesn’t even ring, going directly to voicemail each time. That doof probably let his phone die or something.

I’m beginning to get angry when Riley comes strutting over to me.

“What the heck are you doing over here? The party is over there!” She drunkenly points toward the living room, where everyone else is dancing and drinking.

“Mark still isn’t here!” I whine with a frown, “He promised!”

“Where the heck is he?” She asks, probably a little on the tipsy side.

“I don’t know! He was supposed to be finishing his project with Johnny, but his phone keeps going to voicemail!” I exclaim, accidentally dropping my empty cup onto the floor. “Oops.”

“I have Johnny’s number, let me call him!” Riley suddenly smiles, snapping her fingers. She reached into her back pocket for her phone, pulling it out.

“How do you have Johnny’s number?” I question with a confused stare.

“Don’t remember,” She shrugs, “It’s ringing!”

After a few moments, she begins to shout.

“Johnny? Where is Mark?”

“What do you mean he left an hour and a half ago?”

“Where is he?”

“We already tried calling him moron!”

“See, this is why you weren’t invited to Naveah’s party!” Riley shouts one last time, before hanging up the phone and shoving it back into her pocket.

“Johnny says he left almost two hours ago.” Riley shrugs, “Maybe he’s lost or something.”

“Riley, Mark drives here constantly, how could he be lost?” I deadpan.

“I don’t know, sheesh! Ask someone else then.” Riley scoffs, drunkenly turning around to walk back over to the living room.

I sigh, my worrying getting worse. If he left Johnny almost two hours ago, and still isn’t here, what the hell happened to him?

Surely my own boyfriend wouldn’t ditch my birthday party… right?

“It’s my party, asshole.” I mutter to myself drunkenly.


It’s my party.

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