Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 25 | Red to the Rescue

I’m drunk, exhausted, sad, and angry as I sit at the kitchen table all by myself.

The party is still in full swing, and the music is so loud I can barely hear myself think. I came into the kitchen twenty minutes ago, completely done with this party.

I pull my cell phone from my pocket one last time, trying to call Mark for the twentieth time. As soon as I press the call button, it immediately goes to voicemail. I’ve left so many voicemails, I can’t even do that anymore since his inbox is full.

I sigh as I slam my phone down onto the kitchen table.

“Thanks a lot, Mark. I hope whatever you’re doing, is way more important than me.” I glare into thin air.

All of a sudden I hear laughter, and then Lucy is stumbling beside me, falling onto my lap.

“Hey sista! Why are you in here all by yourself?” She asks, followed by a loud burp.

“Thanks for that.” I glare, fanning my hand in front of my face to eliminate the smell of alcohol that came from Lucy’s burp.

“Come on party-pooper! Let’s go dance!” She suddenly stands up, knocking over an empty cup in the process, “Oops.” She giggles, “Come on!”

“I don’t want to dance! My boyfriend isn’t here!” I whine dramatically.

“Mark never showed up?” Lucy asks as her face only slightly sobers up.

“No! I’ve been calling him all night, and it keeps going to voicemail!” I whine again, finally standing up because I just can’t sit down anymore. “Where is he?”

“Naveah, what if something happened?” Lucy’s eyes go wide, causing my stomach to drop.

“Don’t say that! He’s fine, he’s just an ass!” I say loudly, trying my best to keep the negative thoughts at bay.

“What’s going on in here ladies?” Connor suddenly appears, drunk out of his mind with an easy smile on his face, “Can I be of assistance?”

“Mark never showed up!” Lucy says, her tone suddenly angry, “Where is that asshole friend of yours?”

Connors eyes widen, his face also sobering up. “What the hell? Hang on a sec.”

I watch as he reaches for his phone, pulling it from the back pocket of his jeans.

“I’ve already tried calling him, it’s no use. It goes straight to voicemail and I’ve already filled his inbox.” I sigh, feeling totally defeated. I just want my boyfriend.

“I’m not calling him.” Connor says while scrolling through his contacts.

He eventually presses the phone to his ear, using his other hand to cover his exposed ear, the music probably too loud for him to hear over the speaker.

The three of us wait a few seconds, before Connor starts shouting into the phone, “Hello? Mrs. Chase? I’m looking for Mark! Have you heard from him at all tonight?”

I didn’t even think to call Mark’s mom, although I don’t even think I have her number so that would’ve been a useless idea.

“What? I’m sorry, it’s loud in here so I didn’t quite catch that.” Connor says, stepping further away from the living room entrance, and closer to the other side of the kitchen in order to hear.

Connor listens and after a few seconds, his face turns pale. My stomach drops even further as my heart starts beating faster. That can’t be a good sign.

“Thank you Mrs. Chase, when you see Mark, please let him know we called. I’m so sorry, I hope you start feeling better soon.”

The panic inside my chest starts to subside after hearing the last part of their conversation. Connor ends the call and shoves his phone back into his back pocket. He walks back over to Lucy and I, his face sad.

“What happened?” I immediately ask, “Where’s Mark?”

“He’s at the hospital with his mom. She’s sick, and things don’t look too good right now. His phone is most likely dead and I don’t think he even thought to bring his charger with him when he went to the hospital to be with her. I’m sure he will call you as soon as his mom tells him that I called.” Connor explains, and my heart aches for Mark.

Here I am being selfish, expecting my boyfriend to drop everything to be with me, meanwhile his mom is sick in the hospital and God only knows what could happen to her.

“Dammit Mark, why wouldn’t he have come here to tell me? I would’ve left and went with him.” I pout to myself, Lucy putting her arm around me for support.

“Maybe he didn’t want to ruin your birthday party?” Connor suggests, “That sounds like something Mark would do. That boy is crazy about you, I’m sure he didn’t want to ruin your night.”

I nod, feeling my emotions for Mark sky-rocket. I’ve never felt this type of infatuation before. This type of love before. It’s terrifyingly beautiful in all its twisted glory.

“I can’t just sit here and continue to party, knowing that Mark needs me.” I begin to tear up, “I need to get to that hospital.”

“You can’t go now, you’re drunk and so are the rest of us. Marissa can’t save us this time, she’s drunk too. In fact, I need to go find her before she passes out somewhere alone.” Connor says, suddenly remembering his girlfriend.

“Naveah, look at me.” Lucy begins, “I promise tomorrow morning, we will get up early and go to the hospital to see him. Right now, there’s nothing we can do, so please just try to enjoy the rest of your birthday. Mark would want you to.”

I nod, trying to agree with what my best friend is saying, but my mind is completely absent. All I’m thinking about is Mark and how his mom is doing. What if it’s bad? I know she has problems with alcohol, what if she hurt herself or something? How am I supposed to just pretend that it isn’t happening?

“Hey, what’s going on?” Callie suddenly appears, not as drunk as the rest of us, but slightly intoxicated. She’s always been the sensible one out of the group. She never gets too drunk because she still wants to be able to look out for the rest of us if anything weird happens. It’s one of the things we love about her.

“Mark isn’t here because his mom is in the hospital, and Naveah wants to go be with him, but I’m explaining to her that we can’t because everyone is intoxicated. I told her we would go with her tomorrow morning to the hospital, but I don’t think she likes that plan very much.” Lucy frowns.

“I have an idea. Lucy, make a pot of coffee, and give a large cup to Naveah. I have a phone call I need to make.” Callie says, instructing Lucy to start making the coffee.

Lucy gets to the task, after sitting me back down at the kitchen table. I don’t care about my party anymore, all these people can continue to have a good time, I just want my boyfriend. I need to make sure he’s okay. I need to make sure his mom is okay.

After ten minutes, Callie re-enters the kitchen. “So, I got us a ride.”

“Who?” Lucy asks.

“Well, you’ll never guess who’s in town for work, and who’s completely sober right now.” Callie smiles sheepishly.

“Dude, I’m drunk, if you think I can play a guessing game right now, you’re drunker than me.” I mumble, which makes Lucy laugh.

“Wait a damn minute, don’t tell me! Red?” Lucy asks excitedly.

“Red? As in ex-boyfriend Red? As in moved back to Tennessee Red?” I ask with wide eyes, “I thought you two weren’t speaking anymore.”

Lucy smirks at Callie, waiting for an explanation.

“We recently started talking again, just as friends. He’s actually seeing someone else right now, but he said he wanted us to remain friends if that was at all possible. I’m trying, but it’s a tad weird. Anyway, he said he would come pick us up right now!” Callie smiles wide.

I immediately jump up to tackle my best friend in a hug, “Thank you so much! You’re the best! I’m gonna miss you so much when you leave on Sunday!”

“Alright, don’t get all emotional on me now, go take a shower that way by the time you get done, the coffee will be ready and you can sober up.” Callie instructs, like the momma-bear she is.

I rush down the hallway to my bedroom, making sure to lock the door so no intruders come in, and then I make my way to my bathroom for a quick shower.

I toss my hair up into a messy bun, not wanting to get it wet right now. I let the hot water fall over my body and face, allowing the heat and steam to help sober me up a bit. I almost slip and fall, but catch myself as I reach for my body wash. I wash all the sweat away from dancing earlier, and once I’m finally rinsed clean, I get out and wrap my towel around me.

I hurry over to my closet and throw on a pair of jean shorts with an over-sized T-shirt. I keep my hair up in its bun, and grab a makeup remover pad, to get any excess makeup that didn’t come off in the shower.

By the time I’m finished, I’m almost completely sobered up. I slip on my black sandals and rush out of my room. As I shove my phone into my back pocket, I enter the kitchen and see a mug of coffee already made and sitting on the table.

Lucy is sitting in the chair next to the mug that's waiting for me, so I smile and walk over, sitting beside her. I take the warm mug into my hands, lifting it up to my nose, while inhaling the delicious aroma. The coffee has cooled some, so I take a long gulp and sigh with content.

“This is amazing, thank you.” I glance over to Lucy. She smiles back with a nod, taking another sip of her own coffee.

A few moments later, Callie comes strolling back into the kitchen. “Good news, I cut the music and told everyone to leave. Marissa and Connor said they love you, and they’ll see you whenever we get back from the hospital tomorrow. Connor also said to tell Mark to call him whenever he gets the chance, so I’ll keep that in mind because I know you’ll forget.”

“Wow, you are fucking amazing, do you know that?” I smile up at her in awe.

“I know, now pour those mugs of coffee into a travel cup, Red should be pulling up any second now.”

Lucy and I do as instructed, before the three of us lock up the apartment and head outside. We asked Riley if she wanted to tag along, but she was far too drunk to go anywhere. Callie said she helped Riley to her room and put her to bed, so she should wake up nice and hungover in the morning.

We did leave her a note, so at least Riley won’t be clueless as to where we are.

A long-bed, pick-up truck pulls up beside the curb, the driver’s side window rolling down. “Naveah! Lucy!” Red cheers with a smile.

Lucy and I rush up to the truck just as Red hops out of the driver’s seat. He instantly pulls Lucy and me into a hug, crushing us in the process.

“How the heck are ya? Shit, I guess not too good, never mind. I’ve missed you both!” He tries to smile again, Lucy and me smiling back.

“We’re okay, Red. We’ve missed you too!” Lucy says, replying for me. My mind is a little preoccupied.

“Well, let’s get going, we got quite the drive.” Red says, getting back into the driver’s side seat. Lucy, Callie and I all walk around to the passenger side. Red’s truck has a backseat, so Lucy and I get in the back, purposely allowing Callie to sit upfront with Red.

“Thank you so much for doing this on such short notice, Naveah just really needed to get to Mark. We don’t really know what’s happening with his mom, but I’m assuming it’s serious.” Callie says to Red.

“It’s no problem at all, really! I’m happy to help, besides, it’s been too long since I’ve seen you guys. Nobody ever tells you how much life changes after high school. It’s difficult not seeing your friends every day.” Red explains, “But I’m glad I’m able to be here for you guys.”

“You’re a saint!” I say from the backseat. I’ve just about finished my cup of coffee, Lucy still working on hers. I’m feeling almost completely sober, but there’s still a slight headache trying to brew which is making me feel a tab bit dizzy still.

As if reading my mind, Red pulls out a container of Ibuprofen from his glove-box. “These might help you ladies.”

“Wow, if it wouldn’t be completely weird, I could kiss you right now.” Lucy says as she snatches the bottle from his hand.

Callie and I laugh as we watch Red’s cheeks redden. “Yes, weird, definitely.”

The three of us take two capsules, all finishing off our coffee in the process. After half an hour, we all start to feel better, my headache completely gone. I’m completely sober now, and feeling sadder than ever. How selfish could I have been? Calling Mark and leaving rude voicemails, all because he didn’t show up to my party. Sure, it seemed justified at the time, but knowing why he didn’t show just makes me feel like complete shit.

I just pray his mom is okay. He may not always show it or say it, but he needs her. I can see it.

The rest of the drive to the hospital involves Red and Callie flirting, despite knowing he's in a relationship with someone else, Lucy snoring beside me, and soft music playing in the background as I stare at my phone.

I keep waiting for Mark to call, but he doesn’t. Maybe he’s too preoccupied with his mom. Of course he is, why wouldn’t he be?

I shove my phone into my pocket, just as the truck jerks forward, Red slamming on the brakes.

“What happened?” I shout, just as Lucy jolts awake from her nap.

“Shit!” Red curses, slowly pulling the truck over to the side of the highway. He checks to make sure no cars are coming, before hopping out of the truck and walking around to the passenger side.

We hear him cursing and feel him kicking the side of the truck.

Callie jumps out of the passenger side door, leaving it open so Lucy and I can hear their conversation.

“What is it?” Callie asks.

“Flat tire.” Red sighs angrily.

“Do you have a spare?” I shout from the backseat.

“I do, but do you see the size of this truck? It’s a two man job.”

Lucy, Callie and I glance at each other, “We can help,” The three of us say in unison.

After another half an hour, we finally get the spare onto the truck.

Luckily it’s night time, so it wasn’t super-hot. I just barely broke a sweat.

“Naveah, you are useless.” Lucy glares once the four of us are back into the truck and on the road, “You practically did nothing.”

“Hey! I supervised!” I defend myself as Red laughs.

“Congratulations, do you want a cookie?” Callie deadpans from the front seat, causing Red to laugh again.

“Man, I’ve missed you three.” He says while turning on the radio. Soft music plays in the background for the remainder of our trip. Once we finally pull into the hospital parking lot, I all but sprint from the truck into the hospital ER entrance.

As I approach the woman behind the desk, she glances up at me with kind eyes. “Hello, how may I assist you dear?” She asks in a monotonous voice.

“Hi, I don’t know if you can help me, my boyfriend Mark Chase is here with his mother, and I need to see him right away!” I say all in one breath.

Lucy, Callie and Red finally enter the ER, walking over to sit in the waiting area.

“Let me take a look.” The woman smiles, typing on her computer.

“Yes, Mrs. Chase. She’s in the ICU. Mark came in a couple hours ago. I can make a call to the nurse’s station to see if he’s available to come meet you, however visiting hours are over so you won’t be able to go back into the room with him.” The woman frowns slightly.

“That’s fine, thank you!” I smile gratefully.

“Go have a seat in the waiting area, and I’ll let you know.” The woman instructs, so I nod and walk over to my friends.

“His mom is in the ICU, that can’t be good.” I sigh as I take a seat beside Lucy. Callie and Red are sitting in the chairs opposite of us.

“Let’s just save the negative thoughts for when we actually know what’s happening.” Callie sadly smiles, “I’m sure she will be okay, she’s tough from what I’ve heard.”

Only Connor and I have been into contact with Mark’s mother. She was usually never around, and when she was, she was almost always drunk. Mark never liked to talk about her, and even when he did, he wasn’t always kind about it. The rest of us just assumed their relationship was rocky, and never pressed for more details.

Connor knows all of the details about Mark and his mom’s relationship, I only know some of the things Mark has told me, including her trips to rehab and the incident with the house fire she started last year before graduation.

I can’t believe Mark has to go through this, especially after the tough childhood he’s had.

The four of us wait for almost an hour, before the double doors leading to the rooms of the hospital open, and a familiar dark haired boy comes rushing out. I immediately stand up, “Mark!”

His eyes instantly meet my own, his frown slightly turning into a smile.

I rush over to him, desperate to wrap my arms around him. He immediately pulls me into him, wrapping his arms around me as well. Our grips tighten, afraid that the other might slip through our fingers.

“I can’t believe you came all the way out here.” He mumbles into the crook of my neck.

“Of course I did, why wouldn’t I?” I say against his chest, tears beginning to form in my brown eyes, “I am so sorry you had to deal with this alone.”

He immediately pulls back in order to look at me in my eyes, shaking his head in the process, “Don’t you apologize for anything, I wanted you to enjoy your birthday.”

“I can’t enjoy anything when you’re not there.” I admit with a frown.

Mark rests his hand against my cheek, wiping a tear from my skin with his thumb, “I love you Nave, I’m so happy you’re here. I need you.”

“I’m not going anywhere, I love you too.” I smile, leaning in to kiss him.

“As absolutely beautiful as this is, can you please tell us what’s going on?” Red interrupts, causing Mark to jump back with wide eyes.

“Red? What the heck are you doing here?” Mark smiles, pulling him in for a hug, a real hug.

“I’m in town for work, and decided to be a knight in shining armor for our girls here. No biggie.” Red shrugs playfully, a smile on his face as well.

“What am I, chop liver?” Callie says teasingly, just as Mark glances over at her.

“Holy shit, is this a reunion or something?” Mark laughs, pulling Callie in for a hug, “How have you been?”

“Great, school is amazing, I really love New York.” Callie replies as the two pull away from each other.

“Okay, now that we’ve all been caught up, Mark, how is your mom?” Lucy asks, roughly pulling us all back to reality.

A frown takes over his face, and it’s then that I realize how tired he looks.

“It’s not good actually. She’s in liver failure.” He admits painfully.

My heart sinks as more tears begin to fall, Lucy and Callie both frowning while Red places a supportive hand on Mark’s shoulder.

“It’s end stage, so she doesn’t have much time. Her doctor is running my blood to see if I’m a match for liver donation, which could possibly give her more time.” Mark explains.

“What? Liver donation? Mark… that’s a risky surgery.” I begin to say. Mark immediately gives me a look, telling me exactly what he’s thinking.

“But if this is what you want to do, I fully support you.” I add, reaching for his hand. He squeezes my hand once, mentally thanking me for understanding.

“How soon would something like that happen?” Callie asks.

“Not sure. I assume as soon as my blood work comes back.” Mark shrugs, “Should be any minute now.”

“Well I’m staying here with you, I don’t care if I have to sleep in this waiting room until visiting hours start up again in the morning. I’m not leaving you.” I say to Mark, just as he puts his arm around my shoulders, pulling me into his side.

“Thank you, and thank you guys for bringing her here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, and I love that I got to see you two.” He says toward Callie and Red. “I’ve missed you both.”

“We know buddy, we’ve missed you too. I promise I’ll come visit more often, I’ve just been trying to get my business set up. We can have another guy’s night out real soon!” Red smirks, causing me to laugh in remembrance of their guy’s night out last year.

“Sounds amazing!” Mark nods with a smile.

“You want me to take you two back home?” Red looks to Callie and Lucy, but they both shake their heads.

“We’ll stay here with Naveah, since I’m sure Mark is going to need to go back to his mom soon.” Lucy says, causing me to smile.

“Thank you both, and thank you for bringing us here Red, I really love that I got to see you!” I smile, walking up to hug his neck.

“Don’t mention it. I’ll be in town until Sunday, so maybe I can see you all again tomorrow or Sunday before I leave.” He says, and we all agree.

Callie and Lucy walk off to find the cafeteria, while I sit down beside Mark.

“It’s been a hell of a night.” I comment, leaning my head against Mark’s shoulder.

“You have no idea.” Mark says in reply, kissing the top of my head.


No idea at all.

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