Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 30 | Development

| Mark’s POV |


I slightly jump at the scream that came from an excited Tony.

It’s my first shift back at work, since everything happened with my mom. Tony doesn’t know any of it yet, but I know he’s going to ask. He’s just that kind of friend.

“Yes, hello to you too.” I chuckle, walking toward the back of the kitchen to officially clock in.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you! This place has been completely horrible since you left!” Tony sighs dramatically, “What the heck happened? If you wanna tell me, that is.”

“A lot happened Tony, a lot.” I sigh, giving him a weak smile. I’m really not ready to explain what happened, but I know that Tony is someone trustworthy enough to pour my heart out to.

“Well, you know where I’ll be. I know you have to go speak to the boss first.” Tony grimaces, telling me that our boss probably isn’t happy that I missed so much work. I briefly explained that it was a family emergency, but I didn’t give him any extra details than that.

I suppose I’ll be sharing the story twice tonight.

I slowly walk over toward the back of the kitchen, where a couple of offices are located. I gently knock on my boss’s door, and wait for the all-clear to walk inside.

“Come in.”

I take a deep breath and walk inside, not quite sure what I’m preparing for.

“Hi Mr. Morello.”

Mr. Morello named Ashlynn’s after his daughter when she was first born. Apparently, she was a miracle baby, because Mr. Morello’s wife had a couple of tragic miscarriages before they were finally able to birth their daughter. They’re a beautiful couple, and I commend them for their strength dealing with something like that. I don’t think I’d be able to handle that much intensity and heartbreak.

“Hello, take a seat.” He instructs.

I sit down on the chair, facing opposite of Mr. Morello. My stomach is in knots, because I very well may be getting fired tonight.

“I know I have a lot of explaining to do, I’m just not quite sure where to start.” I admit, nervously scratching the back of my neck.

“Just start from the beginning.” He gives me a warm smile, and slowly my nerves start to disappear.

After explain the gist of what happened to my mom, Mr. Morello was more than happy to excuse my absence. He told me that he knew how hard it is to be faced with death, in any form. We shared a mutual understanding, and I’m grateful that I still have a job.

I gave the exact same story to Tony, who gave me a hug and told me that if I needed anything, he’d be there for me. I never thought that Tony and I would become such great friends, but I’m glad I have someone other than Connor to talk to. A fresh set of ears and a new perspective is always nice, being that Tony is a little older than I am.

“Dude, there’s no way that Metallica surpasses Nirvana. That’s a comparison that just can’t be done.” I say to Tony while on my break. We’re hanging out in the kitchen, eating pasta from the chef’s secret batch he makes for all of the kitchen staff.

“Whatever, Metallica goes hard.” Tony shrugs, stuffing a piece of bread stick into his mouth.

“Nirvana goes hard too, they’re both great bands. Let’s just agree to disagree.” I smirk, throwing a piece of garlic at his face.

Tony shrugs at that, tossing the piece of garlic into his bowl of pasta.

I roll my eyes at him.

“What? You can never have too much garlic.”

Suddenly, one of my fellow servers pops his head into the kitchen.

“Hey Mark, there’s a customer out here requesting you specifically.”

The guy leaves the kitchen before I have time to respond.

“Who the heck could that be?” I voice my thoughts.

“Go find out, your break is over anyway.” Tony says, tossing his empty bowl into the sink.

I do the same and head out into the dining area, scanning the place for somebody familiar.

I smile when I see my mother, sitting at one of the tables near the back. That smile immediately disappears when I see an older gentlemen sitting opposite of her.

I swear to God, if she’s drinking again…

I quickly shake those thoughts away. I know for a fact she isn’t drinking again. I just spoke with her yesterday. I suppose that’s a natural reflex, a thought that automatically pops into my brain whenever I see her with a man.

I swallow the lump in my throat, and walk over to her table, a fake smile on my face.

“Mom, what’re you doing here?”

My mom snaps her head to look at me, a huge smile taking over her face. She immediately stands up and pulls me in for a hug, my arms hugging her back instantly.

“Hey sweetie! I just wanted to come see you. My friend here was hungry, so I brought him for some pasta.” She explains, glancing at the gentlemen still sitting at the table. Once we lock eyes, he stands up and holds his hand out toward me.

“Hi Mark, I’m Jerry. It’s nice to meet you, your mother talks about you all the time at our meetings.” He smiles.

I eye him warily, wondering what he means.

“Meetings?” I glance between him and my mom.

“Yes, my AA meetings. Jerry’s been sober for three years, and he’s kind of been helping me.” My mom explains, taking her seat at the table again.

I glance back at Jerry, who still has his hand stretched out toward me.

I take a deep breath, and finally lift my hand to greet his. He gives me a firm, yet gentle handshake that only lasts a few seconds. He takes his seat again, as I pull my notepad out of my apron.

In the entire time that I’ve been alive, I’ve never actually had a decent conversation with any guy that my mom brought home. They were all alcoholics, and usually mean. Given my past, I think I have a little bit of PTSD when it comes to anyone my mother associates with. I’m nervous to actually speak to this man, but from what I can see so far, he isn’t completely terrible.

“What can I get for you?” I ask the both of them, ready to write down their orders.

“Ladies first.” Jerry smiles, glancing over at my mom to give me her order first.

I glance at him in surprise, but quickly look back to my mom, who tells me she wants the chicken Alfredo with a side of bread sticks. I take her order, and then take Jerry’s order, who decides on the same thing as my mom.

We chat for a few minutes, and I actually find myself smiling and laughing. Jerry is actually pretty decent, and the way he looks at my mom, well, let’s just say there might be another date in their future.

I personally think that my mom getting into a relationship right now, might be a little too soon, but as long as they’re only hanging out as friends for now, I suppose I can get on board.

My mom told me that she’s had a new outlook on life after her surgery, and I’m happy to say that I do too. Life’s too short to worry about anything that doesn’t need to be worried about. Things that you can’t change, things that are inevitable. You need to just live your life the best that you can, and always hope for the best, even if that’s not always what you get.

Shit happens, life sucks, sometimes it’s even unbearable, but at the end of the day we get through it.

One step at a time.

| Naveah’s POV |

“Wake up already, we’re going to be late!” Riley sighs as she kicks me in the leg. I flop over onto my back and glare at her, tossing my blanket off my body. I glance beside me and see that Mark isn’t there.

“He’s already in the kitchen eating breakfast. He tried to wake you up twice, but you wouldn’t budge. Unlike him, I resort to violence.” Riley smiles, almost too sweetly.

I roll my eyes at her, but decide to get up anyway.

After I get dressed, I adjust the straps on my tank top, and make my way down the hall and into the kitchen. Mark, Riley and Lucy all look up at me.


“Took you long enough.”

“It’s like trying to wake the dead, babe.”

“How does your leg feel?”

I glare at the three of them, and turn around to face the fridge. I grab a small bottle of apple juice, but yet there’s a small smile on my face. I’m happy that they’re treating me normal again. It’s all that I’ve wanted for the last few weeks.

“We’re about ready to head to campus, are you?” Lucy asks me as she walks over to the sink to rinse her bowl.

“Yep, I’m ready.” I nod, grabbing a banana from the fruit basket.

“A banana with apple juice? You’re strange.” Riley comments while throwing away her pop-tart wrapper.

“It’s not strange, it’s good. Stop teasing my eating habits.” I shrug, “Now let’s go.”

The four of us pile into the car, Mark deciding to ride to school with us.

This is Mark and I’s first day back since everything happened with his mom, and I’m honestly happy to be completely back on schedule. I actually enjoy my professor’s and the lectures that they give, even if some of them completely bore me to death.

It’s just refreshing to feel normal again, if that makes any sense at all.

“Turn on the radio, don’t be schmuck.” Riley says from the backseat.

“A schmuck, really?” I glance back at her from the passenger side seat. Mark volunteered to drive, so I wasn’t complaining.

“Radio, please.”

I sigh, but lean forward to adjust the volume. The station that’s already playing, seems decent enough, so I leave it.

Once we get to campus, the four of us spot Marissa and Connor at a picnic table, so we decide to join them.

“Well, look who it is!” Connor smiles, standing up to hug Connor. He turns to me, and eventually pulls me in for a hug too. It isn’t forced, it’s actually nice.

Marissa stands up and pulls me in for a hug too, catching me a little off guard.

“God, I’m happy to see you. Professor Robinson’s class has been dreadful without you!” She smiles happily, the rest of us taking our seats again.

“I’m actually happy to see you too, Marissa.” I nod with a smile, “Wow, I can’t believe I actually said that.”

“Oh whatever, you love me now.” She smirks, playfully slapping my shoulder.

Connor and Marissa were great during the crisis with Mark’s mom. Marissa made sure to bring me a lot of my make-up work, and Connor had made numerous trips to see Mark after he heard about everything.

I’m glad that Connor and Mark were able to work through their differences. I hated the thought of ever coming between them, because they share such a special bond. The craziness of last year has definitely taken its toll on all of us, but I’m just grateful that we were all able to come out of that mess in one piece, despite a few setbacks.

I’ve been trying like hell to leave the past in the past where it belongs, but every so often I find myself thinking about everything all over again. Sometimes I really beat myself up over how I was and how I acted last year. Sometimes I can’t even believe that I was ever that person. I hated myself for a long time after what I did to Connor, and even to Mark. Between not being sure of my feelings for Mark, and completely crushing Connor, it’s pretty safe to say that I was an entirely different person then. I don’t even recognize that girl anymore, which I’m thrilled about. She’s mean, and disgusting, and completely everything that I’m not today.

I suppose we’ve all grown up over the last year, and some of us, even more than others.

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