Troubled Sincerity

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Bonus - 3

| 1 week after chapter 29 |

| Callie’s POV |

“Come on, could you possibly walk any slower?” I sigh, beeping my horn at the people in front of me.

The one thing I dislike about New York is all of the freaking people. I should give up driving, and just walk. At least I’d get to where I need to be faster.

I suppose I took living back in California for granted. I do miss home, so much, but I can’t say that I don’t also love New York. I never in a million years thought that I would be a professional dancer. I used to practice all the time back at home, in the comfort of my bedroom, of course. My mom used to always tell me that I should apply for New York, though I told her she was crazy.

I never believed that I would be asked to come audition, let alone actually be accepted into the school. I was worried about my financial situation, but luckily I was able to apply for a scholarship, and I was beyond ecstatic when I was awarded with the money.

Living in New York has been a challenging adjustment, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I called Naveah again a few nights ago, just to check up on her. She keeps telling me she’s fine, so I suppose I believe her. I can’t believe she gave up a portion of her body to Mark’s mother. That’s some real, dedicated love right there.

I used to think that I loved John that way, but things don’t always work out the way we want them to. I still laugh whenever I think back to the time we both got lost from each other at Walmart one night. The moron decided to speak over the intercom, and I’m surprised the Walmart employee allowed him to do so. When he said, “Code Red, code Red, Callie, please report to the tampon section. Code Red!” I literally wanted to kill him. Of course, he used his own nickname as part of the joke. He was always so funny.

I shake my head of my thoughts as I pull into the dance studio parking lot. I need to forget about him, we’re completely over. Even if we did share a kiss back home in California a couple weeks ago.

| Flashback |

My phone rings, catching my attention. Naveah just left to God knows where, and Mark is still over at his father’s house, probably trying to reconcile.


“Hey, you busy?”

“What do you want, John?” I sigh.

“I just want to meet up, maybe talk for a bit.” He says quietly.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. We already said everything we needed to say. We’re friends, let’s just keep things simple.”

“Come on, all I want to do is hangout, as friends.” He says, and I can tell he’s smiling.

I think about it for a moment. Should I?

“Fine, but only for a few. I’ve got to get back here in case Naveah shows up.”

We decide to meet at the nearby park, and I get there first.

Out of nowhere, I feel something hit the back of my head.

“What the fuck?” I shout, standing up to turn around. I find a smirking John, holding a grocery bag in his hand. I glance to the ground and spot what had struck me. A bag of Twizzlers.

“Gee, thanks.” I deadpan, leaning down to pick them up.

“Don’t mention it, buddy!” John smiles, glancing over at me as he sits beside me on top of the picnic table.

“How are you?” I ask, trying to strike up conversation, because this isn’t awkward at all.

“I’m fine.” He nods, taking a twizzler from his own pack.

“How’s…” I trail off, purposely seeming to forget her name.

“Julie? She’s great. Everything’s still new so we’re just feeling each other out.” John shrugs, glancing away from me and out toward the open grass in front of us.

“You don’t seem too positive on that.” I comment, glancing over at him.

“Yeah, well, she’s definitely not you.” He says, catching me off guard.

“Oh.” I mumble, glancing down at my hands.

“I, uh, I’m sorry about how things ended.” John finally says after a few moments of silence.

“You don’t need to apologize, John. We’ve already said everything that we needed to after graduation. You needed to move back home, and I needed to move to New York. We both had different paths to take. Sometimes that means saying goodbye.” I explain, trying my best to not frown.

“Yeah, I know darlin’. It’s just been hard for me I guess.” He sighs.

My eyes widen at this. I had no idea he still felt this way.

We both glance at each other, our knees slightly touching.

“It’s been hard for me too.” I nod.

“Yeah?” Something shifts in John’s eyes, something that makes him seem hopeful for something.

“That doesn’t mean we should try to get back together though, it could never work with the distance. I know people say it can, but they’re just lying to themselves. People need human contact, people need intimacy, the kind you don’t get from over a cell phone.” I explain, still gazing into his eyes.

“You’re right. It wouldn’t work.” John frowns, taking another bite of his twizzler.

I place my hand onto his knee, squeezing gently. “I’m sorry. I do still care about you, I always will.”

He glances down at my hand, and I could feel his body go tense at the contact. I frown and pull my hand away, not wanting to make him feel even worse.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

My eyes snap back up to meet his own, my eyebrows furrowing. “Do what?”

“Move your hand away.” He says quietly.

Getting too caught up in my emotions, I abruptly stand up. “I need to go, I’m sorry.”

“Wait, why? What’s wrong darlin’?” John asks, immediately standing up to face me.

“Please don’t call me that anymore.” I frown, glancing down at my feet as I hug my arms around myself.

I feel the wind whisk my hair behind me, the breeze picking up speed.

“I can’t help it Callie, it’s what I’ve always called you.” John replies, his tone harsh.

“I know, but that was when we were together!” I sigh, taking a short step back.

“Don’t raise your voice at me, darlin’. You know I don’t like it.” He challenges, taking a step toward me.

“I don’t care what you like, we’re not together, and you can’t tell me what to say or do anymore.” I challenge right back, taking a daring step toward him.

Anger flashes in John’s eyes, before his expression turns completely blank and void of any emotion. Before I realize what’s even happening, he takes a giant step forward and yanks me in for a kiss.

It’s wrong, but intense in the best way. My arms grip around my waist tighter, before they eventually let go and wrap around John’s neck, pulling him closer. His large hands grip my hips, his fingers digging into my skin. I bite his lip, slightly tugging on it, causing him to grunt against my lips. He picks me up and sits me down on the picnic table, pushing himself between my legs as they wrap around his waist.

The kiss deepens, and I lose all sense of self control, but just as his fingers tangle into my hair, I drop my legs from around his waist and immediately push him back.

We’re both breathing heavy, our eyes locked in an intense staring contest.

“Fuck.” He finally says, his voice cracking.

“I need to go.”

After that, I run away and toward my rental car, not forgetting to grab my bag of Twizzlers to take with me. I’ll need them to angrily eat on my drive back to Naveah’s.

What the hell just happened?

| End of Flashback |

I haven’t spoken to John since that kiss in the park. I just haven’t had any idea what to say to him. I know he’s back home in Tennessee now, probably still with Julie.

I wonder if he still thinks about that kiss too.

“Callie! Welcome back! Ready to practice?” My instructor, Cher, greets me as I enter the studio.

“Of course!” I nod happily, John immediately leaving my mind as dance occupies it.

I could dance all day long, if my body and feet wouldn’t give out. Dancing is a way to express myself, to express my emotions, and to let loose and be free. The different music, genres, and people are what give me a thrill every single day that I dance. Cher has been my instructor since I first moved out here. She’s a retired professional dancer, but she still teaches at the studio every week.

She’s absolutely breathtaking. I only dream to become the dancer that she is.

“Hit the music and let’s get started.” Cher instructs, pointing toward the large radio in the corner of the room.

I do as I’m told, and we dance for a few good hours, until we can barely catch our breaths.

“That was amazing!” I sigh happily, wiping sweat from my forehead.

“Yep, you’ll be the best of the best before you know it!” Cher smiles, grabbing two water bottles for each of us.

“I can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve been teaching me. I’m sorry I can’t really pay you that much. I’m still working on getting a part-time job.” I frown, my chest still rising and falling rapidly.

“Don’t worry about it sweetie, you can pay me with how well you learn. You can pay me with your soon to be expertise. I don’t need money.” She smirks, finishing off her water bottle already, and tossing it into a nearby trashcan.

I do the same, and we leave the studio, Cher locking it up. “See you tomorrow?” She asks.

“You bet! I only have one class I need to attend in the morning, and then I’m all yours!” I smile, waving goodbye as I walk back to my car.

My stomach decides it’s starving on my drive home, so I decide to stop at a local Chinese place to grab some takeout.

As I shut my car door and turn to walk into the Chinese restaurant, I accidentally bump into someone.

“God, I’m sorry! I’m usually not clumsy.” I laugh, looking up to see who had the displeasure of bumping into me.

“No, I’m sorry! I wasn’t paying attention to what was in front of me, though now I wish I had.” He smiles, his bright teeth staring back at me. His dark brown hair falls just over his eyebrows, his deep brown eyes gazing into my own.

“I guess we both need to work on our awareness.” I joke, giving him a smile.

“I suppose you’re right. Are you going into Wong’s place?” He asks, glancing back at the Chinese restaurant that I was indeed about to walk into.

“Yep, I need something for dinner, and I’m not really the best chef in the world.” I shrug slightly, causing the nameless guy to chuckle.

“That makes two of us then.” He smirks, holding up his own bag of takeout.

“Great minds think alike.” I smirk in return, beginning to walk around him. “Maybe I’ll see you here again sometime?”

“Maybe.” He nods.

I finally walk around him, and make it inside the restaurant. I order my food, and wait patiently for it to be made and packaged. Once I pay and take my dinner, I walk back outside and jump slightly when the same guy from before starts talking again.

“I’m sorry, I normally don’t do this. I’m a complete stranger, and you probably don’t want some strange guy trying to talk to you, especially this late at night.” He sheepishly smiles while nervously gripping the back of his neck, his takeout bag in his other hand.

“It isn’t that late actually. It’s only eight.” I smile, glancing up at him.

“I don’t mean to be forward or anything, but I just wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t at least ask for your name.”

“Callie.” I say, “And you?”

“Jonah.” He smiles in return, “Nice to meet you. God, I’m being really lame right now.”

“No, you’re fine.” I laugh, but then realize what I just said, “I mean, you’re doing fine. I don’t think you’re lame at all actually.” I recover.

Jonah smirks before glancing down at our identical takeout bags. “Well, Callie, I’d say we were meant to meet at this exact restaurant on this exact evening. Would be a shame for us to eat this delicious food alone…” He trails off, but quickly speaks up again, “That is, unless you have food in there for someone else as well?”

I like how he discreetly asks me if I’m with someone, without coming on too strong like a lot of creeps I’ve met since moving to New York. He has this gentleness about him that I’ve only ever felt once before. I immediately cease the thoughts of John from entering my mind, while realizing that I’m taking way too long to answer Jonah.

“Oh, no, there isn’t anyone else. Just me.” I finally say, giving him a nervous smile.

“If there is, you can totally tell me. I won’t be too disappointed.” He softly chuckles, causing my insides to warm.

“Nope, just me, promise.” I nod. “But you’re right, it would be a shame for us to eat this delicious food alone.” I confirm, discreetly giving him the okay that I would like to have dinner together.

Jonah smiles as he motions for me to follow him. I walk with him through the parking lot, until we reach a giant F150 truck. It’s red, go figure.

Jonah walks around to the back, and pulls down the tail of the truck, jumping up to sit on the edge while placing his bag of food next to him. “This work?” He asks, glancing down at me.

“I don’t think I can jump up there.” I laugh, “I’m short, in case you haven’t noticed.”

Jonah has a good foot and a half on me, of course, I wasn’t checking him out or anything.

Jonah smiles as he jumps down from the edge of the tail, and suddenly without warning, picks me up and places me on the edge of the truck bed, making sure not to spill the contents of my takeout bag.

“Wow, okay, we’re doing that now.” My eyes widen. One second I was on the ground, the next I was in the air.

“Well, it was the easier alternative to watching you struggle to climb.” Jonah casually shrugs, taking out a container of fried rice from his bag and beginning to eat it.

“I think I could’ve managed.” I deadpan, reaching for my own container of fried rice.

“The pork fried rice is the best.” Jonah sighs in content, completely disregarding my last comment.

“Hm, I got the vegetable fried rice.” I reply, holding the container out into his view.

“Wow, and here I thought you were the perfect girl.” Jonah frowns teasingly.

“Oh shut up, I’m great.” I defend myself, giving him a short glare as I take a spoonful of rice.

“Don’t tell me you can’t use chopsticks either?” Jonah says in a serious tone, as if that small detail could make or break our pending friendship.

“I can, I just prefer not to use them when eating rice. It makes it very difficult and takes too damn long just to get a bite. I save the chopsticks for the chicken and the Lo-Mein.” I shrug, giving him a smile.

“Wow, where have you been all my life?” Jonah teases with a large smile, my eyes suddenly focusing on his plump lips.

Not today, Callie, not today.

We eat the rest of our food and talk for the next hour and a half. It’s way past dark by the time we’re finished, Jonah causing us both to realize.

“Damn, it’s after nine o’clock. Where did the afternoon go?” He asks, glancing over at me. I’m leaning back on my elbows, my stomach full of Chinese food.

About halfway through our meals, Jonah decided it would be fun to share what the other got, just to see if we both had the same taste. Apparently, we did.

Jonah ran back inside a little bit ago, to buy some Chinese donuts for desert. We just finished the last of them before he pulled out his cell phone.

“Time flies when you’re stuffing your face.” I comment, not realizing how odd that sounded.

Jonah laughs, for the millionth time tonight, which causes me to smile again as we look at each other.

“Would it be cliché to ask for your phone number?”

“I don’t know Jonah, do you think the Rom-Com Gods from above would allow us to leave without doing so?” I joke, causing him to give me a deadpanned look.

“Fine, here.” I smirk, reaching for my cell phone to hand it over to him. I watch as he plugs his number in, while also taking a quick selfie for his contact photo. “You know, so you don’t forget what I look like.”

“Right, because I know so many Jonah’s here in the city.” I tease, reaching for my phone. I suddenly lean across his lap to snatch his, not even asking first.

“Sure, take it.” He deadpans, giving me a slight chuckle.

I add my number into his phone, and also take a selfie, sticking my tongue out at the camera.

“So you won’t forget. Don’t ever forget me Jonah, ever!” I exclaim dramatically, causing us both to laugh.

“Shut the hell up.” Jonah smiles as he jumps down from the tail of his truck. I reach my arms out, almost like a baby, and Jonah rolls his eyes while picking me up and placing me back onto the earth below.

“You’re so kind.” I tease, reaching up to pat his shoulder.

“Never pat me.” He sighs, taking my hand in his and gently kissing the top of it. I freeze while watching him, but he only laughs at me once he notices my face.

“Relax, it’s not like that.”

I snap back to reality, my joking side coming back to play again.

“Nah, admit it Joni, you’re trying to win points with me. I’m just too amazing to let pass you by.” I smirk, flipping my long hair over my shoulder.

“Never call me Joni.” He shakes his head disapprovingly.

“Too late, it’s already your contact name in my phone. Should’ve said something two seconds ago.” I shrug, saving his contact and shoving my phone into my back pocket.

“Wow, feisty. Just my luck.” Jonah smirks, closing up the tail of his truck.

We both walk our empty bags of takeout over to the trashcan just outside of the Chinese restaurant, and then we turn to each other again.

“I had fun.” Jonah says, staring down into my eyes. He’s ridiculously tall, which means I have to strain my neck just to look up at him.

“Me too, surprisingly. It’s not every day a random stranger asks you to eat dinner with them on the back of their truck.” I smile, causing Jonah to chuckle.

“I suppose we were just in the right place, at the right time.” He shrugs, “I, for one, am glad.”

“I’ll bet you are.” I smirk, playfully swatting his arm.

“We should do this again, soon.” He says boldly, opening his arms up for a hug. “Come on, you know you’ve been dying to step into these bad boys all night.”

I roll my eyes, but don’t miss my chance to get a hug. The hug is short, yet sweet.

“Goodbye Callie.” Jonah smiles before turning around and walking back to his truck near the end of the parking lot.

“Goodbye.” I smile wide, though now he can’t see it, as I watch his back.

On the drive home, I FaceTime with Naveah, Lucy, Riley and Marissa, placing my phone in the attachable holder on the dashboard of my car so I can keep my hands on the wheel.

I tell them about Jonah, and they react how I would’ve expected.

Naveah told me how happy she is for me.

Lucy asked about what Jonah looks like and if he’s an 8 or above on the hotness scale.

Marissa congratulated me for getting “back out there”, after my breakup with John.

Riley, of course, asked if we did anything more than just hug.

I hate that I live so far away from them. I miss them every single day. However, I’m happy with the life I have up here in New York. Sure, I’m across the entire globe, but my girls will always be my girls.

We’ve been through hell and back, but I wouldn’t change anything. Okay, maybe I’d change a few things, but for the most part, everything happened the way that it was supposed to.

The thing about friendship, there’s always going to be setbacks. There’s always going to be trials and errors, there’s always going to be miscommunication, and even maybe some secrets here and there.

One thing I know for sure about friendship though, is that it’s never a mistake. People cross our paths for a reason, and even if we never find out what that reason may be, I’d still like to think that somewhere deep down, we know anyway. We know, because we’re supposed to. We know because the relationships we make can last a lifetime, if we’re lucky enough.

These girls will always remain a huge piece of my life, even if we’re thousands of miles apart.

I wouldn’t trade them for anything, and they wouldn’t trade me. That’s a promise.

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