Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 3 | A Harsh Apology

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me that Mark works at Ashlynn’s!” I glare at Connor.

He and Marissa are sitting across from me outside in the quad. We found a picnic table near the cafeteria and we decided to hang out before class starts. Riley is still sleeping at home, because she didn’t have any classes today, and Lucy is in her English Lit. class.

“When exactly should I have mentioned it? We only talked for like two seconds yesterday.” Connor rolls his eyes. “Besides, he just started working there last week. Apparently he knows the dishwasher and was hired on the spot.”

I sigh as I lean forward, resting my elbows on the table and placing my head into my hands. I briefly run my fingers through my hair before dropping my hands against the table.

“I suppose I should have seen this coming. It was inevitable for us to run into each other. Of course, I would have preferred that it didn’t happen during my date.”

“Date? With who?” Marissa smiles wide.

“Dylan. He’s new to America. Actually, I met him over the summer while in Europe.” I sheepishly admit.

“Wait, so he followed you here all the way from Europe? Sounds a bit stalker-ish.” Connor laughs.

“He is so not a stalker!” I glare playfully. “His parents pushed him into going to college away from home, plus he’s always wanted to see the states.” I shrug.

“That’s not the only thing he wanted to see.” Marissa smirks. “He came here for you too.”

“So what if he did?” I smile. “We really hit it off over the summer. We aren’t official or anything yet, but it seems to be going well. For now at least.”

“So, how did Mark react when he saw you last night?” Connor asks. “Surely he couldn’t have been happy.”

“Well, he acted as professional as he could.” I roll my eyes. “I just wish I was able to talk to him. Try to clear the air a bit. That was the first time we actually interacted after the car accident last year, not to mention it was totally forced and awkward.”

“Well, I just so happen to know that he will be alone in the campus library today after lunch. He said he had a paper to work on and needed to do some research. I only know because I asked him to hang out, and he said he couldn’t.” Connor says with a smile.

“Cool. The library is a public enough place, right? He wouldn’t be able to kill me there.” I joke.

“I’d still take some pepper spray or something, you know, just in case.” Marissa comments.

I laugh at her, and notice that class is about to start.

“Ready to go?” I look at Marissa.

She looks down at her phone and then nods. As I get up from the table, she kisses Connor on the cheek and I wave goodbye as we walk to class.

Things have been surprisingly easy with Marissa. I still don’t fully trust her, but she’s very slowly starting to grow on me. I decided I wasn’t going to let what happened last year, affect me too much here at college. I didn’t want to carry around any grudges.

I’ve got enough on my plate, worrying about Mark.

I don’t even know why I’m worried about him at all. He made it pretty clear at the hospital that he didn’t want anything to do with me. He practically hates my existence, and I don’t blame him.

I still blame myself for the car accident, and I would still move heaven and earth to re-do that entire day over again.

As Marissa and I walk into class and take our seats, my mind is completely distracted. Professor Robinson begins the lecture while motioning toward the whiteboard, and I find myself zoning out completely.

What would have happened that day, if I told Mark that I felt the same? What would have happened if I told him that I loved him, and he didn’t drive away in a state of rage? What if we became a couple, and came here to college together? Would I still be living with my girls, or would I be living with Mark?

I’m brought back to reality when Marissa nudges my arm.

“You’re not paying attention.” She whispers.

I nod at her and face Professor Robinson again.

I need to stop thinking about it. Nothing is going to change what happened.

Maybe what happened is for the best. Maybe everything happens for a reason, and that’s why I went to Europe over the summer and had the pleasure of meeting Dylan. Maybe I’m meant to be with Dylan.

He is extremely gorgeous, and very sweet. He’s been nothing but nice to me since we met, always making sure that I am okay. Not to mention, his charming British accent makes me weak in the knees.

Perhaps everything is exactly how it should be.

But then, why do I still feel so crappy?

| Mark’s POV |

I’m browsing through the library when I hear the doors open up. I don’t care enough to look up, so I continue looking at the different books while checking my notes for the paper I have to write.

I stifle a yawn, feeling extremely tired today. I didn’t get much sleep last night.

Between dealing with Jessica, and my mind going haywire after seeing Naveah, it’s safe to say that I wish I had a giant jug of coffee right about now.

I don’t understand why it’s bothering me so much. I told her to stay away, and she did.

She did. She stayed away.

She didn’t even try to contact me after I kicked her out of my hospital room.

| Flashback |

“Mr. Chase, you have a visitor.” My nurse, Rose, says as she steps aside to let whoever it is in my room.

I press the button on the side of my bed, to allow me to sit up straight.

As soon as I see her face, my own pales.

Images from the car accident bombard my brain. The car flipping, the bicyclist. Dead. He’s dead and it’s because of me.

Because of her.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” I barely manage to say. My voice is still a little hoarse from being in the coma.

Her perfect blonde hair falls over her glossy eyes as she steps forward. She’s standing directly in front of my bed.

“I can’t believe you’re awake. They said you still had a while before you were supposed to wake up. I can’t believe you’re talking and alert.” She smiles softly.

God I loathe that amazing smile.

“I didn’t ask for you to be here.” I grit through my teeth.

“I know, but when Rose said you were awake, I had to-“, but my fist slamming against the table beside my bed cut her off.

“Get out.”

“W-What?” She takes a small step back.

“I said... Get. The. Fuck. Out!” I snap harshly, my breathing becoming irregular.

“Mark, please, just let me-“, but I cut her off a second time.

“GET OUT!” I scream at her, “LEAVE, AND DO NOT COME BACK!”

Finally, fueled with rage, I pick up my cup of water and throw it at her face. Water splashes all over her, as the cup smacks her on the head, soon after falling to the tile floor below.

The only thing I can hear is my heavy breathing.

I look up at Naveah’s wide eyes. She honestly looks scared of me, terrified.

I almost crack and tell her I’m sorry, but the rage inside is still too strong.

“Mark, I just need to-“, again, I don’t let her finish.

“Are you dense? Do you not understand proper English? Get the hell out of my room now!” I shout again, and this time Rose comes rushing into my room.

“What on earth is going on in here?” Her eyes widen as she looks at a soaked Naveah, and then looks down at the cup and puddle of water on the floor.

“I’ll get housekeeping to come wipe this up. Naveah, I think it’s time for you to go now. Mark needs time to process.” Rose says calmly. “Seeing you is just too much for him right now sweetie.”

Naveah slowly nods, her eyes never leaving mine.

Now’s my chance to stop her, to say that I’m sorry, to pull her close and hug her... but I let the moment pass. I say absolutely nothing.

She finally turns and rushes out of my room, and I swear I heard a sob escape her lips just as she made it into the hallway.

| End of Flashback |

I felt a deep pain in my chest that day, a pain that still hasn’t gone away.

Once I find a few books that I think will help my paper, I turn only to find Naveah herself standing behind me. Her eyes widen, and I give her a questioning look as I step forward.

“How long have you been standing there watching me?” I ask.

“Not long.” Her reply is short.

“Well? Did you want something?”

“No! Wait yes; I wanted to, uh...” She trails off.

I internally smirk. She’s nervous.

“I wanted to talk.”

“About what? The weather? I’ve got nothing to say to you.” I casually say while setting my books down onto a nearby table.

Okay, that’s a lie.

“You may not have anything to say Mark, but I do.” She sighs while sitting down at my table.

“Fine. Talk. I’m all ears.” I grin sarcastically.

“Trust me, this isn’t easy. If we didn’t go to the same school, I probably wouldn’t even be doing this.” She starts. “But since we do, I think there’s some things that we need to discuss.”

I nod, allowing her to continue.

“The day of the car accident.” She begins.

My entire body immediately tenses.

“You have to know, that I am completely and truly sorry. If I had known what was going to happen, I never would have let you leave the way you did. The very instant I saw your car upside down on the road...” She trails off again, obviously trying to compose herself. “All I could feel was remorse.”

I eye her warily.

“The truth is, I didn’t move away from the kiss because I didn’t feel the same, I moved away because I wasn’t sure if we were moving too fast or not. I was terrified that if we jumped into something, and it didn’t work out, then everything we put everyone through would have been for nothing.” She tries her best to explain.

“I just needed you to know, that I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry that you got hurt, and I’m sorry that you hate me for it. I know that it’s my fault, and I did beat myself up over it for a while. Well, until this summer. Europe was exactly what I needed.” She admits.

I instantly think of her British boy toy.

“Well, I’m happy Europe was so good for you.” I comment dryly.

“Can you at least accept my apology?” She sighs heavily.

“Why? So you can feel better about yourself?” I chuckle humorlessly.

I don’t know why I’m lashing out at her. I shouldn’t be. I should be accepting her apology, because deep down, I know that the car accident wasn’t her fault.

I notice her features harden, before she abruptly stands up.

“Okay, obviously this was a mistake. Mark, I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t tell you that to make myself feel better, I said it because it’s true and it’s how I feel. Whether you want to believe it or not, I feel horrible about everything, and I just thought you’d like to know. Apparently, I was wrong.”

I watch as she storms away and out of the library.

I look down at the books sitting on the table.

I have no idea why I just did that.

I debate on whether to go after her, but then my thoughts are back on her Brit boy toy and I find myself staying put in the library. He’s more than capable to console her, right?

She doesn’t need me anymore.

Nobody does.

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