Troubled Sincerity

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Chapter 7 | Jessica

As I sit in the quad with a fresh cup of coffee, I can’t help but feel as though I am a complete idiot.

Why the hell did I call Mark last night?

I honestly don’t even know how it happened. I just woke up covered in sweat, and the first thing I did was reach for my cell phone.

Big mistake.

I’m waiting for Mark to show up when I spot Connor walking by.

“Hey!” I shout to gain his attention.

He turns and once he spots me, he walks over.

“What’s up?”

“Doing something I probably shouldn’t be doing.” I sigh.

“Let me guess, does this something include Mark?” Connor smirks knowingly.

“Perhaps. Is that bad?” I grimace.

Connor only shrugs. “That’s something only you can decide. Why are you waiting for him?”

“Well, it’s a long story. Basically after his car accident, I started getting nightmares.” I begin to explain, which causes Connor’s eyes to widen slightly.

“Really? Damn. I’m sorry.” He frowns while taking a seat beside me on the grass.

“Anyway, I haven’t had any in a really long time, but last night I did.”

“About Mark?” He asks.

I nod.

“Okay, so what is it that you’re doing now, that you probably shouldn’t be?” He questions.

“Well, last night, I mistakenly called Mark as soon as I woke up from my nightmare. He asked me to meet up with him and I said yes, so now I don’t even know what I’m going to say to him.” I blurt out as I lean my head against the tree I’m currently propped against.

“Wow. That’s… interesting. I guess just tell him how you feel.” Connor suggests. “I know what’s been going on with you and him recently. You know, at Ashlynn’s and what not.” Connor then smirks.

“It is so not what you’re thinking!” I defend myself. “I wasn’t even trying to be around him at all this entire year, but as fate would have it, life loves putting me in horrible situations.”

“Be honest here Naveah. You put yourself into horrible situations.” Connors light expression is a little more serious as he says this. “I mean I’m over everything that happened last year, but still, a lot of the stuff you went through you did to yourself.”

I nod. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s my own fault. God, I’m a horrible person.”

Connor laughs, and I take this opportunity to playfully nudge my elbow into his side. “Hey, on a more serious note, I just wanted to say again how sorry I am for what happened. I know the past is the past, and nothing can change it, but I have never felt lower than I did then. Hurting you is something I’ll always regret.”

I give him a sad smile, and he does the same with a nod.

“Let’s just try to move forward, shall we? I have no problem at all just being friends. Besides, I think Marissa is really starting to like you.” He laughs knowingly.

I fake a sigh and a look of disgust, before smiling. “Yeah, I guess she’s growing on me too.”

Speaking of the devil.

“Hey! There you guys are! What’s up?” She smiles while walking in our direction.

“We were just talking about you actually.” Connor smirks as he stands up to greet Marissa. He kisses her on the forehead and then they both sit beside each other, but across from me on the grass.

“What’s going on with you?” She looks at me, probably seeing the look of uncertainty on my face as I glance around the quad in search for a certain dark haired boy.

“Oh ya know, just reliving a bit of last year.” I sigh with a shrug. “I’m meeting Mark.”

Marissa’s smile widens as she glances behind me and the tree I’m up against. “Well, there you go.”

I look behind me and once Mark’s eyes meet mine, he’s immediately walking over to me.

“I think we should go babe, come on.” Marissa stands up to grab Connor and he follows her as they both walk away.

“Thanks for the back-up!” I shout sarcastically. I watch them both laugh as they continue to walk in the opposite direction as me.

My stomach drops as I sense Mark beside me.

I look up as he looks down at me. “Coffee?” I offer my drink, feeling dumb for not getting one for him.

“I’m good.” He lightly chuckles.

“You’re in a good mood.” I comment. Normally he isn’t as cheery when he’s around me. Especially lately. I don’t blame him after the way everything went down the other night at Ashlynn’s.

“Yeah, that doesn’t sound right, does it?” He smirks.

I roll my eyes.

“So, about last night.” I begin.

“Yeah, what happened? What did you have a nightmare about?” He’s quick to ask.

“Well… I don’t want you to think I’m some psycho, but the nightmares are about the car accident.” I admit with a frown.

His eyes soften a million degrees, as he sits a little closer to me on the grass.

“I had no idea. Why didn’t you tell me?” He asks.

“When would’ve been a good time Mark? The day you kicked me out of your hospital room, or the few times we’ve had pleasant exchanges at Ashlynn’s?”

I didn’t mean it to come out so harsh and sarcastic, but Mark’s frown tells me it did quite a bit.

“Look, I’m sorry. It isn’t your fault. You had every right to be angry with me. I shouldn’t have let you leave that day at the park… I was honestly just shocked. You telling me that you wanted to be with me, even after everything we went through together, I just wasn’t sure if it was the right choice by then. I wanted to still be your friend, but I knew that I wouldn’t have lasted long before I tried to turn it into something more.” I try to explain.

“I wasn’t rejecting you, even though it came out that way. I just wasn’t sure what to do. I needed time. I should have just said that instead of shrugging you off the way I did.”

“Naveah. Listen to me.” Mark begins.

“I-“, but he’s cut off by a female voice.

“Mark! Where have you been? I woke up and you were gone!”

I watch as a very pretty, dark haired girl comes strolling over toward us. She looks at how close Mark and I are sitting together, and her bright green eyes glance at me suspiciously. The look of worry leaves her face, I can tell she’s trying to hide it. She looks back over to Mark and waits for his answer as she rests her hands on her hips.

“Sorry, I just needed to catch up with a friend.”

Friend huh? That’s highly unlikely.

“What’s her name?” The girl asks, prying for answers without trying to show her jealousy.

My name is Naveah. And you?” I smile up at her from my spot on the grass.

Mark has since stood up, standing impatiently beside whoever this girl is.

“I’m Jessica, Mark’s girlfriend.”

For reasons I’ll probably never understand, my stomach drops. Girlfriend?

Connor never mentioned that Mark had a girlfriend.

I feel like much more than an idiot now.

Wait, what am I saying? I have Dylan. We haven’t made things official yet, but I still care about him a lot.

Jessica shouldn’t bother me. Still, looking at her, I’m aware of how gorgeous she is. Her light eyes contrast so well with her dark hair.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you Jessica. Sorry, I should get going. I have a class this afternoon.” I say while standing up. Jessica eyes me again, and I her.

Mark is definitely uncomfortable.

“Can we finish talking later?” He asks me, not caring that the second he does, Jessica’s stare snaps to him.

“Maybe.” I nod. “See you guys around!” I smile as best as I can, before turning around and walking away.

I find Connor reading near a table across the quad, so I immediately approach him.

“You.” I glare.

His eyes widen.

“Crap, what did I do?” He sighs playfully.

“Why didn’t you tell me that Mark had a girlfriend?” I whisper-yell, trying my best not to attract attention to us.

“He doesn’t.” Connor shrugs.

“Oh really? Perhaps you should go tell that to Jessica.” I roll my eyes.

“Jessica is not Mark’s girlfriend, rather just someone he… ya know.”

Connor gives me a look, and I know exactly what he means. So, she’s his very own girl toy.

And to think he had the nerve to give me crap about Dylan.

“Wait a second, is the Naveah Olsin jealous?” Connor grins.

“What?” I ask incredulously, “No! I just wouldn’t have minded a heads up.” I casually shrug.

“Right. Well, I met her a few times, she seems alright. Maybe you shouldn’t read too much into things. The same way you needed a distraction from everything, he did too.”

Why is Connor always right?

“I guess.” I sigh while taking a seat beside Connor at the table. “Thank you for talking to me about this. I never thought in a million years you would ever agree to be my friend again.”

“Don’t mention it. We’ve known each other for a long time now. At some point we just have to let go of the past and keep moving forward.” He smiles.

I smile back, genuinely happy to still have Connor in my life.

“Well, I leave you to your book.” I grin. “See you around?”

He nods. “Of course.”

He smiles as I get up to leave, yet somehow I felt his eyes linger on me as I walked away.

I too, have let my eyes linger. I suppose we’re both sorry how things ended between us. At least now, we can actually move forward with our lives and enjoy college together. That I am truly grateful for.

“Anyone home?” I shout into our apartment as I walk through the door. My class this afternoon only lasted an hour, so now I get to relax for the rest of the day.

“I am!” I hear a shout from one of the back rooms.

I walk back, and spot Riley lounging on her bed.

“How was class?”

“Eh, fine. What did you do all day?” I raise an eyebrow.

“Exactly this. Riveting, I know.” She deadpans with a laugh.

“Want to help me cook dinner?” I question.

Riley nods before following me out into the kitchen.

“What did you do before class?” She asks while pulling some chicken from the fridge, attempting to make small talk.

“Well, actually, about that…”I trail off.

“What now?” She sighs.

“Why does everyone sigh when I say that?” I furrow my brows. “Anyway, I actually met up with Mark.”

Riley coughs in surprise after taking a drink from her water bottle. “You what?”

“To be completely honest, I had a nightmare last night.” I admit.

I briefly told Lucy, Callie and Riley about my nightmares during our summer in Europe. I only told them because I didn’t want to scare them if I woke up in the middle of the night while having one. They told me they understood, and said it was okay.

“Really? How come? You’ve been doing so well.” Riley frowns.

“I don’t know. Maybe seeing Mark after not seeing him all summer somehow triggered them.” I shrug. “Regardless, it was a bad one. I don’t even want to go into detail, but for some reason I called Mark last night whenever I woke up. I was probably in a panic, so I don’t even know why I did.” I ramble.

“Naveah, it’s obvious.” Riley says knowingly. “You’re not completely over what happened.”

“I need to be though. He’s clearly moved on, and I have Dylan in my life now.” I sigh.

Riley nods. “Dylan is great. But you can’t just ignore what you’re feeling. If you have any leftover feelings at all for Mark, you need to be upfront about them this time around. We don’t need a repeat of last year.”

I grimace at the thought. I will not go back to that Naveah. I hated that version of myself. I ruined a lot of relationships and it got me nowhere. I was still alone come summer time, and so I can’t allow myself to fall into old habits.

“You’re right.” I nod in acceptance. “I need to figure this out, and fast. I don’t want to hurt Dylan.”

“Good idea. Now, start cooking that pasta.” Riley motions toward the pasta laid out on the counter.

I do as instructed, and remain quiet for the rest of the time we cook. It’s a comfortable silence, Riley knowing when I need to be alone with my thoughts.

She’s an amazing friend in that way. She never pries or pushes.

A little while later, when dinner is just about done, Lucy walks through the door with Dylan behind her.

“Hello love, something smells divine.” Dylan smiles as he walks over to kiss my cheek.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” I ask.

“Well, I haven’t seen you all day. Should I not have come?” He questions.

“No! It’s fine. I’m glad.” I smile.

“Good, I’m starving. I just need to visit the restroom.”

Dylan wanders to the back of the apartment, as I glare at Lucy.

“What? He saw me walking home and offered a ride.” She shrugs. “Why don’t you want him here?”

“I do.” I sigh. “It’s just, tonight I was hoping to get a little alone time with myself. I need to clear my head on a few things, and it’s hard with him here.”

“I’m sorry.” Lucy frowns. “Next time I’ll make sure you want company.”

I smile at her. “Thanks, didn’t mean to be a bitch.”

“Sure you did, but it’s what I’m here for.” Lucy laughs which causes Riley to laugh as well.

“Hey love,” I hear Dylan as he rounds the corner from the bathroom. “My mate just called me, said he needs to video chat about an issue back home with my mum. Is it alright if I just see you tomorrow?”

“Sure, is everything alright?” I frown with concern.

I didn’t know he and his mom were having problems.

“Oh it will be, don’t worry.” He smiles reassuringly, before walking over to kiss my cheek again.

He leaves, and I’m a little relieved that I get to enjoy a night with just me and the girls.

“So, want to tell me the real reason you didn’t want him here?” Lucy eyes me suspiciously, as the three of us take our plates of food into the living room.

Riley turns the TV on as background noise, and keeps the volume down while we talk.

“Does there need to be a reason?” I smirk.

“Knowing you, yes.” She nods. Riley nods too.

I roll my eyes for the hundredth time today.

“Well, there is something.” I admit, finally letting loose and explaining everything to the both of them.

Okay, more like someone. A dark haired someone.

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