Chapter 41 | Problem Solvers
Mark smiled as he the call ended. He looked at the phone in his hands and chuckled at himself, still in unbelief at the blessing he had in his life. They were already cleaning up after practice and even then he was already excited to see her for today, though it was late. So, unlike himself, he ran to the shower rooms to clean up first, rather than his usual practice of being last.
All day, his teammates had teased him, telling him he had finally “matured” and was called, “a sucker for love”. Knowing who Elizabeth was made it all the worse. Saying he was lucky for having her, which he could easily agree to. But also saying things like sharing, which he almost punched Kit’s gut for, before saying he was joking, not making it any better.
He let go of his team mates fun and thought that they would eventually stop and let the situation die down In fact, some were really cool about it and said simple things like, “congratulations” and “I’m happy for you two”, then treating him the same way they always did. Which was cheesy, but still really kind.
After packing his enormous bag and his shoes at his car’s trunk, he waved goodbye to his teammates who passed by, some still not over the whole dating thing, and entered the driver’s seat. It was good that the practices had ended a good thirty minutes before he and Elizabeth had to meet, which was perfect for the driving time.
He turned his engine on and started the drive. He smiled to himself once more before turning on the radio. Unusually listening to love songs on the way there.
“Oh, El... That’s probably just some threats his fans sent you.” Megan said, while she patted Elizabeth’s shoulder. She continually read the message over and over, constantly staring at her phone.
Elizabeth looked to her best friend, “But what if it isn’t Meg! I don’t know if this is fake or not, you don’t even know! What if it is?”
“Oh, you’re just overreacting. Do you really think Mark would do that to you?”
Elizabeth couldn’t answer. She only looked down and stared at her phone once more. “What?! You seriously gotta’ trust him, El. You told me you love him for gosh’s sake.” Megan added, slightly angry at her ambiguous best friend.
“Anything is possible Meg.” She answered in a soft voice.
“If Mark truly loves you, he would never do that El. Look, there’s only about thirty minutes’ til’ he arrives and picks you up. Talk to him and tell him everything. Ask him and know just how rude you’re acting right now.” Megan said.
Elizabeth looked at her best friend in protest, but soon realized she was right. Maybe it was all just a lie, and she was just being so selfish thinking he was some kind of playboy.
“You’re right Meg. I gotta’ talk to him. I’m acting so selfish right now.”
Megan felt pity for her best friend, who is now just experiencing the pains of love. She took Elizabeth in an embrace and rubbed her back. “Sorry I was too harsh on you, but that would be the right thing to do.”
The women stayed there in silence, scared of what was about to come. All Elizabeth could rely on right now was, cheesily,
the power of love.
Elizabeth entered the passenger’s seat beside Mark as he arrived at the front of the building. The grim look hadn’t escaped her face.
“How was work?” Mark asked joyfully, smiling. He turned towards her and there he added, “What’s wrong?” worried at her silence.
Elizabeth was still silent. She was reluctant to tell Mark, but she reminded herself that earlier she had made her mind up. She had to tell him, ask him, and deal with it. Not another day, but right now.
With a deep breath, she recalled she had trusted him. He would never lie to her. Love is real and hopefully she didn’t have to doubt that.
“Mark... I have to show you something.”
Mark, a bit confused at the seriousness in her face, wondered what she was going on about and looked at her confusion.
Elizabeth didn’t know what better way to put her accusations, so she opened up the message on her phone once more and shoved the bright screen over to Mark. Making him read it as she held it towards him.
Mark read it in contempt, seriously confused the credibility of the message. After reading, he couldn’t help it and chuckled a bit. He covered his mouth to stop himself, but he just couldn’t. He laughed at the message.
Now Elizabeth was surprised by this. And it was her turn to look at him in confusion this time. She wondered how Mark could always laugh somehow in the grimmest of situation.
“What?” she asked him with a pout on her lips.
Mark stopped laughing and placed his palm on her head, ruffling her hair with a smile. Unexpectedly, he pulled her towards him and pressed his lips on hers.
A quick peck, easing out the air in the car.
Elizabeth didn’t say a word right after. “Would I ever do that to you, El?” Mark said playfully. He sighed and laid back into his own seat before simply saying, “I love you.”
“Do you doubt me?” He asked with a sad smile.
She was still quiet while she looked at him in contempt.
Mark laughed once more, not very convincing this time, before saying, “Let’s go.” as he started the car’s engine.
“To the park.”
The journey going there started. It was silent as they coursed through the night. Elizabeth believed Mark, but couldn’t seem to think what to say to him to clear the anxiety.
Elizabeth panicked and said the first thought that came into her mind, hoping it would help make amends. “Mark, hey... I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”
He didn’t answer her, “I love you.” She simply added.
Mark gave out a sigh from beside her, “I don’t know what’s going through your mind right now El, but always know that I am forever yours. I love you too.”
“Trust me.” He only replied.
“Are we still going?” She asked as she turned on the car’s radio, finally relaxing a bit.
Mark finally smiled once more and said, “Yeah, I want to know who has the guts to do this to you.”
Elizabeth laughed the first time tonight as they were together. “They will be in one hell of a ride tonight. No matter what happens Mark, I trust you.”
He looked at her quickly and shot her a genuine smile. She smiled back as the pair excitingly drive their way to Central Park.
They walked along the stone path, palms held in each other’s hands as the night breeze ran through them. Elizabeth admired the street lamps lined at its side. She looked at the watch on her wrist and saw that it was exactly the time stated in the text.
They saw the lake off in the distance. It was amazing to see how the darkness made the water a void, seeing the stars in the sky through its reflection.
“I think I should see her alone.” She muttered mindlessly.
“Why do you say that?”
“It would be more interesting that way. She probably won’t do the thing she told me she’ do if you were there.” She looked at Mark as if her point was obvious enough.
Mark thought about the situation, “True... Okay, you go talk, but I’m not leaving you alone, who know what they might do to you. I’ll just listen behind a tree somewhere they couldn’t see me.”
“Oh, it’s this corner.” Elizabeth pointed before pushing Mark to the side. “Go! Hide, they must be here somewhere.” Mark chuckled before following what she had said and found a wide tree to hide behind.
Elizabeth approached the rock by the lakeside. There, behind the corner, was an unfamiliar figure. Presumably, the person who contacted her.
It was a woman. She wore black pants, a black sweater, black shoes, black everything! Except for the dark red cap that adorned her head, making her visible in the dark.
Elizabeth took in a gulp of somewhat fear before approaching the woman. It seemed like she heard her and the person turned around towards her right away.
She wore a mask, and the cap was stooped down, so Elizabeth’s didn’t really get a good look at her face.
“I’m glad you came Miss Lane.” She said in a slightly devilish tone. Her voice was hoarse, which only made the scene a lot creepier.
“Who are you? And how did you get my number?” Elizabeth directly asked as she faced her head on. The street lamp’s light shining on her face, making the anger visible.
The person laughed, which was unusual. “You certainly chose your decision, alright. Glad you believe me.” she added.
Elizabeth couldn’t reply.
The woman then approached her. Elizabeth couldn’t help but back up a bit to ensure the space between them.
Suddenly, they were face to face.
Elizabeth took a clear look at her. She looked ill. Messed up bangs covering her sleepless eyes, acne on her cheeks and bushy eyebrows which seemed like they hadn’t been touched for years.
“Who are you?” she asked once more.
“You don’t have to know that. All you came for was to know what information I had, right?” The woman took off her mask and looked at Elizabeth, grinning in her face with chapped lips.
Again, she couldn’t answer her.
This time, the person suddenly circled around Elizabeth, leaning into her ear as she did while she talked. Making Elizabeth extremely uncomfortable. She bid herself to withstand.
“You came to me to know if what I said was true or not... Am I right? He hasn’t been very good to you then, since you’re here. Don’t worry, I’m telling the truth my sweet. He doesn’t love you... He doesn’t.”
Only a bit left and Elizabeth was going to push out of her patience and scream at her, telling her she was all wrong. But she willed herself not to and stayed true to the plan. Find out what she had.
” You truly are an unlovable person. ” The woman softly said under her breath as she took a strand of Elizabeth’s hair and twirled it around for a bit.
Finally, in what Elizabeth felt like forever, she stood still in front of her once more.
She patted the front pocket of her jeans and said,” It’s right here little miss... The evidence, the juice, the pain.” She smiled grimly.
Elizabeth focused her eyes on her pockets, but she still didn’t know what she had with her. She had the sudden instinct to turn around and look for Mark, but she stopped herself before she could do so. They would be caught.
” Wanna see?”
“Give it to me.” Elizabeth said, reaching her hand out in complete confidence.
“Well, no time than the present... Here you go.” The woman took out the object from her pocket.
It seemed like she sneaked in a silver circle. A bracelet, small enough to be a woman’s.
She was shocked to find out it was something she didn’t know about.
It certainly wasn’t Michelle’s since she remembered she didn’t really have a liking to jewelry. She felt an engraving on its front, but she couldn’t really read it with the night sky upon her.
Without a word, she squinted her eyes closer to the bracelet to see what the engraving was.
Suddenly, Mark stepped out from the tree and started walking towards them. Frankly, he had heard everything and saw the glimpse of silver in Elizabeth’s hands right now. He clapped at the performance as his face came into light, staring down the pair.
He could explain the bracelet to Elizabeth later on. He wondered what the item was, but he didn’t really have much of a care. What mattered to him was where did the person get the certain object in mine.
The two women looked at him as Mark approached Elizabeth’s side.
“Where did you get this?” He asked the lady in front of him.
She only stood there, staring. Staring down her idol from top to bottom, hoping she wasn’t hallucinating, for she was speechless.
“Where did you get this?!” Mark repeated in an angrier tone this time.
“I... I... I LOVE YOU!” Soon the woman shoved him down onto the concrete floor and touched him all over.
Elizabeth, shocked at the scene before him, started trying to pull her off. But Mark did it more efficiently, shoving her gently off of him and standing right back up, dusting his clothes.
“Marky! You don’t know how much I love you! I know everything about you! Give up on this whore and be with me! I love you and you feel the same, right!?”
Mark backed up in some sort of unknown fear. “Thank god I called the authorities before joining in.” He said to himself, for everyone to hear.
And he did. The moment he noticed the stranger circling Elizabeth around and touching her hair, he called the authorities to report her for inappropriateness. But now, after seeing the bracelet, it was much more than that.
“What do you mean, authorities?” The lady in fear asked.
As if on cue, one of the park authorities came over along with him were two policemen. It was clear from the blue and red lights flashing in the parked car right across the street.
“What seems to be the problem, sir? You were the one who called?”
The two women were suddenly quiet as Mark answered this question.
“Yes, I would like to report breaking into my property and stealing items from my residence. As well as stalking, defamation, and inappropriate remarks to my girlfriend over here.”
“What?! Marky-poo!?” the unknown lady said.
“See what I mean.” he sarcastically said as he pointed to her. ” With this bracelet, it is only proof you broke into my home since this was kept safe in my cabinet back at my office. Second, I have installed a camera there with a separate system.” Mark turned to the officers, taking everything down, “The footage of her should be there.”
The officers approached the woman and with that they had arrested her along with her complaints. They placed her in the back of the car before the officer continued talking to Mark.
“We need you to come with us to the station to elaborate everything, Sir Hale and Miss Lane.”
Elizabeth suddenly joined in. “Wait, you know us?”
“Who doesn’t nowadays?” the officer replied as he laughed at the couple. “Come, we can escort you along with us.”
“It’s alright we have our own car.” Mark said, “we’ll follow.”
And with that, together everyone journeyed to the station, bringing the case to a close.
After much time there and seeing the actual footage from the video, Mark went home for to retrieve. They gave the woman a fine and a restraining order. With minor problems, the couple bid the station goodbye and the day finally ended.
“Whew, that was a ride. El, about that bracelet, I can explain.” Mark said as he started the engine starting the drive home.
Elizabeth laughed in reply, before saying, “How did you get this? You don’t have to explain... It’s mine.” she then wore it in her right hand.
“It’s yours?!? ” Mark asked, shocked.
” Yep, I got in engraved with my first salary from my debut novel. ,” She admired at the bracelet on her wrist,” I was wondering where it went. ”
Mark laughed as well, saying,” I just got it as a pair of girls left in on the club table. I never knew you would be one of them. What you wore that night certainly wasn’t you.”
“Hahahaha, it really wasn’t.”
“I only remember the drunk person you were with. She was quite the showstopper.”
Elizabeth laughed at the memory of Megan that night. “That was Megan.” She said to him.
“That was her?!? The huge brand owner?”
The two laughed as they finally cleared the memory up. “Maybe it was some kind of destiny?” Mark remarked as he grinned.
“Maybe it was. A Cinderella to spice you up.”
“Well, no doubt about that.”