The Jealousy Game

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Chapter 10: Heartache

When Ciara dropped me back off at my place forty-five minutes later, I quickly went into my house to drop off my things.

My mother was already in the kitchen, beginning to make dinner. Her blond-brown hair was tied in a messy-bun, and she was wearing an over-sized t-shirt and sweats. Part of me thought she’d never grow up.

“Hey, Mar,” she said, giving me a sweet smile as she stirred something in a pot on the stove. “How was school?”

“Great,” I said, going over to her and kissing her on the cheek. Unlike most teens nowadays, I actually had a really good relationship with my parents. “How was work?”

She flashed me a smile. “I birthed three babies today.”

My mother was a midwife, meaning that she was the one who actually helped mothers give birth to babies. I didn’t think I could stomach that kind of job, but my mother could, and it made her happy, so I was happy for her.

“Were they cute?”

“Yes. There was this cute little boy, Jack, and he was so tiny. Then there was a little girl Elena, and then a beautiful baby girl called Marley,” she said, her eyes glazing over as she talked about her work. Being a doctor really was her passion. Not many people found theirs, so I was happy my mom had.

“Marley, that’s a cute name,” I said, giving her a sheepish smile. “Wonder where I’ve heard that name before.”

She laughed just as my dad came in with my little brother, Phoenix, who had just come back from his lacrosse practice.

“Hey, dad. Hey, Phoenix,” I greeted.

“Hey, Marley-Bear,” Phoenix said, waving at me before trotting up the stairs to his room. He flashed me a smile as he passed, revealing a gap where his two front teeth would be. When he wasn’t annoying the hell out of me, he was actually extremely cute.

“Hey, Mar,” Dad said, walking over to my mom and giving her a quick kiss that looked like it had the potential to escalate to a makeout session.

I took that as my cue to leave, and quickly made my way for the front door. The sun had begun to go down, and sunlight dappled through the trees. I walked over to their house and knocked on the door.

Once again, Aunt Grace opened it. Her blond hair was up in a chignon, and she was still wearing the blouse she wore when she worked. It was an opalescent white with little music notes embroidered in it.

“Mar, you’re back,” she said, grinning at me. “Here to see Noah?”

“Yeah, just wanted to check up on him after today,” I said. “Is he feeling OK?”

“Much better, actually,” she replied, opening the door wider and gesturing for me to step into the foyer. “I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you. He was saying your name this morning in his sleep when I came to wake him for school.”

Butterflies swarmed in my stomach and my heart melted at her words. “Seriously?” I asked.

She chuckled and nodded, before pointing towards the grand staircase. “You can go up and see him if you want. He’s in his room.”

“Thanks, Aunt Grace,” I said, before starting towards the stairs.

“Oh, Marley?”

I turned back around to Grace. “Yeah?”

“It’s really nice to have you back,” she admitted. “We missed you.”

I smiled at her, feeling my eyes prick with tears and a new wave of guilt crash over me. “I missed you guys, too.”

Then I turned and walked up the stairs towards Noah’s room. I knocked gently on the maple, wanting to take a nicer approach to things this time then I did last time.

“Come in,” someone said, sounding a lot healthier than they should - and a lot perkier, all things considered.

I opened the door to reveal Noah lying on his bed, earphones plugged into his phone and perched in his ears. He was tapping a beat on his thighs, wearing nothing but a black singlet and dark-washed jeans. I cleared my throat and stayed by the door uncertainly, hovering and not sure what to do.

He opened his eyes and turned his neck to me, before taking out the earphones and sitting up. “I was wondering how long it would take you to show up. Sorry about this morning.”

“I know you’re not sick,” I told him, closing the door behind me gently and crossing my arms over my chest in a defensive manner.

Something flashed in his eyes, but he quickly masked it. “What do you mean?”

“I heard you and Logan this morning.”

His jaw clenched and anger seethed in his hazel eyes. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I recrossed my arms over my chest and rolled my eyes, scoffing. “Oh, cut the crap, Noah. I heard you in the hallways this morning. Fighting.”

He sighed and ran a hand through his perfectly tousled. “That was between him and me. Don’t get yourself involved in this, Marley.”

“Except I am involved in this,” I told him matter-of-factly. “I’m the reason this whole thing started.”

“Are you… mad at me?” He seemed genuinely perplexed, and a little hurt.

I sighed, knowing maybe I was going about this the wrong way. “No, I’m not mad. All I want are answers.”

He groaned and ran a frustrated hand over his face, scrubbing his jaw. “We’ve been through this, Marley.”

“I know. And we’re going to go through this again because I still haven’t gotten the answers I was looking for.”

He looked at me carefully. “And what if you don’t like the answers you’re looking for?”

The truth was, I was already well aware of the fact I wasn’t going to like what I found out. But I had come to terms with that fact. It was something I needed to know. I’d rather know and not be happy than not know and remain clueless. It wasn’t fair on me. Or anybody, for that matter.

“Then I’ll deal with that,” I replied. “But for now, I just need to know.”

“Look, I need you to promise to keep an open mind and not jump down my throat before you hear the full story, OK? I know that you think Logan is some kind of angelic hero, but he’s not who you think he is.”

I gulped. “Then who is he?”

“He’s… he’s a liar. Everything he told you, it wasn’t true.”

“Noah… just get to the point,” I said, growing increasingly frustrated. I hated when people beat around the bush.

He took another slow deep breath in and rubbed his temples as if he was growing a headache.

“Marley, I tried to tell you,” he whispered. “But we were enemies and we all swore to keep it a secret and I thought maybe if I didn’t tell you it would stop.”

It was obvious Noah was torn, so I tried to be as gentle as I could when I asked softly, “What would stop?”

He looked at me imploringly for a second, as if begging me not to ask. I could see the indecision clouding his hazel eyes, and his hands were fisted tightly by his sides. He ran another hand through his hair and clenched his jaw.

Finally, he gained enough courage to raise his head and look me in the eyes. “Marley, he cheated on you.”

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