Chapter 3.9 – Rift

Jacob’s birthday celebration comes amid a lot of tension between the Barimen siblings.
 
Having kid sisters who are also good friends with his girlfriend meant that news of yet another fight was sure to get back to them quickly. And just as expected, Claire is there to ask what happened as he comes home after the fight at the beach.
 
Mark’s breakup with Charlotte was not well received by either Deirdre or Claire. They both have become very good friends with Charlotte, and even helped to comfort her over the phone after Mark’s harsh words at the beach. Deirdre is already angry with him for the constant fighting. This latest event seems to have deepened the rift. Even Claire, while not angry with him, does tell him that his behavior has been pretty childish.
 
Mark has been thinking a lot about what happened at the beach after school, and he doesn’t see what everybody is making such a big deal about. Ali is a punk, and he only got what he had coming to him. He is especially surprised that Charlotte is being so unusually difficult about the whole thing. What did she expect him to do, drop to a knee and profess his everlasting love? It was just a stupid comment. And if she can’t get over it, maybe she had just better start thinking about getting over him.
 
His parents are especially unnerved by Mark’s recklessness. His dad sits him down to a stern lecture about responsibility and discipline that same night. He tries to express to his father that Ali was just begging to get belted in the mouth, but David wants to hear none of it. While he has no problem blowing off his father’s lecture, it is his mother’s reaction that worries him. Mark has been almost like a mother hen himself when it comes to his mother lately. And the worry that he sees in her eyes causes pangs of guilt for not being a easier kid to deal with.
 
Her pregnancy has advanced well and judging by her size, it appears that there may be another set of twins on the way. Thankfully, both Deirdre and Claire will have their birthdays before Ciara is due. With Jacob starting school, Ciara will be free to focus on the new arrival(s) …and Mark.
 
Jacob is an easy-going kid, and looks a lot like Ciara. Ciara often teases her older children, telling them that Jacob is her “low maintenance” child. For the most part, she is pretty much right. The girls require constant feeding of knowledge, and Mark has been handful from the day he was born. Mark and his sisters had basically been best friends since they were babies. But Mark finds that he is not nearly as close to Jacob. He is quite a bit older than his brother and has been so wrapped up in his own stuff that he feels like he barely knows him. He congratulates the younger Barimen then thankfully, they hit it off with a conversation about fishing.
 
When the doorbell rings, Mark figures that it is Charlotte wanting to make amends. But he is somewhat surprised to find Melissa standing in the doorway with birthday present for Jacob and a warm hug for him. Although he hadn’t known Melissa nearly as long as he had Charlotte, they all had become very close as kids.
 
Melissa stays only long enough to wish Jacob a happy birthday and exchange some girl-gossip with his sisters before she has to leave. Mark walks her out and finds himself hugging her again, but the way she hugs him this time causes him to take notice.
 
She leans into him and gives him a soft kiss that sends fireworks shooting through is brain. She tells him that anytime he needs her, she will be there for him. Then, after flashing a flirty smile, she dashes into her car and drives away with a shy wave goodbye.
 
Mark stands there, stunned, watching as the tail lights of her car disappear over the hill, wondering what he’s about to get himself into.
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