Chapter 4: Matt and All That

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Chapter Shoutouts to: ClaireHarvey99 , paigeholland123 - for filling my notifications with lovely comments :) 

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Sarah was an ex-girlfriend, Matt tells me.

They had been dating for a few months and, though they had been unhappy with each other, kept a relationship going because of pressure from mutual friends whom they had been set up by. It sounds bad, Matt says, but it was really just convenient that they were together. Same school, same circle of friends, same charming status. Turns out that while they were together, she had been in a string of hook ups with other guys, Tanner included. Had Matt known? Perhaps, he reflects, he turned a blind eye, even when Sarah started acting distant, going "away on trips" for long periods, and disappearing during soccer games.

"Anyways enough of my sob story." Matt sighs and runs his fingers through his hair. "Guess it was just bad luck."

"That's awful. Is she still with Tanner?"

Matt's expression hardens for a second before attempting to smooth out into a smile. He looks down awkwardly, before stacking the styrofoam containers and heading towards the kitchen.

I sense there's something he's not telling me but brush it off.

I start to do the same with the containers but I find myself reaching for my phone. Something he had said about Sarah's attitude sounded familiar and it sparked an uneasy feeling in my gut. Ben's phone call that morning had been weird, and I hadn't been able to place my finger on why until now. Taking a deep breath, I text Emma and ask her if she's heard anything.

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The next day, I wake to the sound of a door opening and sit up to find Matt leaning on the door frame, shirtless and fresh out of the shower.

"Put a shirt on," I groan and fall back into the pillows, pulling the blanket higher to cover my face. Deep breath, Hailey.

I hear footsteps padding closer and sigh again when I'm hit with the smell of a fresh earthy musk.

"Sun shining too brightly today?" Matt jokes. I throw a nearby pillow at him in response and hear a dull thud. 

Silence.

"Are you oka-" I sit up and see Matt grinning cheekily.

"I was coming in to tell you we'll be meeting my mum for breakfast in a little over half an hour. Didn't want to wake you too early though so I thought I'd shower first."

"Oh shoot, okay I'll get up now." I scramble out of bed and peer into the closet. "Where are we going?"

"I think the local country club." Matt heads back into the bathroom and shuts the door to give me privacy, while I contemplate what to wear.

Pulling out a flowery short-sleeved sundress, I silently thank my mom for replacing some of the oversized sweaters and sweatpants I had haphazardly tossed into my suitcase. A few light touches of makeup and tugs of a brush through my hair, and I was ready to go. 

"You look great," Matt says sincerely when he sees me making my way down the stairs. "Cleaned up nicely."

I tug at the hem of my dress a little self-consciously, and tuck a strand of hair behind my ears as we walk towards the garage.

"Thanks, the same to you too," I reply casually. As he takes a few steps ahead of me, I take a moment to appreciate the look of a well-fitted navy dress shirt stretched across his broad shoulders. He exudes confidence from head-to-toe as he takes long strides across the driveway. Gosh, Hailey, are you really ogling the guy?

Willing myself to focus, I manage to say hello to Jeremy and stutter out a thank you to Matt, who holds the car door open as I carefully slide into the backseat.

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Mrs. Dewchester is waiting at a table when we arrive, and gives us an enthusiastic wave when she spots us. A petite woman with a wavy brown bob and a muted shade of tea rose on her lips, she looks put-together and refreshed amongst the chaotic dining area crowd.

After exchanging greetings and handshakes, she gestures at the plates of steaming breakfast foods laid out on the table.

"Eat, eat! I wasn't sure what you would like, Hailey, so I ordered a variety," she says, eyes twinkling. "Maybe a little too much."

"This looks amazing Mrs. Dewchester," I assure her. 

"Ah dear, call me Tessa," she insists, smiling. "Mrs. makes me feel old."

We dig into everything from deviled eggs to hashbrowns, while Tessa tells stories about the exploits from her and my mom's high school days. A particularly hilarious one about landing a paper plane on the headmistress' head leads into Matt's recounting of his class' April Fools Day prank on a professor. Soon, we find ourselves sitting back in our chairs, a little tired from full stomachs and storytelling but very content.

A woman with coiffed blond hair stops by the table and chats with Tessa, after which we're dismissed from the table with a run-along hand flick.

"I hope you had a great morning today Hailey," Tessa murmurs, before turning to Matt. "Take her around town, won't you, Matt? No curfew, you could take her for dinner too."   

And so, with an embarrassed nod, I follow Matt out, nervous for the afternoon of exploration ahead of us.

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A/N: Hey guys! I wanted to say a huge thank you for all the support I've gotten so far! If you liked this chapter or want to give any feedback, I would love it if you comment and upvote! It's very encouraging to see there's an audience reading my story - and though I've been super busy with school lately, I've been trying to maintain regular updates for you guys! (Any upvote for my dedication? :)) I'm hoping to continue writing and would love it if you guys sticked with me til the end. To stay in touch and find out about future updates, shoot me a message or follow me :)


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