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The following day, Friday, went just as well as the others, except Mr. Whitaker wasn't at school. Rachel agreed that it was bizarre; new teachers normally worked often to prove they were stable employees, even if they were sick. I wondered if something terrible had happened, like a death in the family or something.

After I got home from work that evening around seven-thirty, my mom called me into the kitchen. I set my purse down on the island and smiled tiredly.

"How was your day, honey?" she asked.

"Fine. Long. The usual." I poured myself a glass of water. "What about you?"

"Very productive, actually. I took your grandmother shopping and paid some bills."

I grimaced. "Adult responsibilities."

"I know," she agreed with a sigh. "You aren't working tomorrow, right?"

"Um...no. I don't think so. Is something going on?"

"There's a Rotary social tomorrow. Your father and I need you to drive us."

"Sounds thrilling." Sarcasm was very much present.

She nodded with a sardonic grin. "I know it's not the most exciting way to spend your Saturday night, but you'll still have fun."

"We don't have to lie to each other, Mom," I told her, laughing. "Nothing about talking to old men is fun, but you know I'd suffer through it for you and Dad."

"I know. I love you, Hazel."

"Love you, too." I slung my purse over my shoulder and started out of the kitchen.

"Are you hungry?"

"Not right now," I said over my shoulder. "I'll fix something later."

After I'd showered off, I changed into a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants. The microwave was heating up a plate of nachos for me a minute later. I wanted to be a couch potato for a few hours, and nachos seemed to be a fitting meal.

Mateo called a few minutes into my suspense movie. I paused the television to accept the call.

"Hey, babe" was the affectionate greeting.

"Hey, Mat. How's it going?"

"Great. I'm on break at work and just thought I'd check on you."

That was sweet of him. He'd never done so before. "Oh, I'm fine," I said. "Just watching a movie."

"Good," he replied. "Don't scare yourself so much you can't sleep tonight."

I stuck my tongue out, knowing he couldn't see. "I'll consider it."

"You do that."

"What time is your shift over?"


An idea had come to mind, but it would be too late by the time he got off to do it.

"Why?" he eagerly pressed.

"No reason," I fibbed.

He mumbled a noise of disbelief. "What're you doing tomorrow?"

"Nothing during the day, but I have to drive my parents to a Rotary thing at night."

"Wanna take a date?"

I chuckled. "It doesn't work like that. I don't get to bring a date to these things. Besides, you'll be working."

"I know, I know," Mateo lamented. "Just playing with you."

"Humph. When do you go in tomorrow?"

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now