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The weekend passed uneventfully. I hid in the house for almost the entire two days, only emerging for church and to return my movie rentals. Other than that, I cut off communication with the outside world. Rachel texted me twice but left me alone when I gave her the sick excuse. She probably knew that wasn't true. After being my friend for this long, she should know sometimes I just needed a breather from the world.

Monday came with the speed of an unstoppable freight train. I woke up five minutes late and had to hastily throw together an outfit. Dark wash jeans and a floral blouse would have to suffice. I didn't bother with makeup. When I stopped in the kitchen to grab a granola bar or something quick, my dad was finishing up his own breakfast.

"Finally re-entering the world again?" he teased. Most of his discontent about the honors night fiasco had resolved.

"Unfortunately," I replied as I swiped an apple from the refrigerator. "Have a good day at work."

"You, too, Hazel."

"Bye, Dad."

I ducked out the door and bolted to my car. My first class started in twelve minutes. The drive to school took about ten. Speed, speed, speed, I chanted to myself while leaving the driveway.

Of course, the school parking lot was chaos. It took me a minute and a half just to navigate through the traffic to my parking space. As soon as I stepped out of my car, slinging my backpack over my shoulder, the final bell rang. I sighed. Just perfect. It was going to be one of these days.

My first few classes passed with relative ease. Lunch brought more tribulation. Mateo was leaning against our lunch table, hands tucked into his jeans to give him a cool look. He just looked ridiculous to me. I didn't bother stopping at the table but went straight to the lunch line instead. Once I'd emerged and forced myself to head to the table, Mateo had taken his seat beside mine.

"Hey," Rachel greeted when I dropped my behind into its respective chair. "Feelin' better?"
"A little bit." I opened the tab on my milk carton and took a swig. "What's up?"

"Nothing much. Mateo and I were discussing the details of prom."

My stomach twisted uncomfortably. "Prom?"

"Yeah. It's this weekend, remember?"


"Hazel!" she scolded. "How could you forget about prom?"

Glancing sideways at Mateo, who happened to be eavesdropping, I said, "I've been a little occupied."

"Well, good thing you already have your dress. Have you made an appointment for your hair yet? We can get our nails done together on Friday."


"Sure what?"

"Um, sure we can get our nails done together."

"What about your hair appointment?"

My shoulders sagged with a sigh. "Rachel, can we talk about this later? It's Monday. I don't have the brain capacity to be discussing this right now."

"I guess..."

Mateo elbowed me. I reluctantly directed my gaze onto him. His eyes were dancing with mischief. That was not a good sign.

"So, I hope you don't mind," he told me, "but we're still going to be matching."

"Oh, for prom?"

"What else?" He snorted. "I already reserved my tux, so I'm not changing it now."

"That's fine."

For some reason, my answer didn't appease him. Mateo's lips pulled down into a frown.

"What?" I asked.

"Doesn't that bother you?"

"That we'll still be matching?"

He nodded.

"Not really. I don't care much, to be honest."

"Of course you don't," he remarked. "You don't care much about anything."

My mouth fell open. Did he just insult me?

"Speaking of which, you still have the hoodie I let you borrow last week. I'm gonna need that back."

"I'll bring it to you tomorrow," I said. Why was he being such a jerk?


"Good." I turned my shoulder to him, letting my hair fall to act as a wall between us.

This day was getting better by the minute. Sarcasm intended.

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now