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The week started all too soon. My Monday alarm was ringing before I could count my blessings. I turned it off and curled into a ball on my bed. School. All the people I didn't want to see in the world would be there.


Mr. Whitaker.

Thankfully the list ended there. I was more nervous about seeing my teacher. Our last encounter had ended on such an unbearably awkward note that just the thought of seeing him again had me blushing.

Ugh. Maybe today should be my first real strike at hookey. I sat in bed and debated it for the next five minutes. My mind was made up when my mom came knocking on the door.

"Hazel?" she called in a worried voice. "Are you up, honey?"

I groaned loudly. "No."

The door opened as she stepped inside. Turning my back to her, I drew my legs ever closer to my chest. Her cold hands rubbed my back.

"It's time for school," she reminded me.

"Mom, my cramps are killing me. I think I'm gonna explode." The lie was so easy, but my face would've given it away. I was glad we weren't facing each other.

She sighed. "Cramps? Weren't you just on your period like two weeks ago?"


"Uh huh. Alright. I'll get you some Ibuprofen and a heating pad."

"Thanks, Mom," I grumbled. "You're the best."

I was given two and a half minutes to revel in my victory before she returned. By then, I was sitting up in the bed with a hand pressed to my lower abdomen. My mom plugged in the heating pad and handed over a glass of water and two blue gel pills.

"I have to go into work anyway," she said softly, brushing the hair from my eyes. "Get some rest."

"Will do."

"Love you, Hazel." An affectionate look was cast over her shoulder at me as she left the room.

"Love you, too," I replied.

The moment I heard the minivan and then my dad's car back out of the driveway, I hopped out of bed. First, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. Next, I went down to the kitchen to fish out some popcorn and a tub of ice cream. Lastly, I returned to my bedroom and congregated on the bed with the food and my laptop.

I sent all of my teachers an email to warn them about my illness and inability to come to class. Once the emails had been sent, I pulled up Netflix and skimmed the thriller movies until I found one with an interesting plot, B-rate actors, and a shady two-star rating.

Two hours passed easily. Now it was almost ten o'clock. I gathered my trash and took it downstairs. Time to reload. My fuel would now be the remnants of a Pringles can and half a box of Gushers that someone hid beneath the pasta boxes. Probably my dad trying to hide the sweets from me.

Just when I started up the stairs to my room, the doorbell rang. I glanced over my shoulder before shrugging and carrying on. The mail lady was likely dropping our mail off. Or so I thought until it rang again. Now annoyed that my bumming had been interrupted, I dropped off my snacks on the bed and hiked back down the stairs.

I was not happy to see who was on the other side of the door.

"Haze," Mateo called. "I know you're in there! Rachel talked to your mom, and she said you're here!"

I threw a scowl at the floor. Dang Mom. She just had to rat me out. What was Mateo doing here anyway? I didn't want to be stuck alone in the house with him.

"Don't make me go through a window," he warned.

Clenching my jaw, I jerked the door open. "Seriously? What are you doing here, Mateo?"

"You weren't at school," he stated while his eyes roamed my outfit. "I'm being a good boyfriend by coming to check on you."

"Yeah, except you aren't my boyfriend."

"Let's not play this game, shall we?"

I crossed my arms over my chest.

"You don't look very sick anyway."

"I'm not sick," I hissed. "I have cramps. Thank you for checking on me, but I would like to get back to being in misery on my own now."

"Cramps? You want some chocolate?"


"Pain meds?"

"Already got some."

"A massage?"

My eyes narrowed into a glare. "Please, go back to school Mateo. This is a waste of your time."

"You are never a waste of my time, Hazel."

There was the sweet boy I used to know. I couldn't keep myself from smiling a little. It was a nice thing to say after everything I'd put him through. Still, he had shown me sides of himself that I wanted nothing to do with.

"I'm closing the door now," I said while pushing it closed. "Goodbye, Mateo."

"Wait!" He shouldered the door until he'd overpowered me. "Hazel, just let me come in. Just for a minute."

"I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm in pain and not in a good mood, and lately you've enjoyed being a pest."

"A pest?" he demanded, brows and lips puckered in hurt.

I sighed. "Can you just leave? Please?"

"And go back to school? I'd rather not."

"Then go home."

"My mom will ask why I'm ditching and then she'll ground me."

"Maybe you need to get grounded," I muttered under my breath.

"What's that?"

"Nothing." I motioned outside. "Are you going to go or force yourself inside? Because I need to get a weapon if you're going to come barging in."

"What kind of weapon?"

"A big, fat butcher knife."

He quirked an eyebrow. "You, Hazel Barrett, do not have the grit to use a butcher knife against me."

"Would you really like to bet on that?"


"On what?"

"What do I get if you lose?"

My mouth bent in a scowl. "Nothing. Now, go before I actually have to use a knife on you."

"You're forgetting something, Hazel," he said, dark eyes brewing with some unreadable emotion.


"Love is the most persistent force on Earth. I'm not going anywhere."

Groaning, I finally just threw my hands up in the air and stormed off. He stepped into the house and closed the door behind. I attempted to dart into my room and shut him out, but he caught me on the staircase and reeled me against him.

"Running away, are we?" he asked with a twisted smirk.

"Always." I squirmed until he set me free.

"We can relax in your bedroom if that's what you want."

"Oh, please." Rolling my eyes, I ambled back down the stairs where I collapsed on the couch in the living room.

Mateo sat down on the carpet flooring beside the couch, leaning his back against the furniture. His cologne filled my nostrils, making my toes unconsciously curl. Stupid hormones.

"Movie?" he suggested.

I dropped the remote on his shoulder and mumbled, "Have at it."

So he did.

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now