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Mateo stayed until two o'clock. The only reason he finally left was because my mom would be coming home soon. We had wasted the majority of my bum day watching whatever dumb movie he managed to find on cable. As I watched him go, I was torn.

Part of me still couldn't stand him. He had become so pushy and possessive since we broke up. And I still hadn't figured out how he found me in that restaurant downtown. I hated to consider him following me. It was too creepy.

Yet the other part was delighted that he was so into me. The males species rarely took a second glance in my direction, regardless of where I was or whom I was with. I just wasn't a magnet for attention. Even if it was just infatuation and not real love, I liked the way it felt. He wanted me. Me.

As I turned the shower on and stripped out of my pajamas, I shook my head to gain some clarity. Mateo and I were incompatible. That was why I broke up with him in the first place. We were awkward and slow and nothing ever really felt natural. Not that I had enough experience to know what natural felt like.

The rest of the afternoon faded seamlessly into evening. I went on a brief walk to watch the setting sun before joining my parents in the living room for a movie. They didn't know Mateo had come over earlier, nor did they need to know. I'd only told them just before prom that he and I broke up. I wouldn't be able to explain to them why he was hanging out on a school day when no one else was home and while I was "sick".

When the next morning rolled around, I realized it was time for me to confront my demons. I got dressed for school in a blue dress and white sandals until I decided to change into something more versatile. In case I would need to run away from school, I ended up in jeans and a green sleeveless blouse.

Thankfully, the minivan was in my hands today, so I dutifully drove to school. Rachel found me in the hall on my way to first block, and she demanded answers for my absence.

"You could've texted me," she growled passive-aggressively.

"Sorry," I said. "I was just...out of it."

"Mhmm. Mateo was asking about you."

Snorting, I remarked, "Doesn't surprise me. He came to my house."

"He did?"

"Yeah. He's such a weirdo."

"Tell me he wasn't trying to get back together?"

"I wish I could tell you that."

She groaned and laughed. "I wish he could transfer that energy into a boy who would like me."

"Careful what you wish for," I teased with a grin before parting ways with her.

Only then did I notice the nicely dressed man standing opposite of the hall. Mr. Whitaker stood astute by another teacher's classroom, his icy eyes boring into me. I could tell by the look on his face that he heard my conversation with Rachel.

Blushing, I scurried off. That was a nightmare I would wait to deal with.


Last block arrived. My feet were dragging on the polished white tile on the way to Mr. Whitaker's room. I didn't want to face him. I was a coward. He and I made a deal and now he would think I broke it. I couldn't stand to listen to him scold me about how unreliable or untrustworthy I was.

I was contemplating running for the exit door when the said teacher stepped into the hall. My heart jumped into my throat. His gaze swept the bustling hall until they latched on me. Ducking my head, I closed the distance between us. I glanced at him as I passed into his room and caught the disapproving scowl he was shooting me.

Rachel was already in her desk when I wandered to mine. "Don't tell me you're feeling 'sick' again."

A deep breath helped me realign myself. I couldn't let others see my anxiety. Especially Rachel—she would pester me until the truth broke free of my lips. So I mustered the scraps of a tired smile and flashed them at her.

"What's wrong?" she asked this time, no sarcasm attached.

"I'm just tired," I lied. "It's been the longest day in the history of mankind."

"That's really saying something."

"Tell me about it."

"Mateo troubles?"

Blowing out a sigh, I managed a shrug. "Mateo, finals, graduation. Can you believe we graduate in two weeks? I think I'm ready to poop my pants just dreaming about it."

She snickered and I relaxed knowing her interrogating had now been put off. "It's insane. Have you picked out what you're going to wear yet?"

Before I could answer with a disappointed 'no', Mr. Whitaker stole the show. Closing the classroom door, he called all of us chattering pupils to attention. I sat ramrod straight in my desk. He seemed to look at everyone but me, which I was totally fine with.

"Everyone pull out your homework assignments," he declared. "We're having a homework quiz."

I peeked over at Rachel with panic buzzing in my veins. A homework quiz? Of course, it had to be over the homework I missed. This felt like a personal blow, even though it probably wasn't. Rachel bit her lip and shrugged, unsure how to help me.

Mr. Whitaker dealt the quizzes out like a professional dealer at a Vegas casino, straight-faced and cold. When he reached my row, he handed out exactly the number of tests as there were students. It looked like he wasn't letting me down easy. That's okay. My grades were good enough to take a bad score. It was just a quiz anyway.

Fifteen minutes later, I was one of the few who still hadn't handed in their quizzes. I was frustrated because I would have been able to easily answer these had I been given the homework assignment. Most of the questions weren't completely beyond me, just enough that I wouldn't get any of them correct. Probably.

I took my quiz up to his desk and handed it over. He pretended to be absorbed in grading, so I just placed my quiz with the others. If he wanted to give me the cold shoulder, fine. I could handle that much better than a scolding.

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now