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The sixteenth hour of the day arrived with a wave of unease for me. My mom's parents and my dad's mom were here and so were a handful of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even a few of my parents' friends came over for my graduation party. The house was packed, through and through, with bodies.

I stepped into the backyard to get away from everyone. A storm front was rolling in, so no one else had risked being outside. After a few deep breaths, I felt more collected again. Mr. Whitaker would supposedly be here at any minute and I didn't want him to catch me overwhelmed. It was just so many people to entertain and so many questions to answer.

At the sound of the back door sliding open, I turned to confront the intruder of my peace. The sight of my teacher in jeans and a black dress shirt shut me up. He flashed me a pearly grin and held up the red solo cup in his hand.

"Your mother is a wonderful hostess," he remarked.

"She loves having guests." I slowly returned his smile, uncomfortable at the thought of being alone with him out here.

"Thank you for inviting me to come. I hope you really don't mind me being here."

"Why would I mind?" I questioned, glancing up at him from the tree I'd been staring at.

He shrugged. "I don't know. Most students don't like to cross that personal border with their teachers."

"I think we're beyond that now."

"We are," he softly agreed.

"I'm glad you could make it. My family might try to run you off, though, so take caution."

"Will do." Sipping from his cup, he said, "Want me to get you anything, Miss Graduate?"

I smiled. "No thanks. I'm alright for now."

"Okay. What're you doing out here anyway? The party's all inside."

"I just needed to get some air."


We stood in silence for another minute. His shoes, the ones I was beginning to think he knew I liked, clapped across the stone patio as he came closer. My back was to him, as I had resumed my staring competition with the lone pine tree in our back yard.

"Has anyone told you how you look in that dress?" His words were a murmur so soft I wasn't completely sure they had actually been said.

When I didn't respond, not knowing how or even if I should, he took a step closer. He sighed and his warm breath brushed against my bare shoulder. My fists clenched. I didn't know what to do. Shock had paralyzed me. Was he going to make a move? What was I going to do about it?

"Let's just say," he continued quietly, "that the stars couldn't dare to compete."

My heart did a little flip in my chest. I was in agony over my conflicting emotions. Some of them were begging to hear more from him. Some wanted me to walk away. This was all so wrong. We shouldn't have been telling each other these kinds of things. Society deemed it inappropriate. My parents would deem it inappropriate.

A hand brushed against my waist, making every muscle in my body tense. His nose nestled into the back of my hair. I finally found the nerve to pull away. Stepping forward, I escaped his hands and slowly turned around. His face was tight with frustration. I wondered if he was as confused and lost as me.

I didn't know what to say to him. Although I wanted to do the right thing, I wasn't even sure what that was anymore.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, shaking his head. "I shouldn't have...I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

"It's okay..." I tucked my hair behind my ear. "Mr. Whitaker—"

"Boston," he corrected. "Please, Hazel. Just call me Boston."

The desperation in his tone worried me, but I did as requested. "Boston, what is it that you want?"

"I don't know exactly. I haven't figured it out."

That made two of us.

"What about you?" he asked. "What do you want?"

"I'm not sure...but I know it can't be whatever...whatever it is we're trying to do here."

A hurt look flashed across his face. I felt terrible for being the one to put it there.

"Mr—I mean, Boston—you know we can't...I can't...you could lose your job. Besides, I don't think we even know each other that well."

"You are no longer my student," he reminded me. "And you are eighteen. They can't fire me for having affection towards a former student. It's not illegal."

"That doesn't mean it isn't wrong."

"In whose eyes?"

"Mine. My parents. Pretty much everyone in the whole world."

He pursed his lips. "That's a little dramatic, don't you think?"


"It's not ideal, but it isn't preposterous. It isn't like it's never happened before."

"And when has it ever worked in the favor of either party?"

Sighing, he combed his fingers through his gelled hair. "Aren't you at least a little curious as to what it could be like?"

Of course I was. Mr. Whitaker had starred in my dreams on more than one occasion. It was a fact about my subconscious I didn't like to be reminded of.

"I can't like you," I insisted, "because it could never work. I'm leaving for college anyway."

"This is something I've considered."

"Good." The word came out icily, angry almost. "Then you should know it's impossible."

"Impossible? Nothing is impossible, Hazel. Certainly not this."

"Well, I don't want to try. I don't want to get my hopes up and heart broken."

Sadness shaded those deep blue eyes. "I would never hurt you."

"Isn't that what they all say?"

"Hazel," he scolded in his teacher voice. "Since when am I like every other man you've met?"

"I only know you as a teacher. I'm not in the position to say you are or aren't like guys I know or have heard about."

"I wish you would have a little faith in me."

Biting my lip, I shook my head. "We shouldn't go down this path. I respect you very much, Mr—Boston, I mean—and I don't want that to change."

A storm brewed in his beautiful eyes. He didn't speak. I didn't know what to say, so I was also silent. We stared at each other for a minute before the back door slid open and my mom's voice snapped us out of it.

"Everything alright out here?" she asked.

Mr. Whitaker...Boston beat me to the chase. "Perfect," he answered her. "I was just telling Hazel we should rejoin the party."

"Terrific. It's time for you to open your gifts now, Haze. Come on in."

I took a deep breath and headed for the door. He followed closely behind me, his proximity leaving my neck and cheeks feeling warm. To think he wanted me...it was too much for me to handle right now.

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now