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Monday was the only day of reprieve I was afforded. I slept in as late as I possibly could, door locked and curtains drawn. Rachel's text roused me from my sleepy stupor around ten o'clock. Though I'd been awake and laying in bed, I finally took the initiative to push the covers off and grope my nightstand for the pestering cellular device.

Her text said she wanted to go hiking today, which surprisingly caught my interest. She agreed to pick me up in an hour. That gave me enough time to dress, stuff half a granola bar down my throat, and watch the news my mom had left playing on the television. When I remembered there was nothing ever good on the news, I shut the television off and headed out to the front porch.

After she picked me up, we drove off to the local park. The forest loop was about three miles long, though I wasn't sure we would actually make it that long. The humidity was so thick today that I started sweating before we even began. Rachel and I talked about our upcoming vacations and what fun we could squeeze into this summer before we were forced to part ways in August.

Once we were finished walking the loop, we stopped at the ice cream shop a few blocks from my neighborhood. It was there I told her about the "lessons" my parents were forcing me into with Boston. As expected, Rachel got all squealy.

"Shut up!" she crowed. "Oh my gosh. It's happening. You two are going to fall in love. I just know it."

"No one is falling in love with anyone," I said, hoping that was true.

"It's gonna happen. I'm telling you."

"I'm not starting a relationship before I leave for college. I don't want to have to maintain a long distance relationship while trying to do well in school and have a life."

Her gaze narrowed, brows knitting together in disapproval. "You never know when love will strike twice, Hazel. You don't want be one of those old ladies who talks about their one great love from sixty years ago, who they let go of because—"

"Hush," I moaned.

"Okay, but I have a point, right?"

"You think I'm going to be a spinster if I don't let myself fall in love with Boston. Apparently you don't think anyone else will ever love me." My tone was mostly teasing, though I did partly wonder if that was the truth.

"Boston? You two are on a first name basis?"

"Well, so are you! He told you to call him that, too."

"Yeah, but he told you to call him that sooner. You're already comfortable saying it."

I rolled my eyes, mostly to hide my nervous energy.

Rachel swallowed down the last spoonful of her ice cream before pushing the cardboard cup aside. She clasped her hands together. "How about you just go into the first lesson with an open mind?"

"I really wish you wouldn't be such an optimist," I muttered.

"And when did you turn into a pessimist?"

"When I suddenly had a very complicated love life."

We stuck our tongues out at each other before cleaning up our ice cream mess and heading back out to her car. She dropped me off at home and I found myself at home alone with a few hours to spare. Feeling inspired, I sat at the desk I rarely used in my room and opened my laptop. I pulled up a story I'd been working on and let myself drown in the twists of my imagination.

By the end of two hours, I had a few more chapters added. I was beginning to read back through what I'd written to scavenge any errors when my phone buzzed. A message from Mateo glowed on the screen. I blew out a sigh and opened the message.

The message asked if I wanted to hang out. I set my phone facedown on the bed for a moment. Why did he even want to be my friend? I hadn't been the nicest person to him lately. And if I had, he needed to get some new friends.

When I decided what I wanted to say, I texted him back. It was a plain and simple "Sorry, I'm busy" kind of response. He replied within seconds. His message had me racing to my bedroom window and throwing the curtains back. Perhaps I should not have been surprised to see his car parked outside my house.

Mateo must have noticed the movement in my window, so he slid out of the driver seat of his car and waved up at me. I scowled back, wishing I didn't have the decency to control myself. Flicking him off would have felt really nice.

While I turned away from the window and moved the curtains back into place, my phone rang. I rejected his call and crawled back up onto my bed. Naturally, he called again. I rejected it, again. Then he started banging on the door.

It was my turn to phone him. He answered the call and the knocking went silent.

"So now you're mad at me?" he demanded.

"Uh, yeah," I hissed. "I thought I made it clear that random house visits were not appreciated."

"And I thought I made it clear that I didn't care. Besides, we had fun last time, didn't we?"

"You had fun last time."

"Oh, come on. Let me in, Haze. I just wanna talk."

"About what? I have nothing to say to you."

"Let's see..." He pretended to ponder. "How about whatever is going down with you and Mr. Whitaker?"

My throat constricted. "W-What? There's nothing going on."

His laugh was harsh and cold before he said, "Even over the phone, you're a terrible liar. It must be a real gift you have there."

"I'm not lying," I snapped.

"Then why are you getting all defensive?"

Of course, his challenge made me want to get very defensive. I took a deep breath instead. He was just a little immature boy. I needed to be the bigger person here.

"Frankly, Mateo, even if there was something happening between me and my former teacher, it wouldn't be any of your business. Please see your way back to your car and do not come to my house again." I ended the call.

To my shock, he did leave. No more knocking and no more harassing phone calls. I fell back onto my bed with a frustrated huff. Surely there was a full moon on the horizon or something; nature must have been behind the lunacy of these men's behaviors.

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now