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He stood there, fists clenched and skin flushed, while I looked at her. Bailey flashed me a sympathetic smile, and I hated feeling jealous. I shouldn't. It was wrong.

"He left you?" Boston snapped.

"Well, I pissed him off," I explained warily, gaze bouncing between the two. "He thinks I'm judging him for what he's done. I'm not judging him, I just don't want to be with someone like that."

His brows furrowed impossibly deeper into the folds of flesh between his eyes. "Don't ever take a ride from him again. I told you not to trust him, Hazel."

"He's my friend, Bost—"

"He is anything but your friend," he growled.

Bailey shifted uncomfortably between her feet as she whispered, "Boston, calm down. Don't make a scene."

"This kid has been a punk from the start. Hazel, stay away from him. He can't be trusted, and you don't need that in your life right now."

It hurt to hear what I already knew. Even though the impulse to defend Mateo swelled up inside of me, I didn't have a sound argument. I needed to stop trusting him—Boston was right. Maybe then I wouldn't find myself trapped in the hospital, alone aside from my wounded friend.

"Are you ready to leave?" Boston asked more quietly, his temper now mostly settled.

"Yes," I answered. I didn't want to leave Rachel but her mom had arrived and had made it clear she wanted some time alone with her.

We left the hospital and piled into Boston's silver sedan. I sat in the backseat, which shouldn't have bothered me but did anyway. What was wrong with me? We drove for about fifteen minutes before I realized we weren't headed towards my neighborhood.

"Where're we headed?" I asked.

"I'm going to drop Bailey off at my townhouse," he replied.

So we were going to be alone. My palms seemed to instantly dampen at the thought. The reasons he had for wanting to get me alone...only Heaven knew. It wasn't like I had a thousand other things on my plate right now.

When we pulled up in front of a complex of newer, red brick town homes, Bailey reached across the console to grab Boston's hand. The muscles in my stomach clenched. I knew she was his girlfriend. I just knew it. Why didn't she mind that he kept coming to my aid? Surely she knew I was his former student by now.

"I'll be back later," he assured her.

"Okay," she complied.

My eyes turned to the window so I wouldn't have to watch them. Instead of kissing, Bailey just grabbed her purse and got out of the car. I continued to stare out of the window anyway, unwilling to face him.

"Are you going to move up here?" Boston asked.

I nibbled on the inside of my cheek before finally nodding my head in resignation. It wasn't like it would do anything but make this more awkward. If I sat in the back, I would be in his line of sight even more. So I hauled myself out of the backseat and into the passenger seat. He didn't take off the moment I had clicked my seatbelt on, though, as I had imagined. Instead, he elected to stare at me. I reluctantly turned my face to him.

"Where do you want to go?" he inquired through a stern expression.

"Home," I automatically whispered.

After a moment, he finally took a deep breath and shifted the car into drive. "Okay."

My shoulders slumped in relief. Praise Jesus. I thought he was going to force me to go somewhere with him. The last thing I needed right now was to fall further into a place of no return with him. Besides, he had a girlfriend. Why would he expect so much of me?

We reached my house a few minutes later. He parked on the street curb and I turned to thank him when he suddenly cut the engine off. My mouth hung open an unvoiced apology.

"Come on," he said, opening his door. "Let's head inside."

"Boston," I protested while getting out of the car, knowing I would have to convince him to just leave. "My mom's home. It's not a good idea—"

"Is she really? I thought you told me she was called into work today."

A wave of panic crashed onto me. Frick. He was right. I was so caught up in fighting him that I had forgotten the obvious, that my mom was not home and neither was anyone who might save me from Mr. Whitaker and his odd ways.

"Don't worry," he told me before taking my hand. "I just don't want you to be alone right now. You've been through a lot."

My throat was too constricted to allow for speech. I didn't want to be alone with him. More so, I was afraid what would happen because I secretly did want to be alone with him. This could not end well.

I used the key from behind a loose brick beside the front door to let us inside. Boston watched me with unerring focus, and I hoped he wouldn't use the knowledge of our spare key's location against me. We padded into the house, and he closed and locked the door behind us. Though my first instinct was to bolt upstairs, I didn't want to leave him down here to wander around. And I certainly didn't want him to follow me.

"So..." I started uncomfortably. "What do you want to do?"

"Whatever you want to do," he replied, setting his car keys down on the side table.

"Well, we could...watch a movie?" The very idea made me cringe, but it would be better than just sitting at a table while he stared at me. At least with a movie we wouldn't have to talk.

Boston shrugged. "Sure," he said.

I led the way into the living room, and he plopped down in the middle of the couch while I turned the television on. Once Netflix was pulled up, I tossed him the remote and left to search for a blanket. My mom must've turned down the temperature in the house when she went to work, because it was freezing. By the time I'd returned with two thick, crocheted blankets, Boston already had a movie selected. I groaned.

"Beauty and the Beast?" I demanded as I tossed the heap of blankets onto him.

His mouth fell open in offense. "What's wrong with Beauty and the Beast? I thought you would appreciate it."

A romance was the last genre I ever wanted to see with him. Rubbing my face tiredly, I collapsed onto the couch beside him, pressing myself as close to the arm of the sofa as I could. Regardless, we were still close enough for our legs to brush.

"Fine," I relented. "It's fine. I don't care, really."

"Good." A victorious smirk edged onto his face.

As the movie started, I felt him stretch one of the blankets across my body. I instantly felt warmer, like I was swaddled in a little cocoon. The opening had only just begun when I felt my eyes droop. What the perfect opportunity for a nap. 

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now