5.4K 154 15

The rumble of the garage door jolted me out of my sleep. I found myself spread across a hard, warm object and quickly realized it was a body. Boston's body, to be exact. I sprang backwards off his lap until I quite literally fell off the sofa. He chuckled and move the pillow off his lap where my head had been resting not even ten seconds prior. I stared at him, aghast.

"I was just about to wake you up," he said. "It sounds like your mom is home."

I almost cursed as I leapt into action. She couldn't know he was here. Well, if she saw his car out front, she probably already knew he was here. But she couldn't find out what we had been doing. She would kill me and maybe even him too. So I snatched up the blankets and sprinted to the linen closet, where I messily shoved them onto shelves.

"What's the panic?" a deep voice murmured from behind me.

My heart seized when I spun around to find him all but pressed against me. "You have to go," I hissed. "She's going to fr—"

"Hazel?" my mother's voice rung through the house.

Doomed. We were so freaking doomed. Yet when I looked up into Boston's face, he was smiling. I almost gave in to the urge to stomp on his foot. He was being such a jerk!

"Mrs. Barrett," he called in a cheerful voice, "we're in here."

"Oh. Is that Boston I hear?"

I managed to slip past him before my mom stepped into view. Heat rushed into my face while I forced a smile at her. Her curious yet confused gaze bounced between us, and I was grateful I couldn't see how he was looking back at her.

"Yes, ma'am," he replied.

"How lovely you're here," my mom remarked. "Were you at the hospital again with Hazel today? She told me you came before."

My embarrassment burned into anger as my eyes narrowed in a glare. Was that really necessary? Like he didn't have enough over me anyway.

"I was," he admitted. "It's a terrible shame, what happened."

"It is."

We were all quiet for a moment, suffering from the horror of Rachel's situation. I was suddenly overcome with the need to see her again. Even though I knew the guilt I would feel upon being in the same room, I knew I had to be there for her.

"I'm going to head back," I told them, heading towards the purse rack by the door where my wallet and the keys to the van hung.

"Back where?" my mom asked. "The hospital? Hazel, honey."

"She needs me," I insisted.

My gaze avoided Boston's, as I could feel the weight of his glare. He had no reason to be upset; I wasn't asking him to join. In fact, I didn't want him to come. I was still pissed that he let my mom catch him here.

"Honey," she said, "you're tired. You need rest, too. And have you even eaten dinner?"

"I'm not hungry." Shaking my head, I knew this wouldn't appease her, so I added, "I'll grab a bite in the cafeteria."

"Hazel," rumbled Boston's disapproving voice. "Your mother is right. You need to rest."

"I'm fine."

Snagging the keys and my wallet, I strode to the door and pulled it open. The two I fled from exchanged a few words that I couldn't decipher and, before I knew it, Boston was running to catch up with me.

"Wait," he told me. "Hazel, wait one minute, would you?"

When I refused to slow, he grabbed my elbow. I tried to jerk free, but he succeeded in keeping me still. Our eyes locked in a mutually deadly glower.

"If you're going, so am I," he said.

"I can go alone," I muttered. "I know your girlfriend needs you, so just go back to your apartment. I'll be okay. I promise."

He just stared at me uncomprehendingly for a moment until I managed to pull my arm free. This time he wasn't fast enough to keep me from getting behind the wheel. He did, however, catch the door before I could close it.

"You need me, Hazel." His brows knitted together. "You might not think so, but you do. You're not in any condition to be driving."

"Why is that?" I demanded, voice echoing the hurt and annoyance I felt.

"Because this is a very emotional situation."

"I can still drive."

"Hazel..." He sighed heavily, irritated. "Your mother doesn't want you to drive or go alone."

My jaw clenched as I tried to think of another escape. Why were they making this so difficult? All I wanted was to visit my friend in the hospital. Was that so much to ask?

"Please, just come with me," he pleaded. "It'll make everyone feel better."

"What about Bailey? Doesn't she want to know where you are?"

His skin paled and his eyes flitted away. "Bailey's fine."

An interesting response. I finally just shrugged and removed the keys from the ignition. "Fine. You can drive. Whatever."

Smirking, he took the keys from me and tossed them at my mom, who I only then realized had been watching the scene play out from the porch. I spared her a scowl while marching to his vehicle. He slipped into the driver seat and we were soon on our way.

"When do you leave for school?" he asked softly.

I didn't feel like talking about that right now, or anything about the future. All I could seriously consider was how Rachel was going to get through today. Anything else felt impossible, yet I knew college was something I couldn't put off no matter how much I wanted.

"Mid-August," I replied just as quietly. "The thirteenth, I think."

"Hmm. And how far away is your school?"

Biting my cheek, I fought against the anxiety I felt at having this conversation.
"Two hours, just about."

"Reasonable," he mumbled nearly inaudibly.


He flashed me a small smile. "Will you stop talking to me after you leave?"

Why would we continue to talk? Our lives would be moving in two different directions. Even so, I didn't like the thought of distance growing between us. Whatever strange relationship we now had meant something to me. As much as I didn't like it, Boston was the most reliable, caring person I knew. Regardless what direction our lives were moving, I would be an idiot to think someone like him would waltz into my life again.

"Not unless you want me to," I answered at last.

"Want you to stop? Why would I want that?"

My shrug was slow and reluctant. He kept glancing between me and the road. Wetting my lips, I took a deep breath.

"I don't know," I said. "I don't know why you would want to keep talking to me, but I won't...push you away. Not on purpose."

"If only you knew..." A breathy chuckle pushed past his lips as he shook his head.

"If only I knew what?" I asked, though I assumed I probably didn't want to know.

"Nothing. Nothing at all."

A scowl settled onto my face, making him chuckle again.

"It's very complicated with you, Hazel," he said, still smiling. "For now, let's keep it simple. You have a lot on your plate."

He wasn't wrong. I didn't want to deal with our relationship right this moment anyway.

We parked outside the hospital a few minutes later and got out of the car. When we met at the hood of the car, he placed his hand at the small of my back, like he had before. My cheeks flushed, but I didn't swat him away.

"Let's go see her, shall we?" he asked while rubbing my back.

"We shall," I mumbled with a sigh.

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now