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Things didn't go the way he planned. His lips were still exploring my exposed body when my phone rang. Though it didn't stop him the first time, the phone continued to ring. Over and over. Finally, he spat out a curse and leaned off of me to grab my phone from the floor. I was at the point of hysteria, capable of nothing more than weak sobs.

Mateo snatched up my phone and read the caller I.D. Another curse escaped him. He came back to the couch and thrusted the phone into my naked chest, which I was trying to cover with my hands.

"If you tell her what's happening," he warned with a menacing glare, "I'll take the picture I have to the school board, and your teacher's shiny little reputation will be ruined."

My lips trembled. I took the phone into one hand and look at the screen. The caller was Rachel's mom. She'd called three times already. Something was wrong. Rachel...something happened to her. I snapped out of my hysteria and answered the call.

"H-Hello?" I said shakily.

"Hazel!" sobbed Rachel's mother. "Rachel is back in the hospital. Can you come, please?"

My breathing hitched. "What's wrong? What happened to her?"

"She blacked out after coming home and she hasn't woken up yet! Can you come?"

"Of course," I assured her. "Of course, I'll come. I'll be there in fifteen minutes. I promise."

"Thank you," she cried through the line.

The call went dead. I let my hands move to cover my chest again as I leveled Mateo's speculative gaze.

"I have to go to the hospital," I told him, now looking away. "She needs me."

"Then I'm coming with you," he decided.

"You don't need to—" I started. I was afraid I might burst into tears if I had to see him out in public.

"I'm coming, Hazel," he said and took my phone right out of my hand. "Go change your clothes. I'll wait down here for you."

Fighting another wave of tears, I leaned off the couch and gathered what strips of my shirt were left. Then I hurried down the hall to my room. To my relief, he didn't follow. My hands were shaking while I changed into a completely new outfit. I chose a long sleeve sweater and dark jeans with knee-high boots and a scarf. Showing skin made me feel vulnerable, unprotected, even though it hadn't before. I just didn't want to make myself appealing to Mateo in any way.

When I left my room and headed for the front door, he was standing by the door, looking at his phone. He put the device away and studied my outfit. I shifted uncomfortably until he finally nodded and opened the door. Maybe I would have the nerve to tell him to screw off if he didn't have blackmail. He knew I couldn't let anything happen to Boston.

Mateo went to his car, and I understood I didn't have an option. He opened the door for me, but I slid inside without a word. Rather than close the door, he squatted down so we were almost eye level. I shrank away from his proximity.

"You can't act like this when we're with everyone else," he told me. "They'll know something is wrong. And we can't have that now, can we?"

I pursed my lips and looked up at the windshield. His hand touched my leg, making me jump.

"Are we going to be compliant, Hazel?"
His threat lingered in my ears until I nodded. Smiling, he declared, "Good."

The door slammed shut and he rounded the hood. Although part of me knew I should be making a plan to get away from him, the other parts were afraid of what he would do while also being more concerned with Rachel. I just needed to see her. Then I could stop dwelling on my circumstances for a little while.

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