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"What is he doing here?" Boston growled lowly in my ear.

Rather than answer, I just gaped at my ex. Said ex used his index finger to gesture for me to go to him. I knew I needed to. There was too much at stake to not obey.

"Is he why you're acting like this?" A hand wrapped around my wrist, and I glanced over my shoulder to meet Boston's sharp blue eyes. "What did he do, Hazel? Did he hurt you?"

"I'd really appreciate if you wouldn't keep me waiting all day," snapped Mateo. "Since I did drive all the way here to get you, after all."

"I have to go," I told Boston, pulling my wrist free.

Grabbing my whole arm now, he reeled me back into his side. "Go where?"

"It doesn't matter. I just have to—"

"It matters to me." He was remaining eerily calm in spite of the stormy look to his eyes. "Where are you going with him?"

"Boston, please—" I began.

"Let her go, Mr. Teacher," Mateo warned, drawing Boston's annoyed gaze. "She clearly wants to come with me."

My heart beat a little faster as Boston's jaw clenched. Perhaps unbeknownst to him, his grip on my arm tightened. I winced, more surprised than hurt.

"I don't really think she does," he replied. "In fact, she seems scared. And I don't think I'm going to let her get in that car with you."

"No, Boston," I told him in a panicky tone, "you don't understand. I have to go. It's better for everyone if I go."

"That doesn't convince me. What don't I understand, Hazel?"

I shook my head. "It's out of your control. Really, it—"

"I'm still waiting!" Mateo barked.

Knowing what was to come, I shivered fearfully before jerking my arm free of Boston's grip. He reached out for me again, but I was already out of reach. I kept my head down as I walked to Mateo's car, not acknowledging anyone or anything until I was seated in the passenger seat. Mateo slammed my door shut, narrowly avoiding my ankle in the process. I fastened my seatbelt and kept my gaze down until the car was speeding down the street.

    "What was that?" he demanded. "Did you think I wouldn't realize where you were? That I wouldn't find you? Answer me!"

    "I...I had to apologize," I said, hoping he would take my uncertain voice for fear of him and not for lying.

    "Apologize for what?"

    "I was...I was mean to Bailey. I had to apologize to her."

    His snort made me flinch. "You were mean to someone? I don't believe it. You went over there to rat me out. You're so gonna get it."

    "No!" I cried. "Couldn't you tell? He didn't know what was happening between us. He doesn't know about the picture...Mateo, please. I didn't say anything."

    "You're such a bad liar, Hazel."

    The one time I wasn't lying, he was falsely accusing me. Sobs wracked my body as I bent over to rest my face in my hands. He was going to kill me. Rape me, first. And then kill me. I just knew it.

    We pulled up into my driveway, and he cut the engine off. Without saying a word, he stormed around to my side, ripped the door open, unfastened my seat belt and jerked me out by my elbow. I attempted to tear myself out of his grip, but it was fruitless. He was too strong. When I tried to scream, just before he shoved me inside, his hand clamped down on my mouth.

    He closed and locked the front door, not letting go of me even once. I fell to my knees to become a deadweight. Anything to slow this down, to prevent what was going to happen. Mateo bent down and scooped me up. I couldn't stop crying; it was like hysteria had overcome me, rendering me completely useless.

    My bedroom door was thrown open before being kicked closed. I was thrown onto my bed and immediately pinned down. There was never a moment he wasn't touching me. A scream tore free of me. To my utter shock, he slapped me across the cheek, hard. I froze.

    "So you'll wear a pretty blouse for him," he growled, "but not for me?"

    While I remained rigid in shock, he grabbed the neckline of my silk shirt and ripped it apart. It split right down the middle, exposing my chest and belly. The vulnerability I felt brought another wave of hysteria. Mateo pushed my hands above my head and ground his hips into mine. I whimpered and blinked at the mascara bleeding into my eyes. My wrists were aching from his grip and now my eyes burned from the makeup mingling with tears.

    "I've been waiting for this too long," he said. "You're such a tease, Hazel."

    Holding my wrists in one hand, he used the other to push my skirt up to my hips. My thighs were laid bare now too. A choking noise made its way out of my throat. I was full of fear. Couldn't think. Couldn't breathe. Couldn't fight back.

    He fumbled to unzip his pants before remembering I had underwear on. Cursing, he reached between my legs and hooked a finger around the rim of my panties. I belted out another scream, unable to stop myself. He succeeded in ripping the lacey garment off of me, hastily discarding it on the floor. My scream was rewarded with a punch to my cheek this time. The blow whipped my head to the side, and my whole face exploded in pain and heat.

    "Shut up!" he bellowed. "You knew this was coming! Stop complaining."

    As he began to position himself, the bedroom door flew open. Mateo's head snapped around to glare at the intruder before his gaze narrowed menacingly. I didn't have the strength or dignity to face whoever it was. I felt defiled, corrupted, and he hadn't even gone through with his intentions.

    "Get the hell off of her!" thundered an all too familiar voice.

    Mateo was wrenched away. Cold air rushed against my bare skin. Silent tears trickled from my eyes while I mustered the strength to sit up. Boston was holding Mateo up by the collar of his shirt, wailing on his face with his free fist.

    "Stop," I begged. "Boston, stop—"

    "Hazel!" called Bailey from outside my room. "Hazel, come here!"

    No...not another witness. We were done for. Mateo was going to take the photo to the school board. Boston would be ruined. If he didn't kill Mateo first. I fell off the bed trying to stand up and dragged myself to the bathroom. The grunts and yelling were tuned out by my groggy mind. For some reason, I crawled into the shower and curled up into a ball. I just wanted them to leave. All of them.

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