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Chapter no 22

The Teacher

ADDIE

OH MY GOD, if I have to spend another minute in these stupid gym clothes, I’m going to throw myself out a window.

They aren’t sweaty anymore at least. But now that they have dried, they feel kind of crusty. And also, I smell. Even though I showered, my clothes smell bad, and people are scrunching up their noses at me. It wasn’t bad enough that I was the girl who slept with Mr. Tuttle. Now I’m the smelly girl who slept with Mr. Tuttle.

And my wet clothes are totally ruining my backpack and everything inside. Before I go to my last period, I make an effort to try to wring them out in the bathroom sink. It doesn’t work, and I get water all over my T- shirt. I end up stuffing the clothes back in my bag, then racing to get to class before I’m late yet again.

I arrive at Mr. Bennett’s classroom seconds after the bell rings. He’s just getting up from his desk to close the door to the classroom when I appear in the doorway. His brown eyes rake over me, and when they widen in shock, my mortification is complete. Mr. Bennett, my favorite teacher in the whole world, has now seen me in my smelly, dirty gym clothes with my legs unshaven.

As awful as it was when Mrs. Bennett yelled at me in math class, this is way worse. I’m dying a little bit inside.

“Addie?” His brows bunch together. “Are you okay?”

“Fine,” I gulp. I just want to slide into my seat and disappear for the rest of class. Only forty minutes left and this stupid day will be over.

Mr. Bennett rubs his chin, as if considering whether to accept my answer. Finally, he walks over to his desk, scribbles something on a piece of paper, and hands it to me.

“Go home early,” he murmurs, low enough that the buzzing students behind us can’t hear him. “Here’s a note in case they give you any trouble.”

“What?” I blurt out.

“You look like you’re having a rough time,” he acknowledges. “So I’m giving you permission to skip this class. There won’t be any homework tonight. Just relax.”

“But…” I can’t quite wrap my head around this one, but at the same time, I don’t want to stand here and argue with him. I do want to go home. I’m dirty and sweaty and my temples are starting to throb. “Okay. Um, thank you.”

He winks at me. “No problem.”

Every time Mr. Bennett winks at me, my heart flutters a little bit. It makes me feel all the worse that he is looking at me in my disgusting gym clothes.

In any case, I take the scribbled permission slip that he wrote and slide it into my pocket, but I won’t need it. I take off early, hopping onto my bike and peddling as fast as I can to get home so I can change.

Except I don’t quite make it home.

I know where Kenzie Montgomery lives. There’s a directory of all the students’ addresses, and after I “borrowed” her house keys, I looked up her address. It’s right on the way back to my own house, and I took the time to check out the location. There’s no harm in looking.

And today I decide to take another look.

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