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Chapter no 57

The Teacher

EVE

I WAKE up feeling utterly confused.

First of all, I am not in my bed like I usually am when I wake up. I am lying splayed out on a hard surface that I soon recognize to be the floor of my kitchen.

The next thing I become aware of is a throbbing pain on the right side of my head. It feels like somebody clocked me in the head with a brick. Repeatedly. I reach for my scalp, and my hair feels wet and sticky. When I pull my fingers away, I see blood.

Finally, I become aware of the presence of my husband. I am lying on the floor, and he is standing over me. He has my phone in his right hand, and he’s scrolling through the screen.

What’s he doing? Why am I lying on the floor? And what is Nate doing with my phone?

I try to sit up but my head spins. For a moment, it seems like I might throw up, but the feeling passes. The floor feels so cold under me. I wish I were in my bed. What’s going on?

“Nate?” I croak.

Nate’s eyelashes flutter in surprise. He must have come back for something and discovered me lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. “Eve?”

“What…?” My throat feels parched. Again, I get a wave of overwhelming dizziness. “What happened?”

Nate doesn’t answer. He doesn’t try to help me up. He just stares down at me.

What is going on here? Why would he…? Wait.

I get a flashback to a conversation with Nate from earlier in the evening. I want a divorce. I said those words to him. I told my husband I wanted him to move out. Why would I have said that?

And then, while I lie on the cold kitchen floor, it starts to come back to me. The meeting with Higgins, finding Addie and Nate kissing in his classroom, the ultimatum followed by Nate moving out, and then last of all,

Addie breaking into my house. I went to try to talk some sense into her, and then…

She hit me! That girl hit me with a frying pan right on the head!

And now I’m confused. Because I told Nate to move out, and he did. Yet he’s standing over me now, holding my phone. How long have I been lying on the kitchen floor? I definitely did not invite him back.

“Give me my phone,” I croak.

Again, he doesn’t answer me. He just keeps looking at me, a dark expression on his face.

“I… I need you to…” My head throbs with each word. My God, Addie sure clocked me hard. “Call 911.”

He narrows his eyes at me. “Do you remember what happened?”

I attempt to sit up again, and this time, it’s a sharp jab of pain in my temple that pins me to the floor. “Addie…she…she knocked me out with a frying pan.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” My head clears slightly. I make another attempt to sit up, and this time, I’m successful. “Nate, that…that girl is very troubled. We need to talk to Higgins about her.”

“Easy for you to say.” He sneers at me, and for a moment, it’s hard to remember why I ever loved him. “It won’t destroy your life to talk to her.”

My head aches too much to have this argument with him. “I’m sorry.” “God, you are heartless.” He shakes his head. “What do I have to do,

Eve? Do you want me to beg you?” He gets down onto his knees next to where I’m sitting on the floor. “Please, Eve. I’m begging you. Don’t take this to Higgins.”

“Nate,” I groan. “Please. Don’t do this.”

“I don’t have a choice, Nate. It’s the right thing to do.”

“You don’t have a choice.” His voice is mocking as his handsome features twist in anger. “You have a choice. You like the idea of destroying me. I bet you get a kick out of it.”

It feels like an ice pick is jabbing me in my head. I can’t have this conversation right now. “Can we talk about this later?” I clutch the side of my head, pressing on my aching scalp. “You need to call an ambulance. She really smacked me hard.”

Nate’s eyes are glassy. He’s looking down at the floor, a dazed expression on his face. “No.”

“No? What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means…” He raises his eyes to look up at me. “It means I won’t let you wreck my life.”

I don’t entirely understand what he means by that. At least not until his hands wrap around my neck.

“You’re not telling anyone about this, Eve,” he growls. “I won’t let you.”

His grip tightens around my neck, and I can’t get a breath in anymore. It feels like my eyes are bulging out of their sockets, and black spots dance in my vision. I desperately claw at his hands, but Nate is much stronger than I am, especially since I just got knocked unconscious.

The next five seconds seem to last an eternity as I realize that my husband has every intention of choking the life out of me. He will do anything to keep me from ruining his reputation—even this.

My vision slowly fades to black. I am dying. This man is killing me, right here and right now. I can’t even take a last dying breath because he is crushing my windpipe. And as I die, I wonder who will care that I’m gone. Not my parents, who barely speak to me anymore except on holidays. Jay might care, although on some level, he’ll also be relieved.

And certainly not my husband, who is the one squeezing the life out of me and is the last face I see before I die.

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