Chapter no 62

The Teacher


HE MAKES it in forty-eight minutes.

He must not have been speeding, because if he got pulled over, they would probably yank his license entirely. But knowing Hudson, he was going as fast as he dared. When his broken-down car pulls up in front of me, I almost cry with relief.

As I slide into the passenger seat next to Hudson, I can see how tired he looks. His white-blond hair is all disheveled, and he’s got sleep in his eyes. It’s not surprising, considering I pulled him out of bed.

“Thank you so much,” I tell him. “I… I owe you one.” He gives me a look.

“One more,” I quickly add.

His eyes travel down my body, from my dirty and blistered hands to my muddy jeans and finally my sneakers covered in pumpkin guts. But he doesn’t comment. He simply gets back on the road and starts driving again.

We drive in silence for the next several minutes. The radio is on, and because it’s so late, there are hardly any commercials. I lean my head against the headrest, letting the music wash over me.

“So,” Hudson says, “what was that all about?” “It’s…um…a long story.”

“Well, we’re going to be driving for the next hour, so we’ve got time.”

I wish more than anything that I could tell Hudson everything that happened tonight. I wish I could tell him and he would understand and then tell me exactly what to do. We used to have that kind of friendship—the kind where he would do absolutely anything for me. But then he did do absolutely anything for me, and now we’re not even friends anymore.

“I made some bad decisions,” I finally say. “Okay…”

I can’t tell him. I want to, but I can’t. In spite of the fact that Nathaniel left me out here, I can’t betray him.

So instead of answering his question, I turn away and look out the window. We don’t say another word during the entire drive. At one point about fifteen minutes before we reach our destination, his phone buzzes,

and I’m scared his parents have realized he’s gone and now he’s grounded for all eternity. But he doesn’t even check his messages. I’m aware of his eyes glancing my way at the red lights, but I try to ignore it. For his own sake, it’s better he doesn’t know. And if he did, he would definitely never speak to me again. Not for the rest of our lives.

When we arrive back at my house, Hudson turns to me one last time. His pale blue eyes look sad. “You can still talk to me if you need to, Addie,” he says.

I bite back a comment about how his girlfriend probably wouldn’t like that. “Okay.”

He frowns. “I mean it. I’m here for you if you need me. And I’m sorry I’ve been kind of a jerk to you last year. What happened… It really messed up my head for a while. I couldn’t even look at you without seeing…well, you know.”

I bow my head. “I know.”

“But…” He squeezes the thighs of his jeans with his long fingers. “You’re still my best friend, Addie.”

Again, I get that urge to tell him everything. I want to so badly. But he’s only just forgiven me, and I can’t risk it. But there is one other favor I desperately need from him.

“There’s one other thing I need you to do for me,” I say. “Anything.”

I look him straight in the eyes. “You can’t tell anyone at all that you picked me up tonight.”

He places a hand on his chest. “I swear I won’t tell.”

I hope he still feels the same when we get to school on Monday and he discovers that Mrs. Bennett has gone missing.

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