A Place Without You

Chapter 9

chapter
Chapter

Bodhi: Wouldn’t that be something?

Henna: Oh, it will be.

July (4 weeks later)

Henna: Hi. Remember me?

Bodhi: Hi. I’m pretty sure you’re still my greatest memory.

Henna: How’s your dad?

Bodhi: Tired. Snoring.

Henna: I’m home. It smells like pine trees. Where are you?

Bodhi: Kitchen. Smells like garlic bread.

Henna: Are you over me yet?

Bodhi: Trying. Failing miserably.

Henna: I listen to Liza Anne “1000 Years”

Bodhi: Elvis Costello “She”

Henna: Someday … I’m going to find you.

Bodhi: Wouldn’t that be something?

Henna: Oh, it will be.

CHAPTER SEVEN

After staying faithfully high most of the summer, henna tattooing every inch of my body with Bodhi’s name in fancy script, a ketchup bottle, Bodhi + Henna, even an unopened condom packet right below my navel—that is definitely a low point, even for me—I stop texting him. If he really misses me, he’ll initiate contact.

I have obligations for another year, and he clearly has something that doesn’t involve chasing me on his white horse and bending a knee. Not that those exact thoughts ever go through my mind.

“Happy Birthday, Hell!” Carley screams over the phone. She’s my closest friend except for Juni, but she graduated the previous spring, which means we aren’t in school together this fall.

I hold the phone away from my ear as I near the gates of a different kind of hell. “Thank you. How’s college? Tell me it’s awful and all the guys are ugly. Tell me the classes are really hard. Tell me absolutely anything to make me feel better about having one last year of high school.”

“Sorry, chica. College is lit. And my Econ teacher is a nice snack. Gah! I wish you were here.”

Rolling my eyes, I sigh. “Would it have killed you to lie to me? Just this once?”

Carley laughs. “Sorry. I know it doesn’t help that you’re officially the oldest student in school this year, which means all the guys are younger, but have fun, stay high, and live up to your nickname.”

“You suck.”

“Love you too, babe. Bye.”

Ending the call, I toss my phone into my bag before getting sucked through the front doors with all of my eager peers.

Senior year of high school.

Yay me.

I have a lot of senior friends, but with Carley off to college, not any close ones. I am the girl who gets along with most everyone. Guys like me, some girls think they want to be me, and a few probably despise me for purely jealous reasons. Oh well …

“Miss Lane, I anticipate a good senior year from you.” Principal Rafferty smiles at me as I shuffle into calculus.

“Gail.” I return a toothy grin.

Her smile fades. “Mrs. or Principal Rafferty, Henna. Let’s try to get it right this year.”

“Why? You didn’t get my schedule right. I have like three study halls. How am I supposed to graduate with three study halls worth zero credits?” I hold up my paper schedule.

Gail frowns. “After calculus, go see Mr. Malone.”

“Okey dokey.” I wink, really needing to give more fucks about school, but I have too many distractions, like wanting to travel the world before even thinking about college—and Bodhi. I still have Bodhi stuck in my head.

After talking about everything we’re going to do in calculus this semester, without actually doing a damn thing, the bell rings and I make my way to the new guidance counselor’s office. The door is shut, so I knock and trace the name on the plate outside of it.

Mr. Malone

Another year. Another new counselor. I may be partially to blame for the frequent turnovers of this position. I spend more time here than in most of my classes. I enjoy chatting about my nonexistent problems, basically anything to get out of class.

“Come in,” a muffled voice calls.

I open the door.

Sea blue eyes lift from the computer screen to meet my gaze.

Da faq?

He narrows those blue eyes for a few seconds, scratching his cheek. “Henna?” Bodhi’s (Mr. Malone’s) uncertain voice sounds.

I step into his office, slowly closing the door behind me before holding up my schedule.

His eyebrows push together as he looks at his computer screen, fingers pecking at the keyboard. “You-you’re a student here?” He clicks the mouse a few times. “But you’re … nineteen.” With wide eyes, he stares at the screen while stilling his hands. “Today. You’re nineteen today. Uh …”

Rubbing my lips together, thinking of all the ways Mr. Malone is going to make things up to me for his summer of radio silence besides the three texting conversations I initiated, I wait for his stuttering to transform into coherent words.

“Jesus, Henna, say something.” He runs his hands through his sexy blond hair that’s a bit shorter than it was the last time I saw him. His face is shaven instead of stubbly, and his shirt is white again, a button-down with a sharp blue tie hanging from his neck.

“Isn’t this something?” I grin. “But to the point … I have three study halls, Mr. Malone.” I toss my schedule onto his desk. I want to cry and scream. I want to throw myself into his arms. I want to fist pump the hell out of the air because … he’s here. I found him! But mostly, I want to get high until this all makes sense, because right now I hate the cold, awkward air between us along with the pained expression on his face that doesn’t look like he’s happy to see me.

He blinks away his cloudy gaze. Is he also thinking of how our mouths devoured each other or the way he grabbed my ass to guide me over his hard-on beneath those sexy jeans he wore?

Crossing my legs to deal with the physical side effects of my thoughts, I shoot him a tight-lipped smile.

“We need to talk,” he whispers.

I step closer to his desk, twisting my lips to the side. “I know. There’s no way I’ll graduate without adding at least one class. I won’t have enough credits.”

Bodhi rubs the back of his neck.

Resisting the urge to internalize his obvious stress, I choose the glass-half-full route—I’m going to lose my virginity to a guidance counselor. Such an interesting twist of fate.

“If you say anything—” He grimaces.

I snort a soft laugh. “I’m good at keeping silent, Mr. Malone. I had your number all summer, yet I never called you. And you never initiated a single text. Thanks for that.”

The pain along his face deepens. “Henna, I …” He shakes his head.

“It’s fine. I like the twist this story of ours has taken.” A smirk lifts the corners of my mouth. “It’s like in a movie or a book when you think your favorite character has died, but they come back.”

There’s a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Bodhi says with knee-jerk desperation like the person on the other side is here to save the day.

“Mr. Malone?” A boy in my class peeks his head inside.

Bodhi holds up his finger. “Have a seat in the hallway. I’ll be with you in just a sec.” He focuses on the computer again, tapping keys and clicking the mouse. “What classes do you want to take?” Mr. Malone is all business.

“If my calculation is correct, I only need one. Do you teach any classes, Mr. Malone? I feel like I’d learn a lot from you.”

He clears his throat. “A class, Miss Lane.”

“Miss Lane?” I glance over my shoulder to make sure the kid next in line shut the door behind him, then I rest my hands on the desk, leaning in and lowering my voice. A summer’s worth of anger and resentment bubble to the surface. He tortured me by wanting me without really showing me more than words, and I want him to pay. “You can call me Miss Lane while we’re here, and I’ll call you Mr. Malone, but when you’re fucking me in the back of Alice, we’ll be Henna and Bodhi.”

His throat bobs. “Henna.”

“Nope.” I stand erect. “Save it for later.” I wink before turning toward the door. “Find me a class, any class, Mr. Malone. Whatever you think will be a good fit for me. I’ll be back after biology.”

CHAPTER EIGHT

Bodhi

I have a master’s degree in secondary school counseling and a PhD in fucking up my life. After surviving the onslaught of students and their schedule changes, I grab my sack lunch and eat it in Alice with the windows down. Yeah, I call her Alice.

It takes less than five seconds on my laptop to get results of an internet search engine for Henna Eve Lane. I managed to go all summer resisting the urge to type her name into an internet search, but now I need to know everything.

Rich? She said no, but I disagree. If your mother is an international super model—Juniper Carlisle, go figure—and your stepfather owns ZIP Tunes, the most successful record label in the world, you are rich in my book. I don’t appreciate her lying to me.

Halfway down the screen, I find an article about a helicopter accident she survived. It was just her and a friend.

“Jesus …”

They were on their way to a concert in L.A. and the helicopter had engine issues. It crashed. The pilot died and so did her friend. Henna was in the hospital for months. That might explain why she’s a year behind in school for her age.


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