A Place Without You (Page 20)


“Jesus, Henna … you had sex with Mr. Malone.”

“No.” I shake my head. “I had sex with Bodhi. We’re going to let Mr. Malone stay out of it.”

Juni chokes on a laugh, resting her elbows on the table while rubbing her temples. “You’re high.”

I bob my head side to side. “Not completely, but I’m getting there.”

“If you guys get caught, this ridiculous Mr. Malone isn’t Bodhi and Bodhi isn’t Mr. Malone thing isn’t going to work with the principal and the school board.”

“We’re not going to get caught.”

“Henna …” She shakes her head, giving me a solid dose of mom disapproval.

I knew I shouldn’t have trusted her to keep Mom out of this.

“You thrive on breaking rules, taunting authority, and proving that you can get away with murder. I know you … and you’ll let it slip to someone because what’s the fun of doing something forbidden if no one knows about it? We have gotten you out of a lot of sticky situations, but we can’t protect you and Bodhi from the possible ramifications of this.”

The bad news? She’s overreacting. I should have told Carley instead. Maybe I will later, and she can give me a timeline for how long it will be before I don’t dread having sex again with the man I love.

The good news? The more Mom drones on, making me sound like a completely irresponsible rebel, the more I don’t care because I’m starting to feel totally chill about everything.

“Don’t sweat it. Everything is temporary.” I smile on a content sigh.

She shakes her head. “You’re going to learn the hard way on this one, but I’ll remember to repeat those same words back to you when everything falls apart.”

I nod slowly. “Okey dokey.”

Juni stands, pressing a palm to my cheek, a sad smile steals her perfect lips. “I’m sorry, baby. I’m so incredibly sorry that you have to spend so much of your life checked out from reality.”

I shrug. Reality is overrated when I’m not with Bodhi.


Monday morning. Third period.

I take long strides to Mr. Malone’s office. We haven’t talked since Saturday morning. It’s not that I’ve been waiting to see if he calls or texts me—like a test—but if it were a test, Bodhi would have a solid F.

“Good morning,” he says, keeping his attention glued to his computer screen as I close the door, drop my bag, and sit in the chair opposite his.

“Good morning, stranger. Ever heard of a phone?” Okay, I suck a little at not starting shit that doesn’t need to be started. I blame it on my youth, an excuse I plan on riding until I’m thirty.

“I’m not texting you. We don’t need a traceable record.” He leans back, folding his hands on his abs.

“But you can use it like a telephone.”


“Wow … have you been talking with my mom?”

“Jesus, Henna …” He cringes. “Please don’t tell me you told your mom about us.”

“I told Juni, but my mom butted in and took over our conversation.”

He shakes his head, like he’s trying to clear it. “Cut the Juni and mom crap. Why would you do that? You want to see me lose my job?”

“What? No. She’s not going to say anything to anyone.”

“You shouldn’t have said anything to anyone. It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. Not while you’re a student here.” He stands, running his hands through his hair while pacing the tiny windowless office.

That’s it. I’m calling Carley as soon as I get home. Someone needs to be happy that I’m in love, that I saved myself for the man I want to marry. I’m nineteen for God’s sake. We were two consenting adults. Bodhi’s a guidance counselor, not my teacher or principal. What’s the big fucking deal?

“Your not calling or texting has nothing to do with someone finding out. You regret what happened. Don’t you?”

“No.” He stops, resting his hands on his hips, chin dropped to his chest.

“Well, that’s a convincing answer. Nothing about your defeated posture would ever lead me to believe that you regret what happened.”

“It’s not black and white, Henna. What do you want me to do? Tattoo your name on my forehead and fuck you on the lunchroom table?”

“No.” My lips twist. “We’re not even allowed to sit on the lunchroom tables. And I don’t know what the weight threshold is for them.”

“Henna …” He rubs his hand over his mouth.

I stand, making my way around his desk. “Are you grinning, Mr. Malone?” I pull his hand away from his face, revealing his grin.

“I’m serious, Mr. Malone. If we broke one of the lunchroom tables, Principal Rafferty would not only expel both of us, she’d report us to the police for vandalism. Besides … I’m not ready to let you inside of me again. I’m going to get a graduated series of dildos in various sizes to prep that area a little better. If you know where you’d fall on a chart compared to the approximated mean penile dimensions … that would be helpful.”

He attempts to wipe another smirk from his face before I see it. “Go bust someone else’s balls. I have work to do.”

Someone knocks on the door. I back up a safe distance.

“Come in.”

“Mr. Malone, I need to talk to you,” Danielle, a girl in my class, says.

“Okay. Henna was just leaving.”

Keeping my back to Danielle, I grin. Bodhi maintains his neutral guidance counselor smile as his gaze returns to me, but something in his eyes changes, a spark of adoration that I’m certain only I can see. I mouth, “I love you.”

He returns a barely detectable nod and a tiny twitch at the corner of his mouth.

“Hey, Danielle. Keep an eye on Mr. Malone. I caught him sitting on his desk. He has no regard for school property. We’d hate for him to get caught by Principal Rafferty.” I flash her a smile without looking back at Bodhi.

Before she shuts the door, she says, “Yeah, Mr. Malone. Principal Rafferty is a real stickler about that stuff.”

I giggle.


“Hey, Barrett.” I carry a batch of my favorite cookies up the ramp to the Malone’s porch.

Bodhi’s not home from school yet. Just as well. The cookies aren’t for him.

“Hey, young lady.” He sets his can of pop on the table next to his wheelchair.

“What did you say?” a lady calls from inside the house.

“Talking to my young friend, not you, Etta.”

“I thought we were friends.” She looks out the screen door at us.

I give her a shy wave with one hand while I hold the cookies in my other hand.

“We’re friends, Etta, but sorry … I can’t call you young when you’re older than I am.”

She shakes her head, tightening her gray-haired pony tail at the nape of her neck. “He’s a pill. Good luck, young friend.” Etta walks back in the house.

“Brought you some cookies.” I hold out the plate.

Barrett eyes them. “They smell like the good kind.”

Of course he can smell them. Carley thinks they smell disgusting, but she sure likes how she feels after eating one.

“My favorite cookies.”

He takes one. “Thank you.”

I sit next to him.

“You’re not having any?”

“I brought them for you. I have school work to do tonight.”

“Freshman year?”

“Seni—” I swallow my answer and cough to buy a few seconds to get my shit together. “Sorry … yes. Freshman. Just some online classes. I’m not really ready for college full-time. Next year I’m going to travel.”

“Travel, huh? Where to?”

“The world.” I shrug. “I have this restlessness. It’s not something that I’ve always had, but my accident changed something for me, and I just can’t be part of the herd anymore. I’ll go crazy.”

Barrett stares at me. I’m sure I already sound crazy or just like a typical young person with no direction whatsoever. “If I could get up out of this wheelchair and walk, I’d sell everything I own and buy a boat to travel the world … and I’d never look back.”


“You only live once.” He nods. “You going for a ride today?”

“No. I’m a little sore from Angelina.” And your son.

“I’ll have Duke get you a padded seat for the saddle. And he probably needs to adjust the stirrups so you can spread your weight more evenly between your legs and your bum.”

And how about sex with your son? What do you recommend to ease that pain? I smile. “Thanks. I’d like that.”

“Here comes trouble.” He nods to Alice as Bodhi pulls down the lane.

“I love his van.”

“Really?” Barrett sounds surprised.

“Really.” And I love your son too.

Bodhi gets out, slinging his bag over his shoulder and loosening his tie. I’ve never seen anything so sexy in my life … except naked Bodhi.