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“Well, can’t he just watch you from heaven?” she said. Her question seemed so matter of fact, and it made everyone in the room tear up. “So don’t worry, he’s still here. Come here.” She pulled on his pants and made him come to eye level with her. She then placed her hands against his shoulders and gave him a stern look. “Mr. Mith, you can do anything because you’re my best friend, and that means you can do anything.”

My little girl was giving him a pep talk, and my heart just about exploded from hearing it.

My love for her was like a wild garden. It blossomed more every single day.

Oliver’s eyes glassed over, and he bent down and kissed her on the forehead. “Thanks, Reese.”


Kelly cleared her throat. “Okay, well, how about I get Reese some snacks and we make our way to our seats so Emery and Oliver have a second to talk before the show.”

The two headed out of the room, leaving me standing there, still stunned and confused about what was happening exactly. But also, happy. I couldn’t deny the happiness that was running through my veins.

The moment the door closed behind Kelly and Reese, Oliver’s lips were pressed against mine, and I fell into my safe place. His tongue swept against mine, and I bit his bottom lip lightly as he moaned into me. “I’m so glad you’re here,” he said. “I was nervous Kelly wasn’t going to be able to get you here.”

I pulled away a little, still baffled. “You’re really performing tonight?”

“Yes. I think it’s time. I’ve been working on a lot of new stuff these past few weeks, and I feel like it’s time to get back out there.”

“I’m proud of you, I just . . . are you sure you’re ready?”

“No. Not at all. But I’m learning in life that you don’t have to be ready for every situation. You just have to be brave enough to try. So, I’m going to try tonight, and I think it will be better if I’m able to look out into the audience and see you sitting there looking back at me.”

“I believe in you,” I told him, kissing him again.

We kept kissing until it was time for him to go put on a show.

So I made my way to the audience, to make sure I was there for him when he needed a boost of love to go his way. I didn’t know what any of this meant for us, because the situation with my parents and Reese was still a mess. I knew I couldn’t be with Oliver yet, but I also knew that I was going to go into that arena and be his biggest fan.

The lights were already dimmed when I made it to my seat. Reese was standing on her chair as she and Kelly talked about their favorite songs from Alex & Oliver. When the light show began onstage, I could sense that the whole audience was feeling butterflies. There seemed to be a nervous energy about Oliver’s arrival. Many wondered aloud if he was going to be a no-show again. Many were skeptical that he was going to actually perform. But even with their doubts, they’d still shown up. Because their love for Oliver was still there, even with the letdowns.

He made his way to the stand and stood there for a moment as the crowd went wild. Every time he opened his mouth to speak, the crowd cheered louder, shouting their love for him. I saw the moment it hit him too. When his eyes glassed over and the emotions flooded in.

Oliver cleared his throat as he adjusted the microphone in front of him. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to show up tonight after my last failed attempt of a show. Then, with how the last few months have gone with me in the tabloids, I considered staying hidden. But there was something bigger than my fear that made me want to come out of hiding. Something worth fighting for,” he said as his eyes looked toward me.


A million butterflies.

“We always believed in you, Oliver!” someone screamed.

“We’ll always be here, Oliver! We love you!” someone else shouted from the crowd.

“I love you too,” he apprehensively snickered. “I, um, to be honest I’ve been going through a very rough patch lately. As many of you know, I lost my best friend a few months back, and I didn’t handle it in the best way possible. But I was lucky enough to have a team who didn’t give up on me. I want you all to know that you are a part of that team. Thank you for showing up for me, even though I’m flawed.”

He brushed his hand beneath his nose, and I could almost feel his nerves tingling through my system. “I went over and over how to start this show tonight. I thought about coming out here with insane energy and performing like a madman up here. I thought the bigger, the better, like my brother. My brother was a force on the stage. His energy was magical, but that wasn’t who I was, and that’s not who I am now. Truthfully, I’ve been feeling pretty small these past months. So, in the spirit of being authentic, I figured we’d start that way tonight, and build up. Is that okay with you, Los Angeles?”

The City of Angels cheered him on.

“Okay, so this is my brother’s guitar. I figured I should play it as a way of having him here onstage with me. But a sweet little girl reminded me that he’s always with me, even if I can’t see him. So, we are going back in time with the first song that Alex and I ever recorded together. If you’re an ancient fan, you know it. If you’re new, here’s a part of me. And I apologize ahead of time if I get lost in myself. I’m trying my best. This is ‘Heart Stamps.’”

My hand flew to my chest as Reese and Kelly began jumping up and down as Oliver began to play the song that saved me during so many of my darkest days.

As he began singing, his voice filled the arena like magic dust. The words rolled off his tongue as if they were a part of his soul, and he was sharing it all with us. Everything was going fine, until he looked out into the audience when he got to the chorus, and he stumbled over his emotions.

“And I’ll keep your heart stamped,” he began, but the overwhelming feelings overtook him, and he stepped away from the microphone as tears began to roll down his cheeks. I wanted to rush up to hold him. I wanted him to feel my comfort, that he wasn’t alone in that very moment. But I quickly realized that he didn’t need my comfort in that very moment.

He had ten thousand people surrounding him with love, singing the lyrics that his voice struggled to push out.

I’ll keep your heart stamped

Right against mine, every beat, every time

I’ll keep your heart stamped

Through the dark days you face, and the shadows you’ve chased

Your heart stamps with mine.

Your heart stamps on mine.

Everything will be fine

Because your heart beats in sync with mine.

It was the most powerful moment I’d ever witnessed. Oliver stepped closer to the microphone, tears still falling, but I could tell they were now from the love that filled that arena. He began strumming the guitar again and singing as the chorus came back around.

When love met pain, beauty could be created.

My lips moved to the lyrics as a woman came toward the empty seat beside me. I was completely thrown off when her hand took mine in her hold. I snatched it away quickly before turning to see Sammie standing there beside me. Her eyes were washed with tears, and she gave me the most broken smile.

I didn’t understand. I didn’t know why she was there, or how she knew where I was going to be. Yet the moment I looked up at the stage to find Oliver singing the chorus once more, I knew he’d had a hand in this.

I turned to Sammie, and I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to tear her apart and snap for what she and our parents were putting me through with Reese.

But “Heart Stamps” was our song.

It was us for so very long, and Sammie looked so broken, so I did the only thing I could think to do. I took her hand in mine and held on tight.

I felt her trembles intensify as I gripped her hand. She began falling apart as tears rolled down her cheeks. Her eyes shut, and I watched as her lips slightly mouthed the words of the song. Then, I sang along with her.

Your heart stamps with mine.

Your heart stamps on mine.

Everything will be fine

Because your heart beats in sync with mine.



After the concert, Oliver drove Sammie and me to his house so we could have the conversation that needed to happen. Kelly took Reese to her place for a sleepover, because I wanted to make sure she had no interactions with Sammie. Honestly I wasn’t sure if Sammie was still on our parents’ side.

If anything, we had to have the heart-to-heart that we should’ve had years ago.

“I’ll be in the studio if you need me,” Oliver said, kissing my cheek. “But take all the time you need.”

He gave Sammie a broken smile as he walked out of the living room, leaving us to ourselves. The silence was heavy, and I hadn’t a clue where to even start with her, but I knew we had to start somewhere.

“I—” we both said in unison.

Uncomfortable laughter fell from both of us, and Sammie gestured toward me. “You go first.”

I sat down on the couch, and she sat across from me. My mind was spinning wildly as I tried to control my thoughts. “Why did you leave?” I asked. “All those years ago, why did you leave?”