A post of me.

I’d never seen the picture before. He had to have taken it when Rosie was in the NICU without me knowing my photograph was being snapped. I was looking down on Rosie with the biggest smile against my lips as I stared at my little sister. It was a simple shot. Nothing out of this world, but the one thing that could be taken away from the picture was love. There was so much love shining through as I studied my little sister’s heartbeats.

The likes on the post were skyrocketing right before my eyes. Hundreds. Then thousands. Then hundreds of thousands. I was officially going viral on Ian’s Instagram page.

My hands fell to my chest as I went to read the caption that accompanied the photograph.

This woman controls my heartbeats. Every love lyric I sing each night is made for her. Every melody chases her heartbeat, and every chorus begs for her love. It has been brought to my attention that a few people on my management team have chosen to approach the love of my life and tell her that she wasn’t good for my image. Due to her looks and the past she had no say in creating, they said she wasn’t good enough. It’s true, we grew up in the same town, but that didn’t mean our home lives were built on the same steady foundation. I was blessed enough to never know struggle. This girl had to fight tooth and nail for everything she was given. She sacrificed her own youth, because she didn’t want her little sister to go into the foster system. She gave up love, in order for me to go chase my dreams. She gives and gives in order to make others happy, because that’s the person she is.

She’s the most beautiful human being alive, and for anyone—especially people who are supposed to be in my corner—to say differently disgusts me to my core. I am not a robot. I hurt, I ache, I love, and I cry. And it breaks me to live in a world where I have to be afraid of showing who I really am in order to gain followers.

So if you don’t like this fact—that I am not single and that I am hopelessly in love—then that’s fine. If I lose fans over this, I’m okay with that. I will make every sacrifice in the world from this point on in order to give my love fully to the woman who has given more than she ever should’ve had to give. I love you, Haze. From the new moon to the fullest. From now until forever.

He’d made a public declaration of love for me. Giving his manager the biggest middle finger in the whole world. My hands trembled as I reread his words a dozen times. Then I heard him call out to me.

“Haze? Are you coming?”

I took a sharp inhalation and hit like on the post before placing my phone down on the dresser. “Yes. I’m coming.”

The moment I stepped into his room, I didn’t give him a chance to offer me any words. My lips crashed against his as he wrapped his arms around my body. Our kiss was so much more intense than ever before. It was as if we were making up for the lost time, for all the kisses that had gone missing due to Charlie.

His tongue danced with mine, and I greedily sucked at his bottom lip whenever I received the chance. We made love that night, rocking our bodies together, fitting our pieces back into their rightful places. He owned every inch of my body and every piece of my soul. Every time he slid into me, I moaned for more. Every time he thrust deeper, I dug my nails into his back.

“Forever,” he whispered into my neck before swiping his tongue against my skin.

“Forever,” I breathed out, thrusting my hips toward him.

We made love three more times that night, each time more passionate than the last. And when I fell asleep in his arms, I knew I was home.

I awakened to the loud sounds of banging. I sat up in bed, looking around as confusion hit me.

Bang, bang, bang!

What in the world?

I glanced over to the left side of the bed, where Ian had been before, but he was missing. My hand swept over his spot, and a chill raced over me as I missed his warmth.

Bang, bang, bang!

I shot up to my feet and grabbed my robe, tossing it on quickly. I checked in on Rosie to make sure she was all right, but thankfully, she was still sleeping peacefully.

I hurried down the steps and paused when I’d almost reached the bottom. The whole living room was in complete disarray, as the wooden panels of the floor were being pulled up. Big Paw was taking a hammer to them, and Ian stood beside him, pulling up his own pieces.

It was still pitch black outside, and I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out if I was still dreaming or not.

“What’s going on here?”

Big Paw didn’t look up. He kept hammering and hammering nonstop into the floor.

Ian looked up to me and gave me a sloppy, broken smile. “He’s been promising Grams that he’d fix these floors for the past twenty-five years. I came down and saw him hammering at it, so I joined in to help.”

“She shouldn’t have to come home to this squeaky mess,” Big Paw murmured, wiping away the tears that kept falling from his eyes. “I’m the asshole who didn’t do it when she asked.”

He was beating himself up because he was scared for his wife. His mind must’ve been terrified that he wasn’t able to fix her, to make her better. So he did what he’d spent the past eighty years of his life doing—manual labor to show his love. He hammered into the floor, and Ian stayed directly next to his grandfather, being the rock that kept him steady. Working as hard as he could to help tear up the floor. I wasn’t sure if what they were doing made any kind of sense. Maybe it was just an outlet to let their worries release from their souls.