“At what?”

“Catching me.”

“Well, it would be best if you’d stop falling.”

“Trust me”—she released a weighted breath—“I’m trying.”

I didn’t know what to say to that, because it sounded so damn heartbreaking. I wanted sarcastic and rude Hazel Stone back. The sad one made me want to cry right alongside her.

“What can I do for you?” I asked, my voice cracking as I stared at her swollen eye. What kind of asshole laid his hands on a woman? What type of weak bastard would do such a fucked-up thing? I knew who—my father. I remembered watching him attack my mother in his drunken rage when I was a kid. I remembered Mom’s bruises and how she’d tried to hide them with makeup—the same way Hazel had done.

I wanted to kill him.

I didn’t even know who he was, but I wanted blood.

Hazel tried her best to keep smiling through her pain. “Well, first, sports drink,” she said. “And then tonight, vodka.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Aren’t you too young to be drinking?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “But I had a pretty bad day.”

Well, okay then.

Vodka it was. After the sports drink.

If there was an award for the world’s biggest lightweight, it would go to Hazel. She’d taken three shots under my watch, along with a mixed drink, and was dancing around in circles in the living room. She hummed a tune that I couldn’t quite place, but somehow it sounded perfect.

“Why don’t you drink too?” she asked me, raising an eyebrow as she plopped down on the sofa.

“I’m not feeling up to drinking tonight.”

“What? Of course you’re feeling up to drinking tonight. Everyone should be feeling up to drinking every night. Drinking is fun,” she exclaimed.

I sat on the opposite side of the sofa. “And how many times have you drank?”

“Oh, psh.” She puckered her lips and blew out a heavy breath. “Counting today?”


She held two fingers up, and then she studied her fingers with a dumbfounded stare. Then she dropped one finger. I couldn’t help but snicker, because she left her middle finger up without even knowing.

Hazel Stone was officially partaking in her first ever drinking display, and she was officially shit faced.

“You know what I miss?” she asked, rubbing the back of her hand against her mouth.

“What’s that?”

“The shed.”

I laughed. “Am I that bad of a roommate that you’d rather live in a shed?”

“No.” She giggled, and it sounded kind of beautiful. “I just mean I miss looking up through the ceiling at the stars and sky. I love the stars and moon. It makes me realize that there’s so much more than my problems out there.”

“Are you the type of person to wish on stars?”

“I’m the type of person to wish on everything.” She tilted her head toward me. “Does it always feel this good? Being drunk?”

“Depends. I can’t drink whiskey, because it makes me sad.”

“What the heck do you have to be sad about? You sing like a god, you live rent-free, and your grandparents are freaking amazing! Plus, you’re H-A-W-T. Hawt. Like, if I didn’t know how many women you’ve put your penis in, I’d think about you putting your penis in me, too, you know, if I let people put penises in me.”

The words tumbled off her tongue with such ease, and I knew if she were sober, she’d kick herself for saying those things out loud.

Didn’t mean I couldn’t have some fun with it.

“Oh. You think I’m H-A-W-T?” I asked.

“Yes, I do. If I had a lady boner, it would be erected all day every day when I’m around you. Even when you’re mean to me.”

I frowned. “I’m sorry I’ve been mean to you, Haze.” The more I watched her in her drunken state, the more guilt hit me for being so closed off toward her.

“It’s okay. I’m used to people being mean to me.”

That made me feel like complete shit. I brushed my thumb against my nose and moved in closer to her.

“What are you doing?” she nervously asked.

“Checking your bruise. May I?” I asked, my hand hovering in the air.

She nodded slowly.

My fingers landed against her cheek, and she didn’t flinch from the touch. She just kept humming to herself.

“Does that hurt?”

She shook her head. “I don’t feel anything but good.”

“Another side effect of booze.”

“Why were you so mean to me?” she asked, her green eyes piercing me.

“Because I’m an idiot,” I confessed. “I have a few issues with your stepfather.”

Her fingers moved over the top of mine, which were still resting against her cheek, and she closed her eyes. “He’s no father of mine.”

“Did he do this to you?” I whispered, a little too afraid to say it any louder. I didn’t know why, but the idea of Charlie hurting Hazel made me want to vomit.

She nodded slowly. “He’s a monster.”

“I know.”

And I was going to kill him.