I headed over to meet Ian at the barn house, opened the door—and gasped when I saw it decked out with decorations. Balloons, streamers, and a huge hand-painted banner that read, Happy Birthday, Hazel Stone.

There was a table set up with a huge cake and minicupcakes around it. Along with pizza and snacks.

“What is this?” I asked, my voice shaky as butterflies filled my stomach. Big Paw and Holly stood next to the table of food with smiles on their faces. Well, Holly smiled. Big Paw sported his grumpy face, which was one of my favorite looks on him. Beside them was Leah, looking as cheerful as ever.

“Can’t you tell? It’s your birthday party. We even went all out and got you a band,” Holly said.

Leah raced toward me and wrapped her arms around me. Over the past few weeks, she and I had been spending a lot of time together. I never thought I’d be one to have a girlfriend as cheerful as she was—but it was turning out that Leah was a light in my dark world. Laughing with her had become effortless.

“Do you like it, Hazel? I did all the decorations myself, even though the boys tried to put in their input on it all. But I told them to stay in their lane and prepare their gift to you.”

“Their gift to me?”

Leah grinned ear to ear. “Oh my gosh, Hazel. You’re going to love it. It’s really special.”

Before I could reply, Ian and his three bandmates walked out to the barn stage. My eyes were wide as they picked up their instruments.

Ian wrapped his hands around the microphone and gave me a half smile. “The Wreckage has been together for years now, but we hadn’t truly tapped into the depths of our music until a girl dressed in black came around and helped open us up to the possibilities of what we could create. Hazel, without you, these songs wouldn’t exist. Without you, I would’ve never delved deeper into the music. These songs are for you; these songs are because of you. Happy birthday, Hazel Stone. I hope it’s as special as you.”

He looked to his bandmates, and the four of them held a conversation with no words, and then Marcus began on the drums.

It only took seconds for me to realize they were playing the songs Ian and I had been crafting over the past few weeks. They felt so unique and complete due to the way the band had pieced together the instrumentals. The passion they had for their music was showcased as I watched those four men fall deeper in love with their creation, and every inch of me belonged to Ian’s voice. He moved on the stage as if it were made solely for his talent. His voice dripped with charm, smoothness, and sex appeal. Oh, how he looked so good up there, singing those words that he was delivering straight to me.

If I had a favorite day, it would’ve been that one. It was a memory I’d replay over and over again when my days got hard and my emotions overpowered me. I’d go back to that moment in time when Ian sang his songs solely for me.

That band was going to skyrocket someday soon, and I knew I’d be their biggest fan.

When the show concluded, everyone dived into the food and dessert.

“Why did you do this?” I asked Ian as he stuffed his face with another piece of pizza.

“Because you deserved a party. You deserved a good birthday. Sorry it’s a week late.”

“It’s right on time.”

“Oh! I almost forgot your presents.” He dropped his pizza onto his plate and hurried to the corner of the room, where he grabbed a wrapped—terribly wrapped—box and held it out to me. “Wrapping isn’t my strength, but it will do. Go ahead. Open it.”

I raised an eyebrow and began unwrapping the package. When I opened the box, my eyes watered, and my chest tightened. There they were staring back at me—my combat boots. Clean as a whistle, as if they’d never stepped foot into the pigpens.

“How did you . . . ?” I asked.

He smirked and shrugged. “A lot of toothbrush scrubbing at first, until I found a shoe-cleaning shop. They did the hard work once I realized I couldn’t handle it myself. I know it’s kind of stupid and a cheap gift to give you something that was already yours, but—”

I shut him up by wrapping my arms around his body. “Thank you, Ian. You don’t know what this means to me. What this all means to me.”

“You deserve this, Haze. You deserve good things happening to you.”

The party continued, and I received more gifts from Big Paw and Holly. They’d given me a cell phone so I would be able to get in touch with them at any time.

“I think cell phones are the devil’s work, but Holly was determined to get you one,” Big Paw huffed. “And whatever the lady wants, she gets, so happy birthday.”

I thanked them, feeling very undeserving of everything that family had done for me. At the end of the night, after the party came to an end, Ian pulled me out of the barn house for one last surprise.

“You’ve already done enough,” I said, feeling so unworthy.

“I haven’t done nearly enough, but I hope you like this last one the best,” he said. “Now, close your eyes.” I did as he said, and he led me toward the final gift. “Okay, you can open them now.”

When I did as he said, I gasped as I looked at the formerly broken-down shed that had been fully remodeled.

“What is this?”

“Well, it’s your she-shed,” he explained. “I figured you could use a nice place to create. I know writing is a big deal for you, so I thought it would be nice. Plus, if you ever need a safe place to take a break and look up at the stars . . .” He swung the door open, and I gasped as I walked inside. The ceiling was glass, and I looked up to see dozens of stars in the sky. There was a nice twin-size bed that I could lie on if I wanted to, and two Shawn Mendes posters sat against the walls, making me laugh.