“This is too much,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief.
“You deserve it.”
“I can’t thank you enough.” I turned to face him. “But I have this awkward fear of staying out here alone after all those weeks ago when these guys were outside the shed.”
Ian bit his bottom lip and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Confession time—that was me and James trying to spook you to get you to come stay at the house with me.”
My jaw dropped, and I batted his arm. “Ian Parker, are you kidding me? You scared me to death that night!”
“Which was the plan . . . listen, to be fair, you were stubborn as ever, and if I didn’t get you in that house, Big Paw was going to kick me out sooner than later. So, desperate times . . .” He shrugged. “Trust me when I say this shed is safe.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I want to be mad at you, but also, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen, so I’ll forgive you for now.”
I moved over to the twin bed and lay down to look up at the stars. I patted the spot next to me, and Ian joined me.
The bed was tiny, and our bodies were pressed together just to keep Ian’s big, broad frame from falling off the mattress.
“Here, let me see your cell phone,” he said, reaching for it. He programmed his cell number into it and then sent himself a message. “Now I can send you annoying text messages that make you roll your eyes.”
“Oh joy,” I joked, but secretly I loved the idea.
I took the phone from him and laid it down. Seconds later, my phone dinged.
Ian: I hope you had a good birthday.
Hazel: The best one yet.
Ian: I have a secret to tell you.
Hazel: What is it?
Ian: I stole the cake from the grocery store.
I burst out laughing and covered my mouth to shield my chuckles as I turned to face Ian. Jeez, how corny were we? Texting while we were right beside each other.
“You didn’t steal it!” I whisper-shouted.
“Okay, no. I did think about it, but there wasn’t a good pasta sauce display going on.”
“You’re a dork.”
My eyes fell to his lips to make sure those words had escaped him. My pulse heightened as I became unable to think straight. What had he said? And he’d said it to me? No way. I’d been called a lot of things in my life, but beautiful hadn’t ever been one of them. I had to have imagined it. There was no way Ian would’ve ever said those words and directed them toward me.
“I hate myself, you know,” he whispered, “for the way I treated you when we first met. I was a complete dick, and you didn’t deserve that, Haze. I judged you without knowing you, and that was a shitty thing to do.”
“You don’t have to keep apologizing for that. We both came in with our thoughts on one another.”
“Yeah, but you only responded to my idiotic ways. You didn’t come in swinging the way I did, and for that, I’m sorry. I’m going to keep apologizing, too, no matter what. So just let it happen.”
As we lay in bed together, he moved in close, keeping me warm and keeping my heart racing. In the past few nights, I’d felt his hardness pressed against my behind when we’d cuddled, and I was beginning to fully understand why women seemed addicted to finding their way into Ian’s pants. A pool of heat flooded my center, and flutters attacked my stomach. I tried my best to not think about it as his warm skin pressed against mine.
He yawned. “Yeah?”
“You’re my new favorite musician.”
He snickered. “I bet you say that to all the boys who throw you parties, build you she-sheds, and clean shit out of your boots.”
“I like that,” he whispered. “Your laugh is my new favorite sound.”
Butterflies, butterflies, oh, the butterflies.
I turned toward him and looked into his brown eyes. Then I looked down to his lips. His lips that had small breaths falling from them every few seconds. His lips that had a perfect Cupid’s bow and were flesh colored. His lips that looked so soft.
So very, very soft.
“Ian?” I said once more.
“I love the new songs. They are perfect.”
“It’s all because of you. Those songs only existed because of you.” He gave me a sleepy smile, picked up his phone, and began typing.
Ian: Good night, Haze.
Hazel: Good night.
He fell asleep before I did that night, because for the first time in ages, being awake didn’t feel like a nightmare. I stayed frozen in place as his body warmed mine, and I tried to collect all the information of what had gone down over the past week.
Number one: Ian had slept beside me to help keep my demons at bay.
Number two: he’d built me a freaking she-shed so I could look up at the stars.
Three, four, and five: he’d watched over me, he’d shared his secret confessions, and he’d listened to mine.
Lastly, there was number six: the butterflies he left floating in my gut.
We couldn’t forget about the butterflies.