People seemed so free and lighthearted at the event. It was almost a guarantee that most people would end up in the lake, too, drunkenly splashing and celebrating summer. Even though our town had its issues, we didn’t miss a chance to celebrate in the lake with beers in our hands.

“Who in the hell is that with Leah?” Marcus exclaimed as Leah and a group of her friends pulled up in the parking lot for the bonfires. They all looked pretty standard to me, but there was one girl wearing short yellow shorts and a white crop top that stood out in the crowd. Her dark hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, and she was laughing and smiling with the other girls as if she belonged, and holy shit, it was Hazel.

Her face wasn’t plastered with makeup, and I swore her skin was glowing. She looked like she was floating on a cloud, and her confidence was out of this world.

“No way,” Eric said, staring in the same direction as the two of us. “That can’t be Hazel.”

“It is.” My jaw was pretty much on the ground, and the hard-on in my jeans was going to be a fucking problem, but holy shit, she looked breathtaking. I wanted to take her into my arms and slam my mouth against hers more than she’d ever know. I also wanted to press my body against her to showcase how hard she’d been making me lately.

I couldn’t count the number of times I’d awakened with a boner against her back. There were times I had to sneak out of bed to go stroke myself to my happy ending, with thoughts of Hazel on my mind.

She looked amazing that night, but she always looked amazing. Only that night, she was wearing color. Yellow shorts, to be exact. Short shorts. And her ass looked amazing in yellow. Yep. She should’ve definitely added more color to her wardrobe.

“What are we all looking at?” James asked, following our gaze. “Holy crap!” he remarked.

“I know, right?” Eric said.

“How the hell did my parents let Leah leave the house in those short-ass shorts! I’m going to kick her ass!” he hollered, obviously not noticing the same thing us other guys were taking in.

The girls began walking our way, and Marcus patted me on the back. “You might want to close your mouth before she sees you gawking at her like a damn predator.”

I shut my mouth, but not before telling him to piss off.

“Hey, you guys.” Leah beamed brightly. “What’s going on?”

“What’s going on is you’re going home to put on a sweater and sweatpants,” James ordered his little sister.

Leah rolled her eyes. “It’s like eighty degrees out, James. I’m not covering up. Besides, I’m over eighteen. I can wear what I want. Just like Hazel,” she said, shifting the conversation over to the quiet girl who I hadn’t been able to take my eyes off. “Doesn’t she look great tonight?” Leah smiled.

“She does,” I commented, eyeing Hazel up and down. I watched as her cheeks blushed from my stare dancing over her, but I couldn’t help it. She looked fucking amazing.

“Come on, guys. Let’s go get some drinks. While we’re doing that, how about Ian and Hazel go grab us one of the bonfires to sit around,” Leah said, sounding exactly like the matchmaker I needed in my life.

I wanted alone time with Hazel, but not the kind that was spent sitting next to a fire. I wanted to take her back to our place and introduce her to the hardness in my pants.

I gave Hazel a half grin and tried my best to stop thinking about how I wanted to own her body. As everyone began walking away, I nodded toward her. “You look beautiful.”

She bit her bottom lip, and fuck me sideways, I wanted to bite it too. “Are you doing that compliment thing to make me feel uncomfortable?”

“Not this time. Just speaking the truth.”

She smiled, and I loved it. “Let’s go get some seats.”

The rest of the night was spent with me gazing over at Hazel every chance I got. I didn’t know why, but for some reason I felt like a damn fool around her. I tripped over my words and came off corny as ever without even trying. That woman drove me crazy, and I didn’t think she even knew it.

Luckily, the band didn’t give me too much alone time with Hazel to keep embarrassing myself. We sat around the bonfire taking in the smell of summer nights in Eres.

The boys had grown pretty attached to Hazel over the past few weeks, looking at her as if she were the mother hen of the band. They’d begun calling her “momanager” not too long ago. The Kris Jenner of the Wreckage.

Every now and again, Hazel would shout out, “You’re doing great, sweeties,” and the guys would blush like damn fools at getting her approval.

Hazel had that characteristic to her: she took care of people. She always went out of her way to help Grams whenever she needed it and to go above and beyond at the ranch for Big Paw. She worked harder than most of Big Paw’s employees. Once I asked her why she pushed herself so hard, and she replied, “I want to work hard for all your grandparents have given me.”

We spent the night around the bonfire, trading embarrassing stories about each other to see who could make Hazel laugh the most.

“I shit you not,” Marcus exclaimed, taking a swig straight from the bottle of vodka, “Ian set Big Paw’s hand-carved mailbox on fire while stoned, and when he realized Big Paw’s prized possession was going to go up in smoke, he pulled out his junk and tried to pee out the flames.”