Hazel was cracking up in laughter at the story.

“Luckily he’d downed a ton of soda, because I swear it seemed like he peed for ten minutes straight before realizing it wasn’t gonna be enough to stomp out the fire. I swear, he waved his little Peter Pan back and forth like he was in search of Tinker Bell.” Marcus chuckled.

“And Big Paw still doesn’t know it was Ian?” Hazel asked.

“Nope. We made a pact to never tell. The Wreckage has a handful of secrets we aren’t allowed to tell people,” Eric stated, holding his camera in his hands. He looked down at it and turned it off. “I mean, I’ll edit those secrets out.”

Hazel laughed. “You always have a camera in your hand, don’t you?”

Eric nodded. “If I didn’t play the keys, I’d probably be a videographer or in the computer world in some way, shape, or form. I’m lucky I get to do all this stuff and play the keys, though. Just think, with all the footage I have, I’ll be able to make a badass documentary for us down the line someday that Netflix will pick up. You see, with the way I do my recordings—”

“Stop talking nerdy to her, Eric! You’re going to bore her to death,” Marcus commented, taking a swig of vodka.

“Oh, no way! It’s not boring. I think it’s interesting,” Hazel said, staring at Eric with the biggest smile. I wished she were looking at me with that smile. With those lips, with that tongue that sometimes grazed against her bottom lip.

Fuck, those lips. I wondered what they tasted like.

I shook my head and tried to control the hard-on that was determined to grow with the thought of Hazel’s lips. I focused more on how happy and relaxed she seemed that night at the bonfire. Most of the time, Hazel was overthinking life. She wrote letters to her mother every week and never received a reply. She overthought how Jean was doing in prison and counted down the days until the baby would be born.

“She’s probably around six months by now,” she told me the other day. “In a few months, I’ll no longer be an only child. Isn’t that crazy?”

The heaviness of her words saddened me, because guilt dripped in her tones. So whenever she found a way to laugh, like she was doing that night, I took it in. She was so beautiful when she smiled, and I didn’t think she had a clue how hard it was for me to not want to be around her every single second.

“Holy shit!” Marcus exclaimed, hopping up from the folding chair he was sitting in. His cell phone was glued to his hand as he stared wide eyed with shock. “Holy shit!” he repeated, making everyone turn his way.

“What is it?” James asked.

“Max. Fucking. Rider. Just. Emailed. Us,” Marcus said, making James, Eric, and me sit straight up.

“Holy shit!” we shouted in unison, leaping to our feet.

Hazel sat still with a confused look. “Who is Max Rider?”

“It’s not Max Rider,” Marcus remarked. “It’s Max Fucking Rider. The manager known for taking everyday, average artists and making them megasuperstars. He’s like the godfather of music. He makes masterpieces.”

“What did he say?” I barked as my chest tightened.

Marcus cleared his throat and began reading the email. “‘Max here. The Wreckage, huh? Neat name. Came across and listened to some of your tracks on YouTube and Instagram. I think you got something. I know it’s short notice, but I got some free time in my schedule next Friday in Los Angeles to meet up. Can you bring some new stuff to listen to? I cc’d my assistant on the email. She’ll pass on more information on location, date, and time. Chat soon. MR.’”

“Oh my God, I just creamed my fucking pants,” Marcus sighed, holding his hand over his heart as if he were going to have a heart attack.

“Holy crap,” James coughed out, pacing back and forth. “We have to go! This is it. This is the kind of shit that makes and breaks people. We’re going to LA next week come hell or high water.”

Hazel celebrated just as wildly as us guys, because she could tell how much it meant to us.

“This is it,” I said to her, pulling her into a hug. Pulling everyone into a hug. “This is the moment that changes our lives.”

We proceeded to get shit faced and danced the night away as we slammed on the drums and howled at the moon like the freaking animals we were that night. After the guys headed home, Hazel and I stumbled into the house, and she kept singing the lyrics to my song, swaying side to side. Hazel Stone made the cutest drunk girl in the world, and when my lyrics fell from her tongue?

Instant fucking man boner.

As she stepped into her bedroom, I followed, not even walking to my own room to change.

She quickly turned toward the door. “Hey, Ian,” she hollered, not knowing I was steps behind her. She crashed into my body and giggled, covering her mouth. “Sorry. Didn’t know you were so close.”

I moved closer.

She didn’t step away.

“Sorry,” I murmured.

“Sorry,” she replied.

We didn’t even know what we were apologizing for. Maybe for our proximity? Maybe for our drunkenness?

Maybe for our hearts?

Shit, I wanted to kiss her so bad my chest physically hurt. I was drunk and high on life, and Hazel Stone was the most beautiful human in the whole goddamn world, and I wanted her lips against mine.