She placed her hands on my chest and looked up to meet my stare.

Did she feel it?

Did she feel my heart beat and how it was beating for her?

“I’m so proud of you, Ian. You deserve this. You deserve all of this.”

“I want to take our songs,” I confessed. “I want to play for him the songs you helped me write.” Over the past couple of months, Hazel had helped me create dozens of songs. Being around her, working with her, came so naturally. To the outside world, the two of us probably seemed like polar opposites, but to me?

To me, we made perfect sense.

She inspired me in ways I’d never been inspired. She pushed me to create songs in a way I’d never considered. She challenged me; she coached me. She was my muse. She was the music.

She was . . . closer.

She was so much closer than she had been mere seconds ago. Had I pulled her toward me? Had she moved in on her own? How did my hands land against her lower back? Why didn’t she try to pull them away?

“Confession: I want you,” I breathed out, knowing that rejection was a possibility, but I felt drunk and brave enough to not care.

“Confession”—she swallowed hard—“I want you too.”

“You’re drunk,” I whispered.

“I am,” she replied. “You’re drunk too.”

“I am.”

Her stare shifted away from my eyes to my lips and then back up again. “Play those songs. They’re yours, after all.”

“They’re ours,” I disagreed. “They are ours.”

“But it’s your future. I’d give you every lyric that lives inside of me to make your dreams come true, Ian.”

My stare shifted away from her eyes to her lips. My stare stayed there. “The only dreams I have right now involve kissing you, Haze. I want to lie with you in that bed and kiss you until the sun comes up in the morning.”

“Sometimes I wake up and you’re still sleeping, and I think about leaning in. I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anything, Ian, and that scares me. I never wanted to kiss someone as bad as I want to kiss you.”

“Me too,” I confessed. “And well, now we’re drunk and saying shit we probably wouldn’t normally say, so there’s that.”

She smiled and I loved it. Fuck, did I love it. If the only thing I could ever stare at again was Hazel Stone’s smile, I’d be the luckiest bastard alive.

“Maybe we should sleep,” she said, nodding toward her bed. “Sober up a little and see how we feel about things in the morning.”

“Yeah, okay.”

I slipped off my shirt and pants, staying only in my boxers. I turned my back to her as she slipped into her pajamas.

We climbed into bed, and our bodies melted together as if we were meant to be fused as one. I kissed her forehead without much thought. I let my lips linger there too. My lips against her skin, swallowing in the small taste I was being allowed.

Her eyes closed as she moved in closer, twisting our legs together. Our foreheads rested against one another, and her small breaths brushed against my skin.

“You’re my best friend,” she said softly, her words piercing me. “I know your bandmates are yours, and I know I can’t take their spots, but to me, you’re it, Ian. You’re my best friend. I’ve never had a best friend before, but I want you to know that it’s you, and I’m so proud of you for your dreams coming true. This is just the beginning. You’re going to be huge someday. You’re going to be a star.”

“You are the stars,” I whispered, our mouths so close that if I moved an inch in, we’d be pressed against one another’s lips. Fuck, that was corny, and fuck, I didn’t even care. Hazel made me want to be the corniest asshole alive. “You’ve been my light, my muse, my inspiration. Haze . . . you are every star in the goddamn sky. You are my galaxy.”

Her lips fell into a smile, and her eyes closed as she moved a bit closer to me and rested her head against my chest. As I inhaled and exhaled, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I felt so alive with her in my arms. My heart, which I’d thought had died the day my parents had walked out on me, was fully functioning once more, all because of a girl who wasn’t afraid to push me enough times to wake me back up.

We fell asleep that night, drunkenly entangled in a sea of wishes and hopes and dreams.

What if Hazel and I were meant to be together? What if our puzzle pieces fit seamlessly together? What if everything we’d ever wanted was right there on the other side of our fear?

“Ian. Ian, wake up,” Hazel whispered, nudging me a little.

I squinted my eyes a bit and noticed a small pool of light coming in from her window. My head ached thanks to the large amount of drinking that had taken place. “What’s up?” I grumbled, still tired. I looked toward the window, and the sun wasn’t completely up.

Then I turned to Hazel, who was looking at me.

“Are you still drunk?” she asked, biting her bottom lip.

“No. Just a bit of a hammering headache.”

“Yeah, me too.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Did you wake me to tell me you had a headache? Want me to get you ibuprofen?” I started to stand up, and she placed a hand on my arm.

“No. I woke you because, even though I’m now sober, I still want to kiss you.”