That got me to sit up a bit more. A sleepy, goofy smile probably appeared on my lips. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. What about you?”

“Haze . . . I’ve been wanting to kiss you for weeks now. With alcohol, without alcohol, shit . . . I just want to—”

She cut me off by leaning in toward me and placing her mouth against mine. Sure, she began the kiss, but I took the lead from there. My hands wrapped around her body, and I pulled her closer to me as I kissed her hard with lust, with want, with need. I parted her lips with my tongue and slid inside of her mouth, tasting every part of her and hoping I wasn’t in some fucked-up dream, because I needed this to be my reality.

Her kisses tasted so sweet as warmth filled my chest. She pulled me in more, kissing me harder, allowing her tongue to dance with mine.

I felt her need, her want, and that only made me yearn for her more. Our bodies were pressed up against one another, and I was certain she felt the hardness of my cock against her thigh, but she didn’t push it away, and I didn’t try to hide it. I wanted her to know what she did to me, how she made my body react to her touches, to her kisses, to her.

If heaven was a kiss, it lived against Hazel’s lips.

She pulled back slightly and nibbled gently on my bottom lip before lying back down against her pillow. I lay down facing her, and both of our breaths were heavy. Her eyes were dilated and wild, and she refused to look away from me.

Her cheeks blushed, and she combed her hair behind her ear. Her mouth parted, and she nodded once. “Again?” she whispered.

Fuck, yes . . .




“I’m going to fucking vomit,” Marcus groaned as we walked toward Max Rider’s house. We’d landed in Los Angeles the night before, and I swore not one of us had been able to sleep a wink. It felt like we were five-year-olds waiting for Christmas morning—waiting for our dreams to come true.

My mind was dazed and confused as we walked up the pathway to Max’s front door. We were literally meeting the star maker at his freaking mansion to have a meeting about our music. What was this life? How did us dumb small-town boys end up having a meeting with Max Fucking Rider?

Grams called it destiny.

Hazel called it talent.

Big Paw called it hard fucking work.

Whatever it was, I was thankful for it. All I prayed was that we didn’t blow the opportunity when we stepped inside of that house.

Max’s assistant, Emma, welcomed us into the house. She led us to the studio, because Max Fucking Rider had a freaking studio in his home. We waited for a while, maybe an hour or so, and we were quiet as damn mice. It was almost as if we were afraid if we made a sound, poof!—the dream would be gone.

“Is anyone else sweating like a sumo wrestler?” Marcus muttered, loosening the tie that Eric made us all wear. “I swear, my balls are swamp-level moist. My dick feels like a sticky Slip ’N Slide.”

“Too much of an awful visual, Marcus,” James commented.

“I thought it was tastefully stated,” a voice said from behind us, making us all turn around.

There he was in all of his glory. Max Fucking Rider, walking in on a conversation about Marcus’s swamp ass.

If that wasn’t a great first impression, we were screwed.

We all leaped to our feet with our mouths hanging open. Then, like freaking morons, we all started greeting the man at the same time, rambling on and on about how excited and honored we all were and bullshit.

“It’s so great to meet you!” James said.

“We’re so lucky you’re taking the time out of your day,” Eric commented.

“You have no clue how much this means to us,” I tossed out.

“Dope fucking shoes,” Marcus swooned.

Couldn’t take Marcus anywhere.

“Okay, okay, enough ass talking. Let’s just get down to business.” Max took his seat in his oversize swiveling chair in front of his sound system, and he turned to face us. He clasped his hands together and nodded once. “I think you got something.”


“Not saying that it doesn’t need work. From what I heard, it was good, but not . . . great. It’s missing magic. I asked you to come out here for two reasons. One, to see if you would actually make it happen on such short notice. To work with me, you have to want the dream.”

“Oh, we want it!” Marcus exclaimed. “More than fucking anything.”

Stop cussing so much, Marcus.

“Good. And two . . . I do better hearing bands live. Anyone can sound good online with all the whistles and bells, but to be able to perform live, as a unit, that is what takes the ordinary and makes them extraordinary. So go ahead.” He gestured in front of us, where a set of drums, a bass guitar, a keyboard, and a microphone were waiting for us. “Show me your music. And not those same tracks I heard before. I asked for better. Give me your best. Impress me.”

We all took a breath and walked toward his equipment. Before walking to our locations, we huddled together, and we had James lead our pep talk. We did it before every small-town performance, and if ever there was a time for James’s hippie mumbo jumbo, it was when we were about to perform in front of Max Fucking Rider.

We held each other’s hands and bowed our heads.

“We want to send out waves of love, light, and energy to the universe as a thank-you for bringing us all here today. This place, this experience, has been nothing but powerful to us all. This is more than we could’ve ever asked for and more than we deserve, but we swear to do good with this gift. We’ll give our music so it can heal. We’ll give our music so it can challenge. We’ll give our music as a way to make this fucked-up world a little better. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Until forever,” James said.