I left it at that and started walking away.
“Hazel.” The sound of my name made me turn around. Garrett stood tall, still smoking that cigarette that was dangling between his lips. “It’s a girl.”
A small breath fell from me as a wave of emotions rushed through me. “I know. She told me.”
He put his cigarette out on his railing and tossed it toward the graveled road. “She hates being pregnant, and fuck, it looks like it’s doing a number on her, but she’s all right. My ma and I went to see her last week.”
“Does she need anything? Money? Supplies? Lip balm?” I blurted out, my heart racing faster and faster each second.
He shrugged. “Everybody needs that shit. If you want, you can drop it off to me in two weeks, when Ma and I go visit her again. And Ma’s going to take in the baby for the time being.”
Sadie was taking in the baby.
The baby girl.
My little sister.
That was good. Sadie had her fair share of flaws, but being a bad mother wasn’t one of them. I remembered being young and wishing my mom did some of the things Sadie had done for Garrett. Taking him to the park. Driving out to go on movie dates. Buying him Christmas gifts every single year. It might’ve been iffy how she got the money to do all of those things, but every cent she’d ever had went to that child.
So much comfort fell over me knowing those details.
“I’ll bring the stuff in two weeks. Thank you, Garrett.”
“Whatever. Get lost, will you?” he said, reaching into his cigarette pack and pulling out another one to light up. “I’m tired of seeing your fucking face.”
I didn’t argue his request. I hurried away with a bit of calmness to my heart as I headed back to Ian’s house. Garrett’s words flew through my head on repeat as I walked.
When I reached the house, I saw Ian’s pickup truck sitting in the driveway, and I rushed inside the house.
He was home! Ian was back, and I had so much to tell him, so much to share. So many kisses to make up due to lost time. I searched the whole house and didn’t find Ian anywhere.
I headed up to my room to change, and as I opened my bedroom door, a smile fell against my lips as I saw Ian sitting there on my bed, waiting for me.
“Hi,” he said, getting to his feet.
“Hi,” I replied.
“Again?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. I knew exactly what he was referring to too.
I walked over to him, wrapped my arms around his body, and stood on my tiptoes to reach his lips, and I kissed him.
I wished I had a remote control that was able to freeze time. To pause on beautiful moments, to rewind those same seconds to replay the best parts. The next two weeks of my time with Ian and the rest of the band flew by too fast. I tried my best to be present in every situation, but the weight of it all changing in a few days was more than I could handle.
I wished things were different. I wished I had more time to hold philological conversations with James. I wished I had more time to talk to Eric about his passion for social media. I wished I could’ve listened to more of Marcus’s bad jokes.
I wished I had more kisses with Ian. More everything with him, really.
If there was a world where the both of us stayed in place, I’d be completely his by tomorrow. Yet the sad truth of it all was we didn’t have a tomorrow. We only had that day.
Big Paw and Holly were throwing the guys a going-away party in the barn house, and everyone in town came to it. They were known for hosting big events, and since it came with free food and drinks, everyone always showed up.
Their parties were a breath of fresh air in a very toxic town.
I’d been wandering around the party, looking for Ian, for the past twenty or so minutes.
“You’re not going to find him in here,” a voice said, making me turn around.
I smiled to James, who was holding a soda can in his hand. “Where is he?” I asked.
“Waiting for you.”
He smiled. “The same place we scared you out of all those weeks ago. Sorry about that, by the way.”
James placed a hand on my arm and gave me another grin. “Hazel, thank you for everything you’ve done for this band, for Ian. I don’t even know if we would’ve had this opportunity if it wasn’t for you.”
“You guys were good enough without me.”
“Yeah, but you made us better. You made him better. So thank you for that. I’d never seen him really love a girl before. It looks good on him.”
My heart skipped a million beats.
Ian loved me?
James must’ve seen the panic in my eyes, because he shifted his stare away from mine and tried to backpedal. “I mean, er, like, he has love for you. I mean, what I meant to say . . . ah, shit. Foot in mouth. Anyway, Ian’s at the shed.”
“No problem. And Haze?”
“Can you keep it on the down low about the fact that Ian loves you? I didn’t mean to spoil it before he said it to you. Shit. I don’t want to ruin that moment for him telling you whenever it happens.”
“Maybe it won’t happen,” I argued.