He brushed his hand beneath his nose and shrugged his shoulders back. “You really want this, huh?”

“I do.”

He squinted one eye shut as the sun beamed straight into his face. “And you don’t hate me for what I did?”

“Oh, trust me, I hate you. But . . . this isn’t about you and me. This is about her, and I can’t let my feelings for you get in the way of me caring for her.”

He blew out a cloud of smoke and nodded. “Fine. Whatever. Just tell me what I have to do.”

I didn’t know my heart could be so broken and healed from so few words. “You’ll have to do a DNA test and stuff, and we’ll have to get this all on paper.”

“Sure. Whatever. Just let me know what to do and when to do it.”

I nodded and thanked him. As I began to walk away, Garrett called after me.

He looked strung out, like so many people we’d grown up surrounded by. His hair was thinning, his teeth were stained yellow, and he was walking down a road toward the life I never wanted for us. He looked so much older than his young age, and for a split second, I felt bad for him.

There were so many years when all I’d wanted to do was save Garrett from his own destruction, but I was learning quick that you couldn’t save people who didn’t want to be rescued. All you could do was leave the porch light on in hopes that they’d save themselves and find their way home.

“Rosie,” he said as he brushed his fallen, greasy hair out of his face. “My grandmother’s name was Rosie.”

I nodded once, knowing exactly what he was getting at. “Thanks, Garrett. Take care of yourself.”

He didn’t say anything else to me, and I walked to Ian’s truck and drove home.

Home to the place that would soon be the home to my little sister.

Little Miss Rosie.

Once we completed all the paperwork and met with a handful of social workers, we were able to bring Rosie home. There was still so much more that had to happen in court. So many hurdles we’d have to jump, so many court dates and procedures we’d have to cross off the list down the line, but for the time being, Rosie was home with us.

Her crib sat in my bedroom, and even though she didn’t cry a lot at the hospital, that little girl discovered her lungs once she made it to her new home. The first few days and nights were almost unbearable. I’d tried my best to mentally prepare myself for the fact that I was going to be nineteen and raising a newborn, but truth was you couldn’t prepare yourself for having a child.

I could’ve read every baby book on the planet. I could’ve gone to every pregnancy class, but none of that mattered, really. It turned out raising a child was a one-step-at-a-time process. It was overwhelming, and sometimes I’d find myself sitting on the toilet just for five minutes of rest as tears fell from my eyes.

So much guilt sat in my chest as the tears fell, because maybe Garrett was right. Maybe I was being selfish taking Rosie in. Maybe she would’ve been better off with another family. But I needed her. I needed her maybe more than she needed me.

And then each day she’d do something that would light up my world. Smile, chuckle, sleep. Oh, I loved watching her sleep as her chest rose and fell in a calming pattern.

It also helped that Big Paw and Holly were more than willing to come over and take shifts with Rosie. They loved on her as if she were their own grandchild. Also, seeing big ol’ Big Paw holding a tiny baby in his giant hands was the most adorable thing in the world.

I’d missed so many calls from Ian. In the morning and at night. Whenever I received a second to breathe, I was knocked out, and otherwise I was catering to Rosie and her needs.

Ian: Missing you. Missing your voice. We’re in NYC this week, and all I can think was how I wished I was back in Eres with you.

Hazel: I’m sorry my life is a mess.

Ian: I’d love to get messy with you.

I didn’t understand him. I didn’t get why he was being so understanding and patient with me. The Wreckage was exploding on the scene, and they were in the studio nonstop working on their album release for early next year, and he still managed to make time to call me every morning and every night.

I didn’t deserve his love when all I’d been able to give to him were crumbs.

I googled him more often than I probably should’ve, looking up news articles on the band. Reading everything possible about what the world was thinking about the Wreckage.

During one of Rosie’s 4:00 a.m. feedings, I was flipping through some of those news articles out of habit when my eyes fell on an article with the tagline, Music’s newest bachelor, Ian Parker, is single and ready to melt your panties off with his voice.

I closed the article quickly, wanting to read no more about it.

Single and ready to melt your panties off.

Jeez. If that wasn’t a kick-to-the-vagina kind of headline, then I didn’t know what was.

I tried my best to shake off the nerves, but it didn’t help that I signed into Instagram and saw the massive amount of females that showed up at the meet and greet for the guys. Beautiful, tall, slim girls who were throwing themselves all over Ian Parker.

I knew I had to make more of an effort with Ian if I was going to keep our budding story growing into all that it could be. I wasn’t ready to let go of him, of us. It was my job to show him that I was completely committed to our relationship, no matter how complicated and complex it had become. I needed to prove to him that I was all in.