The moment we pulled up to the old dirt roads of Eres, I felt a lump in my throat. The guys drove me to my house—correction: now Hazel’s house—and before I could argue with them, they tossed me out of the car and drove away.

It was the middle of the night, and I had no desire to walk inside to see Hazel.

Okay, that was a lie. I had every desire to do exactly that, but I didn’t. Instead, I grumbled like a damn child and stomped off to the shed.

I’d sleep there until morning, when I’d go to my grandparents’ house and beg Big Paw for a bed to sleep in for a few hours before I figured out how to get myself back to Los Angeles and face reality.

I grumbled, tossing and turning in my sleep. I was having that dream again. I was falling deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit of darkness, shouting for someone to give me a hand. Begging for help. My parents reached down, and right before I was about to grab ahold of them, they snatched their hands back, and they began laughing hysterically as they stared my way. Then everyone else began laughing too. Big Paw, Grams, the guys. Everyone began pointing at me, laughing their heads off, as I kept falling deeper and deeper.

Everyone except Hazel.

She locked eyes with me and moved her mouth to speak. I couldn’t hear her, though.

“What?” I called out.

She kept moving her lips.

“What?” I shouted.

“Wake,” she whispered.

“I can’t hear you!”

“Up,” she said. “Wake up, wake up, wake up!”

I shot up from my nightmare, drenched in sweat and panic. My eyes bugged out as I looked around, trying to piece together my whereabouts, and when I looked to my left, I froze.

Those green eyes were piercing me.

Those eyes that I’d missed.

Those eyes that I still stupidly loved.

Those fucking green eyes.

“What are you doing?” I demanded, feeling flustered and completely thrown off. I felt as if half of me was still in the dream state as the other half was awake and wanting to wrap my arms around Hazel and fucking beg her to love me again.

I didn’t do that.

I sat still as a brick wall.

“I heard shouting in here and came to check it out.” She tilted her head, seemingly confused. “What are you doing back in town, Ian?”

My hand brushed against my temple, and I groaned. “Been asking myself the same damn thing. Don’t worry; I’ll get out of your hair.”

I got to my feet, and she shifted in her shoes.

Those black Adidas.

God, I hated that she still wore those black Adidas, and by hated I meant loved, and holy shit, I’d missed her.

“Wait, no. You’re not in my hair. You’re . . . I’m just . . . you being here . . .” Her words stumbled and fumbled against her tongue. “How are you?” she asked.

After all these months of silence, that was all she had to say to me? All she could muster up was How are you?

Not good enough for me.

I turned and walked out of the shed as the morning sun beamed down on me.

I wasn’t in the mood for the walk to Big Paw’s house, but I knew that was the only place I could go.

I brushed my hand against my forehead and turned to Hazel. “Can I use your cell phone?”

She hesitated as if I’d said the most obscure thing in the whole world. “I, uh, you, um—”

“Words, Hazel,” I griped. “Use words.”

“You can’t use my phone.”

“And why not?”

“I was instructed to not let you use it.”

I lifted a brow. “By who?”

“By your friends.”


I’d use the phone in the offices.

I started walking off, annoyed as ever, and I heard Hazel call after me. “Wait! Ian. You’re wasting your time if you’re heading to the offices. The phones have been disconnected there.”

What in the hell?

“And why’s that?”

“So you can’t call out to get away from here.”

“Why would I want to stay on this damn ranch, huh? Why in the fuck would I want to be here?” I was coming off sounding like a big dick, but I couldn’t help it, because even though I’d tried to shut off my heart again, it kept fucking beating and breaking every day since my parents and Hazel had stomped it into the ground, and it hurt. It hurt so fucking bad standing there in front of her. It hurt so fucking bad being in the same space as her. It hurt so fucking bad that I wanted to rip my heart out of my damn chest in order to stop feeling.

I wished I’d never started feeling again at all.

“Because this is your home,” she said, her words throwing me for a loop. Did she mean she was my home or the ranch was my home?

Didn’t matter.

I was still leaving.

“I’ll just go to Big Paw’s and call,” I muttered as I began walking again.

“That won’t help you, seeing as how Big Paw and Holly are waiting inside the house over here, along with the band.”

“Why are they there?”

“They want to talk to you. They want to make sure you’re okay.”

“Like an intervention? Not interested.”

“Ian, you’re not okay . . .”