10 I'll Marry Anyone Who Will Take Me

Hazel chose the cake shake, involving a huge cake batter milkshake with vanilla frosting all around the rim of the glass that had been rolled in sprinkles. The whole thing was topped with an actual slice of yellow cake covered in even more sprinkles. The man had been right. There was no way she could finish this thing on her own.

She secretly sized him up as he dug into his half of the cake slice. He was handsome but in an average, unremarkable way. His hair was a few shades darker blonde than hers would have been if it wasn't currently dyed rose gold. Since graduating high school she had never stuck to one unique hair color for long.

His hazel eyes were browner than they probably would have appeared outside due to the dim lighting of the restaurant. The most mesmerizing thing about him was his lopsided grin.

"What's your name? I just realized we haven't introduced ourselves," she said a bit sheepishly. "I'm Hazel Dixon."

"Will Sheffield. Nice to officially meet you," he said with a smile. "So…what makes you in such desperate need of overloading yourself with sugar today?"

Hazel scowled as she remembered what brought her here. She couldn't believe she had ever been stupid enough to believe he was the right Billy. He never wanted to talk about the past. She had chalked it up to being uncomfortable about remembering his years in the mental hospital.

She didn't like thinking about her time there if she could avoid it either so she let it slide. But they had seemed so similar at first, the way he supported her artwork and looked how she thought he would when he was older. The real Billy had probably forgotten all about her, like a normal person would forget a childhood friend after more than a decade.

Hazel had thought she would be marrying her first love tomorrow. But he was long gone. Continuing to obsess over him wouldn't do any good.

Her whole life since being released had been about nothing but trying to fulfill the dreams they came up with together. It was why she had become an artist against her uncle's wishes. And it was all for nothing.

Well, not completely for nothing. Art was the one thing in this world she truly enjoyed. Her career choice had originally been inspired by Billy but she did it for herself too.

"I realized my fiancé wasn't who I thought he was," Hazel said ironically. "Pretty pathetic, right? We were supposed to get married tomorrow."

Will raised an eyebrow. "Did he have a secret addiction or something that he never told you about? Let me guess—he gambled away all of his money. This is Las Vegas, after all."

She shook her head. "No, I literally realized he wasn't who I thought he was. He was pretending to be someone very important to me that I met when I was a child."

Hazel didn't know why she was bothering to tell this to a total stranger. Probably because she didn't have anyone else to tell it to. Her only other friends of sorts were people she knew online. None of them even knew her real name since her online handle was lilmisstopaz.

Will went silent and slurped at the shake. He hadn't responded in a while so he probably thought she was crazy. Just like everybody else.

When he finally did speak, it was with a slightly curious tone. "No offense, but how did he manage to get away with that for…how long did he get away with it?"

Hazel wasn't offended. She knew it was dumb.

"Six years, believe it or not. They had the same name and looked and acted alike so I fell for it like a sucker. Apparently he went along with what I said to have the chance to get to know me."

"He sounds like a jerk. It's a good thing you found out the truth before you married him." Will squinted at her suspiciously. "You don't look like someone who just had their heart broken."

Because she wasn't. Hazel never loved Billy Lawson; she loved Billy from the mental hospital. She was too young to realize it when they were actually together but as she got older and still thought about him all the time she knew it was true.

"I loved the person I thought my fiancé was, not him," she admitted.

"Ouch," Will said with a laugh. "Why not go find him then?"

Hazel sighed and took several large slurps of milkshake. She was done chasing after a ghost. He probably did die in that fire since he was never found.

More than anything in this world, she had believed in Billy and his promises. If he was alive, he would have kept it. They would be together now. But she didn't want to explain the entire story to a stranger.

"He's probably forgotten all about me by now. I can't find him because I don't even know his last name. It doesn't really matter anyway. I wasted sixteen years of my life waiting for him."

She was feeling a bit giddy from all the sugar she had consumed. The milkshake was nearly gone and she drank more than half of it. Feeling oddly free by the thought of letting Billy go, she stood up on top of the bar.

"I'll marry anyone who will take me!" Hazel declared loudly. "I don't need love!"

"Get down!" Will hissed. "You don't know what kind of people are lurking around in here! Talking like that might get you killed!"

She pouted, still heady from the sugar high. "So what? I don't have anything to live for anyway. Nobody will miss me if I'm gone. My stupid fake fiancé was all I had."

Honestly, Hazel really would take anybody at this point. She couldn't afford all of her own expenses. Marrying somebody, even somebody with bad intentions, would help keep her off the streets.

"Don't think like that," Will said vehemently. "You have a bright future ahead of you, I can tell."

"Sure," she snorted. "I'm homeless and I doubt my former fiancé will let me back into our old shared apartment so I don't even have most of my things with me. If I'm lucky, he hasn't made it back to the hotel yet and tossed out my stuff."

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