Love Songs and Lullabies(10)

By: Amy Vastine



“What happened onstage tonight?”

“How’s Piper doing?”

“Does this have anything to do with why she was at the hospital this morning?”

“Are you announcing that you and Piper are a couple?”

“Was fainting part of the performance?”

“How long have you and Piper been together?”

All the blood rushed to Sawyer’s face. His hands began to shake, so he clasped them behind his back. He leaned forward toward the microphone and reminded himself that he only had to answer the questions he wanted to answer.

“Piper’s fine. It’s been a crazy day. She sprained her ankle at rehearsals this morning. With all the commotion, she didn’t eat much today and got a little light-headed up there onstage. She wanted me to pass on to everyone that she’ll be good as gold in no time. She’s ready to get out and tour her new album.”

The flashes from the cameras somehow seemed brighter. It was like standing in front of a strobe light. His answer had only sparked more questions about his relationship with Piper and the kiss that didn’t happen.

Sawyer waited for something he could answer. From the back he heard, “What are your plans for touring?”

He pointed at the young female reporter. “Thanks for asking. I plan on touring this winter. I don’t have all the details, but I am hoping to get out there and share my music with as much of America as I can.”

“Will you join Piper’s tour since you two seem to get along so well?” the reporter asked as a follow-up.

Of course he couldn’t dodge the Piper bullet. It was always going to come back to her. He could hear Dean’s voice in his head—be coy—but all he really wanted to do was set the record straight. There was no Sawyer and Piper. There would never be a Sawyer and Piper. For a moment two months ago, he’d thought he could let someone into his heart, but she’d quickly reminded him why he should stay single.

“If I was offered the chance, there’s no one else I’d rather tour with. Can you blame me?”

The crowd again exploded in questions about his relationship with Piper. Coy definitely got everyone talking and speculating the way Dean wanted.

Thankfully, the production assistant signaled to Sawyer that his time was up. He waved to the unsatisfied reporters and got the heck out of there.

He needed to check on Piper and let Dean know mission accomplished. Everyone would be talking about him and Piper tomorrow. He’d have to make sure he kept doing as he was told so his name stayed on their lips.

* * *

“WE NEED TO get a statement out before the press puts its own spin on this.” Piper’s father had not stopped pacing since they got in the dressing room.

Piper wanted this day to be over. She needed to get out of this arena and back to the hotel where she could hide. The press was sure to speculate about why she had fainted onstage, and none of their guesses would be helpful.

Lana handed her another bottle of apple juice. She couldn’t bear to drink any more. They had been pushing cookies and juice on her so much that her body tingled from the excessive amounts of sugar.

“Sawyer let everyone know she’s fine,” Dean said. “Social media is lighting up about it, but it’s all good.”

“Good? My daughter fainted onstage. We’re supposed to go on tour in a few weeks. People are going to question her stamina before she even begins touring.”

“No one is focused on her not being well,” Dean explained.

“What else would they be focused on?”

“Sawyer carrying her offstage. Everyone thinks it was part of the act, and they’re loving it. They love Piper and Sawyer together.”

Piper let that soak in. People loved her and Sawyer together. Everyone was thrilled at the simple idea of it. Except her father, of course.

“Ridiculous!” Heath scoured his own social media accounts to verify Dean’s claims.

“I think we should take advantage of this. You could have Sawyer join Piper’s tour as the opening act. As long as we don’t deny the possibility of a relationship, people will be scrambling to buy tickets to see for themselves if they’re a couple or not. It’s a win-win for both of them.”

“We were leaning more toward crossover performers for opening acts. Artists who aren’t only country.”

“I think Sawyer’s songs have a wide appeal, as well,” Dean argued.

Heath wouldn’t give in. “We were also considering female artists to avoid exactly what you’re suggesting we promote—rumors about my daughter and her love life.”

Piper saw it differently than her father for one very important reason. The baby wasn’t going to be a secret forever. Eventually, she would have to not only come clean to her father and Dean but also the world. Maybe Dean was giving her the answer she had been looking for since this morning. Maybe the feelings she’d had for him were more real than she’d thought.

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