Love Songs and Lullabies(2)

By: Amy Vastine



“Shouldn’t we check to make sure?” The concern in his voice made her feel guilty for not being completely honest, but all Piper wanted was to get out of here before someone let her current condition slip.

“It would hurt a lot more if it was broken. As long as I rest it, I should be fine for the awards show.”

She wished she could tell her dad the truth. What she wouldn’t give to hear him reassure her that everything would be fine, but she knew there was no chance of that happening. An out-of-wedlock pregnancy with a man her father had convinced her was the wrong choice had the potential to ruin everything.

Thankfully, Heath was not a fan of hospitals. “Great! Then we’ll make it to the radio interview after all,” he said.

“I’ll get the discharge paperwork together,” Dr. Michaels said. “I’ll have some instructions and recommendations for follow-up put in there for you, Piper. Good luck...with everything.”

Piper needed more than luck. She needed someone to come in and tell the doctor that the lab had made a terrible mistake.

How could this have happened? Until now, every move she’d made had been perfectly orchestrated. Her image was vital to her success, which was why she always did as she was told. Her father constantly emphasized how one misstep could ruin a career. Say or do the wrong thing and the world would know about it instantly, thanks to social media and smartphones. And for some reason, the public was always on the lookout for their idol’s fatal flaw.

Piper struggled to stop herself from trembling. A few months ago, she had fallen for Sawyer and his soulful brown eyes. She had let him woo her with his clever quips and gentle touch, but what she felt wasn’t real. She’d been tricked into thinking she was in love by the intense emotions that writing music together pulled out of her.

Thankfully, her dad had helped get her head out of the clouds without even knowing how serious things had become between her and Sawyer. It was the wrong time for Piper to invest in a romantic relationship given her current career goals. Of course, being someone’s mother could rock her career in a whole different way.

A nurse came in to wrap her ankle before they wheeled her outside to the car. Her father put a hand on her forehead.

“Are you sure you’re okay? You look a little peaked.”

“I’m fine. Just worried about how to cover this up so people don’t notice tonight.”

“Piper, no one is going to give you grief about twisting your ankle,” her father promised. “I think the fans will forgive you for getting knocked over by that idiot.”

Would everyone forgive her for getting knocked up by him, though? She wasn’t so sure. Piper’s heart ached as much as her stomach.

* * *

THE K104 STUDIOS were in the heart of downtown Nashville. Piper’s ankle throbbed but was still the least of her problems. Her assistant, Lana, offered her a hand out of the limo.

“After your radio interview, you have about an hour and a half before you need to get to hair and makeup,” Lana said as they made their way inside. “Your dinner reservations with Dean and his fiancée are at five. Luckily, the restaurant is near the Bridgestone Arena since the best time to get the most red carpet exposure is around six thirty.”

The thought of being on display all night made Piper want to cry. Surely someone would know she was carrying around the secret of all secrets. She placed a hand on her stomach. Did she already have a baby bump? It was way too early for that. She was being paranoid. Pregnant and paranoid. The tension in her shoulders increased tenfold.

A representative from the radio station met them in the lobby. The young woman was tall and slender. She pushed her horn-rimmed glasses up her nose. “Piper Starling, welcome to K104! We’re so excited to have you and Sawyer here.”

Sawyer’s here?

Piper felt her cheeks flush. She’d known she would have to face him tonight but had hoped the few hours she had before then would help her figure out what to do. She had to tell him. Not that he’d be very excited. When she had told him they couldn’t be together, he had accused her of caring more about her career than the people in her life. But quickly after that, he had acted like it was a relief they weren’t going to be a couple. She glanced at her father, who apparently hadn’t expected Sawyer Stratton to be there, either, given the way he scowled at Lana before dialing someone on his phone.

“You made it!” Dean Presley, the head of Grace Note Records, turned the corner. He pulled Piper in for a hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay. We can deal with a sprain, right? A sprain won’t hurt the tour, and I have a very good feeling everyone will want to see Piper Starling live after hearing you tonight.”

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