“She’s going to be fine,” Faith promised him. “I heard Lana say she was sick before the performance. You know this really isn’t your fault, right?”
“I know. I’m just worried.” He tried to shake off the fear that still lingered. “When she started to go down, my heart stopped.”
Faith patted him on the back. “It was a good thing you did what Dean told you to do. She could have been hurt much worse if you hadn’t been there to catch her.”
Dean came out and placed a hand on Sawyer’s shoulder. “We’re going to need you to talk to the press. Tell everyone Piper’s fine. Don’t confirm or deny anything between the two of you. Be as coy as possible.”
“What? I don’t know how to be coy. I’m a straight shooter. You know this.”
“Trust me,” Dean said. “If you play this right, you and Piper will be the headline story tomorrow.”
Headlines were what the business of being famous was all about. This was Sawyer’s chance to prove to Dean how much he wanted this.
“When they ask you if you’re dating Piper, say something like, ‘Wouldn’t you like to know.’ Then smile and they’ll go nuts,” Hunter suggested.
“Sawyer Stratton?” A frazzled-looking production assistant interrupted them. “We’re ready for you in the pressroom. I need you to come with me now,” he said.
Dean gave Sawyer a thumbs-up before slipping back into Piper’s dressing room. How would she feel about Sawyer leading the world to believe there was something going on with them?
Full of reluctance, Sawyer shuffled behind the man, praying she wouldn’t be angry with him for doing what was best for his career.
The assistant pushed open the door and held it so Sawyer could enter in front of him. “Just head on over to the microphone. They’re pretty good about not all asking questions at once. I’ll signal you when your time is up.”
“Wish me luck,” Sawyer said over his shoulder as he hesitantly made his way to the mic.
The clicking and flashing of the cameras overwhelmed his senses, quickly overriding the quiet murmurs of the reporters. Before Sawyer had a chance to adjust the microphone to his height, the questions started coming. And no one was taking turns.
“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.