“I’m sure Piper is worth it,” Boone said, scratching at his five o’clock shadow.
Sawyer dropped his eyes to the counter. “Right.”
“Keep focused on the love, man. Without the love, all the other stuff gets in the way real fast. I learned that the hard way, too.”
Sawyer’s throat tightened as he nodded in agreement. He’d found that the less he said, the better when forced to lie to everyone around him.
“And you haven’t even experienced what it’s like to love a kid. That’s a whole other level. Being a dad is life changing. Hard as heck but more rewarding than anything else you’ll do.”
“You can do both, right? Have a music career and be a dad? I mean, I want both. I want to be responsible for my child, but I really want this life. I want to go on tour and make music. It’s been a dream, and the dream is this close to being a reality. Tell me I don’t have to give that all up.”
If anyone had the answers to these questions, it had to be Boone. He had lived it.
Boone set down his drink and placed his hands on his hips. He took a deep breath. “I’m not going to lie to you. It’s hard. I didn’t succeed at doing both. I missed a lot while Emmy was growing up. It’s taken me until now to realize that I have to be willing to walk away from some things in order to put her first. Luckily for my daughter, my ex was willing to step away from the spotlight for a while to take care of her the way she deserved.”
“So, it can be done?” Boone’s ex-wife was the one who had introduced him and Piper onstage last night. “Sara’s still popular.”
Boone shrugged. “The music business is tough. We’ve talked about this before. It chews people up and spits them out. You’ve got to be willing to work harder than everyone else. Especially in the beginning.”
“I’m used to hard work. You know what the farm is like.”
One side of Boone’s mouth went up. “Yeah, I know what the farm is like, but in the music business, all eyes are on you. The farm can replace you and go on. The country artist Sawyer Stratton doesn’t exist unless you’re there every day making him relevant. Sara had more experience under her belt before taking a hiatus. She also had a husband who was selling millions of records to keep her in the style she was accustomed to.”
“She chose family and you chose career.”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t call that a recipe for success. We have an amazing kid, but we divorced and I nearly ruined my relationship with my daughter. I truly hope you and Piper figure out a better way.”
“What if Piper and I choose both career and family?”
“I don’t know. It’s going to be harder with both of you in this business. I mean, someone has to take care of the kid. Piper’s more established like Sara was, so she can afford to be away longer before people forget about her. At the same time, the Piper Starling brand employs a lot of people, more than the Sawyer Stratton brand does. That’s a ton of pressure. Everyone, from the bus drivers to the musicians who tour with her, depends on her. Everyone on the crew, her dad, even Dean, need her to work hard every day because their livelihoods depend on it.”
Piper had basically said the same thing. It was why she was so protective of her brand and image. “I know we could get a nanny, but I don’t want someone else raising my kid full-time. I know some people have to—even prefer to—do it that way, but I was hoping we could find a way to be more hands on while still working. Can people in this business make it work?”
“I have no idea what you two can accomplish. Maybe if you always tour together or take turns so one is home while the other is away. That’s rough on a marriage, though. Like I said, it’s all about balance, and figuring out the perfect balance is going to be up to you. The good news is you fell in love with an amazing woman. If you two hold on to that love and let it guide you, you’ll be fine.”
Sawyer didn’t love that answer. He wanted it all without having to ask Piper to make sacrifices to get it.
“It’s all about priorities. Look at my situation,” Boone continued. “I’ve been away fixing myself, and I have no guarantee that the fans will welcome me back when this album drops. Hopefully they will, but if they don’t, I’m okay with that. It was important to me to reconnect with the people I love. My relationships with Ruby and our daughters matter way more than how many albums I sell.”