Almost worse than having to go on television and lie was hearing Heath lecture him on all the ways he had better not screw this up for Piper. The man acted like Sawyer intended to walk out there and admit to being part of a hoax.
“Let’s practice looking natural,” Heath said once all of the show’s people had left them alone. He had Piper and Sawyer sit on the couch next to one another in the dressing room. “Pretend Lana is Whitney.”
“There’s been a lot of talk about you two being a couple. True or not?” Lana asked.
“I guess you could say that our fans figured out our secret before we were ready to tell it,” Sawyer replied. “Piper and I are together. We’re a couple. We’re in love.”
“With each other,” Piper added in case it wasn’t obvious. She rested her head on his shoulder. He reached up and patted the side of her face. The awkwardness was epic. He could feel the heat of her cheeks as they turned a vibrant shade of red.
Heath’s eyes were bulging from his head. “You two are trying to convince the world you’re actually in love. Not convince me that you can’t pull this charade off! No touching. She’s not a pet, she’s your fiancée.”
“Maybe you should do the talking and I’ll just smile and nod,” Sawyer suggested.
“So how did you know Sawyer was the one?” Lana asked.
Piper straightened up. “I fell in love with Sawyer while we were writing songs for my album. He was charming and hilarious. He made me think about how I feel and what I wanted to say. It was kind of refreshing. Plus, you should see this guy ride a horse wearing a cowboy hat.” She fanned herself with her hand.
Sawyer’s chest tightened. She sounded so sincere. Heath frowned as he glared at Sawyer. “Better,” he said. “Piper should definitely do the talking.”
* * *
“NOW, THERE’S BEEN a lot of talk lately about you and a certain someone,” Whitney said to Piper almost as soon as the interview started.
Much to Sawyer’s embarrassment, pictures of him shirtless flashed on the big screen behind them. “Do you recognize this man?”
Piper glanced over her shoulder and her smile widened. She was getting better at this game. “He looks vaguely familiar. What’s his name again?”
The couple hundred people in the audience were eating this up. Whitney and Piper shared a laugh.
“Ah, I think you know. I believe you brought him with you today. In fact, can I get a camera over there on stage left?”
That was Sawyer’s cue. He stepped out and waved to the screaming crowd. This was not the way he’d imagined his first television interview would go. He joined Piper on the guest couch.
“Well, well. Look who’s here! Hello, Sawyer. Piper, have you met? This is Sawyer Stratton. Sawyer, this is Piper Starling.”
The two of them shook hands and pretended to be surprised. “Nice to meet you,” Sawyer said.
“Aren’t they adorable. Come on now, Sawyer. I have to ask,” Whitney continued. “What brings you backstage at my show today?”
“I heard you had that dancing dog on today, and I’m a big fan, so…”
“You’re a big fan of the dancing dog, huh?” Whitney turned to her audience. Several of them shook their heads and shouted their disbelief. “They don’t believe you, Sawyer. They know why you’re really here.”
He reached for the mug of water on the oval-shaped coffee table in front of them. He took a couple sips to kill some time.
“Okay, okay,” Piper said, joining in the fun. “He came with me. I brought him to LA because he needed a little break before we head out on tour together in a couple weeks.”
“You two are going on tour together. How interesting.” Whitney gave her audience a knowing look.
“Yep, I just thought since Sawyer’s been so busy rehearsing and buying me coffee and an engagement ring, he deserved a vacation.”
The audience immediately began to freak out. It was mass hysteria. Women were cheering like they had just won the lottery. Many were wide-eyed in disbelief.
“I’m sorry, I think I misheard you on that last one. He’s been busy rehearsing, buying you coffee and doing what else?” Whitney asked over the din of the crowd.