Piper took a deep breath before she had a panic attack. “It was a great idea, Dean,” she said, putting her smile back in place. “We’re here to sell records. Mine and Sawyer’s.”
The radio station rep’s relief was evident. The earlier tension had not been lost on her. “Let me show you to our hospitality room.”
Heart pounding, Piper followed the woman down the hall, into the elevator and up three floors. She could do this. She could sit next to Sawyer and answer questions about music. They could sing together like they did while writing songs and recording her album. Singing with him was the easy part. Avoiding his brown eyes, resisting his charm, ignoring the way he made her feel when he was near—those things might prove more difficult. Especially now.
It suddenly felt very warm. Piper was thankful she had dressed in layers. She peeled off her sweater and handed it to Lana for safekeeping.
Sawyer’s voice reached her in the hallway. His playfulness was infectious as he sang and strummed a guitar. It was his lightheartedness that had gotten her in this trouble in the first place.
She steeled herself as she entered the hospitality room. Sawyer Stratton had accepted there wasn’t a future for the two of them. How would he feel when he found out they’d be forever connected?
“YOU HAVE GOT to be kidding me,” Sawyer said, setting his guitar down. “You are unbelievable!”
His friend and bandmate Hunter pushed the last grape between his lips. His cheeks were puffed out like a chipmunk’s. He had somehow managed to get an entire bowl of grapes in his mouth. Hunter’s enormous cheek capacity was about to cost Sawyer ten dollars, and he was not a fan of parting with his hard-earned money.
“Impressive, but I can do better. If I can eat one of those sandwiches over there in one bite, you have to give me ten bucks,” Sawyer said, making his way to the counter full of snacks.
Hunter shook his head, unable to speak. He held up two fingers before slashing the air with both hands.
“Double or nothing?” Sawyer clarified. Hunter nodded. “You think you can eat this whole sandwich right after swallowing all those grapes?”
Hunter nodded again and picked up a water bottle. After a quick swig, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “If I do, you have to give me twenty bucks.”
The turkey sandwich wasn’t quite six inches long, but it was stuffed with all the trimmings and wouldn’t go down easy. Better Hunter fail than him. “Go for it.”
Hunter picked up the sub and took a breath before attempting to shove it all in his mouth. Sawyer couldn’t help but bust out laughing.
“We have some snacks and beverages for you,” a voice said from the doorway.
Sawyer turned, and there she was. Piper was always a sight for sore eyes. Her sunglasses rested on top of her head and her blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Even though she wore the same pale pink blouse and skinny white jeans he’d seen her in at rehearsal, the woman managed to take his breath away.
“Are you okay? Can you breathe?” The radio assistant came running at him.
How could she tell? It had only been a second. “I’m fine,” he protested. He had known Piper was coming—he just hadn’t expected her to affect him the way she always seemed to.
The woman pushed past him and wrapped her arms around Hunter’s chest. Two seconds later, a chewed-up wad of Italian bread shot across the room.
Hunter coughed and gratefully took the water offered to him by his rescuer. “Thank you,” he choked out.
Sawyer shook off his embarrassment at misreading the situation and glanced at Piper. Her bright blue eyes were wide with shock, but her lips soon curled in amusement. Her father, however, stood behind her with his usual scowl.
“Perhaps Piper could have her own space to relax before the interview. These two—” Heath paused and glowered at Sawyer “—gentlemen seem to need some supervision we’d rather not be responsible for providing.”
“It was a bet,” Sawyer explained. “He lost. We’re done now. No supervision required. Hey, Piper. How’s the ankle? I’m so sorry about bumping into you.”