The candy bar had been Piper’s idea. Glass jars filled with every colorful candy imaginable were lined up on tables along the back wall. Lollipops were displayed in huge, floral-like bouquets, and there was enough chocolate to make every man, woman and child backstage happy. Something sweet from America’s sweetheart.
“You do a good job of making this moment magical,” Sawyer said, leaning close. “I’m taking notes.”
The smell of his cologne brought back memories of being in his arms. Memories Piper wished she could forget. His brown eyes melted her insides. She wondered if he knew how unfair it was for a man to have such beautiful eyelashes. She turned her gaze on the next fan waiting to meet them, wishing all these feelings Sawyer stirred in her would go far, far away.
Pretending to be in love was messing with her head. The pregnancy hormones weren’t helping, either. Besides this new desire for something real to happen between her and Sawyer, Piper could easily eat every piece of milk chocolate on the back table. Resisting all forms of temptation when they were right in front of her was torture.
Last up at the meet and greet was a family brought backstage by the Wish Upon a Star charity group. Piper had been prepped ahead of time. Liam was a six-year-old with Stage IV neuroblastoma. The cancer that had started in the nerve tissue of his abdomen had spread to his lymph nodes and was now in his liver. His parents had told WUAS that Piper’s music was the one thing that brought him comfort in the hospital when he went in for treatments and surgeries. He knew every word to every song.
He also only had a few months to live. Piper swallowed the lump in her throat as the brave little boy confidently strode up to them.
“I have a bone to pick with you, mister,” he said, shaking a finger at Sawyer. His bald head was covered by a Carolina Panthers baseball cap, and his WUAS T-shirt was too big for his tiny frame.
Sawyer put his hands up like he was surrendering. “What did I do?”
“I was supposed to marry Piper when I get big and you stole her away.” He folded his arms across his chest and glared at Sawyer.
Sawyer was quick to apologize. “I’m so sorry, man. I didn’t know you were interested. She probably only said yes to me because I asked first.”
“Liam actually wrote her a letter a year ago asking if she would marry him,” his mother said.
“See? You stole her.” Liam threw his hands up.
“Piper, we need to talk. You did not mention you were waiting for someone to get bigger when I asked you to marry me.”
“Oh, Liam. This is all my fault,” Piper said, getting down on one knee to be at his level. “I was so worried you would find a nice girl your own age that I accepted Sawyer’s proposal instead.”
“It’s okay. Waiting for me to get big is gonna take a long time.” Liam placed a hand on her shoulder. “You deserve to be happy, babe.”
“Did he just call her babe?” Sawyer asked Liam’s mom with a laugh.
“He’s always had personality to spare,” she replied.
Piper loved this kid. “You are too much. Can we be friends at least?”
“Friends.” Liam offered to shake her hand, but she opened her arms for a hug instead. He wrapped his little arms around Piper and hugged her with everything he had.
Piper cleared her throat and wiped her eyes discreetly as she stood back up.
“I have a couple questions for you,” Liam said, pulling a piece of paper out of his front pocket. “I’m writing a blog post about meeting you, and I need some facts.”
“Great. I love giving facts.” Which was true. Piper much preferred telling the truth.
“First, if you could be any superhero, who would you be?”
Piper had to think about it for a second. “Tough question. I’m going to go with Wonder Woman, because her costume is pretty awesome.”
Liam’s giggle made Piper smile. “You can’t pick her because of the costume!”
“I can’t? But that’s what us girls care about!” She winked.
Liam accepted her answer and moved on to Sawyer. “What about you?”
“I want to be you.”
“Me?” Liam’s brow furrowed.