“Life is so unfair,” she said as she cried. “He seems so full of life.”

“I know.”

“His mom said he—he—he isn’t expected to make it to his seventh birthday. Why did you tell him he could be in our wedding?”

“I wanted to give him something no one else could.”

“What?” she sobbed. “Another lie? Is that all we do now?”

Sawyer pulled back and held her wet face in his hands. “We gave that little boy hope. Hope that he might get to walk down the aisle at Piper Starling’s wedding someday.”

“What good is it to hope for something impossible?” Her eyes bored into his, begging for an answer.

“Without hope, all he’s left with is fear. Hope keeps the fear of death at bay.”

“Can you stop?” She pushed him away and took a couple steps back. “You’re always making me feel things I don’t want to feel.”

“I’m sorry,” Sawyer said, frustrated that they were in this situation. “I’m not trying to do anything but help you.”

“Well, it’s not helping. I get that this is all pretend. But when you treat me like you care about me behind closed doors, you give me this false hope. Hope doesn’t make things better. It hurts.”

Was that what he had been doing? And since when was Piper hoping there was something real going on between them?

“I’m not acting like I care about you, Piper. You were the one who told me we were moving too fast, that it was the wrong time to get into a relationship. Or did you forget about that?”

“Well, you didn’t argue with me. You seemed to agree that the timing wasn’t right, that we were caught up in something that wasn’t real.”

“Maybe you made me feel things I didn’t want to feel. Maybe I let you go because I don’t trust you. I definitely don’t trust your dad.”

“You don’t trust my dad?” The tips of Piper’s ears were bright red.

“You do whatever he says. Don’t even deny it. You were happy in my arms until he showed back up and started filling your head with all these ideas about what you should and shouldn’t do. Next thing I know, you’re cutting me loose like I meant nothing to you.”

“You didn’t mean nothing. Maybe I was confused,” she said with a little less fire.

Sawyer raked his fingers through his hair. “You sure confuse me. What do you want, Piper? Do you want me to care about you or not? I can’t tell.”

“I want you to be honest with me. I know we have to lie to everyone else, but can you please be honest with me?”

Did she have any idea how much easier things would be if he could tell her how he truly felt? If he could trust her, he’d happily give her his heart. They were going to be parents. Nothing would make him happier than to raise this baby with her. To be a family.

But every time he let himself believe it might be okay to let her in, she proved his needs and wants weren’t a priority for her. Piper was committed to her family, her career, even to being good to her fans, but she was willing to walk away from Sawyer without a second thought.

“Honestly, I don’t know how I feel—except sad that I can’t completely trust you.”

Piper’s chin trembled before the anger reignited in her eyes. Whatever she’d been feeling a moment ago was gone.

“Well, you need to be onstage in a few minutes. I suggest you go get ready and I’ll see you out there for our duet. Can I trust you not to mess this up?”

Piper stormed out of the room and left him alone with nothing but his thoughts. The rumors about trouble in paradise would soon be brewing. Why did that make him feel worse?



The crowd roared as Piper waved and ran offstage. Lana handed her a bottle of water and they raced back to the dressing room. Her body vibrated from the euphoria of performing.

Opening night was a success. Piper loved performing. She had loved it since she’d been able to put two words together. Singing for arenas full of adoring fans was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience that she was fortunate enough to get to do night after night. At least until the baby was born. All of this might change once she became a single mother.

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