“That’s a bit nontraditional for someone like you, Piper. But I guess it goes hand in hand with the other changes we’ve been seeing from you. You wrote many of the songs on your new album, which sounds less country and more pop than your previous records. Would you say you’re becoming a little more LA and a little less Nashville?”
Piper prayed her face didn’t flush with embarrassment. “I’m a Nashville girl through and through. My fans know my heart and understand sometimes you live life a little out of order.”
At least she hoped they would.
* * *
SAWYER MISSED THE days when he had no idea what social media was. The only reason he had an Instagram account was because Dean insisted he needed one in this business. He still thought the whole thing was silly.
Piper, on the other hand, was obsessed. Not as obsessed as her father, but pretty close. The two Starlings had been glued to their phones since they’d left the Grammy Awards and got back in the limo. They had to head straight to the airport to hop on a flight to Nashville for two nights of shows there.
“Anything new?” he asked, even though he really didn’t care.
“Mostly congratulations. A couple trolls, but that was to be expected,” Heath answered.
Sawyer took the phone out of Piper’s hand and tossed it to Lana. “Hide that for a little bit, okay?”
Piper looked like she wanted to dive across the aisle and grab it back, but her dress would never allow it. “We need to stay on top of it so we’re prepared.”
“Your dad will keep us posted.” He put his arm around her and pulled her close. She relented and rested her cheek against his chest. Sawyer kissed the top of her head. “I’m more worried about what everyone on tour is going to say when we get back.”
They had decided not to announce to the crew before leaving for the Grammys for fear someone would leak the news.
“I think we need to nail down a wedding date. Saying you’re too busy to pick a date is fishy—makes you seem like you aren’t really committed,” Heath said, setting his own phone down.
Sawyer’s shoulders tensed. “I disagree. Setting a date before we’re ready is pointless.”
“Pick any day in the summer. It doesn’t matter, you’ll be calling it off after the baby is born anyway.”
Heath was having a hard time accepting that even though the engagement was fake, the relationship was real. Sawyer hadn’t been there when Piper explained it to him, but he trusted she had been clear.
“Dad, we aren’t planning on a breakup anymore. We’re slowing things down in our relationship, remember?”
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea to veer from the original plan, Piper. The original plan is a good one.”
This was a test. If Piper caved, Sawyer would know for sure that this wasn’t meant to be. He prayed she would back him and not give in to her father’s demands for a fake wedding date.
“No, it’s not,” Sawyer said. “I’m not ready to get married or break up.”
“But you’re ready to become a parent? Because that’s not something you can slow down, young man. That’s happening. And the world is going to wonder why you’re taking it slow when you seemed to have no problem going fast last September.”
Sawyer pressed his lips together. Trying to win an argument with Heath was like sweeping a dirt floor. He didn’t need to convince Heath of anything anyway. This was between him and Piper.
“Let’s stay focused on more productive topics,” Piper suggested. It wasn’t exactly strong support for Sawyer’s stance, but at least she hadn’t agreed with Heath.
“We can go over the schedule for tomorrow,” Lana said once it was clear they were done arguing. “You have a full day. Your appointment with Ruby is first thing in the morning. After that, you’re both scheduled to appear on Kelly Bonner’s radio show, then Piper has the appearance and signing at Thornberry’s to promote her perfume. Sound check for Sawyer begins at three. Piper needs to be there by four. Meet and greet starts at six. Show starts at seven thirty.”
“I’m tired just listening to it.” Piper yawned. The late nights and constant travel had been hard on her. At least they had two days in Nashville and then a short break before heading to the Midwest for two weeks. Sawyer was excited to go home for a few days, see the horses and his dog, but seeing his child for the first time was what he was most looking forward to doing in Nashville. He couldn’t wait to count ten toes and ten fingers. Maybe they’d find out if it was a boy or a girl. He’d be thrilled with either.