A chill went down Piper’s spine. She glanced to her right, where Mitch, her security guard, stood. “Well, I’m so glad you did,” she said, handing her a signed poster without any personalization.
“Is Sawyer here with you?” the woman asked.
Piper glanced at Mitch once more, her signal for him to come closer. “He’s not, unfortunately. He’s busy getting ready for the show tonight.”
The woman set the poster down on the table. She spoke rapidly. “Is he happy? Is he getting married because there’s a baby on the way? He shouldn’t do that. He will regret that.” She pounded the table with her fists.
Mitch stepped up and asked the woman to move along. Heath moved around to the other side of the table and looked ready to attack should the woman not comply. When she didn’t step aside, the security guard took her by the arm and removed her as she continued to rant about Sawyer making a mistake.
Piper’s heart felt like a jackhammer in her chest. She’d heard there were people out there who got attached to celebrities and stalked them. She wasn’t sure if this woman was Sawyer’s stalker, but she was awfully concerned about his intentions. Her outburst felt more intense than the usual fan freak-outs Piper had come to expect.
“Are you okay? Do you want to stop?” her father asked.
Piper placed a hand on her belly. Being with child made the encounter a thousand times scarier than it might have been otherwise. Her gaze drifted down the line of waiting fans. Who else could be here to intimidate her?
Her father crouched down. “You don’t have to keep going. We can leave right now.”
A little girl in the front of the line held on to her mother’s hand. Piper remembered when her mom had taken her to see Boone Williams when she was little. They’d waited outside by the tour buses after the show, and when he came out, he’d stopped and signed her tour book. It was one of the best moments of her life.
Piper couldn’t let one wacko keep her from her real fans. She took a deep breath to steady herself. “I’ll be okay. Let’s finish.”
Heath stayed close the rest of the signing, as did her security guard. Piper tried to smile through the anxiety, signing as many posters as she could before time ran out.
“We need to be prepared for some backlash,” Heath said when they were in the car. “I’ve seen it online, but it could continue to show up in person on the tour. Your little boyfriend has developed his own fan base, and not all of them are happy about him being off the market.”
“Maybe we should cancel the meet and greet before the show,” Lana suggested. “Give you some time to rest and shake this off.”
“No, I can’t do that to the people who paid good money to meet me.” Plus, there would be two security guards in the room as well as Sawyer. He might not be in love with her, but he would never let anyone hurt her or the baby.
* * *
WHEN SAWYER FINISHED sound check, he followed Hunter backstage. His best friend had made it pretty obvious that he was angry with him.
“Hunter, can we talk about this?” Sawyer asked, grabbing his arm and pulling him into his dressing room.
“What’s there to talk about? I’m sure if there’s anything you want me to know, I can read about it in the next edition of People.”
Sawyer sighed. “I’m sorry. We didn’t tell the media everything. We’re having a boy. No one else knows that.”
“Wow. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. Maybe I’ll be invited to the wedding this summer, or maybe I’ll just just have to read about it.” Hunter wasn’t making this easy.
“Come on, man. It’s not like that.”
Hunter flopped down on the couch and crossed his arms over his chest. “I thought I was your best friend. I thought that meant something.”
“We had to keep it quiet so we could control when the news was made public,” Sawyer said.
“Do you even hear yourself? You sound like Heath Starling. Were you worried about what a baby could do to your brand? Was there talk about how many records you might not sell if you told your best friend you were having a baby?”
“Don’t ever compare me to Heath Starling.” Sawyer couldn’t keep the edge out of his voice. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but you do have a big mouth lately and I couldn’t risk it.”