“Is your apparent mother still here?”

“She’s in my dressing room with my family.”

“Then, no. You can’t come in. You need to get rid of her or Piper will not be performing. Understand that if that maniac isn’t out of this building by seven o’clock, you will have to explain to those thousands of people out there why you’re the only one performing tonight.” Heath shut the door.

Dean came down the hall with two more of the bodyguards from the meet and greet. “What do you want to do about this?” he asked Sawyer. “I should have had Faith talk to you before she let Gretchen backstage. That’s on me.”

“I want to send her back to wherever she came from, but Faith will have a fit.”

Dean grimaced, knowing Sawyer was right. “Let’s go talk to your sister.”

“But you’re going to support me on this, right? She can’t stay if Heath is canceling Piper’s performance.”

“That’s what I have these two guys for,” Dean said, gesturing to the two dudes who looked like football linemen.

Sawyer braced himself as he walked into his dressing room. The lights around the makeup mirrors were on. Harriet and Gretchen sat on the couch to the right while Faith sat in a chair across from them.

“Faith, can we have a moment?” Dean asked.

Sawyer couldn’t tear his eyes off his mother. She looked almost exactly the same as she did in his memories. Same long, dark hair. Same eccentric taste in clothes, like Harriet.

“I didn’t mean to cause a ruckus, Sawyer. I really didn’t,” Gretchen said, getting to her feet.

Faith stood in between them. “Let me talk to him first, Mom.”

“I don’t need you to run interference, Faith. I want her to leave. She can choose to go on her own or I can have her escorted out. It’s up to her.”

“Sawyer…” Faith tried.

“He looks so much like his father,” Gretchen said. “But he’s definitely got my stubbornness. If he wants me to go, I’ll go. I came because I felt like I had to reach out to you. I know that might seem selfish, but I couldn’t sit back and watch you do this to yourself.”

“Do what to myself?”

“Get married out of obligation,” she answered plainly.

“How would you know anything about why I’m getting married?”

“Well, I’m not stupid. I also know from experience.”

Faith’s eyebrows shot up. It was news to them that their mother had gotten pregnant before marriage.

“You don’t even know me or Piper. Are you concerned that Faith is getting married? Did you even know that Faith was getting married? Probably not, because you aren’t part of our lives. Something you chose.”

“And maybe I’m choosing to come back into your life so I can help stop you from making a terrible mistake.”

Sawyer felt as if he’d just stepped off a spinning ride at an amusement park. There was nothing amusing about his mother, however. “It’s not up to you anymore.”

In Sawyer’s mind she was no different from a bank robber who had decided she wanted to go back and open up an account at the bank she’d robbed. It was not happening. She was not welcome.

“I am going to visit your sister in Grass Lake for a couple weeks. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.”

Sawyer threw his hands up. “Faith, what are you thinking? I’m coming home in two days. You can’t let her stay with you, in Dad’s house.”

“It’s my house,” Faith said. “And maybe I want her to come.”

“Gretchen can stay with me,” Harriet offered. “I think that would be best anyway, especially if Sawyer is coming home.”

Gretchen in Grass Lake. It was obviously the end of the world as they knew it.

* * *

“I CAN’T FOCUS.” Piper sat in front of her mirror and stared at her reflection as her stylist put her extensions in. She held her hands in her lap to keep them from shaking.

“Lana, go make sure that woman is gone,” Heath demanded. “I wasn’t kidding when I said Piper won’t perform tonight if she’s anywhere in this building.”

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