“Then we’re fine, as well.”

“I’m going to go check on Matthew,” Heath said. Flowers and feelings were most likely not on his list of favorite things.

Sawyer made his way over to Piper. He pressed a soft kiss to the side of her head. “Are we okay?” he whispered as Claudia and Harriet discussed the flowers she would pull out for the bridal bouquet.

Piper leaned against him. “I’ll be happy when this is all over. Is that bad?”

He smiled and wrapped an arm around her waist. “There’d be no such thing as elopement if everyone loved weddings.”

“Tell me everything is going to be fine and I’ll believe you,” she said.

Her lips were so close and he could feel her breath on his neck. Every time he was around her, he felt the urge to hold her, to kiss her. It was beyond lust or want. It was a connection he couldn’t describe with words.

“Everything will be more than fine. I promise.”

“You two are so cute. Ah, to be young and in love,” Piper’s mom said as she and Harriet stopped what they were doing.

“Remember this feeling, sweet peas. Love is what will get you through all the tough times. And trust me, there are tougher times ahead that will make your mother’s reappearance seem like nothing.”

Sawyer’s brow dipped. “That’s not very reassuring, Harriet.”

“It is if you focus on the part about love getting you through.”

* * *

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Piper felt love for Sawyer that she’d never experienced with anyone else. He was good and kind. He made her laugh and challenged her in ways that made her better. He was the spontaneity she needed in her scheduled existence.

Did he feel it for her? That was the million-dollar question. One she was too afraid to ask straight up. He acted like he was in love. He treated her the way she would expect someone to if they were in love. He didn’t say it, though. Wasn’t it more important that he showed it? She told herself it was until that annoying doubt crept back in. He was so focused on his mom and proving her wrong. Were they rushing only because Gretchen had reappeared? She hated to think it, but there it was.

“Why don’t we show your mom and Harriet where we’re going to set everything up for the ceremony?” Sawyer suggested, pulling her out of her dark thoughts.

They all went out back, behind the house and recording studio. The space was surrounded by paddocks and rolling hills that were much greener in the summer. The temperatures were still chillier than Piper would have liked for an outdoor ceremony, but she would have to work with what she’d been given. On Friday it was supposed to be almost seventy degrees. They would survive.

“This is where we’ll say our vows. The guests will be over here, and after the ceremony, we’ll head inside for dinner,” Sawyer said, pointing out the important details.

“It will be lovely,” Piper’s mom said. “And the paparazzi can’t see anything back here, so that’s good. You’ll have some privacy.”

“What in the world are they doing now?” Harriet asked, looking over Piper’s shoulder and back toward the barn.

Heath and Gretchen came marching across the property together. Sawyer pulled Piper behind him, placing himself between her and whatever it was those two were about to say.

“We need to talk,” Heath said, slightly winded from his walk. “Your mother, although a bit unusual, has a few valid points about this wedding.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Sawyer said. “Nothing she says matters to me. I don’t know how many times I can say it.”

“Piper, sweetheart, you know you’re rushing into something that doesn’t need to be rushed,” Heath argued.

“Dad, I don’t feel rushed. This is what I want.” Sawyer had asked her to stand up for herself and this was her chance to prove to him that she could.

“You can’t decide to get married one day and have a wedding the next.”

“I don’t understand this argument,” Piper’s mother said. “They’ve been engaged since November and together since August. Marriage was the goal. They aren’t taking a lot of time to plan a wedding, but they made the decision to get married months ago.”

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