Her mom helped her fluff the train. “We didn’t really talk about everything that came up yesterday,” Piper said, treading lightly. She knew her mom was disappointed, but her support meant everything. If she had truly lost that, this day wouldn’t feel right. “I hope you can forgive me for not being honest about what was happening.”

“You lied. Your father lied. Your father told you to lie to me. I’m not happy about it, but I understand he was feeling a bit desperate.”

“I wanted to tell you so many times, but I know you have your hands full with Matty, and the last thing you needed was my drama.”

Claudia put her hands on her daughter’s shoulders. “Piper, sweetheart, I will never be too busy or too overwhelmed to be there for you. You matter to me as much as your brother.”

“I know that. I just didn’t want to burden you.”

She slid her hands down Piper’s arms and held both her hands. “You are not a burden. I’m sorry if I ever made you feel that way. Your father has you so focused on your image, he forgets to encourage you to have feelings. You are allowed to be mad, sad, hurt, frustrated, happy, whatever. And it doesn’t matter what the press thinks or if the fans will like it or not. You have a right to be human, and that means sometimes you mess up.”

Piper was overwhelmed by the comfort her mother’s words brought her. For so long, she felt like she had to bury any of the negative emotions she felt. To be given permission to feel was so freeing.

“I don’t want to mess up so much that it hurts you. I also didn’t want to be a source of embarrassment. I feel like Dad has felt that way this whole time.”

“That you’re an embarrassment? Oh, Piper. Never in a million years. There is no one in this world that he is more proud of than you.”

“I got pregnant before I got married.”

“You aren’t the first woman to do so and you won’t be the last.”

“I’m getting married before I’m sure the groom is even in love with me.”

Claudia frowned and gave her hands a squeeze. “That has me a bit more concerned. I noticed he wouldn’t say the word love yesterday.”

“Everyone noticed.” The lump was back in her throat.

A tear ran down her mom’s cheek. “I love you more than you will ever know. It breaks my heart that in this moment before your father walks you down the aisle, you don’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man waiting at the other end is going to love you with the kind of fierceness you deserve.”

“I think he could.”

Claudia caught the tears running down Piper’s face. “I think he should.”

Faith and Trina returned with two trays of delicious-looking finger foods. Faith had made mini muffins and quiches, and full-size peanut butter cookies.

“Sawyer told me peanut butter cookies were your favorite,” Faith said, offering her one.

“You are so kind.” The tears wouldn’t stop.

“You can’t get her all emotional. It’s messing with her makeup,” Trina said, setting her tray on the nightstand. “I can fix this.”

Piper let Trina clean things up on her face, but she needed to do some cleaning on the inside. “Faith, can you tell Sawyer I need to talk to him before the ceremony?”

“You can’t see the groom before the wedding. It’s bad luck,” Trina said as she reapplied some mascara.

Piper was more worried about the bad luck that would ensue if she didn’t talk to him.

“I’ll let him know,” Faith promised. “We can blindfold him or something if we have to. We’ll make it work, Piper. Don’t worry.”

Don’t worry. Easier said than done.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

“TWENTY CARS DEEP. That’s how many people are waiting out on Route 12 thinking they are coming to the wedding of the century.” Dean had just hung up with Lily, who was helping turn people around before they got to Highway 5.

Gretchen had caused the commotion she had been hoping for. The people who were supposed to be here were stuck in a line of cars filled with people who had mistakenly believed town gossip instead of using their good sense.

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