Shaking her head, Piper wiped away another countless tear as she replayed that phone call over in her head. Why was she still doing this to herself? It had been almost six months!
Piper wasn’t sure why she’d told Audrey and Elli, her two best friends, before she told her family about the pregnancy, but she had. She had kept her secret for long enough and needed to tell someone. Elli’s reaction was much different than she’d expected; rather than freaking out she was consoling and offered Piper a place to live as she sorted through the details of the pregnancy and her future.
Elli told her, “Go to my house in Sweetbriar and pull yourself together. You need to tell Erik; he needs to know. It will hurt everyone in the long run if you don’t. Don’t do this to yourself, or him, and more important, to your unborn baby.”
Piper couldn’t have agreed more now, but typical Piper, she had waited until the very last moment. Now she was scared to death to tell him. What would Erik think? Would he hate her? Oh God, what would their families think? She knew keeping the pregnancy secret wasn’t her best decision but she couldn’t bring herself to tell anyone. No one even suspected. And she hadn’t even seen Erik to tell him. But she was ready to share her secret now; she was starting to show, and in all reality, it was about damn time.
Because Piper was almost six months pregnant.
She knew it was insane to have waited this long, but initially she wasn’t sure what she was going to do. As the days turned into weeks and then months, she had run out of options. And really, she knew in her heart that the only option was to have this baby. Giving the baby up for adoption just wasn’t for her; Piper loved kids way too much and really wanted her own. It’s just that she had always thought she would have been married first. Once her decision was made she knew she needed to tell Erik, but when she finally called him, a girl had answered his phone.
Piper didn’t even say hello; she just hung up and kept her secret for another month. And then another month, and so on. The more she sat and waited, the more her child grew and the more she knew she was doing the wrong thing. She had no one to talk to about it. Reese and Harper, her sisters, would kill her when they found out who the father was, and she was scared shitless of what Erik would think.
How could she tell a man who hadn’t wanted anything to do with her that she was pregnant with his child?
Shaking her head, Piper closed her eyes as the sun warmed her face. A nice breeze was coming off the large lake that sat behind Elli’s little country home. Piper would always be in debt to Elli Adler. Ever since they were children, Elli had always taken a special liking to Piper. They had that type of relationship, the kind that only sisters share.
All four girls—Elli, Harper, Reese, and Piper—were best friends, attached at the hip. Wherever the older girls went, Piper and Reese were close behind. Harper and Elli didn’t seem to mind since they included them in most everything they did. But now that they’d all grown up they didn’t get to see one another as much. Harper and Elli were both happily married, and Reese was running a huge dance studio in the heart of Nashville—everyone was busy with their families or their careers. Then there was Piper, jumping from job to job, hoping she’d find something she could enjoy.
She had always loved drawing, and becoming an illustrator for children’s books was a dream come true. Up until now, she had tried just about every job imaginable—Piper had worked as a nail technician, sold jewelry, and even tried manning the registers at a Wendy’s. But as soon as she started drawing for her friend Emmaline and then got paid for doing something she loved to do, she decided to focus on her artwork, hoping for that special break. She had tons of authors and agents looking at her work, which is what had to happen if she was going to succeed.
“I see you moved in pretty well.”
Piper let out a startled shriek before turning to see the culprit. Harper smiled as she came over to hug her tightly. The fact that Piper didn’t hear her coming down the dock really proved how deep in thought she was. The house was in a secluded area with a huge yard and trees, so it was easy to get lost in time while enjoying the beautiful day.
Putting a smile on her face, Piper contemplated if now was the time to tell her sister about the baby. Fortunately she had worn a huge T-shirt over her maternity shorts this morning, thus hiding the bump of her belly.
“Yeah, the house was pretty much done when I moved in—all I needed were my things and a few other odds and ends. Fortunately it all fit in the truck. I did bring those gray sofas from the apartment, though. Dad brought those over …,” she answered with a shrug. In reality she should have burned one of those sofas.
“Really, so everything’s good? I’m still surprised you moved out here.”
“Yeah,” she answered, “I needed to. I wasn’t getting any drawing done in Nashville, and since I moved here I’ve already finished three pages for Emmaline’s book. Being by the lake is so beautiful and inspirational.”
Harper smiled and said, “That’s great.”
Nodding, Piper assured her sister, “It is. I really love it here.” Then she asked, “By the way, where’s Ally?”
“With Jakob. I needed to talk to you without her little butt distracting us.”
Piper frowned, wondering if Elli could have already told Harper about the pregnancy. “What about?”
“Well, first, I need to know if you’re still coming for dinner this weekend. Jakob’s parents are coming to town. Mom and Dad will be there, too, and Reese, if I can pull her out of that damn studio.”