After a moment I let go of Morgan's hand and sat back in the hay.
"So you never miss a concert, or what?" I asked Bryce, suddenly happy enough to make conversation while Morgan rested.
He shrugged and smiled. "Not if I can help it."
"How'd it all happen for you? You just loved country music so much you couldn't stop playing it, and suddenly you were on tour?"
He laughed. "Not exactly. Tell you the truth, I don't really care for country."
"My mom used to make me play it. She had me playing professionally by the time I was a teenager. Honestly, I'd take the Beatles over Hank Williams any day. I actually really like some of the indie stuff they're doing lately." He laughed. "Don't tell anyone this, but who I really, really like is Lady Gaga. I can't stop listening to her."
I couldn't stop laughing. "Are you kidding?"
"And you know what else? You know what my real name is?"
"It's not Bryce Tripp?"
"Nope. It's Reggie Wisloo."
I laughed even harder at this.
He laughed too and tried to put his hand over my mouth while I swatted it back.
"Don't laugh!" he said. "I've gone by Bryce since I was a kid." He sat back in the hay. "Don't tell anyone my secret."
Bryce glanced at Morgan again. She was sleeping peacefully, and still breathing strongly. Even the swelling around her eye had gone down.
"I guess you must really regret coming to do this concert here, after all, now," I said. "Don't you."
For a moment there was a distant look in Bryce's blue eyes. But then he looked right at me and gave my shoulder a soft, playful push. "Not so far, I don't."
I didn't know what to say. For a moment I'd forgotten all about Mr. Hershel and Ian and Shawn. It really was a shame that I'd actually slept with this staggeringly attractive country singer who had a secret passion for Lady Gaga, but couldn't remember a thing about it.
"Thank you," I said. "Really. Thank you so much for everything."
"It's nothing," Bryce said. "Look. You need to get back to your folks tonight. Why don't I stay here and look after Morgan?"
I didn't want to accept, but I didn't want him to leave either. I wanted to get a good night's sleep for once and wake up to find Bryce still waiting for me, watching over Morgan as she healed in the hayloft. And he was right. I did need to get back to my family.
"You really don't mind?" I asked him. "Really?"
He shrugged and smiled. "What else am I going to do with myself?"
The next morning I woke up at dawn to the sound of a text message on my phone.
It was from Bryce.
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