Home > Freefall (The Wind & the Roar Trilogy #1)

Freefall (The Wind & the Roar Trilogy #1)
Author: Cat Porter

 

1

 

 

“What the hell are we doing here?” Derek tapped out a dull beat on the table. “I didn’t know it was open mic night. I hate open mic nights.”

I knew it was open mic night, which was why I’d insisted that we come here tonight to Pete’s Tavern, our local watering hole, a classic old bar in our small town in the Black Hills.

“I like open mic nights.” I also liked pushing Derek’s buttons. “There are a lot of talented people out there, and this is their opportunity to perform, to be seen and heard—”

“There are a lot of jerks out there.” Scowling, Derek scanned the crowded bar, his other hand joining in on the tedious rhythm, if you could call it a “rhythm.”

I drained the last of my whiskey sour. He didn’t get it. He never would. I pushed my empty glass to the center of the table. “I need another drink.”

“Why do I have to go?” Derek’s gaze lingered at the table of sexily clad biker girls across from us.

“It’s packed in here, and there’s no sign of a waitress. More importantly, everyone here knows me and, therefore, knows I’m underage.” I never had problems at local bars when I was with my older brother’s friends. Derek, Meg and Joe, Tracy and Gil were all twenty-three, but why push it? I had another month to go until my twenty-first birthday.

“Come on, here’s some money.” I shoved a ten-dollar bill his way.

He took it and tapped Joe on the arm. Joe disengaged from Meg’s mouth and went with him to the bar.

Members of the local motorcycle club, the One-Eyed Jacks, were here with their old ladies, and a couple of bikers from other clubs with their much younger girlfriends who Derek had been checking out. I recognized Finger, the club president from Nebraska, who’d been dating a local woman, Lenore, one of my mom’s good friends.

I swallowed hard at the sight of him. He defined the term “fearsome outlaw.” Brutality and danger had been chronicled all over him—literally. The middle fingers of both his hands were missing, in addition to deep scars on his face that must have been horrible gashes made by a knife once upon a time.

Combined with his height, muscularity, tattoos, and gritty handsomeness, he made for one ominous, scary, and pretty damned intriguing figure. To me, he was the personification of that forbidden, darker “other side” of life.

This morning, Finger had shown up at Mom’s coffee house, and electricity had charged in the air, a sudden tense hush gripping the morning crowd. Bikers came through Meager all the time, but that man was different. That man commanded respect and awe and hadn’t even said a word yet.

It had reminded me of when my horse and I had gotten stuck in a sudden storm on Grandpa’s ranch years ago. We were in a wide-open field and a massive lightning storm suddenly ripped through the sky. My breath cut, my heart stopped, my flesh prickled coldly. Trapped. A flash of cold fear. Ominous unpredictability.

“Here.” Derek plonked a fresh whiskey sour on the table in front of me, and Joe set down a pitcher, beer sloshing over the rim.

“Thanks.” I sucked down a huge swallow of my cold drink. “Hmm. I don’t want to lose the nice buzz I have going on.”

Derek’s hand gripped my thigh under the table, his beer breath fanning the side of my face. “I’m looking forward to getting my buzz off later tonight.”

Oh yeah, baby. You’re the man.

Derek and I had been fooling around for several years now. He was my brother, Five’s, best friend. Once I’d gotten into high school, Five had made it clear on several embarrassing occasions that his friends had to stay away from his sister, and me from them. They’d readily agreed, of course, and I’d made it clear that I thought that edict was bullshit.

I’ve always detested being told what to do by my brother.

One by one, I’d fooled around with all of Five’s friends, and I’d saved Derek for last.

The hottest of the bunch, he was Five’s closest bud. With him, I’d had sex for the first time. He’d been so impressed, mostly with himself. Even though it didn’t matter anymore, an air of that forbidden still lingered between us, which turned us both on. Derek often talked about it when we’d go at it which only put a grin on my face as I’d come.

Big grin. Big win.

In between Derek’s girlfriends, of which there were many, or whenever he wanted to cheat, which was pretty often, I made myself available, depending on my mood. I would never be a sure thing for him—for any of them.

A waitress brought a tray of shots to our table, and everyone swooped in. Derek pushed back his baseball cap and raised a full shot glass. “Are you having yours?”

“No, I’m good. You have it.”

He grinned and tossed back the shots one after the other.

“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we’ve got a special guest with us,” Malcom, the bar owner’s voice boomed through the speakers. “Please welcome to Pete’s, Beck Lanier. His mom lives right here in Meager.” I put my drink down, my back shot up straight. Beck was here, tonight? “You may know his dad, Eric Lanier of one of our all time favorite bands, Cruel Fate.” Malcom hooted and the crowd applauded and cheered for the South Dakota rock band made good from over twenty years ago. “Beck’s band, Freefall is on tour right now with The Heave. And tonight, Beck’s gonna play for us!”

“Wait, what?” I sputtered.

The previously limp crowd came to life, whooping and applauding more loudly and sharply than they had all night. Beck was here, and he was going to sing? Here? At freaking Pete’s?

“Who is this guy?” Derek asked Joe.

Joe shrugged. “I don’t fuckin’ know.”

“Oh, my God! Oh my God!” Meg sat up tall in her seat, straining to take in the stage. “He’s in that band, Freefall! You know the song—“the world is tilting, flipping…”

“Oh, yeah, yeah,” said Derek.

“I like that song.” Joe slunk back in his chair and took Meg with him in his lap.

The blood rushed through my veins. Beck was Lenore’s son from her first marriage to Eric Lanier, a rock singer in a South Dakota band that had made it pretty big back in the day. After high school, Beck had formed a group, and they were signed by a record company pretty much straight out of the gate. I knew these things because I’d read everything I could get my hands on about Freefall since the band had released their first album last year.

I kind of knew Beck. Our moms had introduced us five or six years ago, when Lenore had first moved to Meager and Beck had come from L.A. to visit her.

Over the years of visiting his mom, Beck had become close friends with Wes, one of my good friends here in town. Beck and I had shared a series of quick hellos, brief smiles, hey-what’s-up-how-you-doings. Although we’d never really spoken at length or hung out, we knew each other—knew of each other.

Freefall’s first album had made all the critics’ and fans’ top lists for the year. This year, they’d been on their first big tour as the opening act for The Heave, a top ten band, on The Heave’s monster world tour, which was still on. My best friend, Sara and I had tried to get tickets to the show in Seattle but it had been impossible.

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