The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19) (7 page)

BOOK: The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19)
5.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Van grinned, knowing she

d never be able to yell from that
far back in the room.

Someone right in the front started
chanting a song. Two other people started singing the chorus.


Yeah,
keep that going,

Colby
said.

He started to play the song. He
nodded and offered a wave. Slowly, the band started to play the chorus of the
song and the entire room came together to sing along. What started as a
suggestion quickly became a really powerful moment for the band. To have all
the people at the party carrying a song was really something special. Van
looked around the room and even caught Portis with a hand up in the air,
singing. Everyone was completely lost in the moment, caught up in the meaning
of the song and everything Willow Son stood for.

Blame it on the booze running
through his veins, but Van felt himself starting to get a little choked up.
Yeah, these were rich people looking for a reason to dress up and be rich, but
they were singing the song back to the band. From an emotional standpoint it
meant the world. Then again, from a marketing standpoint it was pretty amazing
to have this on camera to share with the world. Van knew by the time he got
back to his place the videos would be posted and have millions of views.


Okay,

Colby said.

Let us take it from here.

Colby went to the first verse of
the song and started to sing.

The band played another two songs
and then stood up. The entire room filled with cheers and yells for the band. Van
scanned the crowd, looking for Natalie again. But she was gone. Of course she
was gone. She was getting paid to take care of everyone at the party.


Thank
you,

Colby said.

Thank you everyone.


Go
enjoy the rest of your night,

Van said.

Enough of us.
Drink up.

The band remained on stage for
pictures. Of course, Portis found his way in between them all and took
advantage of the opportunity.

When Van stepped down from the
stage, he was swarmed by damn near everyone. The band was suddenly the most famous
group there. For Van, it was like watching a tornado of celebrities. Most of
the names he knew, some he could only recognize their faces from TV. Women
grabbed him, hugged him, wanted his autograph. They whispered into his ear,
leaving Van to have a choice of whoever he wanted for the night.

All Van really wanted was a drink.

Which he finally got about ten
minutes after being on stage with the band.

The crowd shifted to the bar where
Van ordered straight drinks and was forced into meaningless conversation.
Portis stood in the middle of the circle, running through story after story. Of
how Colby punched him in the face. Of how Jett had gotten into legal trouble.
Of how the band battled with their opening act out on tour. Of how Ryker took
the road by himself and then came back with some good damn music.

Everything centered around Portis
and his ability to hold a crowd and suck in all the attention.

Van elbowed Brantley.

Hey, brother, I

m walking. I can

t take this anymore.


Where
are you going?


I
need to find a waitress.


You
serious?

Brantley asked.

There

s some big names here looking at you, man. You can
have your pick of
…”


Don

t worry about it,

Van said. He put a hand to
Brantley

s chest and pushed
away.

Trust me. It

s good.


Don

t drive, man. Don

t do anything stupid.


I

m not,

Van said.

I
just need away from this for a little bit. That

s
all. I

m tired of hearing
Portis talk. I

m tired of
this party.


It

s almost over,

Jett said, joining the
conversation.

Then we can
go jam or party somewhere else.


I
can

t believe everyone was
into the music so much,

Van said.

We need to get
back on the road again. It

s
the only time I feel good, guys.


Go
find that waitress,

Brantley said.

Then you

ll feel good again.

Van laughed. He reached over the
bar and grabbed a bottle of whiskey. The bartender looked ready to say
something. Van reached into his pocket and took out some cash. He tossed it
down, worth way more than a bottle of whiskey.


Our
secret?

Van asked.


Amen,

the bartender said. He slid a
bill back to Van.

Can you
sign one?


Yeah,

Van said.

Not a problem.

After signing the autograph, Van
walked away from the crowd. He worked his way along the back wall and then went
toward the kitchen. Skipping that, Van ended up outside. The air was cool,
calm, and fresh. It was dark and quiet, just the way he liked it. Slowly, Van
leaned against the brick wall of the building and slid down to his ass. With a
whiskey bottle between his legs, he decided now was the perfect time to go to town
on all those demons in his heart.

Staring out at the night, Van
drank.

And drank.

And drank.

Each gulp of whiskey brought
Vanessa more and more to life, which seemed to go against the plan. At one
point, he took out his cell phone and thought about calling her. Asking her
what her wedding song was going to be. Was she going to use a Willow Son song?

Better yet, how about me and the
guys come play your wedding? Does that sound good? We

ll do it for fucking
free. Just so you could be happy. Is that good? Would that make you really
happy?

Van tucked his phone away, knowing
calling or texting would do nothing. In fact, there was absolutely nothing good
that could come of the night. Other than finishing the bottle and wasting away
until sometime tomorrow afternoon.

That was the new plan.

Until the door swung open and
almost took off Van

s arm.

He looked up and smiled, even as
the mostly empty bottle of whiskey went flying from his hand, hitting the
ground and rolling.


Van?

 

**

 

Natalie couldn

t believe her eyes. She froze
and stared down at the sexy rockstar, as he sat there, looking up at her,
smiling.

He put a hand up and wiggled his
fingers.

Come here,
Natalie. Come sit next to me.

She gave Van her hand and he tugged
at her. She tried to walk around so she wasn

t
blocking the door. But Van pulled at her, bringing her down, almost right on
top of him. She let out a gasp as she tumbled to the side, sitting next to Van.


Are
you okay?

she asked.


Fine.


You

re drunk.


Like
I said, I

m fine.


Do
you need some water or something?


No.
Just you, sweetie.

Natalie felt her face burning red.
She took a breath, reminding herself of everything Andrea had said. Just be
calm, stay calm, and just act normal. Even if the night was basically all done
now.

Most of the guests had gone, with
just a handful lingering around. Including the rest of Willow Son, their
manager, and Portis.


Your
people are looking for you,

Natalie said.

Let me help
you up and inside, okay? You need to sleep the night off.


No,

Van said.

I don

t need to sleep anything off. I want to get out of
here.

Van turned his head
and looked at her.

You
ever just want to leave, Natalie? Just go

and be gone?

Natalie nodded.

Yeah, sure. Who hasn

t? That

s how life is sometimes.


All
the time, sweetie,

Van
said.

I have these amazing
friends I call brothers. I have millions of people who want to see me, meet me,
pay to watch me play some music. Yet I kind of feel alone. I mean, on the
inside. You know?


I
don

t know,

Natalie said.

I

m
far from famous. I served champagne and bacon wrapped scallops tonight, Van. I
did it to try and keep from getting kicked out of my apartment.


Hey,
if you get kicked out, come live with me,

Van said and laughed.

I

ve got room. I

ve got tons of room.

Natalie patted Van

s shoulder.

Okay, that sounds good. Hey, how
about I get you a glass of water, okay? Then I can find Colby or someone to
come talk to you.

As Natalie started to stand, Van
grabbed her hand.

No,
sweetie. I want to talk to you. Only you.

Natalie couldn

t believe it, but she thought
Van was telling the truth. Something about his eyes seemed sincere enough. She
retreated back against the wall and sat there.

Van hadn

t let her hand go yet.

He took a breath.

You ever have your heart broken,
Natalie?


Who
hasn

t?


That
wasn

t the answer I wanted.

Van looked at her again.

I

m
asking you

your heart
…”


Yes,

she said.

Yes, I

ve had my heart broken. We

ve all had it.


Mine

s breaking right now,

Van said.

Crunch, crash. Dead. Gone. By
some

she wasn

t supposed to do this.

Van took his hand from Natalie
and then pushed away from her.

Just
like you, I bet. You

re the
same.


What?

Natalie asked.


You
heard me. You probably break their hearts. Your heart isn

t broken. You liar.


Okay,

Natalie said. She swallowed her
pride and stood up.

You

re dead drunk, Van. It was
really nice to meet you. I

m
a big fan of your music. And if you get to know me, that

s a big deal, because I don

t generally listen to music.


Well
good for you,

Van said.

Thanks for the support. You have
a diamond ring stuck in your back pocket? Huh? You have a backup plan for good
measure?


What
are you talking about?

Van waved a hand.

He

s drunk, Nat. Just walk away. Get the guy
some help.


Get
out of here,

Van snapped.

You don

t belong near me. I

m
famous, sweetie. You

re a
caterer. I could have fucked any woman in that room tonight. But all I thought
about was talking to you. For what? You

re
the same, I know it.


You

re an asshole, Van,

Natalie said.

A real asshole. You

re better off drunk and rambling
to yourself.

Natalie tore open the door and went
inside. She pulled the door shut with a thud. Her heart was racing so fast. Her
mouth was dry. Normally she didn

t
get into too many confrontations with men, let alone a guy who was famous.

Now that

s a hell of a story to
tell Andrea

BOOK: The Hardest Set (Willow Son #4/Brothers of Rock #19)
5.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Strength of Stones by Greg Bear
The Hypothetical Girl by Elizabeth Cohen
Outer Banks by Anne Rivers Siddons
Alone by Erin R Flynn
The Inseparables by Stuart Nadler
Wicked Little Secrets by Ives, Susanna
Snow Ride by Bonnie Bryant