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Built to Fall: Chapter 6


MARTA CHECKED US IN AT THE HOTEL, then the three of us, along with two bodyguards, rode the elevator up to one of the floors our tour entourage would be occupying for the next three nights.

When we stepped off the elevator, a group of four stood waiting. They were all dressed in varying forms of tattered T-shirts and skinny jeans. Even the one woman in the group had the same style, and her eyes lit up when she saw us.

“Marta!” She spread her thin arms wide, and Marta stepped into her embrace, squealing as they rocked each other back and forth.

Dominic’s low voice vibrated the air beside my ear. “That’s Iris. She’s the singer for The Seasons Change, our first opener.”

I looked up at him, surprised by his proximity and that he actually knew the singer’s name for their first opening act. “Marta told me about them on the plane. Apparently they’re ‘low-key fire.’”

His lips curved, and he dipped his head again to speak in my ear. “I bet she told you about them.”

“What does that mean?”

Marta grabbed my hand, pulling me away from Dominic’s answer and into the group. She wrapped her arm around my shoulders like we were old friends and hadn’t just met a few hours ago.

“This is Claire. She’s touring with us. Introduce yourselves to her, you fiends.”

I first shook Iris’s hand. Her grip was surprisingly strong, and her smile radiated warmth. She was also terribly pretty in a blonde-haired, red-lipped, hipper-than-I’d-ever-be kind of way. I told her I was looking forward to seeing them perform, and she promised to watch out for me in the audience.

Next, I met Callum, the bass player, who looked to be about a million miles away. The drummer, Rodrigo, gave me a high five while he bounced on his toes.

Finally, I was introduced to Adam. With his long, shaggy brown hair and bright blue eyes, he was handsome, but approachable.

“Nice to meet you, Claire.” He bit his bottom lip, drawing my eye to the silver ring there.

“You too, Adam.” His gaze lingered on mine, and though our interaction couldn’t have lasted more than fifteen seconds, his spark of interest was unmistakable.

“Do you have plans tonight?” Iris asked.

Marta glanced over her shoulder to Dominic. “Do we have plans?”

“You know we don’t,” he answered.

“You should come to dinner with us,” Iris said.

“Both of you,” Adam added, looking directly at me.

Marta slung her arm around me again. “We’re in. Text me the details.”

Dominic and his bodyguards moved around us, heading down the hallway. Marta gave Iris another quick hug, then we rushed after them, catching up at the door to Dominic’s hotel room.

He held his hand out. “I need the key.”

Marta waved it in front of him. “Here you go.”

He let himself in, and to my surprise, the bodyguards and Marta followed. Since she still had my room key, I went in too, staying next to the door.

It came as no surprise that Dominic’s room was a suite fit for a prince. The living room and dining area were modern and sleek, and from where I stood, I saw two bedrooms, both with king-size beds as the central focus.

Marta moved around the suite, checking things over while the bodyguards did their rounds, presumably making sure everything was safe for Dominic.

He’d already headed to the kitchenette, pouring himself a drink. He glanced up at me as I watched him prepare what looked like a whiskey and soda.

“Want one?” he asked.

“No, I’m good. If I drink now, I won’t make it to dinner tonight.” I pressed my back against the door, hoping he’d forget I was standing there.

He leaned a hip against the marble counter and took a sip of his drink. “You make friends fast.”

There was no point denying it, so I didn’t try. “Strangers tend to think I look friendly.”

“Are you?”

“I can be. But being friendly doesn’t mean I have a lot of friends. My circle is pretty small.” And it shrunk significantly the night I left Derrick.

He nodded like he understood, and he probably did. Not because he was especially friendly, but because of his fame. People probably tried to get close with him and ride his coattails, so he had to keep his circle small and tight.

Marta emerged from the second bedroom and brushed her hands off on her jeans. “All clear, boss man.”

“Good.” Dominic rubbed the top of his short hair with his palm. “I’m staying in for the rest of the day, so you’re off the clock. You and Claire both.”

She pumped her fist. “Text me if you need anything. My room is next door and Claire’s is across the hall.”

He dismissed us, opening the door. Marta and the bodyguards went through first, and I trailed behind. As I stepped into the hall, my name was called from behind me. I turned, raising an eyebrow at Dominic.


His gaze roamed over my face. “Be careful.” With that, he clicked the door closed.


After a lot of deliberation, I threw on a pair of tight, ripped-up jeans and a loose, floral camisole. The outfit made me feel cute, but nowhere close to edgy. I would never blend in with this group of rockers, so why try?

When I met Marta in the lobby, she was already with the band having a drink at the lobby bar. She saw me coming and held up a martini glass filled with pink liquid.

“Come here, pretty girl, and toast the start of tour with us,” she called, pulling me into the group as she slid a drink into my hand. It tasted cool and fruity-sweet, so no doubt it contained enough alcohol to get me well on the road to drunk. Since I had to work bright and early in the morning, one or two of these would be my limit.

I tapped my glass with everyone else’s. When I got to Adam, he leaned in to speak directly into my ear, even though it wasn’t that loud in the bar.

“Do you know you throw off this incredible vibe?” he asked.

I pulled back, my lips tingling from both my drink and the urge to beam at his compliment. “I didn’t know that, but I like hearing it.”

He winked. “Anytime.”

Rodrigo bounced up next to us, nodding to an entirely different beat than the one coming from the speakers. “So, Claire, what’s your deal?”

I sputtered a laugh into my drink. “I don’t think I have a deal. I’m doing Dominic Cantrell’s PR and I have no idea what to expect.”

He sighed, big and heavy. “No, like your life deal. What’s that?”

“My life deal? I…um…” I struggled to think of anything to say that didn’t involve Derrick. My life deal had completely revolved around him for so long, it was almost impossible to think of who I was now that I’d removed him from the picture.

Adam slipped his arm around my back, pulling me into his side. “Claire’s life deal is she’s cool as shit and doesn’t have to answer your nosy questions.”

I jerked my thumb to Adam, full-on grinning. “What he said.”

Instead of leaving the hotel bar as originally planned, we decided to stick around, pushed a couple tables together in the back, and ordered a bunch of appetizers to share and another round of drinks. No surprise, Adam and I ended up beside each other again.

I scooped a nacho into my mouth while listening to Iris tell a story about their last tour.

“Nine people were there. Nine. And only four were paying any attention.” She covered her face with her hands. “And that’s on being the first opener for a pop-rock band when you’re hardcore punk. I tried to tell our manager and the label we didn’t really share an audience, but no one listened. We’d played for more people when we were nineteen and first starting out at house parties.”

Adam slapped the table. “It kept us humble.”

Rodrigo lifted a fried pickle. “Hear, hear.”

Iris dismissed them with a flick of her fingers. “I ate humble pie every day for two years living in a one-bedroom with you fools. I saw enough naked, random girls to last me a lifetime.”

Rodrigo giggled, his eyelids drooping. “Like we didn’t have to see your randoms.”

Tossing her blonde hair behind her shoulder, she hit him with a haughty eyebrow. “I am above reproach.”

Adam leaned into me. “She was just as bad as the rest of us.”

My eyes crinkled with mirth. “Was? Are you saying this sort of behavior is in the past?”

His mouth hooked in the corner. “I mean…somewhat. I’m no Boy Scout, but I’m nowhere near as crazy as I used to be. It does get old after a while.”

I smiled at that, wondering what it was like to have such a crazy life, it became tiresome. My neck twinged from this morning’s car accident, so I dug my fingertips into the side.

“You okay?” Adam asked.

“Just a little achy. My Uber crashed on the way to meet the plane this morning.”

His mouth dropped open. “Oh shit. You poor, poor thing. Did you get checked out?”

“No.” My chest grew warm from his concern. A perfect stranger—a hot, sweet, rock star stranger—was worrying over me. “I’m good, promise.”

“Don’t try to power through the pain. If you need a massage, or whatever, let me know.”

He gave me a crooked grin that was so charming, I imagined he must practice it in front of a mirror.

“Yo, you’re handing out massages?” Rodrigo raised his hand. “I’m in need, honey.”

Adam gave him the finger. “You gotta be a lot prettier for the offer to apply.”

Whoa there. It had been ages since a man other than Derrick had called me pretty, and I was ninety-nine percent sure Adam just had. I felt cute in my new clothes, but pretty? Maybe this was what hot, sweet rockers did to get laid: found the closest chubby girl and doted on her until she spread her legs.

Oh god, that wasn’t my voice. That was all the self-doubt Derrick’s affair had kickstarted within me. I refused to be a victim to him anymore. If Adam thought I was pretty, I’d take what he said at face value and not question it.

Adam thrust a jalapeno popper toward me. “You have to eat this, Claire. My mouth is spicy, and I need you to be my twin.”

I let him drop the popper in my mouth, because who could deny that kind of offer? Then regretted it almost instantly when my tongue caught on fire. I felt like Rodrigo, bouncing in my seat, waving my hand in front of my open mouth.

Adam cackled, laying his head on my shoulder while I tried to figure out how to douse the flames on my tongue.

“Open,” Marta ordered. I opened my mouth automatically, and she tossed in a chunk of bread that went with the spinach and artichoke dip. “Tell me when you’re ready for another.”

It took two more chunks of bread for my taste buds to calm down. I narrowed my eyes on Adam. “No way that was a jalapeno. Did you see me almost die?”

He hadn’t stopped laughing during my crisis. “It was! Swear to god. You must have an incredibly sensitive palate. No shame.”

“Be nice to Claire. She almost died for real today, you know,” Marta announced, her head bobbing in agreement with herself like only a drunk woman’s would. She seemed to be having fun at her end of the table, talking with Iris and Callum, but it was nice to know she still had my back, tipsy or not.

“Was it really that bad?” Adam asked, his mouth turning down like he’d just heard a great tragedy.

I pressed my hands to my hot cheeks. “Oh, it was extremely terrible.” I launched into more detail of the accident that was nearly the end of me and the moment my life flashed before my eyes. “It was literally only a flash because my life has been so damn boring up until now.”

Adam held his hand up for a high five, which I gave him. “Why am I high-fiving you?” I asked.

“Because, my new friend, Claire, you’ve already succeeded in having a more interesting life. If you died right now, you’d flash on that extremely hot jalapeno popper and know you’d truly lived.”

Adam beamed, like he’d really done something. And, I don’t know, maybe my two drinks were going to my head, because I felt he had a point. It was only my first day on this tour, and my life had already gotten a little more interesting.


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