Taking a short break from touring around the world Derek and his closest friend Lisa set out to snowy Mount Triffle. Their hasty departure proves to be fruitful when they find a cheerful welcome in a local club. They link up with a jazz band and the lead, Troy, invites them into their home. Derek soon finds out that there is deeply felt affection growing for the mysterious one named Jordan.
Jordan has a quiet, sinister nature about him that peaks Derek’s interest. In a wave of unseen emotions, they follow each other without being aware, while exploring the formidable landscape of the mountain. When Jordan finally reveals himself to Derek, the dread of discovering a hidden monster is short-lived. Derek wants to help the tormented werewolf, and keeping him close genuinely seems to him to be worthwhile.
His gaze slowly drifted to the lights glowing in the distance up in the smoky mountain. Powder snow sprinkled the tallest trees on the steep slopes, the marvelous terrain creating an ambience of peaceful surroundings. Spending a few winter days in Mount Triffle had always been something he looked forward to while he was growing up. They were going to a ski resort farther up in the mountains. Ahead of them were some of the tallest dark green trees scattered throughout the snow.
Lisa went on and on about how epic it was going to be, while she focused on the road ahead—her brown eyes squinting to see past the thick fog, but Derek wasn’t quite paying attention. He nodded and glanced in her direction every now and then, but she was aware that occasionally he had those moments. He considered her a rock of a friend, and being in a band together had made the last few years of his life meaningful. She lowered the volume of the music just so he could be more attentive. Her cherry-red hair was vibrant as ever, flowing in waves down her back.
“Are you even listening to me?” she asked.
“Yes, I just have a lot on my mind.”
“Uh, like how much I need this. It’s been a roller coaster ride, touring halfway across the world. I’m ready to unwind.”
“Good. We need it. Just for this weekend, though, before Patrick hits us up again.”
Lisa flashed him a reassuring smile. The black sedan wound its way up the snaking road. Maroon roofs emerged in the far distance. Each building on the mountain had a uniform design. Derek fixed his eyes to the sunset, shrouded by dark clouds. White covered the tops of the mountains, with a frozen landscape and a horizon stained by the disappearing flame sun. Clouds sailed toward the flame and vanished farther behind the mountains. Giant buildings were lodged in different parts of the secluded community. A line of cars parked before the entrance of the local club. Lisa found a parking spot next to a grey Jeep.
“This is the best place to escape,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s quite hidden. I’ve never been this side before.”
“There’s a band called Midnight Blues playing tonight—I’ve seen them plenty of times.”
“What’s so special about them?”
“They have the coolest drummer, his name is Aiden. We met at Coachella last year and haven’t lost touch ever since.”
She beamed like a schoolgirl with a crush. Her caramel-colored trench coat made her look stylish, with black pants and knee-high boots. They entered the club, entranced by the jazz sounds—several groupings with a myriad of characters each were scattered about, some seated and some standing. Most of them preferred to chatter while mellifluous tunes hypnotized them. Derek and Lisa meandered past the enthused standing audience to find a reserved table at the far end. The lead male saxophone player, with a mass of long brown hair, poured his heart out on stage.
“This dude is a genius,” Lisa said, raising her voice above the tune.
Derek nodded. “Yeah, they are quite decent. The guy playing bass has it under control.”
The bass player with comely bronze hair and a beard that swallowed his chin whole strummed for his life. He played as if there was no one else in the room. Derek watched as the young man carried each note without a single glitch. The drummer was the most animated.
After the performance, the band gathered around their table. A dark-skinned songstress had taken over the stage, singing a lighter tune in falsetto that complimented the trumpet player in a quixotic manner. When most of the crazed fans were done getting autographs from Midnight Blues, Lisa led him to the table where the three men were seated.
“Hey, guys.” Lisa beamed. “That was an incredible set.”
“Hi, Lisa,” the saxophone player said. “Haven’t seen you up here in ages. Who’s your friend?”
“Guys, I’d like you to meet Derek. He plays the acoustic guitar for the Lotus.”
“Lotus…” the lead said. “Doesn’t ring a bell, Aiden only talks about you. What genre do you guys play?”
“Take a wild guess.”
“Alternative,” the lead claimed. “Doesn’t he look like an alternative dude?” he asked the bronze-haired silent one, who shrugged as if disinterested. Derek swallowed, looking at Lisa.
“Don’t mind him,” the lead said. “I’m Troy, this is Jordan and Aiden.”
“It’s a pleasure,” Derek said.
“Please join us.” Troy smiled. “We’ve been moving around like crazy these days. Sydney was the last place we played before moving here.”
“Aren’t they just sweethearts?” Lisa told Derek.
Aiden grinned. “Yes, well our fans give us that fire.”
“I won’t lie. You guys have made me the biggest jazz fan,” Derek said. Jordan’s brilliant blue eyes were on him when he said this—a quick glance, then he focused on the stage.
“That’s enough about us. What’s it like being in an indie band?”
“Revitalizing, and strenuous at the same time,” Lisa said.
“I can imagine,” Aiden said. “All the back-to-back tours, we’re in the same boat, mate.”
“It’s an intense thing, but quite rewarding when we get to play at the festivals—always a good time.”
“Lisa has been going on about last year’s show. We missed out, didn’t we?” Aiden asked.
“Pretty much,” Lisa said.
“Where are the others?”
Jordan spoke to him for the first time. His rich, deep voice rattled Derek’s nerves and made his hands feel clammy. It took a few minutes for him to breathe and collect himself, then he braved through the intense blue gaze fixed on him.
“There are five of us. We keep together, but the others are off visiting home, and I just saw my parents, so I thought just for this weekend I’d come with Lisa and have a break.”
“That’s cool,” Troy said. “Let me propose a toast to this new acquaintance.”