The Rogue

By: Jennifer Bernard

(The Rockwell Legacy #2)


1





THERE OUGHT to be a word for watching one of the hardest moments of your life play over and over on repeat. Oh yeah…there was one, Griffin thought as he slid into a seat next to his father. It had four letters and began with H.

Griffin’s very own personal hell right up there on the big flat screen in the media room at Rocky Peak Lodge.

The good news was that this viewing had an audience of one. The bad news? That audience was “Mad Max” Rockwell.

“Know how many times I’ve watched this?” Max demanded with his trademark scowl.

“I guess the classics never get old.”

“Don’t sass me. I’m in a bad mood.”

Which could describe most days of the week.

“How could that be a classic?” Max complained. “It doesn’t make any sense, no matter how many times I watch.”

Griffin stretched his legs out and tilted his head back. Too bad he didn’t have popcorn for this travesty. “Look, we’re almost at the good part.”

On the big flat screen, the anchor of Motor Sports Tonight appeared. “We all know him as Rogue, because ever since he first blasted onto the pro motocross scene, he’s done things his own way. Griffin Rockwell—always unpredictable, always one of the most entertaining riders to watch, always a magnet for attention—dropped a major bombshell tonight. At the peak of his career, in perfect health, at the age of thirty, he’s…retiring. Yes, that is correct, and we’re having trouble believing it ourselves.”

Griffin’s face, live from another studio, popped up on the screen.

“Griffin Rockwell, I almost feel like I’ve been punked. Is this some kind of elaborate psych-out you’re pulling? You don’t look like you’re ready for the old folks home.”

TV-screen-Griffin smiled. Real life Griffin recognized that smile—it was the fake one he pulled out when he wasn’t amused but had to pretend to be. “You know me, Pete, I like to keep you press people off-balance. But it’s all true. I’ve raced my last race. I’m done. I’m out. And if you think you’re surprised, you should hear what my manager has to say.”

Real-life Griffin grimaced. Make that “ex-manager.” You couldn’t really manage a career that didn’t exist anymore, after all. But after Sally’s initial meltdown, he’d promised to consider it a “break” rather than a final decision. He could always “un-retire.” That kind of thing didn’t happen very often, but he was “Rogue” so no one would be shocked if he did the unexpected.

“You haven’t publicly revealed your reason for retiring,” Pete the Sports Anchor continued. “So if you want to get anything off your chest, go ahead, man. We’re all ears.”

“Well, geez, I would, but I see that little red light flashing and I’m pretty sure that means there’s a commercial break coming.”

“Ignore the red light. This is my show. Go on, let’s have it. What would make you walk away from such a badass career?”

TV-screen Griffin arranged his face into serious lines. Griffin remembered exactly how it felt to be on the spot like that. He’d wanted to tell the real story, but he just couldn’t do it. Despite being a public figure, he craved privacy and hated having anyone know his business. Especially this part of it.

“The truth is, I’m leaving motocross for a very simple reason. To spend more time with my family,” he intoned, like some kind of asshole politician.

“You’re single, no children,” Pete helpfully pointed out.

“Kind of a side-effect of always being on a dirt bike.”

“You’re saying you’re retiring so you can get married?”

“No. No. No.” His rapid-fire panicked series of “no’s” sparked laughter amongst the camera crew. “Nothing like that. I got some, uh, family issues that need tending, and family comes first. That’s just the way it is. The motocross tour will just have to carry on without me.”

At that point he looked to the audio guy to help him get the damn mic off. He was one step from ripping it off himself, but all kinds of rumors would follow from that. Griffin “Rogue” Rockwell storms out of interview … Rockwell stonewalls, refuses to answer retirement question.

“Family issues?” Max was saying, his mane of white hair vibrating with his incredulity. “What issues? The Rockwells don’t have issues. This still isn’t making any goddamn sense.”

Seriously, why had he decided to come back to Rocky Peak? With his world crumbling around him, he’d wanted to be home. But so far he hadn’t told his family any more than he’d told Pete the Sports Anchor.

“Dad, look around. This lodge needs help. You’ve got a heart condition. Kai’s getting married. Jake’s—”

“Jake’s what?”

Griffin swung around as his younger brother strolled into the room. Jake rarely came up to the lodge because he was so busy running his pub in town. Something big must be going on to bring him up here.

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