Andrew Skymann snapped awake. His body shaking, the sheets soaked in sweat. He smelled the pain and fear, the humiliation, as it permeated his bedroom. Slowly sitting up, he roughly scrubbed at his face.
“Andrew?” The lingering effects of the nightmare were made reality a little cloudy, as his twin brother stuck his head through the cracked door.
Andrew’s body jerked slightly, seeing Jacob. It took a moment to erase the feeling that he was watching his body from across the room. “What’s up?”
“Heard your caterwauling and decided to check it out,” Jacob deadpanned.
“I’m good, Jacob,” Andrew reassured.
“Since you’re up, what are your thoughts to owning a restaurant?”
Andrew fell back and threw his arm over his eyes. “The kid isn’t going to allow you to take over his life the same way the rest of us have,” he mumbled.
“I heard that and I disagree. Samuel is a cooking genius. I’m merely making sure that he has the room to flourish.”
Jacob sounded so sincere that Andrew’s jaw dropped as he pushed himself back into a sitting position. Before their twenty-first birthday, Andrew and Jacob were well on their way to starting what was now a very lucrative business. Jacob controlled all promotions and stood in the spotlight, allowing Andrew to do what he loved. Write.
Andrew shook his head. “Look. You’ve earned the latitude to make any and all snap decisions. But maybe, just maybe, you should talk to Samuel first.”
“We both know that kid will always feel like the baby brother in the family. Which he is, but that’s beside the point.”
“Besides, it’s too late. The contractor called last night after you went to bed. Says the kitchens are ready to go. Now I just need to get Samuel to fine tune the area.”
“We run art, not food. Our studio spaces comprise of painters, writer’s groups and classes, and other non-edible goods. Why in the hell do we need a kitchen.”
“What about the studio I designed in our main building for Marcus.” Jacob crossed his arms and leaned against the door jam. His position spoke volumes.
Andrew tried one more time to get through his twin’s stubborn skull. “That’s architecture and again, non-edible. That only worked because Jackson decided to take you up on the offer. If you hadn’t thought to include our cousin in the mix, that deal would have died before Marcus got his hands around your next.”
“Big brother merely delayed the inevitable. Marcus could had his own company years ago. Instead he ran off and enlisted.”
Andrew got out of bed, left his windowless bedroom, and followed Jacob out of the room. Moving to the windows of his living area, he asked, “Do you really think you can get Samuel on board. I know you have his future in mind, but even his jams, jellies, and candies are sold under our mother’s maiden name. He obviously doesn’t want recognition.”
Andrew couldn’t see much of their gated community in the pre-dawn hours. Jacob’s manipulation had lead to thousands of acres for Marcus and Jackson to build luxury homes on. Beautiful homes close to a marina that Jacob had also managed to talk him into buying. Really, a restaurant was relatively low risk for one of Jacob’s schemes.
“I’ll start some coffee. You owe me pancakes for that comment and for waking me up.” Jacob’s voice continued to mumble up the stairs.
“Ha!” Andrew would have called Jacob on the obvious lie but his twin was already out the door, no doubt off to restart the coffee pot. He didn’t believe that Jacob’s sleep had in anyway been disturbed. His bedroom was located on the third floor of their massive home. He never would have heard Andrew’s cries unless he was already up and prowling. Andrew’s rooms sat in the partially submerged basement, making his bedroom at least four floors from Jacob’s. Half of the basement was underground and surrounded by dirt, the other half could be considered ground level, widows and all. His office received copious amounts of morning sun, at least it did once the sun was actually up.
Damn, it was too early for this. Pitching his voice loud enough for Jacob to hear, Andrew suggested, “We need to have Samuel come over and cook. So that I can remember what kind of art he makes.”
Just the thought of the kid’s cooking had his stomach sitting up in notice. It would almost be worth the nightmare and early morning wake up call, if they could get Samuel to fix a batch of his world famous flapjacks covered in his homemade preserves. Just the thought had a Pavlovian effect. Andrew’s mouth creatied so much saliva that swallowing became an issue.
Andrew started up the stairs, his muscles complaining the entire way. Why in the hell do we need such a huge house? So many stairs … Coffee. Neeeeeed coffee.
A man should not be forced to scale mountains before the early bird had time to leave it’s nest. Andrew made a mental note to look into an elevator as soon as his brain began to function with more than one cylinder. Today was bound to suck. But then any day that began hours before the sun came up was a day to be leery of.
The delicious aroma of coffee pulled Jacob into a better mood. He had already consumed more than half a pot, but the smell of freshly brewing caffeine worked better than any drug. Today was destined to suck no matter what he did but coffee was always a necessity. Andrew’s nightmares on top of Jacob’s lack of sleep had a neon sign to stay in the house flashing in the back of his mind. If only they could call in sick, play hookie. A day spent hiding from all responsibilities sounded like heaven. Any other weekend, Jacob would be hell bent on dragging his brother out for a short yachting excursion but they were booked for the evening.
The top of Jacob’s to-do list involved pulling Andrew out of his studio to attend a gallery showing for one of their local up-and-coming artists. Brigit McDernmit already had rave reviews from even the snobbiest of critics.
Andrew’s recent fantasy series was quite erotic. It had a completely different feel when compared to his mystery novels. When Jacob asked about upping the scales on the flesh intake, Andrew had joked that sex sells. “It was a no brainer that my characters need to get physical from time to time. Skin hunger is a dangerous and ever present need, even in the world of make-believe.” Whatever. All Jacob heard was, “Blah, blah, blah; I need to get laid.” So that’s what would happen.
Jacob had the perfect antidote planned. His date had insisted on making tonight a double date. Katlynn had claimed that only Andrew would do for her best friend. She had assured him that her friend was a sure thing, with her sights set on his twin. One night of French food and pretentious art patrons, and Andrew’s skin hunger would be a thing of the past.
“Cofffeeee! Must have coffee!” Andrew’s feet barely left the floor as he shuffled into the kitchen, rubbing his back as he moved. Ringing with sweat, his reddish brown skin had a ashy undertone but at least his eyes had brightened a little with that first whiff of one of aroma’s best. Breakfast and a few gallons of the beautiful brown nectar would fix Andrew right up.
Deciding to lift Andrew’s mood, Jacob pointed out the coffee. “On the breakfast bar. And Samuel is on his way.”
And looky there. Andrew perked right up. “Oh, thank heavens! Perhaps we do need a family chef.”
Family chef was right. The kid could fix damn near anything to perfection. His rack of lamb could bring tears to the eye. His fried rice went exquisitely with any meal. Every dish was divine, but his breakfast creations were damn near moan worthy, especially his flapjacks with powdered sugar and homemade preserves.
Jacob admitted, “It wasn’t me. Samuel saw the kitchen lights come on. Don’t know what he was doing up but he said he would be right over.”
Samuel had an overwhelmingly helpful nature. He saw that the lights were on and he immediately called to volunteer his services for what ever task his brothers were attempting at such an ungodly hour. The kid was probably cooking anyway. He might as well use his gift where others could partake of the end results.
“Morning.” Samuel looked around the kitchen before moving to the breakfast bar and the life rejuvenating black liquid waiting to be consumed. Taking a sip he sang out, “Tsk, tsk! Ten foot privacy gating does not negate the need to lock your doors.” The little bastard was too damn chipper.
“Watch your sass, kid. And you had better have some of your world famous preserves with you,” Andrew got straight to the heart of the matter. They were running low and breakfast wouldn’t be the same without homemade preserves. They were truly spoiled when it came to breakfast condiments. Samuel’s preserves could be worked into any meal.
“Chill, Andrew. Just drink the wonderfully dark coffee and think happy thoughts.” With a grin Samuel added, “Would I show up this early without a gift. I even brought a mixed case. I’ve added cherry rhubarb this year, so tell me what you think.”
Jacob couldn’t help but smile. A whole case of Samuel’s preserves. “Tell you what … You fix up some of your flapjacks and I’ll gladly try anything you want.”
A few cases of preserves and Jacob could be talked into just about anything. A lifetime supply and he would gladly sign over his half of the business that he had worked so hard to build with Andrew. Boy, but the kid could cook.
“Flapjacks comin’ right up. The preserves are by the veranda door. You can-“
That was all Jacob heard as he rushed to beat Andrew to the goods. Coffee and lack of sleep ceased to matter as those magic words came out of Samuel’s mouth. Preserves!
They were off their bar stools and racing for the goods. It was always the same, a competition to have first pick of the delicious concoctions. The blueberry and the blackberry were always the first to go. Whatever Samuel’s secret was, those two came out better than any other brand out there. The race was on, not that Samuel would refuse to make more if they ran out. Still the call to grab the prize first, to beat Andrew to that first jar, had them pushing and running like five-year-olds.
Rounding into the screened in veranda area, Jacob was forced to jerk to a stop in surprise.
“What’s up?” Andrew asked with confusion in his voice, as he collided with Jacob’s back.
Jacob slowly moved out of the way, allowing Andrew to see three cases sitting in the middle of their entry like well placed Christmas presents. Their veranda had never looked so good. He finally allow his grin to spread across his face.
Andrew’s jaw dropped to his chest, as he commented, “I thought he said ‘a’ case? Not three.”
Quickly moving to the closest box, Jacob commented, “This is what they call a gift horse, so stop checking out its teeth. Let’s get these open so we can mix and match a box of our favorites to keep. You know he’ll be carting the rest to mom and dad.” Samuel’s preserves were a big hit with everyone. Sheri and Samson Skymann – their aunt and uncle – were no different than the rest of them. Jacob didn’t know where he and his brothers would be without Sheri and Samson. The couple had added four extra mouths to their already large family, becoming the parents that they had never known.
Shaking thoughts of the past from his head, he moved to the case of preserves. “We can-” Jacob froze, as he opened the first box. Now his jaw fell to the floor. Wow didn’t begin to cover the sight of so many of their favorites! God bless that kid and his wonderful thoughtfulness!
Jacob looked over at a silently stunned Andrew. The case that Jacob had opened contained jar after jar of delicious blueberry divinity. One glance showed that the case in front of Andrew held nothing but blackberry goodness. That wonderful, wonderful kid!
Andrew finally met Jacob’s gaze, one of his rare smiles breaking free, as he said, “Forget the flapjacks, just find me a spoon.”
A low masculine chuckle escaped Jacob’s throat at his twin’s understatement. They needed two spoons.
Skymann-Andrew and Brigit, sneak peak, Not for distribution outside Author’s Permission © Tracey Clark