Man oh Man… it has been a while since I have jumped on here… but the absence wasn’t completely downtime… nope… I am hoping to have my latest book up for sale by early March… woo who…
Here’s an excerpt for everyone to enjoy while we wait for things like book covers and final edits… without further ado, here is Artistic Beauty (name may/may not change)…
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 the exhaustion from his face. Reaching for the pen and paper he kept on his bedside table, Andrew quickly took down as much of the nightmare as he could remember. People were willing to pay top dollar for the terrors living inside his mind. So, what if he couldn’t sleep? At least he had insomnia in a beautiful three story home.
“Andrew?” He jerked slightly, seeing Jacob’s head poke around the bedroom door. The lingering effects of his nightly terrors were making reality a little cloudy, as his twin brother stepped into the room.
It took a moment to erase the feeling that he was somehow in two places at once. “What’s up?” Barely giving Jacob a second thought, Andrew continued to scribble in his notebook, nodding slightly to himself. Quickly writing the word doppelganger into the top corner of the page.
“Heard your caterwauling and decided to check it out,” Jacob deadpanned.
“All good here.” Andrew waved the issue away. Nightmares were nothing new, and not worth talking about.
“Since you’re up, what are your thoughts on 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 room to flourish.”
Jacob sounded so sincere that Andrew’s jaw dropped as he pushed himself back into a sitting position. Before their twenty-fifth birthday, and already Andrew and Jacob were well on their way to owning what was a very lucrative business. Jacob oversaw all promotions and stood in the spotlight, allowing Andrew to do what he loved best. Write. He wasn’t sure what Jacob did, exactly, but his brother was always on the go, and had a knack for business. But their little brother, Samuel, wasn’t interested in the spotlight.
Andrew ran his hands over his head, roughing up his already sleep tousled hair. “Look. You’ve earned the latitude to make any, and all, snap decisions when it comes to our personal business dealings. But maybe, just maybe, you should talk to Samuel first. He’s going to know that a restaurant has nothing to do with art or our PR Company, and it unquestionably doesn’t have anything to do with houseboat rentals.”
Living on Lake Cumberland, houseboat rentals could be found on every corner. And still Jacob managed to make their fleet the number one go to when vacationing on the lake.
“We both know that kid will always feel like the baby brother in the family. Which he is, but that’s beside the point.”
“Technically, it’s too late. The contractor called last night after you went to bed. Said the kitchens are ready to go. Now I just need to get Samuel to fine tune it the way he wants.”
“We run art, not food. Our studio spaces comprise of painters, writer’s groups and classes, and other non-edible goods. Then there are the PR accounts, the ones that have nothing to do with food or art. Why in the hell do we need a kitchen?”
“Hey… I’m always looking for new business opportunities. Besides…What about the studio I designed in our main building for Marcus. You said that would never work, and everything worked out fine.” Jacob crossed his arms and leaned against the door jam. His position speaking 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 as well. If you hadn’t thought to include our cousin in the mix that deal would have died before Marcus could get his hands around your neck.”
“Big brother was delaying the inevitable. Marcus could have had his own company years ago, instead he ran off and enlisted.” Jacob threw his hands in the air, and had the gall to look affronted, as he stomped out the door.
Andrew threw off the covers, got out of bed, 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 everything he makes is sold under our mother’s maiden name. He obviously doesn’t want recognition. And you don’t know how to do low profile!”
Andrew couldn’t see much of their gated community in the pre-dawn hours. The dark hid acres upon acres for Marcus and Jackson to build luxury homes on. Beautiful homes close to a Lake Cumberland 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 as he headed for the stairs.
“Ha!” Andrew would have called Jacob on the obvious lie but his twin was already gone, no doubt off to restart the coffee pot. He didn’t believe for one minute that Jacob’s sleep had been disturbed. Andrew’s bedroom was located on the third floor of their massive home. Jacob never would have heard his cries unless he was already up and prowling. Especially not from his rooms in the partially submerged basement.
The man had to be part bat. Half of the basement was underground and surrounded by dirt, while the other half could be considered ground level, widows and all. Most of Jacob’s rooms had a gloomy feel. His office was different, and received copious amounts of morning sun. At least it did once the sun was up.
Andrew preferred his rooms, with their numerous windows and skylights. He had enough nightmares to get story ideas from without sleeping in dungeon-like accommodations.
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. That way I can remember what kind of art he makes.”
Jacob would do his meddling no matter what anyone said. They might as well get some food out of Samuel before the kid killed him and became the Betty Crocker of cell block D.
Just the thought of Samuel’s cooking had Andrew’s stomach sitting up and grumbling its demands. It would almost be worth the nightmare and an early morning wakeup call from an overwhelmingly pushy twin, if they could get Samuel to fix a batch of his world-famous flapjacks.
The thought of his little brother’s cooking had a Pavlovian effect. Andrew’s mouth created so much saliva that swallowing became an issue as he stumbled for the stairs.
Every step had his joints popping and cracking as he made his way to the first floor, his muscles complaining the entire way. Why in the hell did they need such a huge house? So many stairs … Coffee. Neeeeeed coffee.
A man should not be forced to descend mountains before the early bird had time to leave its 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 fresh coffee pulled Jacob into a better mood. He had already consumed more than half a pot, but the smell of freshly brewing caffeine had always worked better than any drug. Today was destined to be a trial no matter what he did, but a pot or two in the morning was always a necessity. Andrew’s nightmares on top of Jacob’s lack of sleep had a neon sign glaring for them to stay in the house until the coast was clear. If only they could call in sick, and play hooky. 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 office 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. If he could get her to do a few commissions now (before she became well known) the pieces would soon become investments worth thousands. Hopefully.
But a few paintings wouldn’t help Jacob with his brotherly duties. He needed to sort Andrew out, and soon. His twin’s recent fantasy series was quite erotic. It had a completely different feel when compared to his horror-mystery novels. When Jacob had asked why Andrew was upping the scales on the flesh intake, his brother had joked that sex sells.
“It was a no brainer that my characters needed to get physical from time to time. Skin hunger is a dangerous and ever present need, even in the world of make-believe,” Andrew had said. 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. And had assured him that her friend was a sure thing, especially since Sally’s sights were 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 an ashy undertone but at least his eyes had brightened a little with that first whiff of aroma’s best. Breakfast and a few gallons of the beautiful black nectar and their day could start.
“On the breakfast bar. And Samuel’s 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 shook his head. “It wasn’t me. Samuel saw the kitchen lights come on. Don’t know what he was doing up. Just said he would be right over.” The kid was probably cooking anyway. He might as well use his gifts where others could partake of the end results.
“Morning.” Samuel had entered the house without making a sound. He looked around the kitchen before moving to the breakfast bar and the coffee pot. Filling a cup and taking a sip he sang out, “Tsk, tsk! Ten-foot-high privacy gating does not negate the need to lock your doors.” The little bastard was too damn chipper.
“Watch the sass, kid. And you had better have some preserves with you.” Andrew got straight to the heart of the matter. They were running low and breakfast wouldn’t be the same without some blackberry.
“Chill. Just drink the wonderfully dark liquid and think happy thoughts.” With a grin, Samuel added, “Besides, 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 could feel the grin fighting to spread across his face. A whole case of Samuel’s creations. “Tell you what … You fix up some of your flapjacks and I’ll gladly try anything you want.”
A few cases 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 back 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 that magic word came out of Samuel’s mouth. Preserves!
They were off their bar stools and racing down the hall. 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 each other to that first jar, had them pushing and running like they were five-years-old.
Rounding into the screened in veranda, Jacob jerked to a stop in surprise.
“What the hell?” Andrew asked, confusion in his voice as he collided with Jacob’s back.
Jacob slowly moved out of the way, allowing Andrew to see the three cases sitting in the middle of the room like well-placed Christmas presents. Their veranda had never looked so good. Finally, he allowed his grin to break out across his face.
Andrew’s jaw dropped to his chest. “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 Aunt Sheri and the others.” Samuel’s preserves were a big hit with everyone; friends, family, or strangers.
Sheri and Samson Skymann had become more than merely their aunt and uncle. He and his brothers had always thought of them more as parents. 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 of two sons and a daughter, becoming the parents that they had never known.
Shaking thoughts of the past from his head, he moved to the cases 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 similarly stunned Andrew. The case that Jacob had opened contained jar after jar of delicious blueberry divinity. One glance over at his twin 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. “Forget the flapjacks, and find me a spoon.”
A low masculine chuckle escaped Jacob’s throat at his twin’s understatement. Two spoons coming right up.
–hope you enjoyed your first taste of the Skymann Brothers… this book follows Andrew as he finds and falls in love with Brigit McDernmit… that’s if he can seal the deal before the bad luck hot her heels steals her life…
Alright guys… further excerpts for Artistic Beauty will show up either on Finder’s Keepers Series Blog or on my Newsletter… just click on the Newsletter button at the top of this page to sign up…
Happy wordage everyone, let’s create some wonder this year… Tracey