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Long-time reader, posting for the first time. This is really my first try at any kind of writing. Hope this will interest the readers, if you guys like I’ll continue.
Comments, critiques and suggestion are always appreciated.
“There is something you don’t see every day.”
“What are you talking about?” Jacob Knight stepped through his front door onto the wide porch and handed his younger brother a beer. Just for a second, he took the time to admire the view of the Pacific Ocean, across the street. The sun was setting, staining the dark blue water deep shades of crimson and gold. He settled into the closest chair and took a sip of his beer.
Kyle grinned and pointed. “That. Look what just pulled up outside your neighbour’s house.”
Jacob shifted his gaze to Ocean Boulevard and his eyes widened. A dark blue minivan was parked in front of the house next door. Ordinarily, no big deal-except for the giant covered skillet on the roof.
“Check out the sign on the side,” Kyle said, laughing.
“‘Home cooking taught at home,'” Jacob recited, shaking his head, “So the sign on the side of the car in bright yellow wasn’t enough? They had to stick a pan on top?”
Kyle was still looking as he took a sip of his beer. “Not exactly aerodynamic.”
“It looks ridiculous,” Jacob said, wondering what kind of person would have so little pride they’d be willing to drive the thing. “Who the hell runs a business like that, anyway?”
“Mmm…” Kyle’s tone changed as the minivan’s door opened and the driver stepped out into the street. “Whoever he is, he can teach me whatever he wants to.”
Jacob rolled his eyes even as he shifted his gaze back to the ocean. Big surprise. Kyle was always willing and eager for the next man or woman roll into his life. Give him five minutes with Pan-on-the-car guy, Jacob told himself, and Kyle would have a weekend getaway scheduled. Well, Kyle was welcome to stream of people entering and exiting his life. Jacob liked his life a little more orderly.
Only half listening to Kyle’s running commentary, Jacob ignored the guy and the car and focused on the stretch of water sliding towards the horizon. This is what he loved about where he lived. Every night after work, he could come out to the porch, have a beer, stare out at the water and let the world slip away for a while. Usually though, he thought—Kyle’s voice an annoying buzz of sound in the background—he was alone.
Here, he didn’t have to be on top of Knight Construction. Here, no one was hounding him for a meeting or to fix something gone wrong with permits. There were no needy customers to placate and no hurry to accomplish a damn thing.
Oh, he liked his work, He and his brothers Kyle and Tyler had built Knight Construction into the biggest firm of its kind on the west coast. But damned if it didn’t feel good to come home and let it all go for a while.
“Always did like dark blondes,” Kyle was saying. “And a tall one, too.”
Jacob snorted, “Blondes, redheads, brunettes. Your problem is you like ’em all, both sexes.”
“Yeah? Your problem is you are too damn picky. When was the last time you called a man who wasn’t a customer?” Kyle kicked back in his chair, setting his feet on the stone porch-balcony rail in front of them.
“None of your business,” Jacob muttered.
“Hell, That long? No wonder you’re such a pain in the ass lately.” Kyle took another drink of his beer. “What you need is a little male attention and if you’ve got eyes in your head, one look at this cutie and you’ll be ready to go.”
Jacob sighed and surrendered to the inevitable. His kid brother wasn’t going to shut up about the guy, so Jacob might as well get a good look at the guy for himself. “No way,” he muttered.
“Huh?” Kyle glanced at him.
“I don’t believe this,” Jacob said, more to himself than to his brother. He stood up, eyes locked on the tall, athletic blonde hurrying around the front of his car. His shoulder length dark blonde curls were touching the base of his neck, the wind whipping his hair into frenzy. His skin was pale and he knew how blood rushes to his beautiful face. He couldn’t see the guy’s eyes from here, but he knew they were green with a hint of gold. His mouth was wide and curved easily into a smile, and his laugh was infectious as hell.
Jacob hadn’t seen him in two years and seeing him now sent a near electric current sizzling through him. Jacob watched him open the sliding door then bend over to reach inside.
Instantly, he shifted his gaze to the curve of the guy’s behind, defined by the tight black jeans he wore. The buzz of something inside him heightened into a cracking, pulsing energy.
“What’s going on?” Kyle pushed out of his chair to stand beside his brother. “You know that guy?”
“I used to,” Jacob admitted. Not as well as he had wanted to at the time, of course. A guy just didn’t make moves on his friend’s brother.
“Great, Ankara escort How about you introduce me to tall, cute and luscious-”
Jacob glared at him.
Kyle nodded and held up both hands, “Okay then, never mind. So, who is he?”
Kyle’s eyebrows went up high enough that the shock of black hair falling across his forehead completely hid them. Then he turned and looked at the guy, still fishing around inside his van, “That’s Ryan Parker’s little brother?”
“The one he always claimed was practically a saint? Sweet? Good? Innocent? Pure as the driven snow?”
“The very one,” Jacob muttered, his gaze now narrowed on Sam as he remembered all the times he had listened to his ex-friend Ryan brag about his baby brother.
The Parker family ran a rival construction company. Well, rivals in the sense that they were all in the same business. In Jacob’s mind, there had never really been a contest between them. Knight construction was the best firm in the state, but Parker came in a close second.
He and Ryan had met at a chamber-of-commerce meeting and had immediately hit it off. They’d been friends as well as friendly competitors. Until the day two years ago when Jacob finally figured out that Ryan was a liar and a thief.
“Didn’t I hear that Sam got out of a bad relationship last year from that asshole he has with?”
“Yeah,” Jacob said, still watching as Sam hurried back to his van for more supplies. “I heard he left him. Weren’t together long, either.”
Long enough, though, Jacob thought, to discover his boyfriend was a cheating dog that should have been neutered for the good of humanity. Funny that his over protective older brother hadn’t bothered to save him from a bad relationship.
Sam gathered up a few more things, then slid the door closed, beeped the lock and headed for the house again. He never once glanced at his surroundings, so he didn’t notice Jacob and Kyle standing on the porch staring at him.
“What’re you planning?” Kyle asked and Jacob turned his head to look at him.
“Not planning a thing,” he lied as his mind raced with sudden possibilities.
“Right. Sell that to somebody who doesn’t know you.”
“Don’t you have a date tonight?” Jacob asked.
“Yeah, I do.”
“Then maybe you should go.”
“Translation,” Kyle said wryly, “you don’t want to tell me what you’re thinking about doing.”
Jacob grinned, “Smart ass.”
Shaking his head, Kyle set his half-empty bottle of beer down onto the stone railing and headed for the steps. He paused, though, to look over his shoulder at his brother. “You know, it was Ryan who cheated us. Not his kid brother.”
Jacob met Kyle’s gaze evenly, his eyes giving away nothing he was feeling. “Did I say anything about Ryan?”
“No,” Kyle admitted. “But I know how your mind works.”
“Is that a fact?”
“It is.” Kyle tipped his head to one side and studied him for a long minute. “Knight’s don’t like getting screwed. But Jacob Knight takes a betrayal as a personal insult.”
“Isn’t it?” Jacob looked away from his brother, back to his neighbor’s empty front yard and Sam’s ridiculous van.
Ryan Parker had been a friend. Someone Jacob trusted. And he didn’t trust many people. Having that friend turn on him had cut deep and damned if he’d apologize for still being angry.
“Ryan cheated all of us,” Jacob reminded his brother. “He paid one of our employees to give him inside information and then he went out and undercut our bids on four different projects. I call that pretty damn personal.”
“We never found any proof of that.”
“Yeah? I got my proof when Karl Robinson left us to go work for Ryan’s outfit and suddenly the undercutting stopped. Coincidence?”
“Fine.” Kyle pushed one hand through his hair and shrugged. “All I’m saying is taking your anger out on Sam won’t do a damn thing to settle up with Ryan.”
“Who says I’m taking anything out on anybody?” Jacob asked.
“So you’re not planning on a little payback?”
“I’ll see you at work tomorrow, Ky”
“No way does this end well,” Kyle told him, then turned and headed down the front walk to his car.
Jacob dismissed his brother in the next minute. “It won’t end well for the Parkers,” he murmured thoughtfully, “That’s for damn sure.”
Sam waved goodbye to the woman standing in the doorway and didn’t let his smile fade until the front door was closed. The sidewalk was brightly lit and the streetlights on Ocean Boulevard gave off a soft, yellow glow, so he didn’t mind the darkness. It was actually a relief to get out into the cold, crisp night and away from the lingering smell of burned onions.
Katie Thompson was determined to become a good cook—which made her an excellent client—but it wasn’t going to be easy. Still, that meant Mrs. Thompson was going to be a long-term project, and that meant solvency for Sam’s burgeoning business. A good thing. Ankara escort bayan Smiling to himself, Sam stacked his supplies back in his van, slid the door closed and then jumped when a man’s voice spoke up from behind.
“Been a while.”
Sam spun around, hand to his chest, and looked up at the man he hadn’t seen in two years. Not since he and his brother had cut off all communication. As soon as his heart slid out of his throat, it started pounding in excitement. “Jacob?”
He was leaning against his van. How had he walked up without him being aware of it? Now that he knew Jacob was there, his skin was prickling and his nerve endings were standing up straight, dancing in appreciation. He was wearing a black round neck T-shirt and dark blue jeans. His boots were scuffed and his black hair was ruffled by the wind, totally handsome. His jaw boasted the shadow of a beard and his blue eyes were fixed on him.
“You scared me to death.” He admitted when he could find his voice again.
“Sorry,” Jacob said with that baritone of his, but didn’t sound apologetic at all. “Didn’t mean to startle you. But wanted to talk to you before you left.”
“Where’d you come from?” He glanced up and down the street.
“I live next door,” he told, jerking his thumb towards the two-storey house boasting a wide, stone front porch.
“I didn’t know,” Sam said, which was a good thing. Because he might not have taken the Thompsons as customer if he had known Jacob Knight lived right beside them.
A few years ago, he had spent a lot of time daydreaming about this hot as hell handsome man. It hadn’t gone any further than that, of course, because his brother Ryan, had made sure to keep Jacob at a distance from him for obvious reason, he knew that little Sammy and Jacob were gay and Sam liked Jacob. Still, it hadn’t been easy to put Jacob out of his mind. He continued to sneak back in at unexpected moments. Seeing him again was only going to refuel those old daydreams and make not thinking about him even more difficult.
But Jacob had made himself very clear three years ago. Jacob hadn’t been interested in him enough then to go against his brother’s interference and there was no reason to think that had changed. Besides, he’d been through a lot in the past few years. He wasn’t the easily charmed or foolishly romantic freak he had been.
Sure, his mind taunted slyly, that’s why your heart’s still pounding and your palms are damp. Because you’re so cool and controlled.
Frowning at his own inner turmoil, he missed what Jacob said and was forced to ask, “What?”
He pushed away from the car, stuffed his hands into his back pockets and repeated, “I said, I’m glad to see you’re teaching Katie to cook. I’ve been to dinner at their place. Not pretty.”
Wryly, Sam was forced to admit, “She is…challenging. But she’s is determined to improve, and that’s good for all of us.”
Nodding his head, he glanced at the skillet on top of Sam’s car. “Interesting advertisement.”
He knew what Jacob must be thinking, but Sam liked his skillet. An artist friend had made it for him and attached it to the roof of the van. “I think it’s quirky.”
“That’s one word for it,” Jacob said.
Instantly, his back went up. Sam had had to defend his new business to his older brother, and he wasn’t going to do the same with Ryan’s ex-friend. Which reminded him of the fact that Ryan and Jacob weren’t even speaking anymore. So why was Jacob talking to him now?
Sam pushed windblown hair off his face and asked, “Was there something you wanted, Jacob?”
Jacob looked at Sam for a long, silent moment, those blue eyes of his shadowed in the dim light. He craved to tuck Sam’s windblown hair behind his ears. But restrained himself unwillingly. His stare was just as powerful as it had once been and Sam felt his heartbeat quicken again in response. It was an involuntary reaction, he told himself firmly, and refused to acknowledge it further.
“Actually,” Jacob said, “there is. You teach cooking classes in people’s homes, right?”
“Then I want to hire you.”
Sam hadn’t expected that and wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. Jacob Knight was one of the wealthiest men in America. He could employ a dozen chefs and never once have to enter his own kitchen if he didn’t want to. So why learn to cook for his self?
Jacob pulled his hands free of his pockets and folded his arms across his broad chest. “I should think that would be self evident. I want to know how to cook”
“Yeah, I get that,” Sam said, still not willing to believe that he was serious. “What I don’t understand is why you want to hire me.”
“Because I don’t want to have to go out to take classes. You coming to my home is more convenient.”
“Uh-huh.” Sam was thinking fast and trying to see the trap in what he was saying, but he couldn’t. Maybe he was being sincere. Maybe he really did want to learn how to cook for himself and Escort Ankara seeing him here tonight had just been a happy accident.
But even as he thought it, Sam told himself there had to be more to it than that. As far as he knew, Jacob and his brother hadn’t spoken in a couple of years. Though he had tried to find out from Ryan what had gone wrong in their friendship, his brother hadn’t told him a thing.
All he he’d been willing to say was that Jacob Knight was out of their lives and he better leave it that way.
If Jacob felt the same, and he had no reason to think he didn’t, why was he trying to hire him?
“How much do you charge?” Jacob asked, splintering his thoughts.
Sam told him and he nodded. “I’ll pay you twice your usual rate”
“What? Why would you do that?”
“For your undivided attention,” he told him. “I’d want you here every night. Teaching me.”
Sam took a quick breath and tried to put out the flickering flames in the pit of his stomach. Every night. Teaching him. It sounded way more sexual than it should have.
“I have other clients.” He told Jacob, though the truth was, his new business was barely up and sputtering. Besides Katie Thompson, there were only three other customers who had hired him so far and they were only once a month commitments.
“Three times your usual rate,” Jacob countered, his gaze fixed on Sam, whose expression was unreadable.
Sam blew out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. With that kind of money, he could get a running start on building his business. Yes, he didn’t have to struggle. He was a Parker after all, and if he was in deep trouble, he would only have to tell Ryan he needed money.
But he really didn’t want to go to his brother. And he’d already invested everything he had into his business. So it was sink or swim. Jacob’s offer would make it much easier to stay afloat.
“You’re not making it easy to say no,” Sam admitted.
“Glad to hear it” Jacob grinned.
He took a deep breath and, shaking his head slowly, heard himself say, “I don’t know, Jacob. If Ryan found out about this-”
“So,” Jacob interrupted. “You’re still letting your older brother run your life, is that it?”
His head snapped up, his gaze locked with Jacob’s and a fast spurt of anger shot through. “Ryan has never run my life.”
“Not how he saw it.”
“Do they?” Jacob raised his eyebrow. “Then take my offer.”
Frowning to himself, Sam knew he was being manipulated and he didn’t like it a bit. But he also didn’t like the fact that Jacob had a point. If he turned his offer down, he was kowtowing to the older brother who already thought he had a right to run his life.
Well, times had changed and so had Sam. He was a grown up. He had survived the loss of his father, the disintegration of a bad relationship, and the bossiness of a brother who thought he knew best. He could handle Jacob Knight and the still sizzling attraction he felt for him.
“Alright,” he said, holding out his hand, “It’s a deal.”
Jacob’s hand enveloped his in a warm shake that sent tendrils of something deliciously wicked streaming through his system. Jacob gave him a huge smile and said, “Great, we’ll start tomorrow. Six work for you?”
Jacob let him go but his skin was still buzzing from the touch when he mumbled, “Yeah, six is fine.”
“See you then.” Jacob turned and headed back to his house and Sam watched him go.
Leaning against his car, he ordered his heartbeat to slow down and told his stomach to stop spinning. Neither of those commands had the slightest effect on him.
When Jacob disappeared into his house, Sam shook his head slowly and whispered, “I’m in so much trouble.”
“Real men don’t eat mushrooms,” Jacob pointed out the on their first cooking class as he sliced into tiny white buttons. “They’re not even vegetables. Aren’t they a fungus?”
Sam laughed, and Jacob stilled for a second, listening to the sound of it. Just as he remembered, that laugh was damned infectious. Made him want to smile in response, then pull in close for a long, deep, wet kiss that would end in—
“Technically, yes,” Sam said when he’d stopped laughing. “They are fungi. For a long time, they were considered vegetables, but then researchers discovered they weren’t plant or animal, but their own species.”
“Great. And I’m going to eat it, why?”
Jacob waited for it and wasn’t disappointed. Sam laughed again and something inside him shifted, expanded.
Their first cooking class was going more smoothly than Jacob had expected. Sure, there had been some tension when Sam first arrived, but that had dissipated quickly enough when Sam got a look at his kitchen. Jacob smiled to himself when he realized that Sam was the first guy to be seduced by his subzero fridge and Viking stove.
Hell, when Jacob remodelled the house after buying it five years ago, he had insisted on top-of-the-line, and the designer had been given free rein in the kitchen. From the bamboo flooring to the glass-fronted cabinets, the granite counters and work stations and the island sink, the kitchen was the kind of room every cook dreamed of.
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