McKenzie Cousins, Book 2
Michael McKenzie works alongside his sister, Charlotte, and cousin, Alexander at McKenzie Holdings, the company started so many years before by their fathers, Michael and Lucien. Even though it isn’t easy living up to the reputation of the McKenzie Brothers, they’re already making a name for themselves, and attract businessman, Mitchell Jordan. He comes to them with a proposal for building an exclusive resort on the beautiful Island of Santorini.
Mitchell insists that Michael is to be the lead on the project, and with his sister preoccupied, and Alexander insisting that he needs to stay in Lexington, he graciously accepts.
Brooke Jordan has always lived in the shadows of her socialite sister, which is why, when Carrie dares her to seduce their guest, she finds herself tempted. She’s never so forward, in fact, she’d rather stay locked in her bedroom with a good book than spend time with others. Except were Michael McKenzie is concerned, she’d felt as though she’d been zapped with an electrical current when their eyes had met. So against her better judgement, she accepts her sisters dare.
After the night spent in Michael’s arms, Brooke can’t wait to spend more time with him, except she should have been prepared for her sisters wrath.
Catch up with the McKenzie family in this second installment of the McKenzie Cousins Series by NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author, Lexi Buchanan.
Cover Design – Robin Harper, Wicked Cool Designs
“Michael, don’t you have to pack?” my sister, Sirena, asks as she walks out onto my back deck, where I’m currently crashed out on a lounge chair.
“Yes,” I reply with a grin.
“What’s going on with you? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this. Well, unless you’re nursing a hangover,” Sirena amends.
“I’m going to Greece,” I mumble. “For the summer.”
“I know. It’s a great opportunity for you, and for McKenzies.”
I hold her gaze and finally move into a sitting position. “Never mind,” I finally say. “Let me hold my nephew.”
Sirena passes Elias over, smiling as she watches me cuddling her son. “You’ll make an awesome daddy one of these days.”
I frown at her comment as worry etches across my brows.
“I really wished you’d talk to me.” She places her hand on my knee and squeezes. “You’re my brother, and I love you. You’re always there for me, so why won’t you let me do the same for you?”
“I love you, sis.” I look away and focus on Elias. “I think I’m just nervous about being away from home for so long, and quite far away too.”
“We can video chat so you can see Elias, and Garrett has already said we can come and visit you soon.”
My head snaps up. “Seriously?”
“Yes. I want to visit before we start weaning Elias onto solid food. That way it will be easier to feed him while we’re travelling. I mean, he has milk on tap right now.” She grins.
Pretending to look horrified, I tease, “Don’t you dare whip them out and feed him in front of me.”
She rolls her eyes. “You know very well I always make sure I’m covered when I feed him. Geez, Garrett would have a coronary if he knew I was flashing anyone.”
“You know,” I cringe, “I think we need to change the subject because it’s too damn weird sitting here while you talk about your boobs.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Sirena’s boobs,” Garrett comments, joining us. He kisses his wife on the top of her head before sitting next to her on the lounger.
“I believe I’m going to have visitors while I’m overseas,” I suggest, changing the subject with a glare in Sirena’s direction.
Garrett chuckles and lets me off the hook. “Considering all my travels, I’ve never been to Greece so I’m looking forward to it. We’ll be close as well. A friend has a hotel on the Island of Santorini so, once he gets back to me, I’ll let you know the dates.”
“Sounds good. I’m going to look forward to more of this.” Just as I finish speaking, Elias fills his diaper.
My sister grins. “He’s letting you know what to expect.”
Chuckling, I scramble to my feet. “I’m going to change him.”
“Give me a break. I’ve changed him numerous times before.” I grin at my nephew. “We have this.”
I feel my sister and Garrett watching me as I disappear inside with the little guy.
* * *
I navigate through the streets and focus on the road immediately ahead instead of the one where I board a plane for Santorini, and the work awaiting me there. It’s going to be big for McKenzie Holdings and I’m excited and a little bit apprehensive. Dad will be able to set my worries aside, at least that’s what I’m hoping as I pull up outside the house where I grew up. No matter where I am, or where I go, this has always been home, even now that I have my own place. That’s how it is for my siblings as well. It’s home because this is where Mom and Dad are.
Climbing from the car, I spot Mom, Aunt Carla, and Aunt Rosie unloading shopping from Dad’s car. So I jog over and say, “What are my favorite ladies up to?”
“Oh, honey,” Mom gushes, and wraps her arms around me for a long, tight hug. “I’m going to miss you.” She sniffles against my shirt, clinging to me. Her reaction brings tears to my own eyes.
“Lily, he’s going to be back before you know it,” Aunt Carla soothes.
I finally get to greet two of my aunts. This is why I have such an amazing family and why we all get along so well. My siblings and cousin’s grew up in one large family, and I wouldn’t be without any of them. I’m so going to miss this while I’m gone.
“We’ve been shopping and now we’re going to cook. We’re hoping your Aunt Sabrina, and uncles, Lucien, Ramon and Noah, will join us later,” Rosie says, passing me some of the shopping. “Thanks Michael.”
Trudging inside, I’m pretty sure she’d given me the heaviest of the bags, but I’m not really bothered. I head toward the kitchen and find my dad and two uncles, Sebastian, and Ruben, drinking coffee around the table.
“Why are you three not out there helping your wives with the heavy bags?” I moan as I dump the load onto the table.
They all jump up and head out the front door while I grin to myself. I knew they’d respond like that. They always do when it involves their wives. I want that one day. Someone to be so in love with me that they’ll do anything for me, just like I would her. I want a wife to share everything with, and not someone to wait on me as though I’m not just as responsible for the house or the food on the table. I want to share every damn thing.
As I start to empty the bags and sort the groceries, I sigh realizing that I’m lonely and want something I haven’t really thought about before.
Hearing a throat being cleared, I lift my gaze and see the others standing staring at me.
“Michael McKenzie, did you send our men outside to help us so you didn’t have to come back out?” Mom asks, but I see the smirk on her lips.
“Maybe.” I laugh. “They’re so predictable.”
She grins. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Pushing past Dad, she directs the men as to where to put the shopping and then Dad’s standing in front of me.
“Let’s go into my office and talk.”
I nod and follow him.
He closes the door once I’ve entered. “What’s on your mind, son?”
We sit on the sofas in the room and I lean back, sighing. “Everything I guess.” He waits quietly while I gather my thoughts. “I’m excited for this project, but I can’t help wondering if I’m taking on something I’m not experienced enough to handle.” There, I’ve said it.
Dad shakes his head. “If I didn’t think you could handle it, or any other project, then you and Alexander wouldn’t share the CEO position. I’ve seen what you can do, especially you. Don’t ever put yourself down. I’ve seen your talent and Mitchell Jordan has seen it, which is why you now have this opportunity. You and Alex work well together as a team, and he’ll have your back when it’s needed, so will Charlotte.”
“You think so?”
Dad tilts his head and watches me. “Are you sure it’s the project that’s really on your mind?”
I blow out a breath. “Yeah.” I’m not mentioning that I have a bad feeling about Mitchell and his plans for me with his oldest daughter. I’m hoping I read that situation completely wrong.
“Look, I know I stay out of the projects these days, but you know Sebastian and I are always around for you to ask us anything. The others as well. We’re still here to help. Don’t forget that.”
I smile. “I won’t. We have an amazing family, don’t we?”
He frowns and continues to watch me closely. “I’m really okay, Dad. Guess I’m just nervous about flying all that way.”
“You never did like flying. Used to stress your mom out.”
“I still don’t.” I glance at my watch. “I can’t put it off any longer or I’ll miss the flight.”
Standing, Dad wraps me in his arms. “Call and let us know when you land, okay? Unless you want your mother blowing up your phone.”
I know him well and it won’t just be my mom blowing up my phone to find out how I am.
“I promise. I’ll call you both before anyone else.”
Chapter One ~ Michael
It’s been two weeks since I landed on the beautiful island of Santorini, and I’ve yet to see more than the villa where I’m staying. It doesn’t bother me like it would my cousin and business partner, Alex. He’s the traveler amongst us or, rather, he usually is. Just thoughts of Alex are enough to give me a headache these days because the more I’ve watched him, the more I realize there is something going on between him and our cousin, Rachel.
Before I left Lexington, I’d made a point of mentioning that Rachel would be on her travels to Europe soon. Alex had become tense and closed off. So yeah, I’m worried about one of my best friends and both of my cousins. But, right now, I need to concentrate on what I’m doing and what I’m about to be forced to do, which isn’t one and the same.
Santorini is a beautiful island and the weather has been as I’d expect for an island in Greece. I love the island but I’m the guest of billionaire Mitchell Jordan. The man can be a shark and he definitely knows what he wants, which is what I’m currently trying to figure out.
He’s mentioned his eldest daughter Carrie more than a few times and how he’d love for her to meet someone to settle down with and give him grandchildren. Apparently, she’s the wilder of his two daughters and doesn’t want to risk his youngest being pulled astray by her sister. I honestly don’t want to have anything to do with his family. I believe that business and pleasure shouldn’t be mixed and it was hard enough to meet Mitchell’s deadlines without being weighed down with marriage. He’s never said anything outright that he wants me to be the groom to his wayward daughter, but that’s a feeling I get.
My sister’s husband, Garrett, doesn’t think Mitchell means anything by the comments he’s made to me, but I’m still not sure I trust Mitchell enough to move forward with the plans for his exclusive resort. It would be a blow to McKenzies, as well as Alex and I, if I walk away, which is why I’m still here.
I have to admit that Carrie is a looker and, until she opened her mouth, I might have been interested in taking her out to dinner, after she talks, no thank you. She has the body a man craves, but the intelligence of a turnip, and hints of a vicious streak. A feeling I get by the way she comes across. The whole package is off putting, which is why I’m constantly hiding in the private villa that I’ve been given to use indefinitely. It’s also why I’ve been up swimming at three or four in the morning to avoid her. I just wish I could work without the added stress of worrying about where Carrie will appear next. It’s something I don’t need. Except for Alex, I’d have already told Mitchell to keep his daughter away from me, and I think it will come to that eventually—maybe in an hour, after dinner.
Sighing heavily, I slip my feet into a pair of boat shoes and slowly make my way toward the large house where Mitchell and his family reside during the summer months. It’s like a palace, except it has sleek lines and stylish accents. I have the feeling that his wife had much more input in the designing than he had.
I really don’t know why anyone would want to spend months on end here though. I mean from what I’ve seen it is beautiful, but the heat is worse than back home. I’ve had at least three showers a day since arriving. Half the time, I can’t even sleep with anything on either the bed or me. Even now, as I approach the patio area, I can feel sweat running down my back, and between my ass cheeks. At least the navy blue cotton slacks will hide that, I’m not too sure I’ll get lucky with the white shirt.
“Ah, Michael,” Mitchell calls. “On time as usual.” He smiles. “I like punctuality.”
“So do I.” I accept the large glass of water with ice and lemon that he offers me.
It’s not that I dislike alcohol, I just know that if I drink while the weather is so hot, I’ll end up with a migraine, so I only drink water in this heat.
“How far have you gotten?”
I take a long swallow, and reply, “Not far to be honest. I’m still waiting for the adjusted measurements that I asked for. I should have some rough sketches in a week though.”
“That’s good.” He hits me on the back although I think it was supposed to be a pat. “Come and talk to Carrie, and meet Brooke’s friend, Sinclair.” He pushes me closer to the group. After the introductions, he ushers us into our seats at the dinner table.
It’s almost a relief to sit down because the ceiling fan is directly above the chair that’s been designated mine. Despite her friend being here, Mitchell’s youngest daughter appears to be missing. Curious, I ask, “Isn’t Brooke around?”
His wife, Adelaide shakes her head, “Not yet, but she’s arriving within the next couple of hours. Her flight was delayed.”
“I hope she doesn’t mind me surprising her here,” Sinclair adds, frowning.
“Why would she be upset?” I wonder.
“Brooke doesn’t like surprises,” Adelaide answers. “Never has, really.” She shrugs.
“I love surprises even though I’m impatient when I know someone has something for me,” Carrie offers.
She always talks in a flourish and then she waits for all the attention to be on her, just like now. Her gaze is on me and it holds a challenge. I narrow my eyes and wait—not long, “I’m going to a party after dinner and I need someone to drive as it’s across the island. I thought…since you don’t drink…you’d be the perfect date for this evening.”
My heart sinks while she grins and I know she’s thinking she’s put me on the spot, which she has. But I’m annoyed more than anything, so I reply, “I’m here to work and not to act as chauffeur or your date.” I shrug. “Sorry.” I keep my eyes down and start eating the meal that’s been placed in front of me. A few minutes later, I hear the others start eating and conversation eventually picks up. Thank God the attention is off me.
It isn’t long before I feel eyes on me again, looking up, I meet the curious gaze of Mitchell. He doesn’t look unhappy, but he does look disappointed. Well, so be it.
I spend the next ten minutes in conversation with Adelaide over her ideas for the relaxation complex, which is to be incorporated into the plans for the new project. She does have some good points, which I make a mental note of, and I immediately forget the ones that just aren’t viable.
Before I know it, the main course is being cleared away and dessert, a lemon meringue affair, is brought out and set in the center of the table.
“Michael,” Mitchell snags my attention, “you haven’t met my youngest daughter yet, have you?” He stands and holds his arms out, looking behind me.
I turn my head and everyone else fades into the background as I focus on the young blonde woman rushing into her father’s arms. My eyes caress seductively over her…the way her leggings cling to her shapely legs, the mystery of her body holding my attention as the over large shirt drowns her. The suggestion of nubile curves beneath has my mouth watering. Her smile is genuine as she returns her father’s embrace.
“It’s good to be back on the island, Dad.” She releases her father and embraces her mother.
As she turns toward her sister, Mitchell takes her arm and guides her toward me. I stand, unable to look away.
“Brooke, let me introduce you to Michael McKenzie. He’s joint CEO of McKenzie Holdings—the firm drawing up the plans for the new resort.” He beams.
“Hello Brooke.” I shake her hand, feeling her pulse as I rub my thumb over her delicate wrist.
The azure blue of her eyes darkens the longer our hands stay connected. My swift arousal when the tip of her tongue slips between her full red lips, brings me quickly back to the awareness of my surroundings.
Snatching my hand back, I take my seat and watch as Brooke does the same. I hear mumbled words but nothing registers while I try to get my body under control.