“You’re seriously going skydiving?” Nick asked.
“Yes, and you are coming with us, little brother.” Liam laid his hand on Nick’s shoulder, with a smirk. At six foot one, and twenty-two years old, Nick was hardly little. But his older brothers were similar in height and bossed him around as if they were still in their teens.
“Have you forgotten that we all have jobs? We have responsibilities. We can’t just take off a whole day to do something reckless and dangerous.”
“When your daddy is your boss, you can get away with just about anything,” Liam said. His job was more public relations anyway. Liam was little more than a figurehead at their father’s business. The oldest son in the Cohen Empire, he was the guy who attended the black-tie social events, writing checks to whatever charitable organizations their father, Levi, believed in that month.
They were the richest family in the greater Jerusalem area, controlled a dozen of the finest resort hotels in Israel—holdings in every natural resource in the Arab region—and owned more land than God. Everyone either loved the Cohens or hated them, depending on whether their father had bought out their company at a fair price or held out as his toughest competition.
Nothing seemed to faze Levi Cohen. He expected great things from his sons but left them on too long a leash. Nick’s older brothers often took advantage of their father’s generosity and trust.
“Besides, you’re not going to rat us out, are you?” Lyle, the second oldest brother, stepped just a little bit closer, almost towering over him. The effect was mildly threatening, but Nick held his chin high. Always in their oldest brother’s shadow, Lyle wasn’t good for much in the way of business and usually just schmoozed the daughters and wives of whatever dignitary Liam needed distracted.
“There’s nothing you can do to talk us out of it,” Sam said. As the third oldest brother, he usually sided with Liam and Lyle. More responsible than the other two, he was actually quite intelligent with regards to their natural resource holdings, like petroleum and potash.
“I could encourage father to disown you and cut you out of his will,” Nick replied. They all started laughing at his matter-of-fact statement, which was an empty threat. Nick had very little control over what their father did, even though increasing responsibility seemed to fall on his shoulders as far as the acquisitions side of the business.
Nick was usually the responsible son. Why he was letting his brothers talk him into this was beyond him. Skydiving. The thought sent a little thrill up his spine. This was so unlike him.
The speed Liam drove down Route Six was almost as dangerous as jumping out of the plane. He thought he was invincible and lived his life as such. They weaved in and out of traffic in Liam’s custom-built Mercedes G-63.
In this beast, Nick didn’t fear for his own life; more for the innocent drivers all around them. He ground his teeth and clung to the grab handle as his brothers whooped out the open windows.
Liam slammed on the brakes and cranked the wheel before they could fly past SkyDef and slid into his own self-proclaimed parking spot in a cloud of dust.
Nick wanted to kiss the ground after he stumbled from the backseat but then realized the air around the vehicle was so full of sand he needn’t bother. He reached back inside for his water bottle and rinsed his mouth, spitting into the dirt beside the car.
“Liam, I’m pretty sure this is not an actual parking lot,” Nick said.
“I tip well,” Liam said. “They won’t care. Here, keep track of these.” He tossed Nick the keys to the car.
“Gladly.” Nick caught the little key fob and tucked it in his pocket. Maybe Liam would let him drive home. He watched as Liam slipped a silver flask from his jacket pocket and took a long pull and then handed it to Lyle. Nick grumbled under his breath. “Yep, I’m definitely driving home.”
“Let’s do this!” Lyle called into the air and then took another swig and blew a misty fountain of Bourbon that rained down, drenching them in alcohol.
“Cut it out,” Sam said, brushing off his arms and face. He’d gotten the brunt of mist because he stood beside Lyle. “They’re not gonna let us get on that plane if we reek of alcohol.”
“I told you, little brother”—Liam leaned closer to Sam— “I tip well. They let me do pretty much anything I want.”
The owner of SkyDef, a guy not much older than Liam, met them in the makeshift parking lot and welcomed them.
“Aharon, my man.” Liam clasped the guy’s hand in a half hug, patting him on the back.
“You finally made it down to my fine establishment,” Aharon said.
“I promised I would take my little brothers skydiving.” Liam wrapped his arm around his friend’s shoulder and turned him to face them. “This is Lyle, Sam, and our younger brother, Nick.”
“I thought you had four brothers.” Aharon crinkled his brow.
“Jacob’s only seventeen, we’ll bring him in a few years, if we still live around here.”
Huh? What did he mean by that?
“Planning a move anytime soon?” Aharon asked.
“Oh, ya know, nothing set in stone or anything.”
“What’s he talking about?” Nick asked Sam.
“No idea, bro.”
“Lyle, do you know?” Nick pulled on his brother’s sleeve.
“Not really.” Lyle shrugged. “Dad’s talking about some industry down in Dubai that he’s trying to take over.”
“Take over?” Nick raised his eyebrows. “You mean swoop in when the guy is at rock bottom and about to file bankruptcy so dad can buy the business below market?”
“Is there any other way to do business, little brother?” Lyle smirked and patted Nick on the shoulder. “Relax, Dad knows what he’s doing.”
Nick stopped short, and his two oldest brothers kept walking. “Yeah, but I usually know what Dad’s doing also.”
Sam paused and turned around. “I’m sure he’ll tell you about it when he’s ready.”
“This makes me nervous.” Nick resumed walking toward the building.
“What makes you nervous?” Sam asked, falling into step. “Skydiving? Or Dad not keeping you in the loop?”
“Both,” Nick admitted.
“Relax,” Sam said. “Dad’s a visionary man. He always seems to know where the market is heading.”
“True.” Nick paused to open the door to the comfortably air-conditioned building. “He knows I’ll go where he wants me to go and do what he wants me to do.”
“Your blind faith is noble, my little brother,” Sam said. “Now, let’s strap you onto a tandem instructor and hurl you out of a moving airplane and see if you come out unscathed.”
“Who in their right mind wants to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” Nick grumbled.
“Let’s go find out.” Sam hurried ahead to join their brothers.
“What have I gotten myself into?”