Read an Excerpt
Dermot Quinn was in the middle of a very vivid dream when incessant knocking interrupted him. He slowly opened his eyes, groaning at the morning light that streamed through the bedroom windows of his houseboat. It was a sunny day in Seattle and though he was usually loath to waste good weather, Dermot turned onto his stomach and pulled the pillow over his head.
The subtle scent of a woman's perfume teased at his nose and he pushed up, frowning. Kelly had spent the night last night. They'd met up, as they did on occasion, had a few drinks and come back to his place for a night of NSA sex. Dermot glanced over at the bedside clock. As was her custom, she usually left at dawn for her regular early-morning workout, neatly avoiding any uncomfortable conversation about the night before.
But then, maybe she'd decided to come back for another few hours of fun. Dermot grinned and threw off the covers. He pulled on a pair of jeans that were tossed over the end of the bed, then walked to the front door. Though he and Kelly followed a very well-honed set of rules, he wasn't averse to breaking them occasionally.
"You could have left the door unlocked," he called as he pulled it open.
But Kelly wasn't waiting on the other side. Instead, he was treated to the sight of his twin brother, Kieran, glaring at him impatiently. "Jaysus, man, do you never answer your cell phone? I've been calling you for the past hour."
"I turned it off," Dermot said. "What are you doing here? It's Saturday morning. Don't you ever sleep in?"
"Get dressed," Kieran ordered. "I got a call from Grandda. He wants to see us all in fifteen minutes. In his office."
"on a Saturday?"
Kieran nodded. "Yeah, I know. Something's up and I'm worried."
"What do you think it is?"
"Hell, I don't know. Grandda's been shut up in his office all week. I'm thinking that he might have gotten an offer on the business."
Dermot and his three brothers had worked for Quinn Yachtworks since they were kids. They all started out sweeping the floors and running materials between the warehouse and the shop. Their grandfather, an Irish immigrant, had founded the firm in the early seventies. A widower with a two-year-old son to care for, he'd arrived in the U.S. a week after Kennedy had been inaugurated, ready to make a life for himself and his motherless son.
After the disappearance of their parents, it was assumed that the business would be left to Cam, Kieran, Dermot and Ronan once their grandfather retired. But Martin had been reluctant to name one of the boys Ceo, causing the brothers to wonder what the plan might be.
"You don't think he's sick, do you?" Dermot asked.
Kieran frowned. "What makes you say that?"
"I don't know. He's seventy-seven years old. People get sick when they're older."
"Don't say that." Kieran shook his head. "Don't even think that. He's fine. We'd know if there was something wrong. We'd see it." He strode through the house to Dermot's bedroom, then picked up a shirt from the floor and tossed it at his brother. "Get dressed. We're going to pick up Cameron on the way and talk about this before we go to the meeting."
"What about Ronan?"
"He's already over there."
"What do we have to talk about? We don't know what he's going to say."
"We can guess," Kieran said. "If he plans to sell, we have to work up a counteroffer."
"Do we really want to do that?"
"Yes!" Kieran said. "You want to keep your job, don't you?"
In truth, Dermot hadn't really thought much about it. He liked working for the company. It paid well, it gave him the freedom to come and go as he pleased. As the director of sales, he had a chance to travel and meet interestingand very wealthypeople. It wasn't what he'd dreamed of as a kid, but childhood dreams didn't pay the mortgage. What wasn't there to like?
Kieran ran the financial end of the business. He'd always been the organized one, the one who could maintain a laserlike focus on the bottom line. Cameron, their older brother, headed the design department, handling the details of what a Quinn-built yacht looked like. And Ronan supervised the manufacturing end of things.
Between the four of them, they were able to do almost any job in the company, and under their management, the business had thrived. "Maybe he's trying to decide who will be in charge," Dermot suggested as he pulled on his T-shirt. "We can't all have the final say on all decisions."
"Maybe," Kieran said. "So, who do you think should be the one?"
"Me," Dermot said, knowing full well the answer would irritate his brother. Of course, Kieran was the one who had the best sense of how the company operated as a whole. But then, without Cameron, the true creative genius behind the designs, the company probably wouldn't be such a success.
"Without sales, the company wouldn't survive," Dermot said. "If you can't sell boats, what do you have?"
"You don't have a clue how the Yachtworks runs," Kieran said. "You'd have us bankrupt in a year."
"Cameron thinks he should be in charge," Dermot said. "Maybe he should. Without his design talent, we'd be in trouble. I'm not sure Ronan even cares, one way or another."
"Are you saying I'm replaceable?" Kieran asked.
"Not as replaceable as I am."
"It's Cameron, then. We both agree. If it comes down to that today, it's Cameron."
Dermot slipped into his boat shoes then nodded. "Let's go find out."
The drive from Dermot's Lake Union houseboat to his brother's home in the Queen Anne neighborhood took ten minutes. Cameron was waiting for them, seated on the front steps of the bungalow. He hopped in the back of Kieran's BMW and had barely closed the door before jumping into the conversation. "What do you think this is about?"
"It could be nothing," Dermot said. "Why are we even speculating? Maybe he just wants us to sign some papers. Or maybe he's finally decided to take a vacation."
"That might be it," Kieran said. He paused, then shook his head. "He's spent his life building the company. He loves work. Why would he start traveling now?"
"He's always talked about sailing around the world," Cameron suggested.
They passed the rest of the ride in silence, each one of the brothers caught up in his own thoughts as they headed toward the Yachtworks. Dermot wasn't sure which theory he subscribed to.
His grandfather had rarely summoned them all to his office at the same time. The last time it had happened he'd announced that the company would be building a new addition to the finishing department. But with the economy in a downturn, Dermot doubted there would be news of that sort to convey.
The chain-link gates were open when they arrived, and Kieran steered the car through them and parked in front of the main offices next to Ronan's SUV. Quinn Yachtworks was located along the Salmon Bay waterway, a perfect location for launching the luxurious sailboats that they built. They'd become one of the most successful custom builders on the West Coast, with business moguls, sports stars and Hollywood celebrities as clients.
Their grandfather's faithful executive assistant, Miriam, was sitting at her desk when they arrived. As always, she greeted them stoically, giving no clue what awaited them inside the wood-paneled doors.
"Sit," Martin said as they walked in, shuffling the papers on his desk as he spoke. Ronan looked up from his spot on the leather sofa, his gaze filled with concern. "I expect you're wondering why I've called this meeting, so I'll get right to it." He leaned back in his well-worn leather chair. "Our corporate attorney has advised me that it is time for me to start thinking about my successor."
Dermot watched a strange expression settle on his grandfather's wrinkled face. Martin Quinn was not the kind of man who liked to be reminded of his mortality and this was no exception. Dermot cursed silently. "You're not going to retire, are you?"
"Not tomorrow. But he's right," Martin continued. "It's time to put my affairs in order."
"Is everything all right?" Cameron asked. "I mean, are you well?"
"Fit as a fiddle," Martin said. "But there are practical reasons for this decision. When your parents died, I brought you boys to work with me. You spent your afternoons and weekends learning the business, instead of doing things you wanted to do. You see, I thought it was the best way to deal with your grief. Now I see it was the best way to deal with my grief."
"We liked working here, Grandda," Kieran said.
"But you all had your own dreams. Dermot, I remember you wanted to be a veterinarian. And, Cam, you wanted to be an archaeologist."
"Paleontologist," Cameron corrected.
Martin nodded. "Right. And Kieran, you wanted to be a Well, I don't recall, but"
"A cowboy," Kieran said. "Or a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman."
Their grandfather nodded. "And, Ronan, I think all you ever wanted was to have your parents back again. The point is, I never gave you the chance to follow those dreams. And now that I have to decide whether to leave this business to you or sell and make all of us extremely wealthy, I realize that you might not be prepared to make a decision about your future. I don't want any of you to tie yourself to a business that isn't part of your own dreams."
Kieran shook his head. "Grandda, we would never"
"Let me finish." He folded his hands on his desk and looked at them individually. "I came to this country with one hundred dollars in my pocket and the intention of making something of my life so that I could support my son. I made my own life, something you boys haven't had the chance to do."
"We love working for you," Cameron said. "It's a family business and family sticks together."
"That's a lovely sentiment," Martin replied. "But it doesn't make my decision any easier. So, I have a plan. I'm going to give each of you boys one hundred dollars cash, a company credit card and a bus ticket. I want you to go out there and spend some time in the real world. Find a job. Meet new people. See what life is like all alone in the world. Believe me, without all the comforts of home, you'll have time to figure out what you really want out of life."
Dermot opened his mouth to protest, but his grandfather held up his hand. "Give yourself six weeks. If you're still interested in running the Yachtworks after that, I'll be satisfied."
Cameron gasped. "You're kidding, right? You just expect us to take six weeks away from work? I have projects going."
"Although we'd all like to think we're indispensable," Martin said, "if one of us fell off the planet tomorrow, the company would go on." He stood and handed each of them an envelope.
"You have tonight to pay your bills and put your affairs in order," Martin said. "You leave tomorrow morning. Go out and imagine a different life for yourselves, boys. And when you come back, come back with a decision."
"Vulture Creek, New Mexico?" Cameron asked.
Dermot opened his envelope and withdrew his bus ticket. "Mapleton, Wisconsin. What the hell is in Ma-pleton, Wisconsin?"
"Bitney, Kentucky," Kieran muttered. "Great."
"Sibleyville, Maine. Jaysus," Ronan said. "I'll be on the bus for a week."
The brothers looked at each other, shaking their heads.
Martin smiled. "Good luck. And I'll see you in six weeks."