The shrill ringing of a telephone startled Skyler awake. Heart racing, he flailed at the bedside table for the phone, managing to grab the handset and bring it to his ear. “H’lo?”
“Skyler! Did I wake you up?” Storm’s voice was disgustingly chipper, as always.
He yawned. “Yeah. What time is it?”
“It’s just after six. We’re meeting at the restaurant’s terrace in about an hour. I can’t wait for you to meet Callie.”
He smiled at the excitement in his brother’s voice. The urge to pull his pillow over his face and go back to sleep vanished in the wake of Storm’s obvious happiness. “I can’t wait either. I’ll see you at seven.”
He rolled over and hung up the phone before sitting up and stretching. He’d gotten a nice, long nap in at least. Feeling a little less like he’d been hit by a truck, he grabbed some clothes and headed for the shower.
* * * *
A few minutes before seven o’clock, Skyler stepped onto the terrace of the hotel’s restaurant. He spotted his brother right away. Even from the back he recognized that untamable brown hair, which had always stuck up at crazy angles no matter what styling products Storm used. Storm stood at the corner of the terrace, talking with three very mismatched men. Skyler recognized them all as friends of Storm’s. The long-haired guy in the Hawaiian shirt was Jerry, the tall, scholarly man was Ivan, and he didn’t remember the name of the guy in the Harley Davidson shirt. Jerry saw him coming and waved, and Storm turned with a huge smile.
“Hey, Skyler! You’re right on time.”
“I’m surprised you are,” he teased, knowing Storm’s tendency to be late.
His brother gave him a wry smile and held up his arm to reveal a watch. “Callie hates to be late.”
Skyler laughed. He’d never seen Storm wear a watch before. “Wow. She’s a miracle worker.”
Giving him a mock scowl, Storm waved at the other guys with him. “You’ve met Jerry, Ivan, and Rock.”
Rock? Before he had time to ponder the name or remember when he might have met the man, four women approached them. Storm’s eyes lit up like he was a kid at Christmas. The tall, cool blonde wearing a pale blue dress walked over and put her arm around Ivan. One of the other three women had to be Callie. The tiny brunette seemed too conservative, and the other blonde too trendy. He smiled, unsurprised, as Storm reached out to take the hand of the auburn-haired young woman. She was lovely, with the kind of pale skin that didn’t tan or freckle, and big, soft blue eyes.
His little brother turned to him, smiling, his face shining with pride. “Skyler, I’d like you to meet my bride-to-be, Callie.”
“It’s good to finally meet you in person, Callie,” he began. He would have continued, but instead, he blinked down at her as she enfolded him in a hug. Startled, he stood stiff and still for a moment before he put his arms around her in return. It had been a long time since anyone had hugged him. He was surprised he remembered how.
After a long moment, she stepped back, giving him a brilliant smile. “Storm’s told me so much about you, I feel like I already know you. I’m so happy you could be here for our wedding.” Her smiled dimmed. “Especially since our parents couldn’t be here.”
“I wouldn’t have missed it.” Storm had told him Callie’s parents, Odell and Irene Baker, were older and in poor health. They’d had children late in life. Despite being unable to travel, they had insisted the wedding go on as planned, with a small reception in Callie’s hometown later. Skyler had asked Storm once if they were okay with the quick wedding, but apparently they’d married a few weeks after meeting, so they must have thought several months was a long courtship compared to their own.
Introductions followed. Ivan’s wife was Lavinia, a yoga instructor who worked with Callie. The brunette was Tina, who taught first grade. The other blonde was Lana, an actress. During the course of the introductions, he figured out that Ivan, Lavinia, Tina, and Lana were sharing the suite across the hall from his, with Storm crashing on the couch until after the ceremony. Then Storm would join Callie upstairs in the honeymoon suite.
He wondered which of the other guys was his roommate. And where was Casey? She seemed to be AWOL, which was odd considering Callie and Casey were twins. He looked at Jerry and Rock. “So which one of you guys is my roommate? And where’s Casey?”
Rock crossed his arms and gave Skyler what was probably supposed to be a smile. It came off a little scary. “Neither of us is your roommate. You’re rooming with Casey.”
What? He was rooming with a girl? That couldn’t be right. He frowned.
Rock nodded. “Yeah, man. Look on the bright side. You cut yourself shaving or something, it’ll be all good. Casey’s a nurse.” He smirked like that was a funny joke.
Skyler faked a smile in return. He had to wonder if Rock had taken a few too many spills off his Harley. The guy seemed a bit weird. Jerry wasn’t much better. The man was guffawing at Rock’s remark.
No matter how many times he went over Rock’s words in his head, Skyler couldn’t see anything hilarious about Casey being a nurse. Maybe Jerry and Rock had both smoked something before coming down. Having been raised by a couple of unreliable none-too-reformed hippies—the names Sky and Storm were a huge clue to what sort of people his parents had been—Skyler had little patience with people like them as an adult.
What was even stranger than Rock and Jerry was that nobody else seemed to find the situation odd. Maybe due to Ivan and Lavinia needing to share a room, Storm had figured putting Skyler in with Casey would be okay. After all, it wasn’t as if he would put the moves on her or anything. Although I might if I were straight—at least if she looks anything like Callie.
Hm. Maybe they had a brother.
“Sorry I’m late,” a breathless male voice broke in.
Skyler turned, coming face-to-face with a blue-eyed, auburn-haired man. A man he’d never expected to see again.
He barely had time to process the new development before Callie left Storm’s side and ran to the newcomer, slipping an arm around his waist. With the two of them side by side, the truth became obvious.
He was an idiot.
Despite the clear relationship between the two of them, Callie introduced the young man. “Skyler, this is my twin brother, Casey.”
Why had he assumed Casey was a girl? Skyler could feel his face heating and hoped his tan would hide the blush. Attempting to smile and act as if he were completely unsurprised, Skyler held out his hand. He prayed Casey wouldn’t mention they’d met before. Sort of.
Casey didn’t say a word. He accepted Skyler’s handshake.
“Nice to meet you, Casey.” Skyler tried not to notice the slim strength of Casey’s hand, or how attractive the other man was. All Callie’s beauty showed up in her twin’s face as well, only in more masculine form.
Before the other man could reply, the hostess arrived. She informed Storm that their table was ready. Everyone fell into step behind her as she led them into the restaurant.
Skyler let out a quiet sigh of relief. He wasn’t sure how Callie and Storm would react to learning their siblings had a history together, albeit a very short, misbegotten one.
* * * *
Dinner proved to be both entertaining and awkward. Somehow Skyler ended up seated across from his brother, between Casey and Lana. The conversation swirled around him, everyone laughing and talking.
He joined in for a bit when Lana asked him about his photography career and if he ever did portfolio shots, but for the most part he stayed quiet. In his mind, he composed shots of the other guests: his brother, proud and happy; Callie, radiant and clearly in love; Ivan and Lavinia, their cool exteriors contrasting with the hot looks they kept giving each other… So many stories to tell. He snapped a few candid shots. He’d always been better at understanding emotions through his camera lens than he could without it.
He kept stealing glances at Casey. His gaze would inevitably wander to Callie. Their resemblance to each other was amazing. Somehow, though, Casey didn’t look at all girlish. Skyler couldn’t help remembering how well Casey had proved he was no girl the last time they’d met.
He shook his head to derail that train of thought.
Finally dinner ended. After a brief discussion of plans for the following morning’s rehearsal, everyone went their separate ways. The next day would be a busy one, and then the following morning would be the wedding. Skyler had a flight out Monday morning. It would be a whirlwind trip for everyone except Callie and Storm, who would be staying on after everyone else left.
On the way to their suite, Jerry kept up an animated monologue about some music festival he’d been to. Skyler was rather glad to get away from the man’s chatter when he and Casey headed for the blue room and Rock and Jerry went into their room. He also found himself nervous. He wiped his damp palms on his pants and prepared for an uncomfortable conversation.
Casey pulled the door shut behind them, giving Skyler a rueful grin. “If you think Jerry talks a lot, wait’ll you hear him snore. I had to get up and shut the door last night because he was so loud. I don’t know how Rock slept through the noise.”
Apparently Casey was going for the “pretend it didn’t happen” angle. Skyler could go along with that. “Maybe Jerry’s snores sound like a Harley motor,” he offered, rummaging around in his suitcase for a T-shirt to wear to bed.
The other man gave a surprised snort of laughter. “If so, Rock probably thinks of the racket as a biker lullaby.”
Skyler laughed too. “Better him than me. You don’t snore, do you?”
“I don’t think so. At least no one’s ever told me if I do.”
An awkward silence fell over them. They stood pretending to look at anything but each other. Casey feigned interest in a lamp. Skyler sneaked a glance at Casey, only to be caught when Casey’s gaze shifted to him. It would have been funny if it had been happening to someone else.
Skyler broke first. “This is kind of ridiculous, don’t you think?”
Casey’s laugh sounded relieved. “Yes! I thought I was going to have a heart attack when Callie introduced us.”
“Me too!” Skyler chuckled. “Do you think we should admit we’ve met? Well, in a manner of speaking.” He cringed even as he made the suggestion.
Casey’s face blanched white. “Oh hell
no. I’m not telling my sister I once traded handjobs, but not names, in a club bathroom with my brother-in-law-to-be. She’d freak out.”
“Thank God.” Skyler put a hand to his chest. “I don’t know how Storm would react, but I’d rather not find out. We can pretend that little incident never happened.” Although it had been one of the hottest things Skyler had ever done, and all without taking off his clothes.
“Sounds good to me. And it’s not like we really know each other.” Casey grinned.
“True enough.” Skyler had to smile back. Feeling daring, he offered, “Maybe we can get to know each other while we’re here.”
“I’d like that.”
Skyler would too. Maybe too much. A few seconds of silence fell as they smiled at each other.
Finally Casey cleared his throat. “Do you mind if I take a shower?”
“No, go ahead.”
Casey took some clothes and went into the bathroom. Skyler shucked everything except his boxers and pulled his shirt over his head. Then he brushed his teeth at the sink, grateful there was one outside the bathroom. He climbed into bed a few minutes later, listening to the sound of the shower running in the other room and trying not to picture his future sister-in-law’s twin brother naked.