Thorne Brewery

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Ring Around Rosie: Chapter Two

Erik walked out of the little jewelry shop with the hot owner, casual façade held firmly in place even as he inadvertently let the door slam behind him. No need to let her know just how much she'd affected him. Shit, she would be a distraction. In a short sundress with legs so long he didn't get the chance to take them all in, she had a model's physique that called out to him. The question was whether he'd answer the call. Could he behave himself?

Rosie was an unexpected treat. Erik had been prepared to meet older shop owners. Based on their initial inquiries, primarily baby boomers nearing retirement owned the local businesses. Thorne Brewing would be riding the crest of a revitalization, bringing in fresh and young blood while the boost in tourism was just beginning.

Well, he'd have words for his brother. Brandon assured him this was the place for them. How could he be expected to hold to his "no women" policy knowing sweet Rosie was right there for the picking? He had two objectives when they'd selected this quiet island for their brewery. First, of course, their analysis proved the business would do well here. Second, Erik needed a break from the playboy lifestyle, especially after the accident. Or, maybe he should say, accidents plural.

Heading back to the brewery to check on the renovation progress, Erik couldn't shake thoughts of the bright eyed, dark haired Rosie. When he had gotten close enough, her light, fresh scent filled his nose. Breathing her in felt refreshing. There was no overdone flowery fragrance like the one so many women wore. Rosie carried the scent of nature about her, and Erik wondered just how natural she was. Damn, those errant thoughts.

Maybe Rosie could help him in his quest to leave his playboy lifestyle behind. She was certainly different from the women he hooked up with in Michigan. He suspected she was an intelligent, self-possessed woman despite her inability to form a coherent sentence at first. Hell, she owned her own business and couldn't be anything above her mid-twenties. Maybe he should've asked her if she could legally drink before he invited her to their opening. And honestly, her flustered answers were downright adorable. He nearly missed her misunderstanding about his partner. Her assumption he was gay hadn't hurt his ego a bit. Erik knew there wasn't a gay bone in his body. Just maybe he'd let himself prove that to Rosie.

"Look who managed to get himself here before noon," Brandon called out from an upstairs window as Erik rounded the corner of their building. What was once an old barn had been restored and was on its way to being a cool design mix of rustic and industrial thanks to the designer they had hired.

"I got up with the sun. Been running, met the local business owners and am ready to check out the progress." Erik shook his head at his brother. It would take a while to change how his brother saw him, to gain his trust that Erik was committed to their new business.

Brandon held up his hands and shook his head. "Sorry, man, shouldn't have assumed." Brandon had been his number one supporter but Erik knew he still had to prove himself. "You should've woke me. I would've run with you."

"Needed the time to clear my head." Erik thought the nightmares that plagued him since the accident were in the past. He thought moving away, that the distance would help but flashes of the accident came back in his sleeping hours.

"Nightmares again?"

"Yea," he shrugged. "Nothing a long run couldn't wipe away. The coastal road is empty in the early morning and then I got a jumpstart on my day."

"I'll meet you down on the main floor." Brandon disappeared into the window.

The renovations were nearly complete, enough so he could see their vision coming alive. The brewery had the vibe they were looking for. It blended with the laidback atmosphere of the island while the industrial touches would appeal to the younger clients vacationing here. There was nothing else like it locally, which alone had the potential to bring them success.

Erik needed this to be successful. He was counting on this to be his stepping-stone toward a new life. With his brother at his side, he was building a new life.

"So you've already met the owners of the businesses along the main street?" Brandon asked as he descended the stairs from the upstairs office space.

"And handed out the invitations to the open house," Erik nodded.

"How'd they receive it? Having a brewery on their quiet little island is a big change, I suspect."

"No push back. Most had questions. A few were already anticipating increased business."

"Did you meet a Rosemary Carson?" Brandon asked. "Apparently she heads up the island business association."

"No." Erik couldn't remember a Rosemary in any of the stores. Had he missed one? He furrowed his brow in concentration. Then it hit him. "Wait. Rosie from the jewelry shop? She's the president of the IBA?"

"Sounds right. Why the surprise?"

"She's maybe twenty five, easily half the age of any of the other business owners."

"Heard she's one smart lady, creative too. People come to the island just to purchase some of her custom jewelry."

Erik shrugged, hoping his interest in this particular business owner didn't seem obvious. "I didn't really look at the jewelry."

"What about her? Should I take a walk over to introduce myself?" Brandon raised his eyebrows in question and grinned. That grin could get both of their asses in trouble. They inherited the Thorne grin, the one their mother said was irresistible, from their father.

"You," Erik pointed at Brandon, "should stay away."

Brandon's eyebrows shot up again, intrigued by Erik's order. "Sounds like you should stay away."

Erik nodded slowly in agreement. Then he changed the subject. "Mr. Thomson in the deli talked about the large influx of a younger adult crowd the past few years. He says the market sells out of cases of beer quicker than his deliveries." Talking about beer was a guaranteed distraction for Brandon.

"Just what our market research told us." Brandon nodded before turning his attention to the doorway leading out to the operations center where the actual brewing took place, also known as Brandon's oasis. Brewing top-notch beer was how Brandon put his chemistry degree to use. "They're installing the final conditioning tank today and then my end will be fully operational."

Erik surveyed the main floor pub area and then looked out the large barn doors to the outdoor patio sections. The construction crew was installing fixtures and assembling furniture. They were in the final stages. "We'll be ready for next week. With buy in from the locals first, the tourists will follow."

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