Checkmate anfh-3R. L. Mathewson
( A Neighbor from Hell - 3 )
R. L. Mathewson
There’s nothing worse than living next door to your childhood nemesis, except maybe being forced to share your dream project with him, being blackmailed into going along with something that was just wrong on so many levels, and having your hot cocoa stolen by the person that drove you to drink it in the first place.
As long as she has plenty of hot cocoa, a pair of pliers on hand and is able to resist Connor O’Neil’s bad boy charm then Rory James should be able to make it through this project with her sanity intact. If not…..
She’d probably face a few more nights in jail, have a few more restraining orders slapped against her and lose her heart to the man that ruined her life.
Neighbor from Hell - 3
This book is dedicated to all the avid readers out there that have supported me, made me laugh and smile.
As always, this book is dedicated to my children, Kayley and Shane. They make me smile, laugh, pull my hair out and make me wonder how I ever got so lucky to have such wonderful children.
Twenty-five years earlier.........
"Rory's a boy's name," the mean little boy who'd pushed her off the swing only seconds earlier, announced as he glared down at her accusingly.
Never taking her eyes away from the bully, Rory slowly got up as she wiped dirt off her shirt and jeans. When she finally stood up all the way she was forced to tilt her head back slightly so that she could continue to glare at him the way her older brothers had taught her.
"It's a girl's name," she said, taking a deep breath and shoving him back.
One thing she'd learned, thanks to having five older brothers, was never to let anyone push her around. Once you did, you'd have to sleep with one eye open and keep an eye out for snakes in your bed, spit in your cereal, and toe nails in your mac and cheese. She might have to put up with five big bullies at home, but that didn't mean that she was going to put up with it at preschool, she decided as she gave the boy that had all the girls giggling and calling cute, another shove.
"You're ugly!" he practically sneered as he reached over and pulled one of her pigtails, hard.
"Well, you smell like my brother's butt!" she said, shoving him hard, cause she really couldn't call him ugly since he was kind of cute with honey blonde hair and green eyes.
"Well, you look like my uncle's butt!" he said, yanking the other pigtail hard enough to make her eyes sting.
"That's enough of that!" Mrs. Fitzpatrick, the mean woman her father left her with, said as she grabbed them each by the arm. With a firm tug, she dragged them towards the large multicolored building that her father said looked like a rainbow took a shit on. She wasn't sure what shit was exactly, but she knew that no matter what shit was, her father was probably right.
"She started it!" the boy pointed out as they were dragged to the small table in the far corner with the scary clown painted on it.
"That's enough of that, Connor," Mrs. Fitzpatrick said sternly as she planted them on wobbly, red blotched stools. "You will both sit here and think about what you did while the rest of the children enjoy free play."
Rory narrowed her eyes on the little boy that had cost her a turn on the swings as he narrowed his eyes on her.
"You'll pay for this," he promised tightly.
"No, you will," she said, knowing the second, the very second, Mrs. Fitzpatrick turned her back on them that the large jar of pink glitter by the window was going to find its way into Connor's hair.
* * *
Twenty years earlier..........
"Give it back, Connor!"
He held it up, making little Rory James jump higher for it. She tried to glare at him, but unlike the other boys, he wasn't afraid of her or her big brothers. As far as he was concerned, little Rory James had been put on this earth solely for him to torture and torture her he did.
"Give what back?" he asked innocently, waving her notebook in the air above the brown pond water just to taunt her. Not that he was going to give it back to her, he wasn't. In a minute or two when he got bored with this, he fully planned on throwing it in the water with the hopes that she'd go after it.
"My notebook, you jerk!" she said, giving up on trying to get it back and moving to the kicking phase, but he was ready for that. After five years of making her life a living hell he knew what to expect and he knew that if he gave her a chance she'd kick him between the legs and drop him to the ground. Then she’d probably make him eat dirt, again.
"Just give her the notebook," Zack, the annoying boy from Mrs. Plumes' class who'd been following after Rory for the past two weeks like a puppy dog, said. Connor hadn't minded the kid before he started following after Rory. He was a decent basketball player and knew how to make an awesome spit ball, but he didn't like anyone getting between him and Rory.
"I can take care of myself," Rory said, never taking her eyes away from him, which pleased him immensely, but he was still pretty annoyed with the interruption.
"Why don't you come take it for her?" he suggested to the boy as he reached out and palmed Rory's face and shoved her away before she tried to kick him while he was distracted. With a curse that would probably have her father reaching for a bar of soap, she stumbled backwards and fell over a dead log and landed in the mud. Connor would have laughed, but he had other things to do at the moment.
"Fine," the only slightly smaller boy said as he stormed over and made a move to grab the notebook. With a bored sigh, Connor held the notebook higher and further away. As soon as Zack reached out for it, Connor hooked his foot between the boy's legs and pulled up just as he turned, causing the boy to lose his balance and take a header into the dirty water.
"Next time mind your own business," he said, laughing as the boy started to cry. Crying over a little dirty water, what a dork, Connor thought. Rory wouldn't have cried. She never cried, which he took as a personal challenge.
"And next time," Rory suddenly said as he felt her small hands press against his back and shove, "don't touch my math homework." With that, he went stumbling and landed in the water right next to the big crybaby.
Connor rolled over and spit a mouthful of murky water at Rory, laughing when it hit her bare leg. Deciding that wasn't nearly good enough, he used her now soaked notebook and splashed her until she was as soaked as he was.
He wasn't entirely surprised when she launched herself at him instead of running off and crying like most of the girls he knew would have done. There was no running off and crying for Rory James, not when she could try and kick his ass.
As they rolled around in the muddy water, trying to make the other one eat a handful of mud he couldn't help but smile. She was just so much fun to torture, he thought as he forced a handful of mud and god only knows what else in her mouth.
* * *
Fifteen years earlier.........
"There's no talking in detention," Mr. Williams snapped.
Rory shoved her green, black, and pink paint splattered hair out of her face and wondered, not for the first time, why the school hadn't let them either use the showers in the locker rooms or sent them home to wash up and start their two weeks of detention tomorrow. It would have made more sense and would have saved them from having to stand at the back of the room on newspapers so that they didn't get paint everywhere as well as the embarrassment of having the other kids laughing at them.
"That's what I told her, Mr. Williams," Connor said, discretely reaching out when Mr. Williams became distracted by a spitball flying past his head and shoved Rory, making her stumble off their newspaper mat and onto the pristin
e white tiled floor.
"You bastard!" she hissed as she jumped back onto the newspaper, but not before her paint soaked stocking feet left large smears of black and red paint all over the floor.
"Just wait until detention's over, Rory. You're going to pay for making me miss practice," he said, shoving her again, but this time she managed to stay on the newspaper.
"We wouldn't be here if you hadn't shoved me into the art room," she said, shoving him back, causing him to stumble, slip and slide on the floor, leaving an impressive streak of green and pink paint behind.
"If anyone should be mad, it's me. You made me miss work!'" she said, giving him another shove that added a little bit of black paint to the mix.
After this little episode she'd be lucky if she still had a job. Her father told her that any bullshit and she was fired. She hoped that he meant any bullshit on the job, because otherwise she was screwed since she couldn't seem to go a day without getting into it with Connor.
Over the years their parents, teachers, the priest at their church, their coaches, and even the Neighborhood Watch had gone out of their way to keep them apart, but nothing worked. Absolutely nothing. In the past ten years they hadn't been placed in the same classroom at school or CCD at church. They weren't allowed to play on the coed teams after school out of fear that they'd beat each other with baseball bats, and Neighborhood watches all over town blew those damn whistles whenever the two of them were spotted together.
It was really annoying.
They had not gone a day in the last ten years, not even when she was laid up in bed with the flu last year, without giving each other hell. She still remembered waking up at two in the morning to find Connor short sheeting her bed while she was still in it! To this day she didn't know how he managed to sneak into her room for two weeks straight. It wasn't like her room was on the first floor or she left her windows unlocked. No matter what she did the jerk always found a way to break in and piss her off into a speedy recovery so that she could kick his ass. When he was laid up for two weeks after she'd gotten over the flu she'd made damn sure to return the favor.
"Oh please, it's not like you have a real job. I bet your daddy," he said mockingly, and he was the only one with the balls to do it, "has you fetching his drinks."
She had to snort at that. Her father worked her to the bone. She did everything her brothers had to do and more, because she had a talent and skill with the saws that none of them could touch. Every day after school, she and her brothers joined their father wherever he was working that day and they worked their asses off until dinner time. Then they went home, made dinner, did their homework and then passed out.
Even though she knew that her father worked them hard because he wanted to keep them out of trouble, she didn't care. She loved working with her family and earning her own money. It also didn't hurt that she was learning a job that she hoped to do after high school.
"At least I know who my father is," she said, knowing it was a low blow, but then again so was sitting on top of her so that he could pour gallon after gallon of paint on her.
"Well, at least my mother didn't run off with the milkman," he said, getting in her face and just like that she snapped. It didn't matter that there were twenty witnesses or that extra month of detention that would no doubt be added onto her time. All that mattered was wiping that smug look off the bastard's face.
"It was the mailman, you bastard!" she said, lunging for him.
"Same damn thing," he muttered as he put her in a headlock and took her to the floor.
* * *
Ten years earlier.......
"But I love you, Connor," Jill, Jen, or whatever the hell her name was, said.
"Uh huh, that's nice," he said absently as he watched the asshole who'd been hanging around Rory for way too long, wrap his arm around her shoulders and kiss her. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have something very important to do," he said, not caring if she heard him over the loud music.
"Connor!" she said, grabbing onto his arm to stop him from leaving her. With an annoyed sigh, he gently removed her hand from his arm and walked away. He damn neared rolled his eyes when he heard her profess her undying love for him.
He couldn't help but wonder what the hell was wrong with her. They'd had sex, not even good sex, once. There had never been any promises or declarations of love, but for some reason she thought that meant they were meant to be. Why in the hell did women get so damn clingy? It wasn't as if he hadn't made it damn clear that he'd used her for sex.
"Whoa! What the hell was wrong with Rick inviting you and Rory to the same party?" Ted, a guy he'd gone to high school with, asked, laughing as he held up his beer to Connor in salute.
"No clue," he answered without taking his eyes off his prey since he had about five minutes before Rick and his buddies tried to remove him. Two hours ago he'd been too tired to crash this party, but then he happened to stop for some gas and a cold soda and overheard the prick in front of him brag to his frat buddies that he was going to fuck a virgin townie tonight and earn twenty points.
Normally he wouldn't have cared what one of the asshole college kids did, but when he heard Rory's name, he of course decided that he had to do something. She was his to screw over, no one else's, especially not some fucking college punk's. It didn't matter that they were no longer kids, she was still the best part of his day and he'd be damned if he let some other asshole cause her grief when it was still his damn job. Once upon a time he’d hoped for something else, but…….
It was never going to happen and it was pointless to wish for something that common sense told him would never happen. He’d fucked up big time and made damn sure that there would never be anything more between them a few years ago. For now he’d have to settle for keeping an eye out for her and enjoying their daily antics, which did entertain him immensely. Since this was all they would ever have, he made damn sure that he enjoyed himself.
A minute later he smoothly stepped in their path, blocking them as they tried to leave. He ignored Rory as she glared up at him since he had more important things to deal with at the moment. His eyes dropped to their entwined hands before settling back on the prick's face.
"Did you earn your twenty points yet, Mark?" he asked, drawing everyone's attention and not giving a damn.
Mark's eyes widened. "I-I don't know what you're talking about," the little shit said, lying.
"That must suck having a short term memory, especially in college. Should I refresh your memory?" he asked, barely aware that someone had shut off the music and not really caring.
"I-I-I...," the man stammered nervously as he dropped Rory's hand and stepped away from her.
"Mark?" Rory asked, glancing between the two of them.
"I-I-I..," he continued to stammer.
"Good answer, Mark," Connor drawled, wondering where she found these losers. The last one made this one look like fucking Einstein, but he hadn't been this much fun to fuck over.
Rory sighed long and heavy as she gestured for him to get on with it. There was no drama or theatrics with this woman. She knew the game as well as he did and wasn't going to freak out over the impending blow. They'd screwed each other over enough times that they were pretty much immune to public humiliation by now. That didn't mean that she was going to take this lying down. He fully expected some sort of retaliation.
"Seems your little boyfriend here is trying to pop your cherry so that he can earn some points with his frat brothers," Connor said, trying to hide how surprised he'd been to find out that she was still a virgin. Then again, he did fuck up her life on a daily basis so maybe he shouldn't be that surprised. He'd lost track of how many losers he'd run off in the last five years.
She was quiet for a moment before she frowned at the man. "Is that true?"
Connor snorted at that. As if he'd lie. She really should know better by now.
"I-I......it was," Mark noticeably swallowed as he backed away from Rory with his hands up in a pacifying manner
. "It was just for fun, honestly. It's no big deal."
"I see," Rory mumbled, but didn't move to run away or cry like most women would do. She simply stood there glaring at the man.
"You're not going to hit me, are you?" Mark asked, sounding like a pussy.
Rory simply shrugged. "I don't have to.”
Mark frowned, dropping his hands. "Why not?"
"Because they will," Connor answered for her, grinning when five huge men broke through the crowd and started to circle Mark, looking ready to tear him apart and they probably would.
"But, it was just a-" Whatever he would have said was cut off by one of Rory's brother's fist.
"Thanks for the head's up," Rory said as she passed him.
"No problem," he said, following after her. He was more than ready to go to bed and get some sleep. He was exhausted, which was probably the reason he didn't see it, or rather her, coming.
As soon as he stepped outside he realized that Rory was nowhere to be seen. He really should have known better, he thought as Rory dumped what had to be a gallon of piss warm beer over his head.
"Thanks again," she said pleasantly as she handed him the empty jug and headed towards her car.
"No problem," he said, fighting back a yawn as he headed after her, only pausing long enough to snatch a large bag of ice out of someone's hand.
"Come on, come on, come on," Rory mumbled as she waited for the only traffic light in town to turn green. Just as it did, she sighed with immense relief which ended abruptly when Mrs. Church, Golden, New Hampshire's oldest citizen, took the green light as the signal to walk across the street, using her walker.
Her eyes shot to the dimly lit clock on her dashboard and she may have whimpered. She was five minutes late! She could not be five minutes late. Not today. Normally it would just irritate her, but today it felt like it was a matter of life or death. She needed Mrs. Church to haul her ninety-six year old ass across the street before the light turned red.