Fire & Brimstone: A Neighbor from HellR. L. Mathewson
Fire & Brimstone
In loving memory of Roni Brown, a mother, sister, friend, daughter and member of Team Bradford.
You are missed, Roni.
Other titles by R.L. Mathewson:
The Pyte/Sentinel Series:
Tall, Dark & Lonely
Tall, Dark & Heartless
Tall, Silent & Lethal
The Hollywood Hearts Series:
A Humble Heart
A Reclusive Heart
The Neighbor from Hell Series:
Playing for Keeps
Truce: The Historic Neighbor from Hell
The Game Plan
Double Feature (The Game Plan/Double Dare)
The Neighbor from Hell Collection I
Honeymoon from Hell Mini-Series I-VI
Christmas from Hell
The EMS Series:
The Cursed Hearts Series:
The 2014 R.L. Mathewson Chronicle Collection
The 2015 R.L. Mathewson Chronicle Collection
How to Write, Publish and All That Good Stuff…
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events described in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Fire & Brimstone © Rerum Industries, Inc. 2016. All rights reserved.
Edited by R.L. Mathewson, Kirstie Grundy, and Necie Navone,
eBook ISBN- 978-0-9885732-8-4
This book is dedicated to everyone who was willing to take a chance on me throughout the years and who has stuck by my side ever since.
And of course to my children who will always be my inspiration, my little buddies and my reason for sleeping with one eye open every night.
Thank you for purchasing this book.
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Fire & Brimstone
“You're fired,” Lucifer bit out as he openly glared at the small woman sitting across from him, silently daring her to argue with him, again.
Five goddamn long years he'd been trying to fire the woman staring back at him through deceptively innocent baby blue eyes and every single time she’d somehow managed to get out of it, but not today.
This time she’d gone too far.
“Is this about the uniforms?” Rebecca Shaw, the bane of his existence, asked with a slight frown that only managed to further piss him off.
“Yes,” he snarled at the little hypochondriac that missed more days than all his other employees combined as he somehow resisted the urge to throttle the meddling woman that had made his life a living hell since the day that he’d foolishly hired her.
Her frown deepened as she glanced over her shoulder at the stack of boxes that had arrived only an hour ago. “Did they mess up the order?” she asked, having the balls to look adorably confused as she returned her attention back to him.
“You could say that,” he said, honestly surprised that he hadn't resorted to shouting at the little pain in the ass yet.
He glanced at the Coca Cola clock hanging above the door and noted that it was still early. It usually took her a good ten minutes or so to reduce him to monosyllabic words and incoherent rants yelled at the top of his lungs.
“Damn it!” she groaned, getting to her feet. Shaking her head in disbelief, she walked over to the boxes that were being returned first thing in the morning and ripped open the box sitting by the door. “I was hoping we'd be able to have them by Friday,” she explained as she pulled out a black tee shirt and inspected it.
“I'm sure you were,” he said dryly as he watched her inspect a few of the shirts, aprons and pants that were neatly piled in the box.
“I'm not seeing a problem,” she said with that damn small sigh of hers that always grated on his nerves as she looked at the shirt in her hands before starting the inspection process all over again.
“Don't you?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow as he leaned back in his chair and-
“What the hell are you doing?” he demanded when the woman that he should have realized was crazy years ago pulled off her off-white Fire & Brimstone tee shirt and tossed it on his desk, leaving her in a black bra that looked like it was struggling to keep the large pale breasts that she'd somehow managed to shove inside it from bursting free.
“Trying on the new uniform,” she explained with an expression that clearly told him that it should have been more than obvious what the crazed woman was doing while he sat there, watching helplessly as she reached up and adjusted her bra, wondering where he'd gone wrong.
It was in that moment that he would forever be grateful that he was an ass man, otherwise-
“Don't. Even. Fucking. Think. Of, it,” he bit out, stressing every syllable to make sure that she’d heard him.
She stopped unbuttoning her pants, opened her mouth to argue, but something in his expression must have clued the psychotic woman into the fact that he was seconds away from throttling her with his bare hands. With a long-suffering sigh that would put every man in his family to shame, she fixed her pants and tossed the slacks that she’d been seconds away from trying on back in the box.
“I still don't see the problem,” she said, gesturing to the shirt that she’d had absolutely no business ordering.
“That's because you're-where the hell are you going?” he demanded when she suddenly turned around and left without another word, making her escape just as he was about to fire her ass and bringing his rage to the homicidal stage
He sat there for another minute, refusing to chase after her. He'd planned on firing her in his office, had actually fantasized about it, and he was damn well going to do it in his fucking office. He opened his mouth to demand that she get her ass back in there so that he could live out his fantasy when the next words out of her mouth had him releasing a vicious curse and racing for the door.
“Hey, Tim! What do you think of the new uniforms?”
He was going to kill her, he decided as he stormed out of his office and across the taproom to find the little pain in the ass showing everyone the uniform that she’d ordered behind his back.
“I love it!” Abigail, his bar manager, gushed approvingly, further pissing him off because there was nothing wrong with the fucking uniforms that he'd designed tens years ago!
“It's about damn time,” Tim said with a smile that quickly disappeared when he spotted Lucifer walking towards them.
“I think this will go a lot better with the new…” Rebecca started to explain only to let her words trail off with a resigned sigh when he grabbed her and threw her over his shoulder. “Didn't we talk about the manhandling?” she asked as she settled in over his shoulder, getting comfortable as he walked back to his office.
“We need to have a little chat,” he calmly explained, deciding that there really was no need to yell and ruin this momentous occasion.
“Another one?” she asked, not sounding particularly worried as he carried her back to his office, pausing only long enough to kick the door shut behind him before he deposited his unwanted waitress in the rickety old chair he saved for just such an occasion. With a sigh of his own, he returned to his desk, satisfied that everything in the world was as it should be.<
He sat down, cleared his throat and opened his mouth to recite the speech that he'd been working on since the moment he’d realized his mistake hiring her, but after a slight pause he took a long, satisfying breath, deciding to savor the moment.
It was a mistake and part of him knew that when he’d decided to do it, but after five long years of hell and bullshit he hadn't been able to help himself. After all the crazy bullshit she’d brought into his life he'd wanted to savor that one precious moment when he finally freed himself of her.
“I was hoping to talk to you this morning,” his own personal reminder that hell did in fact exist, said as she stood up and walked around his desk, but this time he’d been prepared and had stacked a large pile of folders on the corner of his desk earlier so that she couldn't-
“What the hell do you think you're doing” he demanded as she simply walked past the large pile of folders he'd stacked on his desk to keep her off her customary spot and hopped up on his desk.
Right. In. Front. Of. Him.
“Nothing,” she said, shooting him a frown as though he was the one that had lost his goddamn mind.
“Move,” he bit out between clenched teeth as she lazily crossed one leg over the other, leaned back and grabbed-
“Please tell me that you're fucking kidding me,” he said when the crazed woman reached back and grabbed the clipboard that had helped make his life a living hell over the last five years.
He still wasn't sure how she did it, but whenever she felt the urge to see if he was willing to do ten to life behind bars for manslaughter, she pulled out that damn clipboard. She never carried it around, but it always seemed to be within reaching distance, something that had driven him nuts until he realized that he was allowing this small, plump pain in the ass to have that much power over him. Once he’d figured it out, he'd forced himself not to care that she was able to pull that fucking torture device from thin air and ruin his whole fucking day with just a few key, “points.”
“I had to switch Jen to the morning shift, because I have an appointment this morning. But, I should be back in time for the lunch rush,” she began, trying to prolong the inevitable and bringing this whole thing to a new level of fucking pathetic.
“There's no point in you coming back,” he explained before finally adding, “you're fired.”
“Uh huh,” she mumbled absently, clearly ignoring him, which unfortunately for her was one of the things that pissed him off the most about her.
Well, to be honest he hated a lot of things about pretty much everyone. Except for his family. He tolerated them, because he had to or his mother would probably beat the shit out of him.
Then his father would, of course, feel obligated to kick his ass for upsetting his mother.
Then his brothers would try to kick his ass. That is, if he survived the ass whooping from his father, which wasn't likely. So, for self-preservation, he tolerated his family.
To a point.
He might have to acknowledge them and refrain from killing them when they annoyed the shit out of him, but he didn't have to let them in his restaurant no matter how much they bitched and God, did they bitch.
“I'll be back for the lunch rush,” the thorn in his side repeated, reminding him that he was supposed to be living out his fantasy.
There was no way in hell that he was allowing her to ruin this for him. He'd dreamed of doing this and now that he was doing it, he was going to savor every second of it.
“You're fired,” he repeated, taking perverse satisfaction in letting those two words roll off his tongue.
“I had Eric go through the refrigerator this morning and clean it out today instead of tomorrow since we’re getting the delivery in the morning,” she said with a little frown that he refused to find adorable as she absently reached down, grabbed his coffee and took a sip before he could stop her. As soon as she was done, he took the cup away from her.
“Didn't you hear what I just said?” he asked with a glare as the frustrating woman took the cup out of his and took another sip before handing it back to him, leaving him sitting there, glaring at the woman that refused to leave.
“I also had to let Jeff go this morning,” she said, grabbing his attention in a big way.
“You did what?” he snapped, taking note of the time that she'd set a new record for making him lose his fucking mind.
“I fired him,” she said with a shrug as though it was no big deal.
It was a big fucking deal!
“Who the hell do you think you are firing one of my employ-,” he started to demand only to get cut off and left speeches by the little brat as she tossed the clipboard to him, hopped off his desk and headed for the door.
“He was calling hookers from the business line and using petty cash to pay them. Well, I'll be back in a few hours!” she said cheerfully as he sat there, staring at the door long after she’d left, wondering how she’d managed to keep doing this to him.
It wouldn't happen again, he promised himself as he grabbed his own clipboard and headed for the morning meeting, determined to salvage the rest of the day. When he was done he’d come back and try this again, but this time he would succeed. After he’d finally managed to fire her, he would focus on finding a way to evict the little pain in the ass from the apartment he’d stupidly leased to her.
“What happened?” Melanie, her best friend since the second grade and roommate, asked as Rebecca quietly closed the door behind her.
“He fired me again,” she admitted as she tried to go for casual while she walked through their loft-style apartment and headed towards the bathroom.
“Gonna be sick?” Melanie asked around a yawn from where she lounged on the couch with a magazine, a Coke and her reason for living, a double chocolate fudge Pop-Tart.
“No, no of course not,” she lied, barely resisting the urge to place her hand over her stomach, dive for the wastebasket by the kitchen island and finally find some relief from the damn nausea that had been plaguing her since breakfast.
“Really?” Melanie asked, cocking a brow as she continued thumbing through her magazine, pausing only long enough to push back a thick strand of her honey blond hair.
“I'm fine,” Rebecca swore, forcing herself to stop a mere twenty feet from her salvation.
“Really?” Melanie asked, not sounding as though she really believed her, which of course was a problem since Rebecca really didn't want to go to this appointment. But, unless she was able to convince Melanie that she was fine, she-
“You're not getting out of this appointment,” the bossy woman announced with a bored sigh, making Rebecca regret offering to share her juice box back in pre-school.
“I'm fine,” she bit out, outraged that her best friend refused to believe her.
“Then explain why you're pale,” Melanie demanded, still not looking up from her magazine. Then again, Melanie probably didn't need to after all these years to know when she was sick.
“Because I'm Irish,” she reminded her inconsiderate friend.
“And the trembling?”
“Leftover adrenaline surge from my meeting with Lucifer,” she explained with a small sniffle, hoping to play on her best friend’s sympathetic heart to get out of this since the last thing that she wanted to do was waste her day at another doctor’s office just so they could tell her that it was all in her head.
“Nice try, but you're not getting out of this,” Melanie, the cold hearted bitch, said, sounding bored while Rebecca stood there, bottom lip trembling, eyes tearing up as she hugged herself, making sure to look appropriately traumatized.
“It was so t-terrifying,” she said, waiting two crucial seconds before she added a little sob at the end there, hoping that it would be enough so that they could end this charade and get on with their lives.
“Uh huh,” Melanie mumbled, still not bothering to grant her the courtesy of a glance as she sipped her Coke.
“I don't think I'll ever get over
it,” Rebecca whispered harshly, taking a discrete step in the direction of the bathroom, praying that the traitor hadn't noticed.
“First off,” Melanie began, only pausing long enough to take another sip of her soda, “you are probably the only person alive that isn't terrified of Lucifer Bradford.”
Rebecca began to argue, simply to argue, but the damn woman wasn't done yet. “Secondly, you're not fooling anyone with that pathetic lip tremble. If you're going to be sick then get it over with, because you're not getting sick in my car, again,” Melanie announced on another bored sigh that earned her a glare.
Rebecca continued to stand there glowering at her best friend while a thousand arguments ran through her head, but her damn stomach decided that it was time to take this to the next level and start cramping, nearly knocking her on her ass and guaranteeing that Melanie won this match.
That didn't mean that she planned on going quietly to this appointment, because she didn't. She'd get out of this appointment like she'd gotten out of so many before. All she had to do was-
“Tick, tock,” the annoying bitch that she loathed more with every passing second, said mockingly, forever earning her hatred.
“This isn't over!” Rebecca snapped, simply because it was and they both knew it.
“Whatever you say, sunshine,” Melanie said in an annoying singsong voice just to piss her off even more.
Rebecca opened her mouth to argue, but ended up slapping a hand against her mouth as she narrowed her eyes on the woman that should have rightfully been her nemesis and decided to make a tactical retreat to the bathroom before she did something that would prove the gloating bitch right.
The door had just shut behind her when she lost the battle and her breakfast, something that she was doing more frequently lately. It was also something that she’d been trying to avoid doing today, knowing that it would be her downfall. She didn’t want to go to this appointment today simply because she was sick and tired of listening to doctors tell her that there was nothing wrong with her all while giving her that look that made her feel worthless. They all thought that she was a hypochondriac and the scary part was that they might be right.