Fire & Brimstone, Page 2R. L. Mathewson
bad that her best friend was driving her insane with all this nagging and threats of violence. She didn’t want to go see another doctor, but unfortunately for her, Melanie didn’t seem to care about what she wanted. Her best friend was determined to figure out what was wrong with her and fix it even if that meant dragging her kicking and screaming to see every doctor in the world.
Even though it annoyed the hell out of her, it meant the world to her having someone who believed in her the way that Melanie did. No matter what anyone said about her, Melanie always had her back, which was why she resisted the urge to throttle her best friend when she refused to back down and just accept the fact that there was nothing that anyone could do to fix her.
“What about the specials?” Rose, a waitress he’d hired a few months ago on the recommendation of his sister-in-law, asked.
“What about them?” Lucifer asked as he leaned back against the wall, looking through the time cards.
“Are there any changes?” she asked as she glanced at the menus for the night.
There should be, but the new recipes that he’d been working on weren’t ready yet. “No. They’re the same as last week,” he said as he glanced up at the whiteboard by the clock to see what last week’s specials were.
He looked over the list before deciding that the dessert menu was a little weak. “I’ll make a call to Dixon Bakery and see if they have anything they can spare for tonight’s dinner service,” he said, deciding that it would probably be for the best if he went in person and had a Bradford special to help him recover from this morning’s disappointment.
She really was going to be the death of him, he thought as he initialed this morning’s time stamps. All except two. He set the first one aside and looked for the matching time stamp. It only took him a few seconds to find it.
Sighing, he said, “Aimee?”
“Yes?” Aimee said, shifting nervously and for good reason.
“You’re fired,” he said, not bothering to look up from her time card.
“You have five minutes to clear out your locker,” he said, placing her time stamp aside before selecting the other time card that she’d decided to stamp this morning and making him wonder why he was having such a hard time firing Rebecca.
“You can tell Kelly when you see her that she’s fired as well,” he said, putting a line through Kelly’s timecard.
She didn’t say anything else as she quickly grabbed her stuff and left, because she knew better. He didn’t take any shit from anyone and he rarely gave second chances. There was a reason why everyone called him Lucifer to his face and asshole to his back. He didn’t have a problem with either nickname, because he’d earned both.
Even as a kid he hadn’t been someone that you wanted to fuck with. He never took any shit from anyone and if you had a problem with that, he’d always been more than happy to clear up any misunderstandings. Although he was an asshole, and he had absolutely no problems with admitting that, he wasn’t a bully and never pulled any shit. If you left him alone, he left you alone, but God help you if he caught you fucking someone over because he’d be in your face before you had a chance to blink.
He wasn’t like the rest of the men in his family. They were more laid back, easy going while he was straight-laced and probably took everything too seriously. He’d always been like that and had never thought about changing and why should he? He was happy with the way that his life had turned out.
He had the restaurant of his dreams, which he would admit was still a work in progress, decent friends, a good place to live and a family that accepted him for the asshole that he was. His life was fucking perfect.
He set his own hours, worked on whatever he wanted and ensured that one day his restaurant would be the best in the city. When he accomplished that he would look into opening more locations and hopefully one day he would be able to sit back and enjoy his success. Until that day happened, he was going to put absolutely everything that he had into making this restaurant great even if that meant spending all his time and every last penny he had to make that happen.
“Move your ass, Shaw!” the controlling bitch that she loved more than anything, said in a chipper voice as she walked past the bathroom. “We’re leaving in ten minutes.”
“No, we’re not!” Rebecca snapped back even though she knew damn well that she didn’t have a choice.
She was going or Melanie would beat the living shit out of her and then drag her unconscious body to the doctor’s office. As much fun as it would be to wake up by being poked and prodded, she was going to have to pass and accept the fact that she was going to have deal with another doctor telling her that it was all in her head.
Yup, it was going to be loads of fun, she thought dryly as she grabbed her toothbrush and cleaned her teeth, telling herself that she didn’t have a choice. She either went of her own free will or Melanie would walk in here, grab her by the hair and drag her down the backstairs, out the door and shove her unconscious body in the trunk of her car.
Since she really didn’t feel like being shoved into the trunk with Melanie’s gym clothes that hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in five years, she decided to suck it up and accept the fact that she was going to sit there and smile politely while another doctor explained in the subtlest terms that she was insane. She was going to-
“Get off me!” Melanie suddenly yelled, sounding pissed and making Rebecca sigh heavily, because by this point Melanie really should have learned how to deal with their sweet, little baby. As Rebecca rinsed her mouth and put her toothbrush away, the bloodcurdling screaming began.
“Screaming will only make it worse!” she yelled over the screams, wondering why Melanie couldn’t remember that one simple rule.
“Get him off me!” Melanie screamed hysterically, which was just ridiculous, because Mojo would never hurt her and she knew that.
Muttering to herself, Rebecca stepped into the small hallway that was made even smaller by the fact that Melanie was laying on the floor with the two-hundred and sixty-five pound mastiff laying on top of her, happily wagging his tail as he continued to drool all over the woman that seemed to have a problem with cuddling.
“Are you going to get him off me?” Melanie demanded as she tried, and failed, to turn her head to get out of the path of all that drool slowly dripping down on her face and neck.
“Are you going to cancel the doctor’s appointment?” Rebecca countered, realizing that she might actually have a shot at getting out of this appointment. She’d still get her ass kicked. There was no doubt about that, but at least thanks to Mojo and his love for a good cuddle, she’d miss her appointment and really, that’s all that mattered to her.
“No!” the stubborn woman that was lying in a large puddle of dog drool snapped, shooting a terrifying glare in her direction as though it was somehow Rebecca’s fault that Mojo loved to tackle her whenever the opportunity presented itself.
“Are you sure?” Rebecca asked after a slight hesitation, simply because she knew how this was going to end.
“Then I’m afraid that there’s nothing that I can do,” she said with a shrug as she turned around and headed for the back door, deciding that she’d go back to work since it appeared that she suddenly had a few extra hours to kill.
“I’m going to fucking kill her,” he said in resignation as he rubbed his hands down his face, because he no longer had a choice. Not now when every single one of his employees was wearing the uniform that the little demon had ordered behind his back.
He couldn’t even say that he hadn’t seen this day coming. There had been plenty of clues along the way letting him know that one day he would have no choice but to dump her body into a tub of holy water and let the Devil have his protégé back.
There was the day that Rebecca Shaw had shown up twenty minutes late to her interview, wearing a Goo
nies t-shirt, flannel pajama pants, pink bunny slippers and carrying a resume that proudly informed anyone who had the misfortune of reading it about the five years she’d spent finding herself as she’d jumped from job to job…to job.
Normally he never would have hired someone who clearly didn’t have their shit together, but at the time he’d been short-staffed because he’d mistakenly hired waitresses who couldn’t handle a little fucking criticism without bursting into tears. When she hadn’t turned into a nervous wreck five minutes into the interview, the time it usually took someone to decide that working at Fire & Brimstone just wasn’t for them, he decided to hire her on a temporary basis.
With her work history he’d figured that it was only a matter of weeks before she’d quit and by the time that happened, he should have been able to find a reliable waitress who knew how to do her job without pissing him off. Unfortunately for his sanity and his blood pressure, things hadn’t worked out that way.
Like the first time that he’d tried to fire her and had somehow ended up with a new menu, two new waitresses that actually turned out to be pretty good, and renting the apartment across from his to her, her best friend and that fucking dog. He still wasn’t sure how she’d managed it, but every fucking time that he tried to tell her to stop fucking with his head, his life, and his restaurant, she somehow managed to change the subject and fuck with his head until he found himself doing exactly what she wanted just to shut her the fuck up, but no longer.
He was fucking done.
Absolutely fucking done.
Shooting one last glare at the uniforms that would make a lovely addition to a bonfire, he headed towards the back, giving customers a slight nod when they waved hello and ignoring the employees that were trying to derail him from his life’s purpose with petty bullshit. He didn’t stop until he found himself in the employee hallway and was forced to punch in the code to release the security door that lead upstairs to the apartments that he’d added shortly after he’d purchased the building.
As soon as the door clicked open, he was in the stairwell and heading upstairs where he would finally end the little demon’s reign of terror. This ended today, he promised himself, refusing to put up with her bullshit for one more day. Thirty seconds later, he was at her door and raising his hand as anticipation coursed through his body.
Finally, this nightmare was about to-
“Good morning, Christopher,” the little terror greeted him with a huge smile when she opened the door and spotted him, daring to call him the name that not even his mother used anymore, further fueling his determination to get rid of her. “Did you need something?”
“You’re fired,” he blurted out with absolutely no finesse, ruining what he’d been working on for years, but at the moment he really didn’t fucking care as long as the job got done. The only thing that mattered was finally ridding himself of the biggest mistake of his life.
Instead of crying, begging for her job or arguing with him like most sane people would have done, she simply nodded and mumbled a distracted, “I see,” as she glanced over her shoulder at something in her apartment, the move causing her curly black hair that he had to admit that he liked about her to slide off her shoulder.
“You’re fired,” he said a little louder, determined to make sure that there were no misunderstandings.
“Uh huh,” she mumbled, sounding even more distracted as she turned around, grabbed the door handle and ever so carefully, pulled the door closed behind her. She slowly backed away from the door. Licking her lips nervously, she shot a hopeful glance towards the stairwell door as though she was calculating the odds of making it there before-
“You little bitch!” came the feminine roar as the door was suddenly thrown open and Melanie, the normal one in this duo as far as he could tell, launched herself at Rebecca before the much smaller woman could so much as gasp in surprise as she took her down to the ground.
“Get the hell off me!” Rebecca demanded a minute later as she rolled over onto her stomach and attempted to crawl away, but the crazed woman on top of her, who’d clearly been pushed to her limit, refused to let her go.
“Bitch!” Rebecca shot back, triggering a verbal duel that he was, unfortunately, all too familiar with.
“Bieber lover!” Melanie growled as she put Rebecca in a headlock and earned a gasp of outrage, because clearly that was crossing the line.
“You bitch!” Rebecca snarled, forgoing her attempts to escape so that she could put her best friend in a headlock of her own.
Sighing heavily, Lucifer pinched the bridge of his nose, wondering how his life had turned into this fucked up existence. He’d like to say that living with these two was like living with his family, but sadly, he couldn’t even say that, because they were clearly worse than anyone in his family, which was actually fucking disturbing.
“Are you two done yet?” he asked, not really surprised when they ignored him and continued to fight, argue or whatever they fucking called it.
“You’re going!” Melanie snapped with a determined expression as she released her hold on Rebecca and-
“Ow!” Rebecca screamed as Melanie grabbed her by the ear and gave it a good twist, a move that never seemed to fail and one that the little pain in the ass really should have expected.
“I didn’t come up here to witness more of your bullshit,” he snapped as the pair moved onto ineffectual bitch slaps. “I wanted to make sure that you understood that you’re fired.”
But, like always, they continued to ignore him and the fact that their “baby,” had come out into the hallway to watch them, already looking bored. Thankful that the dog hadn’t focused on him, Lucifer decided to give it one more try before he left, secure in the knowledge that he’d accomplished what he’d come here to do.
“We heard you the first time!” Melanie snapped, looking more determined than he’d ever seen her before as she stood up and attempted to drag her best friend towards the stairwell door by her ear.
“Let go!” Rebecca snapped right back, but it was clear to everyone in the hallway, including the dog now snoring loudly by the door, that she’d lost.
Having had enough bullshit today and wanting to make sure that the worst employee that he’d ever had knew that she was fired, he walked over to the struggling duo, reached down and swept Rebecca off her feet. He ignored the twin sounds of outrage, the dog rolling over onto his side and blocking most of the hallway and headed for his apartment.
“Hey! I was winning that!” she argued, even though she’d been getting her ass royally kicked and seconds away from being dragged down a flight of stairs by her ear.
“Shut up and sit down,” Lucifer said evenly as he rudely deposited her on one of the large leather couches taking up the large open space, letting her know that she’d finally pushed him too far, because he’d never once in the five years that she’d worked for him allowed her inside his apartment.
No one was allowed in here as far as she knew. This was his sanctuary, his escape from the rest of the world and the one place that she’d never attempted to infiltrate, because she hadn’t wanted to see exactly how far she could push him before he snapped and turned the infamous Lucifer Bradford temper on her. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t lost his temper with her before. It happened on a daily basis and usually more than once a day, but she’d never seen him this angry before.
At other people?
All. The. Time.
Since she really didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that aforementioned temper, she decided that it would probably be in her best interest if she made a hasty retreat and gave him a chance to cool off.
“You and I need to have a talk,” he bit out with a cold glare that didn’t bode well for her.
Yeah….no, she was good.
“We definitely should talk,” she agreed with a firm
nod, because she’d learned years ago that the best way to deal with Lucifer Bradford was to either distract him or avoid him altogether and since she didn’t have her trusty clipboard with her...
She needed to get out of here for a few hours and unfortunately for her, the only thing that would grant her sanctuary until Mr. Cranky Pants here redirected that anger issue of his onto someone else was a visit to the Doctor’s office.
Well, there really was no point in putting it off any longer, especially since Lucifer looked liked he was going to try firing her again. He really was cute when he thought that he was in charge, she mused with a resigned sigh as she got to her feet and headed for the door.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” he demanded, somehow managing to look downright adorable for a man that could have easily been a cover model with his brooding green eyes, perfect tan, great build and short jet black hair that he swept forward every morning.
It really was a shame that he was such an asshole, she thought as she gave him one of those huge smiles that made always seemed to make the muscle beneath his eye tick and said brightly, “Doctor’s appointment!”
Before he could reply, she was out the door and in a chokehold by a woman who could teach Lucifer Bradford a thing or two about channeling all that anger.