Fire amp brimstone, p.12
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       Fire & Brimstone, p.12
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         Part #8 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  could wrap his arms around her while worshiping the very ground that she walked on. Instead, she’d managed to make it downstairs in time to sneak into the morning meeting where Lucifer pretended that he hadn’t noticed her.

  That hadn’t bothered her since they were at work and needed to maintain a professional relationship. What had bothered her was when the meeting was over and they were the last two people in the room. He’d barely acknowledged her when she said hello and before she could get a chance to talk to him, he was walking out the door.

  By the end of the day she’d realized two things, she might not have to quit after all and Lucifer wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. Since then he’d all but ignored her, acknowledging her when he needed something and only then if he couldn’t find someone else to do it for him. She tried to tell herself that she wasn’t disappointed that it had been just a one-time thing. When that didn’t work, she tried to convince herself that the two of them together was a really bad idea.

  It had taken a few days and several trips to Dixon’s Gluten Free Bakery, but she was eventually able to get over it. She would probably never forget just how good it felt to be in his arms, but she was surprisingly okay with that. She also realized that she would probably never meet another man that could make her feel the way that he did, which had the power to depress her so she tried not to think about it.

  “What happened between the two of you anyway?” Melanie asked.

  She’d ruined him for all other women.

  But, she couldn’t say that, because it would give away too much and Melanie would never leave her alone. So, instead she settled for a shrug and a lie.

  “He professed his undying love for me, but alas, I just couldn’t-” she started to explain when the man that had just walked through the front door caught her attention. “Oh, shit.”

  “Oh, shit,” Melanie seconded as Rebecca reacted like any sane woman would when her biggest dating mistake came waltzing in through the door.

  She looked for the fastest escape route before he spotted her.

  “Run,” Melanie whispered, but she was trapped.

  There was nowhere for her to run, because she was out in the open and the biggest jerk that she’d ever met had spotted her. Great, she thought miserably as she tossed her notepad on the table and prepared herself for a discussion on everything that made Brian so wonderful.

  She should have never agreed to go out on that one date with him, but she’d felt bad for him. He was now the reason that she refused to give out on a pity date ever again. From the moment that he’d actually had the balls to tell her that he was incredibly good looking and that she should feel flattered that he’d asked her out, she’d realized that she’d made a mistake in saying yes. She’d mumbled her agreement to shut him up, realizing too late how conceded he was and nearly cried when she realized that the appetizers hadn’t arrived yet.

  It had been the most boring night of her-

  “Get the fuck out of my bar,” Lucifer, who at some point had crossed the room, said softly with a glimmer in his eyes that told everyone that had the balls to look that he wasn’t playing around.

  Secure in the knowledge that Brian would do the smart thing and run away, which he did, Lucifer turned around, locked eyes on her and-

  That’s when she decided that someone, namely her, should go count the napkins in the back room to make sure that they had enough to last them for another year or two.

  Chapter 22

  “I really wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Melanie said offhandedly as she picked up her empty glass and proceeded to nibble on her straw as she gave him a pitying look.

  “I’m not doing anything,” he said, pushing a chair out of his way so that he could go after Rebecca and continue staring at her like a fucking moron.

  “You’re out of your league on this one,” Melanie called after him.

  “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, ignoring the new waitress that he’d hired, who was desperately trying to get his attention as he headed towards the back hallway.

  “Don’t I?” she said, sounding a little too smug for his comfort.

  Slowly, he turned around to face her as he told himself that there was no way that Rebecca had told her anything, but one look at her face told him everything that he needed to know. Cursing, he ground his jaw, turned right back around and stormed off in the direction of his office, knowing damn well that she would be right behind him.

  He walked into his office and waited for the smug woman to waltz past him before he slammed his office door shut. As soon as he made the door was locked he sat down behind his desk all while keeping his eyes on the woman who apparently knew too much.

  Or did she…

  “What did she tell you?” he asked, deciding that it was for the best to play on the side of caution.

  “Everything,” she said without batting an eye.

  Narrowing his eyes on her, he said, “You’re bluffing.”

  Cocking a brow, she leaned back in her chair as she folded her hands over her lap and gave him that smug smile that was really going to get her killed. “Am I?”

  For a moment he studied her, trying to decide whether she was bullshiting him or not, but in the end it was that damn smile of hers that had him convinced that she knew a lot more than she should.

  “Start talking,” he said, already deciding that if she didn’t say anything useful in the next sixty seconds that he was tossing her out of his office and hunting Rebecca down so that he could fit in a few more minutes of staring at her like an idiot before the dinner rush arrived.

  God, he was fucking pathetic.

  “First off, you really need to stop glaring at her all the time,” she said before adding, “It’s seriously disturbing.”

  “I’m not glaring at her!” he snapped even as he conceded that it would probably be for the best if he stopped doing that.

  “No, of course you’re not,” she mumbled absently as she studied him.

  “I’m not!”

  “Uh huh.”

  Sighing, he gestured for her to get on with it so that he could get back to work. Well, at least pretend to work since he couldn’t seem to keep his mind off Rebecca. This plan of his was seriously fucking with his life, but it was the only one that had ever worked in the past.

  He just needed to give it a little more time, he told himself, already knowing that it was bullshit. Rebecca wasn’t like the other women that he’d dated. Whenever she was near him, he found himself watching her and when she wasn’t around he couldn’t stop thinking about her. He’d hoped by putting some space between them that he’d be able to focus on the restaurant, but instead she’d somehow become his entire world and he hated her for that.

  “So, you want to tell me why you’re stalking my best friend?” Melanie demanded, reminding him that he needed some answers.

  “I’m not stalking her,” he bit out, wondering why she was pissing him off even as he noticed that she didn’t have anything on Rebecca. While Rebecca could torment him with a devious little smile and drive him out of his fucking mind with barely a word, all Melanie was doing was pissing him off.

  “Really? Then what would you call it?”

  “Dating,” he bit out.

  For a minute she didn’t say anything as she sat there, staring at him as though she couldn’t quite understand what he’d just said.

  “Dating,” she said slowly as though she was testing the word.

  “Dating,” he ground out, having had about enough of this bullshit for one morning.

  “Umm,” she said, pursing up her lips in thought, “is Rebecca aware that you’re dating?”

  “Yes.”

  “Are you sure about that?”

  “Yes!” he snapped as he shoved away from his desk and headed for the door, deciding that he’d wasted enough time on this asinine conversation when her next words had him snarling every curse word that he knew and throwing the door open.

&nb
sp; “Because I saw Jon follow her to the back and he looked like he had more than inventory on his mind,” she said with an innocent expression and a shrug, making him realize that he really might want to reevaluate his dating rules.

  *-*-*-*

  “Let me help you with that,” Jon offered with that boyish smile that all the waitresses talked about.

  “Thank you,” she said, returning his smile as she stepped back so that he could reach the box on the top shelf.

  “No problem,” he said as he easily grabbed the box and hefted it into his arms. “Where would you like this?”

  “The floor’s good,” she said, taking another step back so that he had enough space to place the large box on the floor between them.

  “Is this okay?” he asked as he placed the box on the floor and then opened it for her without being asked.

  As nice as it was to have a man smile at her and actually acknowledge her existence, she couldn’t help but miss the grumpy bastard. He’d entertained her, made her smile, not on purpose, and for a short time he’d actually made her feel like…

  She was being stupid, she told herself as she forced her thoughts away from what had obviously been a mistake and focused on helping the man smiling at her. Jon was a nice enough guy, always had a smile on his face, always willing to help her when she needed it and had even asked her out a few times.

  She’d always turned him down because they worked together, but maybe she should say yes the next time that he asked her. It might get her mind off of-

  “You’re needed up front, Jon,” Lucifer said, cutting into her thoughts and reminding her why getting involved with someone that you worked with was a bad idea.

  “Sorry,” Jon said with an apologetic smile, obviously meaning it and making her wonder why she couldn’t find herself thinking about a guy like Jon instead of the seriously pissed off man standing in the doorway.

  Maybe it was time for a fresh start, she thought as she returned Jon’s smile with a murmured, “Thank you.” He shot her a wink before he stood up and headed for the door, careful to avoid Lucifer who was still standing there…glaring.

  “Did you need something, Lucifer?” she asked as she ignored him and focused on sorting through the box filled with miscellaneous items like salt and pepper shakers, metal napkin holders, old menus that they no longer used, but kept to spice up the special’s menu every now and then, and about a hundred other items that they should probably throw away, but the man who was seriously starting to piss her off refused to part with.

  “Yes,” he said right about the time that she realized that he’d not only closed the door behind him, but was now unbuckling his belt and pulling down his zipper, cluing her into the fact that he was done ignoring her.

  It really was too bad that she was going to have to bash his balls in with the paper napkin dispenser, she thought with a sigh as she grabbed the aforementioned item and stood up, more than prepared to make Lucifer sing soprano for the rest of his life.

  Chapter 23

  “Why are you holding that like you’re about to bash my brains in?” he asked with a frown as he stood there with his hand on his zipper.

  “I was actually thinking of bashing in something a little more south depending on how the next few seconds played out,” she said, giving the napkin holder a little shake to emphasize the threat and making him roll his eyes, because this was just fucking pathetic.

  “Keep your mind out of the gutter,” he said with a sigh as he finished pulling his zipper down, turned around and pulled his shirt off over his head to show her the reason why he was in here. Okay, so it was an excuse, but he was out of his element on this one and had to work with what he had.

  There was a heavy pause before she mumbled, “Mojo?” and he could tell by the way that she’d said it that she was wincing. Not that he could blame her, because if he owned a psychotic dog that liked to tackle people to the ground so that he could drop down on top of them with the sole purpose of using them as a mattress, he would probably be wincing, too.

  “Apparently he got out again,” he said dryly as he stood there, trying not to relive the memory of being used like a bitch by a two hundred fifty pound plus dog.

  “I’m really sorry, Lucifer,” she said as he felt her fingertips brush softly over the cuts and bruises the large bastard had left behind.

  One day he was going to turn that dog into a rug…

  But, until that day came, he would use him as a means to get closer to the woman examining every mark her “baby” had left on his body. The cuts and bruises really didn’t bother him, but since they gave him an excuse to talk to her, he decided to use what he had. At least it would give him some time to figure out how to fix the fuck up that he now referred to as this past week so that she wouldn’t go off with some prick bartender.

  “There’s a first aid kit in the break room,” she said, quickly stepping past him and opened the door, but since that really wasn’t going to work for him, he turned around and tried to look appropriately innocent.

  “Oh my God! What the hell did he do to you?” she gasped as she placed her hands over her mouth, staring at the bruises covering his chest and stomach with something close to horror.

  He shrugged, making sure to cringe so that it looked like the movement pained him. “He kept knocking me down,” he said, which was technically true since his asshole cousins and brothers had taken their turns knocking him down during a pickup game of football this past weekend as payback for banning them from the Fire & Brimstone. It hadn’t mattered if he had the ball or was even on their fucking team.

  Assholes.

  He really hated those bastards, he thought with a sigh even as he was forced to bite back a smile at the memory of knocking each and every one of those assholes down until they’d screamed for their wives and mothers to make him stop.

  “These look like they really hurt,” she said, worrying her bottom lip as she took in one horrible bruise after another.

  “They really do,” he lied, hoping that she didn’t notice that the bruises on his chest were a few days old since that would just wreck everything.

  Still worrying that full bottom lip of hers that he’d imagined sliding up and down his shaft over the past week, she said, “Maybe we should put some ice on it?”

  Ice was good. Ice meant avoiding the break room and all the nosy bastards that worked for him. It was probably for the best if he wanted to fix his fuckup. Deciding that it was best that he move on this before she changed her mind, he nodded, grabbed her hand, threw the door open and headed for the security door.

  “Again with the manhandling?” she asked, sighing heavily, but she didn’t pull her hand away or suggest that they just grab some ice from the machine and do this downstairs.

  As long as he got her upstairs where they could be alone, he was happy. While she tended to all the marks on his body he could figure out a way to get her to forgive him for being an asshole. It was a long shot, but at the moment it was all he had.

  In less than sixty seconds he had her upstairs, in his apartment and the door securely closed and locked behind them. Thankfully he didn’t have to convince her to stay and tend to him since he’d already played out the Mojo bullshit to make her feel guilty enough to do it on her own. Yes, it was a fucked up thing to do and no, he really didn’t fucking care as long as it got him what he wanted.

  Rebecca back in his arms where she belonged.

  *-*-*-*

  “You want to tell me what really happened?” she asked while she filled a large Ziploc bag with ice from the ice dispenser in his kitchen.

  “Your vicious, psychotic dog beat the shit out of me, stole my wallet and then went on a joyride to Vegas where he married a slutty poodle named Fluffy,” he said dryly, making her chuckle as she pressed the bag closed.

  “I see,” she murmured thoughtfully as she walked back into the section of the large open room that he’d set up as his living room and tossed the bag of ice to him.

&nbs
p; “He’s a cruel, fat bastard,” he said with a wink as he easily caught the bag and placed it on his chest, reminding her that under that asshole exterior that he showed the world that he was actually charming.

  When he wanted to be, and apparently right now, he wanted to be.

  “That he is,” she murmured in agreement as she walked over to the leather chair across from him and sat down. “So, you want to tell me what’s going on?”

  “Your dog viciously attacking me isn’t enough?” he asked with a wince as he shifted the ice pack to a particularly nasty looking bruise.

  Frowning, she nodded towards the bruises covering his chest. “What really happened?”

  “Family gathering,” was all he said, but there was a look in
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