Fire amp brimstone, p.18
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       Fire & Brimstone, p.18
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         Part #8 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  “This is the best burger I’ve ever had,” his father said, pulling his attention back to the fact that he had two Bradfords in his restaurant for the first time since he’d opened its doors.

  Aidan nodded in agreement as he tore into his burger. “Is this your recipe?” his brother asked, and if it had been any other Bradford he would have assumed that they were fucking with him, but this Aidan, the brother who had always accepted his fucked up ways without question.

  “Yes,” he said, eyeing them both carefully, looking for any signs that they were just trying to be polite.

  “You need to give your mother this recipe,” his father said, devouring the last bite of his cheeseburger before moving onto the next platter and digging in.

  Aidan murmured his agreement as he continued to tear into his food. Every few seconds he would glance over at Lucifer, probably waiting for him to kick him out, but thanks to the little brat upstairs, he had other things on his mind.

  He waved Pauline over and gestured to the two men eying him suspiciously. “Bring them a few orders of the House Special and four orders of the dessert sampler, please.”

  “You got it, Mr. Bradford,” Pauline said with a smile as she made a quick note of it.

  “Thanks for coming,” he said with a nod of thanks to his brother and father, who had apparently forgotten that he was alive since they’d discovered the coleslaw that had taken him two years to perfect.

  “Yeah, no problem,” Aidan mumbled as he reached for a small bowl of coleslaw only to end up grabbing air when their father snatched it away from him.

  Praying that he didn’t regret this, he headed upstairs, counting on the fact that his father wouldn’t fuck him over and start a riot. He could hope at least, he thought as he made his way upstairs where a very beautiful woman better be waiting in his bed with a fully thought out apology and a sexy little smile just for him.

  Just thinking about her waiting in his bed had him moving his ass faster. He knew that sex was out of the question and surprisingly he didn’t care. He just wanted to see her. Pretending that didn’t scare him wasn’t even an option anymore. He’d still had absolutely no idea why he’d told her that he was falling for her.

  He should have kept that to himself, had actually planned on doing just that, but the second that she’d blurted out that she felt the same he’d lost control of his fucking mind. The truth was that he’d never felt like this about anyone and he still wasn’t sure what it meant, because he’d never been in love before.

  The thought of falling in love with Rebecca terrified him, but it also excited him. She was an annoying pain in the ass that got way too much fucking pleasure out of fucking with his head and he couldn’t stop thinking about her.

  “Shit,” he muttered to himself, backtracking to the refrigerator when he remembered the fourth item on her aftercare list, ice.

  After quickly putting together an ice pack, he headed towards his bedroom and the woman that was most likely going to be responsible for his stay at either a mental institution or a high max security prison. Either way, she was guaranteed to make him lose his fucking mind.

  “What…the…fuck…,” he said when he walked into his room to find it empty.

  Maybe she was in the shower? he wondered, but he knew before he opened the door that she wasn’t there.

  Sighing, he tossed the bag of ice into the bathroom sink and leaned back against the wall. This was probably for the best. She needed her rest and he had a lot of shit to do anyway. He’d check on her in the morning. He headed to the kitchen, deciding that this was a good time to play around with those recipes that he found last week.


  “Hurry up!” Melanie whined from the hallway.

  “I’m hurrying!” she said, trying not cringe when she finally managed to turn just enough so that she could see the damage from her latest episode of breaking and entering.

  She groaned when she saw the large bruise covering most of her lower back and bottom. Sadly, even after seeing the damage and spending the night crawling back and forth to the kitchen for ice she couldn’t say that she’d learned her lesson.

  Fighting back a yawn, she reached past the prescription bottle of painkillers and grabbed the bottle of Advil. As much as she would love to spend the day curled up in her bed trying to pretend that her ass wasn’t on fire, she was going to have to suck it up and go to work. Rent was due next week and she couldn’t afford to miss the hours. It didn’t matter that she had enough in her checking account to cover next month’s rent and bills. She had a job and she needed to be there to ensure that the customers were taken care of properly, that everything was clean, the condiments neatly organized and-

  Okay, fine so she really just wanted to see Lucifer.

  She wanted to see him, because she missed him!

  God, she was pathetic, but then again, so was staying up most of the night waiting for him. Around three this morning she’d finally accepted the fact that he wasn’t coming and that her ass wasn’t going to stop throbbing and gave up. She tried to fall asleep, but it never happened. Now she was trying to pretend that her ass wasn’t throbbing so that she could see him.

  Definitely pathetic.

  “Move your ass, Shaw!” Melanie snapped, sounding unreasonably irritated for a woman who liked to stay up all night eating junk food and watching sappy romance movies.

  “Stop rushing me!” she snapped back, wondering why they kept settling for apartments with only one bathroom.

  “It’s your turn to take Mojo out!” Melanie said, obviously desperate if she was resorting to using Mojo, who was probably passed out by the door.

  “I know it’s my turn!” she said, which at this point was the only thing that she knew, because she had absolutely no idea how she was going to walk Mojo this morning without falling on her face. She could barely walk and here she was getting ready to work an eight-hour shift right after she took a two hundred and sixty-five pound dog for a walk. It was going to be the best day ever, she thought miserably as she pulled her shirt back down.

  “Seriously, move your fat ass!” Melanie yelled.

  “I’m trying to get my fat ass ready for work!”

  “I see,” Melanie murmured thoughtfully instead of arguing with her, making her wonder if today was actually going to end up being a good day after all.

  Biting her lip, she carefully tucked her shirt in. Once she was done, four or five minutes later, she zipped her pants up, buttoned them and-

  Rolled her eyes when the banging started all over again.

  “I’ll be out in a minute!”

  “You are not working today or any day this week,” the incredibly sexy deep voice that she loved said, letting her know that there was a traitor that needed to be dealt with.

  “I really am,” she said, wondering why he was bothering to argue with her when they both knew that she was going to-

  “In two minutes I’m going to open this door and if I don’t find your beautiful ass soaking in that tub, then you and I are going to have a problem,” he said evenly, making her roll her eyes.

  It was so cute when he thought that he could intimidate her.

  “A minute and a half,” he announced as she stood there, shaking her head with a sigh, because they both knew that he wasn’t going to do anything.

  “I’m getting ready for work,” she said, checking her hair to make sure that everything was in place.

  “A minute and fifteen seconds,” was his reply.

  He wasn’t going to do anything except glare at her while threatening to spank her ass. It was cute, but it wasn’t going to work. She was going to work and that was all there was to it.

  “Sixty seconds.”

  She was going to work.

  “Fifty seconds.”

  He was just going to have to deal with it.

  “Thirty seconds.”

  It was so cute that he thought that he was in charge.

  “Twenty-five seconds.”

“Don’t care,” she said, fixing her shirt even as she shot a nervous glance at the door to make sure that it was locked.

  He wouldn’t…

  “Twenty seconds.”

  “You’re not scaring me!”

  And he wasn’t, because they both knew that-

  “Ten seconds.”


  Panicking, she struggled to yank her clothes off as she tried to start a bath. She’d barely kicked her panties off when she heard the doorknob turn.

  “Oh, crap!” she whispered frantically as she tried to climb in the tub only to slip, fall and land on her side in ice cold water just as Lucifer, looking exhausted and pissed, walked in.

  “I’m taking a bath!” she screamed, somewhat hysterically to the large man glaring down at her. “Oh, my God! I’m taking a bath!”

  Narrowing his eyes on her, he stood over her for another few seconds before abruptly turning around and walking out, leaving her laying there, wondering how she was going to survive a week of house arrest.

  Chapter 34

  “No!” Melanie yelled as she stormed into the kitchen. “I’m not watching any more horror movies with you, you demented bitch!”

  “Aw, come on! Just one more movie!” he heard Rebecca yell from her bedroom where he’d made damn sure that her beautiful ass had stayed for the past few days.

  “No!” Melanie yelled back at Rebecca.

  “I found this zombie movie that looks promising!”

  “Rot in hell, bitch!” Melanie yelled back.

  “This one’s not that bad! They only eat rotted corpses!”

  When Melanie spotted him standing there she came to a stop five feet away from her beloved couch, looked at him, over her shoulder and then back at him again before he found himself being dragged towards the back hallway. Before he could ask the obviously insane woman if she’d lost her fucking mind, he found himself shoved into Rebecca’s messy room.

  “Please forgive me,” Melanie whispered before she slammed the door shut and, by the sounds of it, ran away.

  “Hey, handsome!” Rebecca said, smiling when she saw him standing there, which should have pleased him, but…

  Christ, he wasn’t sure that he could take anymore.

  Every day she greeted him with a huge smile and a new and terrifying way to kill time. The first night of her doctor ordered bed rest she’d suggested a friendly game of Monopoly. Even though he normally avoided playing board games because of his intense dislike of losing, he’d figured that he could handle one night of letting her win if it would make her happy and get her mind off her current situation.

  What he hadn’t counted on was Rebecca turning into a fucking psycho as soon as the dice were rolled. She went from being cute and bored to vicious and calculating. She’d taken her time, learning the way he played, his property preferences and before he’d realized what happened, she’d managed to outmaneuver him, built monopolies and completely destroyed him.

  That’s when he got serious.

  He’d challenged her to a rematch, but apparently the little demon had already lost interest, leaving him fuming for the rest of the night. It wasn’t that she’d beaten him, it was that she’d fucked with his head while doing it and she’d done it every fucking day since.

  But that was fine, because tonight that bullshit was finally coming to an end.

  “How was your day?” she asked from the bed where a dozen books, DVDs, magazines and empty Hershey Kiss wrappers surrounded her.

  Instead of answering her, because he’d learned his lesson last night when he’d tried to distract her from her latest challenge, he reached down, picked her up and carried her out of the room.

  “No checkers?” she asked with an adorable little pout that he wasn’t falling for.

  Not this time.

  He’d learned that lesson when she’d suggested they play Tetris.

  “Thank God,” Melanie said, sighing with relief when she spotted them heading for the door.

  “Walking Dead marathon when I get back, biatch!” she said with a huge smile and that devious glint in her eye that he knew so well.

  She was purposely fucking with her best friend’s head for the hell of it.

  “You’re evil,” he said, chuckling as he carried her across the hallway towards his apartment.

  “I got bored,” she admitted with a shrug as she reached over and opened his apartment door for him. “So, what are we doing tonight?”

  Grinning, he stepped inside his apartment and kicked his door shut behind them. “Research.”


  “How exactly is this research?” she couldn’t help but ask from her position on the couch where he’d placed her three hours ago and handed her the television remote.

  “Because I need to test a few recipes on someone,” he said from the large, heavy-duty kitchen island that Melanie would probably kill him for if she ever found out about it.

  “And how does me being here help?” she couldn’t help but ask since she wasn’t exactly in the position to help him right now.

  Not unless he was going to stop being so freaking anal about following that damn aftercare sheet that he carried everywhere, she thought. But, since he “consulted” with that damn list every five minutes to make sure that she was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing to ensure a full recovery, she really doubted that he was going to let her help.

  He wouldn’t even let her walk and if he found out that she did, and he always did thanks to that betraying bitch that she loved more than anything, he would pull out that damn piece of paper, read the whole thing over even though he already had it memorized, and glare at her until she promised that she wouldn’t do it again. Not that he believed her, but at least he would let the matter drop.

  “Because you’re going to be my guinea pig,” he said, shooting her a wink as though that was going to somehow stop her from panicking.

  He wanted to use her as a guinea pig to test recipes? Because spending a week curled up in her bed praying for death was so much fun that she would jump at the chance to make that dream a reality? Yeah, no she was good.

  “Umm, you do remember that slight problem of me not being able to digest gluten without becoming violently ill, right?” she reminded him as she gave up on watching him work and returned to scrolling through horror movie selections on Netflix, thoroughly disappointed with this month’s selection.

  “It’s all gluten free,” he said, sounding excited, which was actually kind of cute coming from a large man packed with muscle and a serial killer glare.

  “Really?” she asked, unable to help but smile at his excitement, because he was definitely cute.

  Not that she would actually tell him that since it would just result in one of those glares and probably some bitching since men like Lucifer didn’t like to be called cute. God, he really was a lot of work, she thought with a sigh as she settled on Dexter, deciding that it was close enough.

  Maybe she should go back to her place and screw with Melanie’s head some more? she thought, because the idea of being anyone’s gluten-free guinea pig wasn’t exactly how she wanted to spend her incredibly boring night. After living the past few weeks gluten-free, she could honestly say that she was now prepared to live on a diet of chocolate and carrot sticks.

  At first she’d been really excited to discover that there was a gluten free version for pretty much everything that she liked to eat. Thanks to her visit to Dixon’s Gluten Free Bakery, she’d been pretty optimistic about her gluten-free prospects. Then she tried to cook gluten free pasta…

  That had been the beginning of the end.

  Gluten free muffins, pancakes, toaster pastries, and so on and so forth all ended up being huge disappointments and incredibly expensive. Everything came in smaller packages for at least four times the cost of the normal stuff. Flour, pasta, cereal, it was all too expensive, bland and in some cases, terrifying.

  Some of the food was crunchy, some, like the Oreo knockoffs, fizzed i
n her mouth as they dissolved. The taste, god, the taste was…

  Well, she really didn’t want to think about the taste or the after taste for that matter.

  Since she’d ended up blowing her entire paycheck on food that she couldn’t stomach, she’d decided to keep it simple, meat,
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