Truce: The Historic Neighbor from Hell, Page 2R. L. Mathewson
“Well, you’re going to hear it again, so stop your bitching!” his father snapped before he grumbled, “I’m starving,” and making Jason chuckle.
“Besides,” his father continued in a calmer tone, “your Uncle Ethan is telling Haley the story even as we speak. ”
“Tradition?” he asked with a smile as he looked up to find his father throwing the empty brownie platter a wistful look, no doubt hoping that another batch of brownies would suddenly appear.
“Haley, left a small platter of finger rolls in the fridge in case I got hungry,” he said, taking pity on his father.
“Sit your ass back down!” his father snapped at Trevor when the greedy bastard shoved away from the table and took a step in the direction of the refrigerator.
“I’m starving!” Trevor bitched, but he did sit down.
“Too goddamn bad! I need sustenance if I’m going to tell this story,” his father said, sounding irritated as he stormed over to the refrigerator, grabbed the platter of sandwich rolls, leftover cherry pie and the gallon of chocolate milk.
“That’s the kids’ milk,” Jason pointed out, returning his attention back to making the necklace.
He heard his father grumble something as he shut the refrigerator door. When he looked up a few seconds later, he wasn’t surprised to see that his father had returned the milk and grabbed the gallon of ice tea instead. The man might be obsessed with food, but he would never willingly take food away from his grandchildren. No Bradford male would. Their children and wives came first and they made damn sure that they were well provided for.
“Those look good,” Trevor said, gesturing to the platter of sandwich rolls. “Can I have one of the-“
“No!” his father bit out, glaring as he shifted the large platter away from Trevor.
“I’m starving!” Trevor whined.
“You selfish bastard!”
“Can we get on with it?” Jason said, cutting off his father, who looked seconds away from taking Trevor to the ground in a chokehold.
“Fine,” his father said, throwing Trevor one last glare before he picked up a tuna salad roll and returned his attention to Jason. Clearing his throat, his father shifted in his seat before he started.
“Once upon a time…”
“Are you f**king kidding me?” Jason asked, shaking his head in disgust.
“What?” Jarred demanded, taking a bite from his sandwich roll.
“You’re really going to start it like that?” Jason demanded, sharing a look of disgust with Trevor, who was inching his hand toward the platter of sandwich rolls.
His father narrowed his eyes on him. “If I want to start this story off with ‘Once upon a time,’ then that’s how I’m going to damn well tell the story!”
Jason rubbed his hands down his face. He really didn’t have time for this shit. “Fine, tell your damn story,” he said, focusing his attention back on the necklace.
“I will,” his father said with a sniff followed by the sound of a hand being slapped.
“Those are my sandwich rolls!”
“ Dad ,” Jason said, not bothering to look up as he prompted his father to get on with it.
“Oh, right,” his father said, pointedly clearing his throat. “Once upon a time……. ”
Hyde Park…. a little after 4 pm.
There he was, her prince, Elizabeth mused, sighing happily as she watched the man that she was going to marry. She smiled wistfully and moved around to the other side of the tree to get a better look at James, her James, before her governess could find her and drag her away.
Even though his family’s London townhouse was close to theirs, she hadn’t seen him since they’d arrived a week ago. Their townhouses weren’t as close as their country estates were, but James rarely ever visited his family there. The only time she had the chance to see him anymore was when they came to London for the season and even then she hardly ever got the chance to see him as much as she would have liked. He was a very busy man about town after all. Knowing that it would probably be some time before she saw him again, she had to take another look at James and make it last.
Could any man be more perfect? No, she didn’t think so. Only James, only her James was absolutely perfect. She bit her lip and watched as he bowed over her mother’s hand. He pressed a gentle kiss to the back of her hand before releasing it. Elizabeth sighed happily when he stood back up, mostly because it granted her a better opportunity to stare at him. He wore a stunning black suit with a crisp white shirt. His brown hair was cut short today, but she could still make out the small curls that she loved.
He was, in a word, marvelous.
At twenty-four years old, he was beyond perfect. He was handsome, educated, wealthy, smart, funny, and lovely. Everyone thought so. Men wanted to be him and women wanted to marry him. That last thought made her face squish up. No, Mama said that he was too young to marry. She said that most men of his station wouldn’t marry until they were older and more established, whatever that meant. All she knew was that he was here and perfect. With that thought in mind, she released another dreamy sigh.
“Boo!” someone suddenly yelled just as she was shoved forward, making her jump and scream in terror. Heart pounding in her little chest, she turned around to see what monster had descended from the tree to attack her.
“You!” she mouthed the word perfectly, giving the little tyrant in front of her the coldest, haughtiest glare that she could muster. Thankfully, she had two older sisters who'd taught her well.
The boy was momentarily dazed speechless by her reaction before he bent over with uncontrollable laughter. “Oh…. . you…. should…. . see…. . your…. face!” he said through loud, rather annoying bouts of laughter.
Elizabeth ran her small hands over her pink gown and looked down her nose at him. Well, she tried to at least. It was rather difficult to look down on someone taller than her.
“You, Robert Bradford, are a beastly boy!” she said loudly, perhaps a little too loudly if the laughter erupting around them was any indication.
Robert’s face turned an interesting shade of red as Elizabeth narrowed her eyes on her nemesis and studied his face, hoping to find some proof that this boy was an imposter. It was simply impossible that such a crude, distasteful little boy could be related to her James. This boy had darker, almost black, hair, green eyes instead of James’ brown eyes and wasn’t in the least bit good looking. The boy was rather homely looking. Even her mother said so, so it had to be true.
“And you smell like the backside of a mule!” Robert shot back loud enough for everyone walking past them to hear.
Elizabeth felt her face flush hotly. She looked back in time to catch her sisters trying to hide their smiles from their overbearing mother. Their mother threw them one look of warning before turning her attention back to Elizabeth. The glare that she sent Elizabeth’s way was a clear warning to behave and not to make a scene.
The other children around them stopped playing to watch as they giggled and pointed at Elizabeth and Robert. Lady Bradford looked horrified at her son’s behavior or Elizabeth’s, she wasn’t exactly sure and she didn’t care, because at this very moment James was laughing.