Fire amp brimstone, p.25
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       Fire & Brimstone, p.25
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         Part #8 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  have enough energy at the moment to complete the final roll needed to achieve this sad goal of hers.

  “How was your run, sweetheart?” his father asked when Rebecca gave up with a pathetic groan and a muttered, “Stupid cramp.”

  There was a slight pause before she said, “Fine. Um, how are you?”

  “Good, good,” his father said as he leaned against the truck door before he shifted his attention to Lucifer. “Listen, your mother wants to go out tonight since the rest of kids weren’t able to make it. Do you think the two of you are up for that?”

  A night out with his family?

  Not at all, but he couldn’t disappoint his mother, mostly because his father would beat the shit out of him.

  Since he didn’t seem to have much of a choice, he opened his mouth to reluctantly accept when Rebecca cut him off and asked, “Is it okay if I pick the restaurant?” suddenly perking up and making the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

  But, before he could warn his father that it was a trap, the bastard was telling her yes and walking away, leaving him with the woman who was suddenly sitting up and looking happier than he’d ever seen her before.

  Chapter 47

  “After tonight,” Lucifer bit out furiously as he glared at her, “we’re through.”

  Blinking innocently, she asked, “Is something wrong, pookie?”

  “Oh, this is going to be so much fun!” his mother said with a huge smile as she joined them at the large table that the waitress had selected just for them, which just happened to be right in front of the section the restaurant had deemed as the stage.

  “So much fun,” Aidan seconded bitterly as he sat down across from her, his scowl never wavering.

  Ethan didn’t say anything as he sat down next to his wife, but the scowl on his face really said it all.

  “I’m so glad I came tonight,” Jason said, sounding genuinely happy to be there as he sat down next to Trevor, who looked equally amused.

  God, it was going to be the best night ever!

  It might even make up for the depressing, chaotic day that she’d just had. At the very least it would distract her from the fact that she still didn’t have a job, the balls to ask for her old job back and thanks to today’s near-miss, she’d realized something very important.

  She was an absolute failure.

  She was twenty-nine years old with absolutely nothing to show for it. By now she should have her own place, a lot more money in the bank, a career, but most of all, she should be prepared to handle an emergency on her own without panicking. Seeing that false positive today had put a lot of things in perspective.

  Before today she could have honestly said that she saw absolutely nothing wrong with being a waitress for the rest of her life, but now she realized that had been a little shortsighted. While she still saw nothing wrong with working in a restaurant for the rest of her life, she realized that working as a waitress who was completely dependent on tips was not going to give her the stability that she needed or the future that she wanted.

  She needed more and if working in a restaurant was really what she wanted to do, and she was absolutely positive that it was, then it was time to get serious about it. She needed to learn how to run a restaurant and the best way to do that was to finally get off her ass and go back to school. She could enroll in an online program and work towards her degree. It would take some time, but at least by the time that she had her degree she would have options, which was honestly more than she had right now.

  “I’ve never been to a karaoke bar before!” his mother said with a huge smile, which was probably the only reason that Lucifer, his father and brother weren’t dragging them out of there right now.

  “It’s a lot of fun,” Rebecca promised her with a huge smile just to irritate the man sitting next to her, glaring…just glaring.

  She had to admit that it was a little unsettling.

  When Aidan mouthed the words, I hate you, she wasn’t sure whether he was talking to her or Lucifer. Not that she really cared since she’d found the perfect way to get mind off of things for a while. She just wished that Melanie had been able to join them, but she had too much work to catch up on.

  At least, that was the bullshit excuse that Melanie had given her when she’d called to invite her to join them. Since this was normally the type of thing that Melanie would drop everything for, screwing people over and not the karaoke part, she knew that Melanie probably needed some time to herself to figure things out. Since they still had plenty of time to talk about everything going on, she picked up her menu and wondered what the odds were of getting all the Bradford men up on the “stage” to sing a Katy Perry song were.

  Probably not that good, but she was going to damn well try.

  Thankfully the very limited and incredibly disappointing menu helped take her mind off that depressing realization and onto something else equally as depressing. As she glanced through the menu, searching for the small gluten-free sign that would let her know what was safe to eat, she realized something very important.

  She was going to starve.

  “Oh, everything looks so good,” Mrs. Bradford said while Rebecca sat there trying to decide between…

  Well, there really was nothing to decide since the only thing that was gluten free on the menu was a hamburger, minus the bun, with a side salad, minus the croutons and salad dressing. Since that really didn’t sound appetizing, she decided that she’d fill up on Coke and make something to eat when she got home later.

  If she had known that her food choices were going to be limited coming here…

  She still would have come, she decided with a sigh as she closed the menu and focused back on her intended victims. This was going to be so much fun, she mused, barely managing to keep a smile off her face. For five years she’d entertained herself by finding new and interesting ways to torture Lucifer, but even she had to admit that things had become a little stale there at the end.

  Finding new and exciting ways to torture him while working under some serious limitations had been something of a challenge. Since she’d been limited to only torturing him at work and through run-ins in the hall she’d had with him under the capacity of the landlord/tenant relationship, she really hadn’t had much to work with. But now that they spent time outside of work together the possibilities had become endless. It also didn’t hurt that her relationship with Lucifer had brought her new victims to torture.

  Speaking of her new victims…

  “What song are you going to sing?” she asked Aidan, deciding to focus on him first as a favor to Melanie, who’d made her promise to make his life a living hell since she wasn’t able to be here to do it for herself.

  Aidan blinked and when she kept looking at him expectantly, he blinked again. “I, um,” he licked his lips nervously as he shot a pleading glance to Lucifer, probably hoping that he’d come up with something to get them all out of there before it was too late, “I don’t sing.”

  “I see,” she murmured, making sure to look disappointed as she added another, “I see,” with a forlorn sigh and let her shoulders sag.

  “I don’t sing,” he bit out through clenched teeth, making her up her game.

  Fighting back a smile, she let her gaze drop to the menu and her shoulders sag even further. “I just thought this would be a nice way to get to know everyone better, but if you don’t want to…” she said, letting her words trail off with a weak shrug as she kept her gaze firmly locked on the table as she released another pathetic sigh.

  “I-”

  “You’re not going to sing?” Jason asked and she didn’t need to look up to know that he was shaking his head in disgust since it was a move that she would have used to further manipulate someone.

  “But, I-”

  “Your brother’s girlfriend is making an effort to get to know you and this is how you treat her?” Trevor asked in disgust, making her lips twitch.

  Not because they’d joined her in torturing Aid
an, but because they hadn’t realized that they were next.

  *-*-*-*

  They were all fucking morons, he thought as he searched through the menu, trying to find something that she could eat, but so far he’d only come up with a hamburger patty and some lettuce.

  “We need to leave,” he said with a sigh as he tossed the menu back on the table.

  “What? No, we just got here,” Rebecca said, apparently forgetting that she was supposed to be pouting to manipulate his weak brother into doing something incredibly stupid.

  “We’re going,” he said, getting up and pushing his chair in.

  “What’s wrong?” his mother asked even as Aidan released a sigh of relief.

  “There’s nothing that she can eat here,” he explained, holding his hand out to Rebecca, but the stubborn woman refused to give up her plans to torture them.

  “I’m not hungry,” she said somewhat desperately, obviously willing to say or do whatever it took to keep them from leaving.

  “Oh,” his mother said, looking embarrassed that she hadn’t thought about Rebecca’s dietary restrictions, “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I should have realized. We’ll go home and I can whip something up,” she said with a firm nod as she stood up.

  “I’m fine, really!” Rebecca argued as she grabbed the menu. “There’s plenty to eat!”

  “Sure there is,” he said firmly, giving her that look that let her know that he wasn’t going to change his mind.

  *-*-*-*

  “I think we’re going to call it a night,” Lucifer said, betraying her and destroying her plans for what had promised to be a night to remember in a matter of seconds.

  “We understand, sweetheart,” she said, not looking like she blamed Rebecca, but she did look disappointed, which was probably why Rebecca did what she did and not because she was innately evil or anything.

  At least that’s what she told herself, but she knew the truth…

  “There’s no reason why you have to leave,” she said, catching the murderous glare that Aidan shot her.

  “She’s right. You should stay,” Lucifer said, somewhat appeasing her as he took her hand and stepped out the way just as his father, with an expression that could only be described as homicidal, reached for him.

  “Are you sure you don’t mind?” his mother asked, already sitting back down with a huge smile and an expression that made her wonder if she also enjoyed the fine art of torture.

  “This is going to be the best night ever,” Jason said, grinning and sounding so damn giddy that she nearly cried.

  This was supposed to be her night of enjoyment!

  She considered rebelling and telling him that she wasn’t hungry and was damn well going to stay, but that was right around the time that her stomach betrayed her, making an argument pointless, because there was no way that anyone was going to let her stay now.

  Stupid gluten, she thought miserably as she allowed him to lead her out of the restaurant and away from all of her dreams coming true.

  Chapter 48

  “Are you still pouting?” he asked the small woman sprawled out on his bed, watching yet another horror movie as he tossed his towel aside and pulled on a pair of boxers.

  “I think we should see other people,” she mumbled, sounding absolutely miserable for a woman snuggling a five-pound bag of Hershey Kisses.

  “Because I ruined your evil plans?” he asked, joining her on the bed, careful not to come between her and the chocolate that was apparently stopping her from killing him.

  “Yes.”

  “I’m sure you’ll find other creative ways to torture my family in the future,” he promised her, reaching for a Hershey Kiss only to think better of it.

  “Not like tonight,” she mumbled, looking truly miserable as she grabbed a Hershey Kiss, unwrapped it and popped it in her mouth, all while staring blankly at the television.

  “Did humiliating me along with my brother and cousins really mean that much to you?” he asked, slipping his hand beneath the oversized tee shirt that she’d changed into so that he could rub her back.

  “Yes, yes it did.”

  “And why’s that?” he asked, leaning back against the headboard.

  “I just needed a distraction,” she admitted with a sigh, reaching for another Hershey Kiss even as she shifted so that she could place her feet on his lap, making him chuckle.

  Demanding little thing, he thought as he took the hint and started rubbing her feet. “What’s bothering you?” he asked, wondering if she was still upset about the pregnancy test that had nearly taken ten years off his life.

  “Nothing,” she mumbled dejectedly around a mouthful of chocolate as she gave her foot a wiggle, demanding that he shift his attention to the other foot.

  “I see,” he murmured as he gave her foot one last rub and shifted his attention to the other one. “Then you’re just upset about missing out on a night of really bad singing?”

  “Devastated,” she said dryly.

  “If you want, we can go downstairs and encourage everyone to start singing Bieber songs,” he offered.

  “No,” she said, sighing heavily. “It’s just not the same.”

  “I see,” he murmured, thoughtfully as he focused on the movie she had playing until it showed someone getting their guts ripped out.

  After that he just focused on making the crabby woman happy. For several minutes they stayed that way, him rubbing her feet and doing his best not to look up and Rebecca laying there, slowly devouring a huge bag of chocolate.

  It was actually kind of nice, he thought, enjoying himself more than he thought possible. Before Rebecca had completely destroyed his world with that first kiss this kind of thing would have irritated him. In the past whenever a woman wanted to watch a movie, snuggle or any of the things that he used to think of as a bullshit waste of time, he’d brush them off and focus on work.

  Now he not only looked forward to spending time with Rebecca, doing absolutely nothing, but he loved it. Thanks to her he was better rested, enjoyed work more and didn’t feel like tearing everyone’s head off. He could easily say that Rebecca was the best thing that had ever happened to him and that scared the shit out of him.

  “Would you have done it?” she asked, saving him from his thoughts.

  “Done what?” he asked, rubbing her leg.

  “Got up on stage and sang you little heart out,” she said, pulling her leg free so that she could roll over onto her side and look at him as she waited for an answer.

  “No.”

  “No?” she asked, for some reason looking surprised that he wouldn’t have jumped at the chance to make an ass out of himself in front of his family.

  “I thought you didn’t care what anyone thought,” she teased with a devious little smile.

  “I don’t.”

  “Uh huh,” she said, clearly not believing him.

  “You doubt me?”

  “Absolutely,” she said, not missing a beat.

  “I thought you knew me, sweetheart,” he said, saying the hell with it and snatched her bag of Hershey Kisses away from her.

  Other than narrow her eyes on him, she didn’t say anything about the theft. Instead she said, “I know you better than you know me.”

  “Really?” he murmured, chuckling as he popped a Kiss in his mouth, because that was fucking impossible.

  “Absolutely,” she said, reaching to take back the bag and because he was such a generous guy, he allowed it.

  For about ten seconds, then he reclaimed the bag, shot her a warning glare and proceeded to devour the contents of the bag. “Care to put your money where your mouth is?” he asked, wondering if he’d just stumbled upon an easier way to get her to return to the Fire & Brimstone where she belonged.

  *-*-*-*

  “And what exactly did you have in mind?” she asked, even as she had to wonder if she could use this challenge that he was clearly laying down at her feet to return to the Fire & Brimstone.

  She really misse
d Fire & Brimstone and if it wasn’t for her damn pride, she would already have her job back. But, unfortunately for her, she did have her pride so she was here, in bed with her incredibly hot boyfriend, hoping that this would all work out like
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