Fire amp brimstone, p.3
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       Fire & Brimstone, p.3
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         Part #8 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  Chapter 4

  “What are you going to do if he actually fires you?” Melanie asked as though this time her answer would be different.

  “Kill you,” Rebecca answered with a lazy shrug as she continued to flip through the health magazine on her lap.

  “Killing me wouldn’t pay the rent,” Melanie pointed out smugly.

  “It would if your family paid me to do it,” she felt obligated to point out as she shot another calculating glance towards the exit.

  “My family loves me.”

  “Your father offered me fifty-thousand dollars to kill you,” Rebecca pointed out, wishing that she’d managed to jump out of the car before Melanie had stopped her, but the damn woman had lightening fast reflexes. Besides, the idea of getting road rash at forty miles as hour hadn’t really appealed to her.

  “He was joking!” Melanie gasped in outrage, giving her the distraction that she needed, because honestly, she wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to sit here, knowing what was coming.

  “He wrote a check,” she answered as she glanced back at the disapproving receptionist, who hadn’t taken her eyes off of them since they’d walked in the door, before she returned her attention to the magazine pushing the latest version of Viagra.

  “You’re lying!”

  “You were dating Craig Milton,” she said, reminding her best friend of the biggest dating mistake of her life.

  “I was ten years old!” Melanie gasped with a chuckle.

  “Your father took exception to him,” Rebecca said with a shrug as she stared at the magazine in her lap, trying her best not to think about…anything.

  But, with every passing second she was losing that battle and she couldn’t help but think about the conversation that was to come or the gut wrenching feeling that hit her every time another Doctor looked at her with pity and annoyance as they came to the conclusion that she’d wasted their time. She didn’t want to be here, but then again, she really didn’t want to be home or at work where a certain terrifying man was no doubt on a rampage thanks to the fact that she’d once again narrowly escaped another attempt to fire her.

  Okay, so technically she hadn’t escaped anything since he’d flat out told her that she was fired nearly a dozen times over the past five years. If it had been anyone else she probably would have just accepted her fate and moved on by now, but this was Lucifer Bradford, who obviously had no idea what he was doing, so she felt it was for the best if she simply ignored him and focused on saving the Fire & Brimstone before he ran it into the ground.

  Lucifer was a very intelligent man, a hard worker and even though she personally thought that he was an asshole, he was also one of the most honest men that she’d ever met. That being said, he was also incredibly stubborn and that just wasn’t going to work for her.

  She understood probably better than anyone how much the Fire & Brimstone meant to him. She hadn’t been able to help but fall in love with the restaurant and its charm the very first time she’d laid eyes on it. She’d do anything to make sure that it was a success even if that meant saving it from the man that had every right to run it into the ground.

  Lucifer was stuck in his ways, refused to change anything or look for ways to improve the restaurant and evolve to meet growing trends. As far as he was concerned, the day that he’d opened Fire & Brimstone’s doors to the public, the restaurant had been absolutely perfect the way that it was and didn’t need to change. She’d admit that it probably had been perfect back then, but that was ten years ago and lot had changed since.

  When she’d first started working at Fire & Brimstone she’d realized that the restaurant was in desperate need of a massive overhaul or it wasn’t going to be able to keep its doors open for very much longer. The food was horrible, overpriced and, more than often, was charred beyond recognition. Staff turnover was high and the employees that stayed were complete assholes that didn’t give a damn that the restaurant was in a downward spiral as long as their checks cleared.

  It had been a nightmare.

  She’d also noticed that Christopher, (AKA Lucifer Bradford to those that didn’t want to piss him off) had been in way over his head. Technically, he still was and if she let him have his way and get rid or her, then the poor man wouldn’t know what to do with himself or the Fire & Brimstone. He needed her, almost desperately, she concluded with a pitying sigh and a shake of her head, because really, she had no choice but to stay and help him.

  It really was for his own good.

  “I wonder what they found,” Melanie said with that calculating tone of hers that just made Rebecca want to sneak into the bitch’s room one night and smother frosting all over her face so that she could sic Mojo on her.

  “They didn’t find anything,” she said in aggravation, foolishly taking the bait and promising herself that if Melanie kept this shit up that she was stopping at a store on the way home and buying a dozen cans of frosting.

  “Then why would they ask you to come in?” Melanie asked, sounding smug, which she knew from experience wouldn’t last long.

  As soon as the Doctor broke the news to them that she was probably a fucking nut job just looking for attention, Melanie’s tone would turn slightly…crazed. At least, that’s how the last Doctor had described it.

  “Don’t get your hopes up,” she said instead of allowing herself to be drawn into this pointless conversation.

  She absolutely refused to have this conversation again.

  It just wasn’t happening.

  It wasn’t.

  “They found something. I can feel it,” Melanie said firmly, which of course earned an eye roll, because Melanie was always sure that they’d finally found a reason why she couldn’t seem to go a day without getting sick.

  She should keep her mouth shut, because she knew that if she ignored Melanie long enough that she’d get bored and drop the conversation, but the stubborn part of her that couldn’t leave well enough alone just couldn’t keep quiet.

  “Yeah? And what am I going to do if they find something, huh?” she demanded.

  “We’ll deal with it,” was the immediate response that had Rebecca sighing heavily as she tossed the magazine back on the neat pile in front of her so that she could give her undivided attention to her best that she loved more than anything, but was likely to kill one day.

  “Really? What if they find out that I’m diabetic or that I have cancer?” she asked, because she honestly wasn’t sure what she was going to do if the test came back positive. It would probably take her years to get over the shock that she was actually sick.

  “Then we’ll find the best cancer treatment in the world if it’s cancer and if it’s diabetes then we’ll cut back on sugar and watch what we eat,” Melanie said, sounding completely confident that they’d be able to handle whatever it was and that was great, sweet really, but Rebecca knew that they weren’t going to find anything.

  “This is the last appointment that I’m going to,” she said firmly, because she was done.

  “We won’t need another appointment after this,” Melanie said, sounding so damn sure of herself. “They figured out what’s wrong and now they can fix it.”

  “Uh huh,” she mumbled, hoping that Melanie would shut up and drop it.

  “And don’t worry,” Melanie said, reaching over and giving her leg a comforting pat that was going to get her drizzled in gravy one night, “no matter what happens, what they find, you’re not in this alone. I’ll go through this with you.”

  “Rebecca Shaw,” the nurse said, letting her know that her time had run out, “the Doctor’s ready to see you now.”

  Chapter 5

  “This is disgusting!” the middle-aged woman that could have been the poster child for soccer moms everywhere, said with a sneer, making sure that everyone in the restaurant heard her.

  “I see,” Lucifer murmured thoughtfully as he looked down at the plate she’d shoved in his face before he had a chance to ask what was wrong.

&nbs
p; Well, he knew what was wrong. This woman and her three clones, who couldn’t decide if they wanted to devour him on the spot or send him bitchy looks in support of their friend, had belittled his waitress and embarrassed her in front of everyone. They were also pissing him off and creating a scene in his restaurant, which unfortunately for them wasn’t something that he would tolerate.

  “The French fries were ice cold and soggy. The burger was burnt to a crisp on the outside and completely raw in the middle. The bun was completely dried out. The coleslaw was rancid and-”

  “Then why did you eat it?” he asked in a deceptively calm tone that had all of his employees that were in the large dinning area going completely still and some of the regulars sharing nervous glances as he looked from the empty plate in his hands to the woman trying to force him into giving her a free meal and something to talk about later around the water cooler.

  “Because I was hungry and I didn’t have much choice since your waitress was too busy flirting with the bartender to come check on us!” she snapped back, probably thinking that taking it to the next level of bitch would help her case.

  It didn’t.

  “Then why didn’t you flag down one of the other waitresses or walk out?” he asked as he gave her a look that dared her to continue with this line of bullshit.

  “I shouldn’t have to wave down anyone!” she yelled. “And if you knew how to run a restaurant then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

  “I see,” he murmured thoughtfully as he placed her plate back on the table in front of her along with her check. “Pay your bill and get the hell out of my restaurant,” he said, more than willing to let her off the hook since he had other things that required his attention, but apparently she wasn’t willing to let this go.

  “You expect me to pay for this garbage? You can’t be serious!” she shouted as she came to her feet, grabbed her purse before she reached down, picked up the receipt, squeezed it into a ball and threw it at his face.

  He easily caught it and, keeping his eyes locked on her stunned ones, he tossed the receipt on the table, opened his mouth and-

  “No! We don’t kill the customers!” the sudden weight on his back yelled. “We are not going over this again!”

  “Get the fuck off!” he snarled, keeping his eyes on the bitch, who’d decided to take advantage of the insane woman plastering herself to his back and bolted for the door with her friends right behind her, but only after they’d each thrown a twenty dollar bill on the table.

  “This isn’t how we handle rude customers!” Rebecca yelled as she tightened her hold around his shoulders and tried to pull him back, but her feet didn’t touch the ground so all she ended up doing was pissing him off more.

  Cursing her back to hell where she belonged, he reached up, grabbed her by her arms and leaned down, forcing her weight to drop forward. She released a loud squeal as the momentum threw her over his shoulders and sent her careening towards the hardwood floor. Before she hit the floor he had her thrown over his shoulder and was walking towards his office, determined to finally see this thing through to the end even if it killed him.

  “Didn’t we discuss the manhandling this morning? she demanded, not really sounding all that angry as she grabbed onto the back of his pants and held on when she should have been doing everything in her power to get away from him.

  *-*-*-*

  “Wait. Where are we going?” she asked when she realized that he’d just walked past his office door and was heading towards the back hallway.

  “To have a little talk,” he bit out coldly, which really didn’t frighten her, but the fact that they were apparently heading back upstairs to his apartment did concern her a tad bit.

  “That sounds like a great idea,” she said, tightening her hold on the back of his pants as her mind raced for a way to convince him to turn around. “But, wouldn’t you be more comfortable having this discussion in your office?” she suggested with a hopeful smile that he couldn’t see.

  “No,” the stubborn man said firmly, making her sigh heavily because they were really going to have to work on that.

  “May I ask why?”

  “No.”

  “This isn’t really the best way to open the floor for a productive dialogue.”

  “Did you want me to drop you on your head?” he asked with absolutely no humor, which she would admit was a bit concerning even though she knew that he would never do it.

  At least, she was ninety-nine percent positive that he wouldn’t drop her on her head, but still…

  “No, I’m good,” she said, deciding that perhaps it would be in her best interest to vocalizing her desire to stay alive.

  “Then be quiet,” he said in that damn tone that simply grated on her nerves and made her want to argue for the sake of arguing, but that would be foolish at the moment.

  Yet, she found herself opening her mouth and doing just that as he started up the stairs.

  “Do you think we could have this discussion downstairs?” she suggested, tightening her hold on his pants past the point of pain just in case the habitually angry man decided to follow through with his threat to drop her on her head.

  “Do you think you could shut up?” he shot back, which of course he probably didn’t expect an answer to, but she really just couldn’t help herself.

  “Probably,” she mumbled thoughtfully, knowing that she was playing with fire by taunting him, but unable to help herself, especially now when she needed something to distract herself before she lost it and did something foolish like cry.

  She wasn’t going to feel sorry for herself.

  She wasn’t.

  All the tests had come back negative, confirming everything that she’d suspected before. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her. At least, not medically. Mentally though…

  Well, there seemed to be quite a bit wrong with her. According to her newest Doctor, he knew a great psychiatrist that could help her. He’d actually gone to college with him and thought he’d be able to help her come to terms with her condition. Prescription drugs and group counseling on top of individual counseling would help her to one day lead a normal and productive life.

  It would take time of course, but one day she’d be able to make it through the day without wanting to get sick, because apparently this was a choice that she was making. Not subconsciously according to the Doctor, but it was definitely something that she could control with time.

  “Here’s the plan,” Lucifer said, reminding her that her day wasn’t over yet, not until he got another chance to fire her, “you’re going to sit down, shut up and listen to what I have to tell you. You’re not going to distract me, grab that fucking clipboard, have that oversized dog of yours jump on my lap and pin me down to the floor or have your partner in crime come running in with some bullshit story to save your ass. This ends today.”

  “Okay,” she said distractedly, because he was right.

  Everything ended today.

  She had no idea why this was bothering her so much. She hadn’t expected them to find anything and when the Doctor had suggested that it was all in her head, she’d been ready for it. So, why was she crying?

  Because even though she’d always told herself that she hadn’t expected any real answers, she’d always secretly hoped for one and now, it was all over. There would be no more appointments, tests or Melanie getting on her ass about seeing another Doctor. Now it would be about keeping weekly appointments so that they could get to the root of her problems and figure out how to change her.

  She should be glad that it was over, but she wasn’t. No matter what she told herself, told Melanie or anyone else, a small part of her had always hoped that they’d figure out what was wrong with her so that everyone would stop looking at her like she was crazy.

  “Put me down,” she whispered, needing to get out of there.

  She didn’t care where she went just as long as it was somewhere that she could be curl up, close her eyes and feel sor
ry for herself for a little while, but Lucifer ignored her request and continued carrying her until he had her inside his apartment. As soon as the door closed shut with a click behind them, he was dropping her ass back on the couch, kneeling down in front of her and-

  Froze.

  Chapter 6

  “I’m fired. I get it,” the woman that was driving him insane said with a sniffle as she got off the couch and walked out of his apartment. Before she made it to her apartment door he was on his feet and going after her, because there was no way after five years of fucking with his head that she’d actually let him off that easily. Which meant that she was once again fucking with his head.

  She had to be, because he honestly wasn’t sure if he could handle knowing that he’d made her cry. He’d never cared if a woman cried before, but for some reason that he couldn’t explain it bothered him to see her like this. Maybe it was because he’d never seen her cry before. No matter how many times he’d fired her, yelled at her, or questioned her demonic origins, she’d never cried.

  Not once.

 
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