Fire amp brimstone, p.4
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       Fire & Brimstone, p.4
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         Part #8 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  It actually amazed him that she took his shit without complaint when everyone else usually broke down after only a few angry syllables left his lips. Rebecca would either take his shit with a smile or distract him to the point that he was forced to question his own sanity. She’d never tried to play him with tears before. It was the one thing that he’d always respected about her, which was why the thought of her suddenly trying to play him with tears pissed him off.

  Before she could close the door in his face, he slammed his hand against it, forcing her to keep the door open and stopping her from running away before he got a few answers.

  “What the hell is going on, Rebecca?” he asked, pushing the door open wider.

  “I’m fired. I get it. Now, can you go away so that I can feel sorry for myself in peace?” she demanded, sounding pissed at him as she moved to shove the door shut, but he wasn’t having that.

  Not until they’d settled this.

  “We’re not done here,” he said evenly, which earned him a shake of the head and a muttered, “I give up,” as the woman who’d made his life a living hell turned around and walked away, leaving him to either stand there like an idiot or follow her like a fucking moron.

  Apparently he was a fucking moron, because he followed her over to the couch where someone was apparently camping out. Grabbing a Hostess pie off the coffee table, she climbed onto the couch covered in blankets and pillows, curled up onto her side and pulled a majority of the blankets up to her chin as she let out a pathetic little sigh and began to stare blindly at something already playing on the television.

  “What the hell are you doing?” he asked, because…shouldn’t she be trying to manipulate him? Make him feel bad? Turn up the water works until he apologized for being an asshole and promised that she wasn’t fired?

  “Wallowing in self pity,” she muttered, gesturing for him to get out of the way, because he was apparently blocking her view of-

  “Child’s Play?” he asked with a frown, because he really didn’t understand this woman.

  “It soothes me,” she explained with a sniffle before adding, “Now, you may leave.”

  “Child’s Play soothes you?” he asked slowly, almost positive that he’d misheard her. “A serial killer trapped inside a doll soothes you?” he asked, deciding that perhaps it would be best if he clarified this for his own sanity.

  “Yes!” she hissed in aggravation with another sniffle as her hands appeared out from beneath the blanket, holding that Hostess pie that was actually looking pretty good…

  “What the hell?” she snapped as he reached down and snatched the pie from her, because as far as he was concerned, she owed him for all the bullshit that she’d put him through over the years.

  “I need this more than you do!” he snapped right back, using the Bradford mantra that usually ended arguments over food pretty quickly.

  “Asshole,” she muttered angrily as she reached over and grabbed another pie, this one looking just as good.

  “Oh, come on!” she snapped in outrage as he helped himself to the second pie.

  “You going to tell me what’s going on?” he asked, deciding that he could pretend that he actually cared since she’d so graciously shared her fruit pies with him.

  Shifting her attention back to the television, she muttered, “It’s not important.”

  “Then why are you upset?” he asked, glancing around the large apartment for that damn dog and her wingman so that he could push her off onto them and make his escape now that he knew that he wasn’t the cause of her mental breakdown.

  “Because it’s my right as a woman to get pissed off for absolutely no reason,” she said with a shrug as she stared blindly at the television.

  “Uh huh,” he said absently, wondering why Melanie wasn’t here to handle this.

  “She took Mojo out for a walk after I threatened to kill her if she didn’t stop bugging the shit out of me,” she said, answering his unasked question and letting him know that there would be no escape for him, because he couldn’t leave her like this.

  Could he?

  Well, he could, but he was pretty sure that would make him an asshole and right now, being an asshole somehow felt…wrong.

  *-*-*-*

  “Don’t you have a restaurant to run?” she asked, wondering why he hadn’t left yet.

  He was really wrecking this for her.

  He ignored her question and asked one of his own. “When’s Melanie coming back?”

  “Well, since she’s attempting to take a two hundred and sixty-five pound dog for a walk by herself, I’m guessing that we won’t be seeing her until she calls and asks for a crane to help drag Mojo back,” she said absently while she continued to stare numbly at the television as Chucky slashed and diced his way through another bad joke, wondering why Lucifer was still here.

  As soon as she’d given him what he wanted he should have left, satisfied with the knowledge that he’d finally managed to kick her out of his restaurant. Actually, as soon as he’d realized that she was crying, he should have shown her the door and washed his hands of the whole situation. It was something that she’d seen him do in the past when he had to fire a waitress and they’d foolishly decided to see if they could manipulate him with a few tears to change his mind. It usually had the opposite effect on him.

  The same could be said for the women that he’d dated over the last few years that thought pretty little pouts and a few crocodile tears were enough to wrap him around their little fingers. They actually seemed to have the opposite effect on him as well. Not that she’d been paying attention.

  Okay, so she had probably paid a little too much attention to his love life, but then again, who hadn’t? It was hard not to! The women that he dated brought endless hours of entertainment to them all and for that alone, they would always have a special place in her heart.

  Every single one of the women that he’d dated, and there had been quite a few over the years, seemed determined to bring him to heel. For whatever reason they all seemed to look at him as some poor wounded soul hiding behind an asshole exterior that only they could break through.

  They were wrong, but she never had the heart to tell them, mostly because that would have meant putting an end to the entertainment that they provided and there was no way in hell that she would ever do that. Not when their obvious attempts seemed to really annoy Lucifer and put a smile on her face.

  She wasn’t sure if it was the challenge of breaking Lucifer or the fact that he was incredibly hot that had women going nuts over him. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter to her just as long as they didn’t stop doing it. There was really nothing like watching a woman try to break Lucifer so that the rest of the world could see what a kind, generous, and caring man he really was.

  It was always fun watching him prove that he wasn’t.

  “What’s really going on, Rebecca?” he asked, rudely disturbing thoughts of happier times and making her wonder why it mattered.

  It wasn’t like he didn’t already know. So, what was the big deal admitting it?

  “Haven’t you heard? I’m a hypochondriac,” she said with a shrug as she continued to stare blindly at the television, surprised at how little she cared any more.

  Chapter 7

  “Get up,” Lucifer snapped, wondering why he had to repeat himself.

  “Fuck. Off,” Aidan, the laziest fucking bastard in the world, said as he buried his head beneath his pillow in a useless attempt to escape the bright bedroom lights that Lucifer had turned on so that he wouldn’t trip over all the medical books, clothes and empty food wrappers thrown everywhere.

  “Get up,” he said, hating to repeat himself and his brother knew it.

  “No,” Aidan said, reaching blindly for the quilted comforter and yanked it up, over his head to help block out the light and further pissing Lucifer off, because he really didn’t have time to play these games. He was supposed to be going over second quarter taxes tonight, but instead he was here, de
aling with this lazy bastard.

  “Are you going to stay in bed all fucking night?” he had to ask, because this was really starting to get fucking old.

  “All fucking night? It’s barely two in the morning, you asshole!” the fucking prima donna of the family snapped, sounding unreasonably pissed.

  “Then you have plenty of time to help me!” he snapped right back as he ripped the comforter off the bastard.

  With a growl, Aidan shoved his pillow aside, turned over and…frowned.

  “Why do you have a woman thrown over your shoulder?” Aidan asked, shooting the temperamental woman that was no longer speaking to Lucifer, as though that were somehow a punishment, a curious look.

  “She’s the favor,” he said, although he felt that it should have been more than obvious.

  “Does the favor have a name?” Aidan asked with a calculating gleam in his eye that Lucifer didn’t really care for.

  “Pain in the ass,” he said, taking perverse satisfaction in the way that Rebecca’s entire body stiffened against his at the insult.

  She wanted to say something, was probably dying to tell him to fuck off, but she wouldn’t say anything since she’d promised never to speak to him again after he’d refused to release her. Why she thought that threat would work on him, he would never know. As soon as she’d said it, it had all but guaranteed that he wouldn’t release her until he got to the bottom of all this bullshit.

  “Is Pain in the Ass the favor?” Aidan asked as he sat up.

  “She think she’s a hypochondriac,” he said, biting back a smile when he heard her grumble something angrily.

  “Is she?” Aidan asked with real curiosity.

  Was she?

  Probably.

  At least, that’s what he’d always thought, but something about the way that she’d called herself a hypochondriac tonight hadn’t sat well with him and he couldn’t figure out why. He should have just nodded, congratulated her on finally figuring out what the rest of the world already knew, but that lost expression when she’d said it had him wondering if there was really something going on.

  “No,” he said, surprised to find that he actually believed the little demon.

  If she’d looked even remotely happy when she’d announced that she was a hypochondriac, he would have walked away in a heartbeat, happily washing his hands of her, but she hadn’t done that. She’d looked genuinely miserable when she’d said it and that alone had told him that maybe she hadn’t been faking it.

  Aidan stood up and said around a yawn, “Make an appointment with my office in the morning and we’ll see what we can do,” as he walked past them and headed towards the bathroom, but unfortunately that just wasn’t going to work for him.

  “It is morning,” he pointed out, wondering why his brother was being so difficult about this.

  “Make. An. Appointment,” his normally considerate brother bit out, emphasizing every word and making him wonder why he’d come here instead of going to his father with this.

  Probably because his father would have kicked his ass as soon as he flicked the lights on. God, his family was so fucking trying sometimes, he thought, deciding that he’d just wait until the office opened in the morning and drag her inside.

  *-*-*-*

  “Open the fucking door!” the man that had apparently lost his mind in the last twenty-four hours demanded as he continued to pound on their door.

  “Yeah, let me get right on that,” she said, biting back a yawn as she stepped over Mojo, pausing as she did so that she could rub the big lazy dog’s large stomach with her foot for a few seconds.

  The terrifying snores that she’d become used to momentarily stopped so that he could groan in pleasure, but before she was done giving his stomach a good foot rub he was already snoring again. Smiling, she walked into the kitchen and grabbed a Coke, needing it desperately after the bastard currently banging on her door and threatening to wring her fucking neck if she didn’t get her ass in gear and get ready to go see his brother in five minutes, had kept her up until four this morning.

  She still couldn’t understand what had possessed the normally sane, and severely assholish, man to drag her off like that. What she’d actually expected when she’d confessed her worst fear was for him to nod, remind her that she was fired and tell her to have a nice life.

  Okay, so the “have a nice life” part was pushing it and she knew it, but she had expected him to wash his hands of her and leave after her grand life-altering announcement. She’d hoped for it at least, but once again life had played a nasty trick on her and decided to make her really screwed up day even more fun by dragging her kicking and screaming out of her apartment just when the movie was getting good.

  “Open the fucking door!” the surprisingly persistent bastard demanded.

  She really thought he would have given up after she’d managed to facilitate her escape by cleverly deceiving him into believing that she was going to be sick. Within seconds she was on her feet and he’d put a good fifteen feet between them. It hadn’t been much of a head start, but it was enough for her to make it to her apartment and slam the door shut just in the nick of time.

  He’d been fast, very fast, but thankfully luck had been on her side for once. She’d made it into her apartment, gasping for air and managed to slide the deadbolt shut before he could shove the door open and drag her back to his apartment where he’d planned on holding her hostage until it was time to leave for an appointment that he had no business making.

  She was done with doctors, tests and all that bullshit. She might be a hypochondriac, but she wasn’t a masochist. There was no way in hell that she would ever willingly put herself through that kind of hell ever again. Twenty-nine years had been more than enough as far as she was concerned.

  “What did you do now?” Melanie demanded, looking exhausted as she stumbled into the large open kitchen.

  Blinking innocently, she asked, “What are you talking about?”

  “Open the fucking door!” Lucifer yelled as Rebecca continued to stand there, looking innocent and pretending that she hadn’t noticed Lucifer’s psychotic break.

  “Why is he banging on our door at eight in the morning?” Melanie asked, really not looking all that concerned or really interested as her attention zeroed in on an unopened box of Pop Tarts sitting on the counter.

  “Oh, that?” she said with a shrug. “He wants me.”

  Melanie nodded absently as she pulled out a fresh pack of Pop Tarts and headed for the toaster. “That’s nice.”

  “I thought so,” she said in agreement as she grabbed her iPad off the table and headed for the couch, determined to get her mind off of everything for a little while and figure out her next step.

  “Shouldn’t you be at work?” Melanie asked as she sat down next to her on the couch and pulled one of the many blankets that covered the couch onto her lap.

  “Got fired,” Rebecca said as she searched through job listings, wondering if she had what it took to be a bouncer. For fifteen dollars an hour, she was willing to find out.

  “So? That doesn’t explain why you’re not at work,” Melanie pointed out as she grabbed the remote and started her morning ritual of flicking through over two hundred channels until she finally gave up and signed into Netflix.

  “I decided that I needed a change,” she said with a shrug, deciding that it was for the best not to mention her confession to Lucifer last night or the fact that she wanted a fresh start so that she could start over somewhere new where nobody knew her and she could pretend, even if it was just for a little while, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her.

  “But, you love the Fire & Brimstone,” Melanie reminded her, which was something that she didn’t need this morning.

  “And I’m sure that I’ll love the next place just as much,” she said with a small smile as she continued to scroll through all the job listings that she wasn’t qualified for.

  “Maybe you could-” Melanie started to suggest
, but whatever she was about to say was cut off when the persistent bastard ruined everything by opening his big, fat mouth.

  “You’re going to this fucking Doctor’s appointment!” he shouted, sealing her fate, because if there was one thing that she knew about her best friend it was that Melanie would never give up on her, no matter how much it pissed her off.

  Chapter 8

  “Move,” the ungrateful woman said as she glared up at him, probably trying to intimidate him, not that he really cared, because he didn’t.

  “No,” he simply said, reading the texts that his supervisor was sending him and wondering if he should make a quick trip over there to make sure that things were running smoothly.

  He probably would have done that if Rebecca hadn’t already tried to make fifteen escape attempts, selfishly trying to ruin his attempts to solve this medical mystery of hers. Inconsiderate woman, he thought with a sigh as he sent a text back to Adam, the
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