Fire amp brimstone, p.5
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       Fire & Brimstone, p.5
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         Part #8 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  supervisor that was probably more hated than him, letting him know that he wouldn’t be able to get back there for a few hours.

  “Look, I appreciate what you’re trying to do here, I really do, but this has absolutely nothing to do with you. If I want to leave, then I’m going to leave and it’s none of your business. So, I would really appreciate it if you would move out of my way,” she said, sounding completely rational as she stood there waiting for him to comply. If she had been anyone else, he probably would have reconsidered holding her hostage in this exam room, but this was Rebecca Shaw he was dealing with here and it was for her own good.

  “You’re not going anywhere,” he said, wondering if he should change meat venders.

  “I really am,” she said evenly as she glared up at him.

  “Think again,” he said, deciding that the overall cost wouldn’t justify the switch.

  “Look,” she said, getting in his face, or at least she’d tried to, but since he had a good ten inches on her it was an epic failure on her part, “I don’t like you and you don’t like me. So-”

  “Wait,” Melanie, who’d demanded to tag along and had been surprisingly helpful during Rebecca’s failed escape attempts, said, interrupting her friend’s tirade, “I thought you said that he was in love with you.”

  Cocking a brow, he looked up from his phone, curious to see how she was going to talk her way out of this one only to discover that the furious expression on her face had suddenly turned calculating. His own expression shifted from curious to suspicious when he recognized that look. It was the same look that most of the women who’d foolishly married into his family got right before they fucked over the love of their lives.

  He really didn’t like that look.

  “He is,” she said with a forlorn sigh, looking so damn innocent that he almost bought it, but thankfully he remembered who he was dealing with.

  “I’m not,” he bit out as he glared down at her, wondering if his brother or father had a barrel of holy water lying around the office somewhere that he could borrow.

  With a pitying look that was honestly going to get her killed, she said, “There’s really no need to be embarrassed, Christopher. You’re madly in love with me and I think it’s sweet. Really, I do. I can’t return those feelings, because,” she paused to shrug, “you’re just not my type.”

  He ignored Melanie’s snort of amusement as she visibly struggled not to laugh and glared down at Rebecca. Not her type? Fucking please.

  He knew for a fact that he was definitely her fucking type. She only dated tall, good-looking, muscular men and he more than fit into that category. If anything, she wasn’t his type. He wasn’t exactly sure what his type was because he’d really never thought about it, but he knew that it wasn’t a part-time waitress, who annoyed the shit out of him!

  “I’m sure that one day you’ll meet someone that will return those feelings,” she continued, obviously deciding that taunting him into killing her was the best way to get out of this appointment, “but that person just isn’t me.”

  God, how he wished that he could fire her again, but since he couldn’t live out that dream again, he would do the next best thing. He would make sure that the little brat didn’t get out of this doctor’s appointment.

  “Look, why don’t I go sit in the waiting room? That way you can be alone, maybe cry if you need to, hmm? How does that sound?” she asked in the most patronizing tone that he’d ever heard and all he could think was that his family had absolutely nothing on her.

  “You’re evil, you do know that, don’t you?” he said with a dismissive shake of his head as he looked back down at his phone, refusing to get drawn into another one of her bizarre arguments.

  “Yeah,” she said, sighing heavily, “I know, and that’s probably why you’re in love with me.”

  “Uh, huh,” he said absently, refusing to take the bait.

  “He does seem rather taken with you,” Melanie added, sounding helpful, but they both knew that she was only doing it because she was bored and encouraging Rebecca to fuck with his head amused her.

  “I really didn’t mean to lead him on,” Rebecca said, sounding almost sorry.

  God, she was fucking good.

  “It’s really too bad that you’re not willing to lower your standards,” Melanie said, and yeah, he fucking hated her.

  “I know, right?” Rebecca said, making him grind his teeth before he said something that would encourage them.

  Lower her fucking standards?

  That was fucking bullshit, because she’d be lucky to land someone like him. He’d point that out to her, but once again, he refused to say or do anything that would make this worse and he knew from experience that it could always get worse.

  “You could always pretend that he was someone else,” Melanie suggested and yeah, that fucking did it.

  “Sorry, but I’m just not into hypochondriacs,” he said, quickly shooting her wink before he returned his attention once again to his phone, making sure to look bored and really not caring that he’d just crossed a line.


  “Did he…did he seriously just call you a hypochondriac?” Melanie asked, sounding absolutely stunned while she stood there, struggling not to smile, because he really was so damn cute when he thought that he could keep up with her.

  Actually, based on that little smug expression that he wasn’t even trying to hide, he thought that he’d just won this match. Wrong. If anything, he’d just made things interesting, which meant that it was time to teach him the rules of this game.

  Unfortunately that would have to wait until another time, because right now she needed to get out of here before they said or did anything to get her hopes up again. She couldn’t do it anymore and wouldn’t. The last time had really been the last time and no matter what Melanie or the gloating bastard wanted, she was done.

  With that in mind, she turned to Melanie. “Could you run down to the car and get my purse?” she asked, taking her best friend by surprise since she was probably expecting Rebecca to go for Lucifer’s balls.

  Frowning, because she’d clearly expected a violent response, she asked, “Didn’t you hear what he just said?”

  “Yeah, sure,” she said, brushing it off, because she had better things to focus on at the moment. “My purse?” she asked, chewing on her bottom lip as she sent her best friend a hopeful expression she knew Melanie would fall for.

  Sighing heavily, Melanie reached into her bag and pulled out her keys. “He’s an asshole,” she said pointedly, shooting Lucifer a glare as he stepped aside and allowed her to pass.

  Once she was gone and the door was shut, he leaned back against it and for the first time since they’d been ushered into this room, he looked up from his phone. “You didn’t bring a purse,” he reminded her as though this should mean something to her.

  “Well,” she said, glancing around the room, looking for anything that would aide in her escape, “you didn’t exactly give me a chance to grab one. Not with all the manhandling.”

  “What’s that devious little mind of yours up to?” he asked, not looking as though he really cared that he’d just been called an asshole. Then again, he’d been called worse.

  “Escape,” she said, seeing absolutely no point in lying.

  “Don’t you want answers?”

  “I already got my answer,” she said, wishing this place had a window or a backdoor.

  “It was the wrong answer,” he said confidently, which made her chuckle because she knew for a fact that he’d always thought that she was a hypochondriac, or, at the very least, crazy.

  “And what makes you so sure that the answer will be any different than last time?” she asked, giving up on escape and decided to sit on the chair stuck in the corner and wait for the doctor. As soon as he found out that the insurance company wouldn’t cover all the expensive tests that he would want to run and that she was now unemployed, she had a feeling that this appointment would be over in
record time.

  “And what if the answer comes back different?” he shot back, like there was even a remote chance of that happening.

  “It won’t. So, there’s no point in being here,” she said impatiently, wondering what the hell was taking the doctor so long.

  “Then what if I said that I would give you your job back if you gave this a chance?” he said, instantly putting her on guard and making her wonder if he was screwing with her, but one look at his face told her everything that she needed to know.

  He had something to prove.

  She should say no, walk away and find a new job and hope that her past didn’t follow her, but Melanie had been right about one thing this morning. She did love the Fire & Brimstone. As much as she hated to admit it, he’d probably offered her the only thing in the world that would make her even consider going through with this hell again.

  Knowing that he probably wouldn’t make this offer again, she nodded and graciously said, “Only if it comes with a raise.”

  Chapter 9

  Two soul-crushing weeks later…

  “What if we put a couple of computers on the tables by the back corner?” his own personal version of hell asked distractedly as she continued to gaze around the large open dining area, looking for more changes to make.

  “No,” he said evenly, taking a bite out of his cheeseburger as he looked over last night’s sales, hoping that she would take the hint and leave him alone.

  “It might bring in a new customer base,” she said, using the three words that she seemed to have fallen in love with over the last two weeks.

  “No, it wouldn’t,” he said, wondering why she couldn’t leave him alone for five minutes so that he could enjoy his after lunch snack in peace.

  “But, it might if you gave away free internet and-” she started to explain in that excited tone of hers that she’d developed recently, the one that told him that she was about to try to explain her latest idea in under thirty seconds as though that would somehow make him say yes.

  It wouldn’t.

  What it did do was give him one hell of a headache.

  “It’s not happening,” he said, hoping that she would let it go.

  She really needed to stop before he lost his goddamn mind, he decided as he reached for his drink only to find it empty. Glaring at the bartender busy at the other end of the bar, he grabbed her Coke instead and finished it off. Not seeming bothered by the fact that he’d stolen her drink, she simply walked around the bar and refilled both their glasses while she continued to look for new ways to improve his restaurant.

  Then again, over the past two weeks he’d been forced to steal her food since she was always bugging the shit out of him. At first she had simply stood there, shifting her gaze from him to the food he’d stolen and back again before she’d inform him that he’d stolen her food. When he pointedly kept his gaze locked with hers and helped himself to the rest of her food, she shrugged it off with a sigh and returned to her sale’s pitch.

  “Have you given any more thought to the brunch buffet?” she asked as she placed his soda back in front of him.

  Picking up his glass, he repressed a shiver of revulsion at the idea, and said, “No.”

  “It’s a good idea,” she said as she returned to looking around the restaurant, once again determined to prove that he needed her.

  He really didn’t and he would point that out, but that would probably only encourage her to try harder and he definitely didn’t want that. Today was the day that he was going to be proven right and she was trying to do everything in her power to show him that she was an essential part of the team so that he wouldn’t fire her ass.

  The last part was a summarization of what she’d said when he’d asked her why she was driving him out of his fucking mind. She was worried that once they found out the test results that he would immediately fire her. Normally he would probably do that, because she did have a tendency to annoy the shit out of him, but he’d once again found himself in a moral dilemma.

  Firing her after she’d agreed to do something that she hadn’t wanted to do felt…wrong. He couldn’t explain it and he didn’t like it, but there it was. He wasn’t going to fire her and he should have probably told her that so that she wouldn’t have to worry, but that would only create more problems. It was for the best that she didn’t know that her job was safe, otherwise he would probably have to deal with the devious woman pulling more shit behind his back and to be honest, he liked her better this way.

  Even though she was still bugging the shit out of him, she was on her best behavior. So far, in the past two weeks she hadn’t gone behind his back and did anything major, tried managing him with that damn clipboard or that innocent little smile of hers.

  It had been fucking perfect.

  “New dessert menu?” she suggested, obviously getting desperate if she was starting to repeat herself.

  “There’s nothing wrong with the dessert menu,” he said, shifting his attention back to the paperwork in front of him even though he was already thinking about changing the dessert menu. Not that he would tell her that since it would only encourage her.

  “It needs pie,” she said matter-of-factly.

  “It doesn’t need pie.”

  But, it really did.

  Damn it, now he wanted pie.

  “Shouldn’t you be working?” he asked, wondering if he had time to go down the street and get a few pies before his brother showed up with the test results.

  “Today’s my day off,” she said with a heavy sigh as she walked back around the bar and sat down on the barstool next to him.

  “Then what are you doing here?”

  “Killing time and covering for Jane and Erin so they could take a break,” she said with another one of her shrugs as she stole a fry off his plate, making him wonder if she was suicidal.

  Momentarily distracted by the fact that she’d had the audacity to come within twelve inches of his plate, he looked up from his paperwork and glanced around the dinning room. The dinning area was packed, but the customers were smiling, had their food, their drinks were filled and there wasn’t a waitress in sight.

  “There should be four waitresses on right now,” he mumbled to himself, wondering where everyone was.

  “Yes, yes there really should be,” Rebecca readily agreed. “But Tammy called in sick and Jenny quit last night so-”

  “Jenny quit?” he asked, trying to picture her face, but for the life of him, he couldn’t remember who she was.

  “Ummm, you made her cry yesterday?”

  No, that still didn’t help. “And she quit?” he asked, wondering how he kept ending up hiring waitresses that couldn’t handle a little criticism.

  “Yeah, imagine that,” she said dryly as her attention shifted to the door where two of his waitresses were walking in, smiling and carrying a plastic takeout box.

  “Thank you so much for covering for us, Rebecca,” Jane said with a warm smile as she placed the takeout box on the bar in front of Rebecca, which is where his focus may have shifted.

  “You’re welcome,” he vaguely heard Rebecca say as he sat there, glaring down at the box, trying to figure out why he was smelling apples, cinnamon, pumpkin and vanilla.

  “Melanie thinks that your brother is going to tell me that I’m diabetic,” she explained as she reached over the bar and grabbed some silverware.

  “They would have already caught that,” he pointed out, wondering if it was some kind of Danish.

  “That’s what I said, but she’s determined that’s what it is,” she said with a heartfelt sigh as she flipped the cover open and-

  “Oh, God,” he groaned as he took in the beautiful sight before him.

  Three, no four, large slices of pumpkin and apple pie topped with a massive amount of French vanilla ice cream. All that flaky, buttery crust just begging for his attention…

  “Here,” she said, stabbing a second spoon in the ice cream.

  Not needing to be to
ld twice, and willing to overlook the fact that she expected him to share, he dug in.

  Digging into a slice of pumpkin pie, she said, “She’s been going nuts on WebMD and is convinced that all my symptoms are a perfect match for Type II diabetes.”

  “She’s that convinced, huh?” he asked as he stole a bite of her pumpkin pie.

  God, this was good. He was going to have to find out where they got this pie from and start ordering from there for the restaurant.

  “Yeah, she’s so sure that’s what this is that she’s promised to go on a diabetic diet with me, cutting down on the sugar and all that crap.”

  “Doesn’t she have a sweet tooth?”

  Shaking her head, she finished the bite of pie that she was working on and said, “No, she’s addicted to carbs, like cakes, cookies, muffins, donuts, that sort of thing. She’s decided to cut back on those if I have diabetes to be supportive.”

  “That’s nice of her,” he said absently, not sure that he’d be willing to give up one of the five food groups for anyone.

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