Delectable, p.10
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       Delectable, p.10

         Part #9 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson

  “What time?”

  “It starts at seven,” she said, contemplating inviting his cousins since the kids seemed to be getting along.

  Not that Mikey actually wanted to go to the fair tonight since there was a game on. Mikey was determined to stay home and watch the game and Kasey was determined to remind her daughter that there was more to life than baseball. Mikey would fight her tooth and nail, but in the end she would drag Mikey to the fair and she would have a great time.

  It was just a matter of dragging Mikey out of the house before she had a chance to lock herself in the bathroom with her iPad and the stash of drinks and snacks that Mikey didn’t think she knew about. It had taken some time and a lot of failed attempts, but now Kasey had this down to a science. Mikey would try to run, hide, outright beg, throw in a few tears, make promises that she never planned on keeping, use embarrassing flattery, and say and do whatever it took to stay home and watch the game, but in the end, Kasey would prevail. Mikey would be at the fair tonight even if she had to drag her there, kicking and-

  “I’ll pick you up at seven,” came the sudden announcement, breaking into her inner musings.

  “I’m sorry, what?” she asked, too late.

  They’d arrived home and Reese was already out of the truck and walking around to her side before she managed to get the words out. Steeling herself for one last encounter with him today, she slowly exhaled, nodded to herself because she was an idiot, and climbed out of the truck, ready to talk her way out of this.

  “I’m-” she started to say in a reasonable voice even as she ignored the urge to run away only to get cut off by the man that had absolutely no idea how badly she was struggling not to freak out right now.

  “We can grab a bite afterwards if you want,” he said, not asked, she’d like to point out.

  “That’s really not-”

  “Or before,” he said, shrugging as he placed his hand on her back and gave her no choice but to walk the short distance to her front door with him. “Whatever you want is fine with me.”

  “That’s nice of you, but-”

  “Don’t get mad!” Eric, whom she’d liked to point out was supposed to be on his way to work at this very moment, said, as he stumbled out of the house, soaked to the bone, covered in white dust, odd fragments that appeared to contain hair of some sort, bits of wood, and pieces of wet newspaper.

  “What the hell happened?” she asked, momentarily forgetting the man standing next to her and focused on Eric, who was standing there, licking his lips nervously and shifting anxiously as he said, “It’s not that bad.”

  “What’s not that bad?” she asked, eyes narrowing on him as she noted the tool belt that hung around his hips with the price tag still attached to it, the condition of his clothes, that guilty expression on his face that reminded her so much of his brother, and cursed under her breath as she shoved past him.

  Before she reached the kitchen, Mikey was standing there, holding up two filthy hands and trying to pull off a smile as she said, “It’s really not that bad, mom.”

  Whatever was in her expression had Mikey quickly losing that smile, clearing her throat, nodding with a mumbled, “Alright then,” before taking off running towards the safety of her bedroom.

  Telling herself that Eric and Mikey couldn’t have possibly done that much damage in the five-minute head start that they’d had on her, she slowly blew out a breath, started towards the kitchen when an odd squishy sound accompanied the one and only step she’d taken towards the kitchen. Looking down, she watched as water pooled around her feet only to disappear seconds later into the thick rug that she definitely needed to replace now.

  A pathetic groan escaped her that came off more as a whimper as she followed that flow of water into the kitchen, splashing water the entire way until she found herself standing in a puddle of water, feeling absolutely numb as she took in the scene before her.

  Five minutes…

  That’s all it took, she thought as she slowly took in the scene before her and shook her head, trying to make sense out of what she was seeing. The kitchen was flooded, water was shooting out of what was left of the wall to her left, chunks of horsehair plaster were everywhere, pieces of newspaper were floating past her, there was a huge hole in her wall, and a sledgehammer that she’d never seen before was lodged in the “pantry” door.

  She wasn’t sure how long she’d stood there, staring at that sledgehammer, or when she’d tackled Eric to the ground and tried to make him eat that tool belt, but as Reese and Jason tried to drag her off him, she realized something very important, after this she wouldn’t have to worry about trying to come up with an excuse to get out of going tonight.

  Chapter 16

  “What? No! I can’t go!” Kasey screamed somewhat hysterically later that night when all her well-laid plans were ruined and she found herself trying to smother Sara with a pillow.

  In self-defense, of course.

  “Let go!” Sara demanded, sounding out of breath as she tore the pillow out of Kasey’s hands and turned the tables on her.

  “I’m not going!” Kasey said, rolling over in a desperate attempt to escape the mad woman.

  “Yes,” pant, “you,” groan, “are!” Sara bit out as she grabbed hold of Kasey’s ankle and -

  “Oh, crap!” Kasey gasped when she suddenly found herself pulled back into the middle of the bed, shoved onto her back and a demented woman pinning her to the bed.

  “You’re going!”

  “Hell no!” Kasey yelled, trying to wiggle her way to freedom, but unfortunately for her, Sara was a lot heavier than she looked.

  “You’re,” grunt, “going!” she said through clenched teeth as Kasey did her best to throw the larger woman off her.

  “Oh, my God! I’m naked,” she reminded her best friend, hoping to buy herself a little time.

  “You’re wearing pajamas!” Sara shot back, accusingly.

  “Same thing!”

  “No, it’s not!”

  “I still need to get dressed!”

  “You can do that in the car,” Sara snapped, adjusting her hold and-

  “What are you doing?” Eric asked, as he climbed onto her bed and sat back, grabbing the remote and not really looking like he cared that they were beating the shit out of each other as he sat there, scrolling through channels and taking a bite out of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that he’d been forced to make since her kitchen was now out of commission.

  “She’s trying to get out of going,” Sara said tightly as Kasey continued to struggle.

  “I’m not going!”

  “Yes, you are!”

  “Why do we care if she goes?” Eric asked around another bite, sounding bored.

  “Because!” Sara snapped as though that said it all, which in her mind it probably did, but since she’d clearly lost her goddamn mind that wasn’t saying much at all.

  “I’m tired and I just want to go to bed,” she groaned, which was sadly true.

  From the moment they’d managed to drag her off Eric, they’d been working non-stop, trying to clean up the mess until about a half hour ago when their wives had forced them to call it a night. She still wasn’t sure how they’d managed to get it done so quickly, but within the hour they’d had the water shut off, a large dumpster delivered, and a permit to cover the damages that needed to be fixed.

  After Eric had fled for his own safety they’d quickly decided that there was no point in trying to save the rug. So, Trevor and Jason had moved her furniture into the garage and had torn up the ruined rug, rolled it up and threw it in the dumpster while Reese had worked on fixing the damaged pipes. Once the rug was out, she took over the job of pulling up the old padding and carrying it out to the dumpster while the guys were forced to tear out all the cabinets on the damaged wall so that they could replace the pipe that Eric had destroyed.

  Except for the meal breaks they’d taken, and she’d honestly never met anyone who devoured as much food as they did, they’d worked nonstop until the pipes were fixed while she’d worked with Mikey on pulling all the staples out of the living room floor. When their wives came over and announced that it was time for dinner, she’d nearly wept with joy.

  That is until Reese had reminded her that they had plans. Well, they were really his plans since she planned on curling up in her bed with a bottle of Advil. Every muscle hurt, which made her wonder what kind of sick bastard would even suggest going out tonight? Clearly the man had issues, but that was something that he needed to work out with his therapist, because she had her own issues to work out, the biggest one being the psychotic bitch trying to force her to leave the confines of her bed.

  “You need to go!”

  “Why do you care if she goes?” Eric asked, shoving the last bite in his mouth as Kasey finally managed to free herself.

  “Because she needs to go!”

  “Why?” Eric asked, looking incredibly confused.

  “I’m not going,” she said firmly as she slowly backed up towards the headboard, not stupid enough to turn her back on her demented friend twice in one night.

  “I thought you were looking forward to the fair,” Eric said, oblivious to Sara’s plans, which gave her hope.

  “I’m tired,” she repeated, wondering why they were having such a difficult time understanding this.

  “Really?” Sara asked, crossing her arms over her chest. “So, your sudden desire to skip the fair has nothing to do with a certain neighbor that makes you blush?”

  “I’m not interested in him,” she said, deciding to get straight to the point. “I don’t have time for a-”

  “Oh, my fucking god,” Eric mumbled in disgust, cutting her off as Sara said, “This again? Really?”

  “What?” she asked, shoving a pillow behind her as she shifted closer to Eric so that the woman scowling at her could join them as they sat against the headboard.

  “What? Are you freaking serious?” Sara asked, shaking her head in disgust as she reached over her and snatched the remote out of Eric’s hand.

  “I don’t have time for a fling,” she said, shrugging and wondering what their problem was.

  She was too busy with Mikey, her job, putting together her cookbook and about a dozen other things to worry about some guy. It just wasn’t in the cards for her right now and that was fine with-

  “When’s the last time that you went out on a date?” Sara asked with a pointed look while she shifted to face her as she waited for an answer.

  “I don’t know. A couple of months?” she said with a shrug, wondering where she was going with this.

  “Try a couple of years,” Eric said with a snort
of disgust as he reached over her and snatched the remote back.

  “I’m thinking five,” Sara said and this time it was Kasey’s turn to snort in disgust.

  “It has not been five years.”

  “She’s right,” Eric said, putting the game back on.

  “Thank you.”

  “It’s been six and she only went on that date, because we guilt tripped her into going,” Eric said matter-of-factly as he settled more comfortably against the headboard.

  “It has not been six years!” she said with a scoff and a shake of her head, because someone was lying his little ass off, which was sad.

  “When’s the last time that you kissed a man?” Sara asked, cocking a brow in triumph as Kasey suddenly decided that she’d had enough for one night and climbed off the bed. She walked over to the bureau and toyed with one of Mikey’s baby pictures.

  “It was Thomas James,” Eric announced.

  “I don’t want to talk about this,” she said, all her good humor gone.

  “You cried for a week after he kissed you,” Sara said softly as though her tone would soften the blow of the reminder of the first and last time she’d betrayed Michael.

  It didn’t.

  She hadn’t wanted to go on that date, but she’d let them convince her that it would help her move on. She’d known Thomas since they were kids. He was kind, funny, and one of the few boys who hadn’t called her a slut in high school. The date had actually been nice. They’d grabbed a bite to eat, caught a movie, talked, and laughed. She’d actually enjoyed herself for the first time in a long time, but all that changed when he’d kissed her.

  She hadn’t expected it, which was foolish considering that they’d been on a date. One minute, they’d been laughing and the next…

  She’d been struggling to catch her breath, sobbing uncontrollably, and he’d been screaming for Sara, who’d been inside her house, babysitting Mikey with Eric and waiting to see how the date had gone. She didn’t remember much after Eric came out and wrapped his arms around her or what they’d said to Thomas, but she remembered the pain that followed.

  God, it had felt like she’d lost Michael all over again.

  It was something that she never wanted to experience again, which is why she hadn’t gone on another date since. She could tell them whatever bullshit story she wanted, but in the end, it was quite simple.

  “I’m not ready yet,” she said softly with a small shrug, waiting for an argument, but instead she felt Sara’s arms wrap around her.

  “Then you’re not ready,” she said with a shrug and a squeeze.

  “What about Reese?” Kasey asked, worrying her bottom lip.

  “Will understand,” Sara promised her.

  “But-”

  “Honestly, I don’t think he’s looking for anything anyway. I think he just came down here to relax and kill some time. I don’t think that he’s looking for anything more than someone to hang out with and pass the time,” Sara said, giving her another reassuring squeeze.

  “Are you sure?” she asked, after a slight pause.

  “I’m sure.”

  Chapter 17

  “She’ll kill you!” came the hissed warning as Reese stood on the front step for the second time that day and raised his hand to knock on the door only to have it ripped open as Sara snapped, “I don’t care!”

  She barely spared him a glance as she latched onto his arm and pulled him back down the stairs. He shifted his attention from Eric, who was standing in the doorway looking lost, to the small woman dragging him towards the beach.

  “Is there a reason why you’re dragging me?” he asked, feeling his lips twitch with amusement even as he was forced to bite back a yawn.

  God, he was fucking exhausted.

  Not surprising since he was running on fumes lately. He couldn’t remember the last time that he’d slept more than a few hours at a time and it was starting to catch up with him. He should call it a night and take advantage of the fact that his cousins were taking their kids out to the fair and get some sleep while he had the chance, but he’d been looking forward to teasing another blush out of Kasey to do the smart thing and call it a night.

  “We have to talk,” was all she said, as she continued to drag him and since he was too fucking tired to argue, he allowed it.

  It also didn’t hurt that she shot him a look of warning that told him exactly what she’d do to his balls if he tried to argue. More than happy to keep his balls where they were, he followed her down the path, onto the sandy beach and then down to where the tide was slowly rolling in, wondering if she was going to try to bullshit him into putting a new roof on Kasey’s house…

  Although, it could use one, he mused, glancing back at the house in question only to have the small woman with an agenda suddenly drag him to the right only to release him just as suddenly so that they were taking a casual stroll down the beach.

  “What are your intentions towards Kasey?” she asked, taking him off guard.

  Instead of answering the question that he was still wondering himself, he asked, “Is there a reason why you’re asking?”

  Nodding, she glanced up at him as they walked past a few people enjoying the last rays of a beautiful summer day. “What do you know about Kasey?”

  “Besides the fact that she enjoys tormenting strangers and shouldn’t be allowed within fifty feet of a hardware store?” he asked before answering, “Not much.”

  “Oh, Officer Bradford,” she said with a heavy sigh and a disapproving shake of her head, “I can’t believe that you’re going to lie to me after everything that we’ve been through.”

 
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