Part #9 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson
hours of eight a.m. and six p.m.
Not that she’d really believed him when he’d made the announcement, but…
She wasn’t sure that she wanted to find out what he was willing to do. So far, she’d been able to hold her own with him, but that probably had something to do with the fact that he’d stopped flirting with her. The fact that he’d been in the other room for over an hour probably hadn’t hurt either, she mused as she nibbled on another bite of fritter before returning to the document that she was supposed to be working on.
“That sounds like an amazing website,” he said dryly as he sat down on the couch next to her with his iPad and a fresh glass of apple juice, which she decided was rightfully hers since he’d banned her from the kitchen in the first place.
“It is,” she said, taking the glass from him and took a sip before she placed it on the coffee table, which was the only other piece of furniture in the room now.
“Are you going to elaborate?” he asked, as he helped himself to the apple fritter on her plate.
“Are you going to let me help?” she countered, replacing the stolen fritter with the last one in the box only to end up scowling down at her empty plate when he stole that one, too.
“Sure,” he said absently as he toyed with something on his iPad, taking her by surprise.
“Really?” she asked, unable to stop herself from smiling only to end up scowling at the bastard when he said, “No.”
“Yup, that’s me,” he said, shifting closer so that his leg was brushing up against hers and before she could come up with a reasonable excuse for jumping off the couch and doing something incredibly embarrassing like locking herself in the attic for the summer, he was holding the iPad between them and making her realize that she was being an idiot.
“This is your kitchen,” he said, shifting the iPad so that she could see the room that was supposed to be her kitchen, better. “What we’re going to do now is figure out what to do with this space.”
“It looks small,” she said, frowning as she looked from the 3D image of her kitchen to the room in question.
“It’s not. Trust me. You actually have a pretty decent amount of space, but the problem is that most of it is wasted,” he said, voicing her earlier opinion.
Wanting a better look, she closed her laptop and placed it on the coffee table along with her empty plate only to sit back and find his arm draped along the back of her seat. Before she could come up with an excuse or a smart-ass remark to cover her nervousness, he was shifting impossibly closer and handing her the iPad.
“Now, this is your kitchen as it is right now,” he said, pointing at the basic setup that was her ugly kitchen. “It’s open space that’s shared with the dining room, but if you look here,” he said, leaning in closer so that he could point to the space in question, “you have a lot of wasted space between your kitchen island and the section that you use for your dining area.”
“What would you recommend?” she asked, hoping that he didn’t recommend building a wall and separating the space like Mr. Parker had, because she needed that space to do her cooking videos.
Not only did it offer extra light and space, but it also allowed her to help Mikey with her homework while she cooked. She wanted to keep the space open so that she could sit at the table and keep an eye on the stove and be able to enjoy the beautiful ocean view that the glass doors allowed.
“Well, that depends on a few things,” he said while she sat there, trying not to notice how nice he smelled or how good it felt to have his arm around her.
Giving herself a mental shake, because obviously she was beginning to lose her goddamn mind, she asked, “On what?”
“On what you want and what you need the space for,” he clarified, even as he tapped something on the iPad that caused everything in the room to disappear.
“I don’t want a wall separating the kitchen from the dining room,” she said, deciding that it was probably for the best to get right to the point.
“And I wouldn’t recommend one. I think we should start making use of this space, but I need to know what you want,” he said, giving her a pointed look for her to start filling in the blanks.
For a moment, she considered lying to him and telling him that she just wanted the kitchen renovated because she hated this one since she had a feeling that Mr. Parker had jacked up the price because of her website, but there was just something about Reese that made her want to trust him. It was incredibly foolish and Sara would probably slap her when she found out, but it didn’t stop her from admitting, “It’s for my website, KaseyCooks.com. I run a cooking website and I need a kitchen with more counter space and storage. I also run a catering business that’s almost more than I can handle at the moment so the added space would be nice.”
Nodding, he said, “So, on top of space and storage you’ll probably be interested in a larger refrigerator, stove, ovens, and a kitchen island.”
“Yes,” she said, hesitantly even as her stomach knotted with dread, because there was no doubt that they were already so far past her twenty thousand dollar budget that there was no way in hell that she was going to be able to do this.
“And what’s your budget?” he asked, looking lost in thought as he glanced back towards the kitchen.
“Twenty thousand dollars,” she said, sighing in defeat as she waited for him to break the bad news to her.
“Twenty thousand,” he repeated, glancing from the ruined living room floor to the kitchen before he stood up, taking her hand in his and taking her with him. “Let me run a few ideas by you,” he said, releasing her hand before she could start panicking, which was probably why she didn’t think twice about following him into the kitchen.
“We’re going to have to gut this kitchen. There’s no way around it. Your electric is shit, your walls are rotting away, your insulation is shit and your floor was laid down wrong. What I’d like to do is replace this wall separating the living room from the kitchen and add an archway,” he said, gesturing as he spoke.
“Okay,” she said, nodding, because so far he hadn’t said anything to make her panic.
“This room’s facing the ocean, giving it a great view, but you have this one small window above the sink and two small glass doors leading out to a deck that needs to be replaced. I’d like to tear them out and throw some more windows in here and replace those doors with French doors. They’ll give you better light and help you save on your energy bill.”
“Okay,” she said, rubbing the bridge of her nose as she tried to follow what he was saying without getting too excited, because she had a feeling this dream kitchen that he was describing to her was just that, a dream and reality was going to be depressing.
“I’d also like to move the fridge over there against that wall and cage it in with two pantry cabinets. We’ll shift the kitchen island over by four feet and then extend it with a custom-made kitchen island to give you more space so that you can have a stovetop there with plenty of cabinets and shelves beneath it. I also want to shift your sink over by five feet to get it out of the corner.”
“I’d like to give you double ovens where the refrigerator is now, add more cabinets and counter space. Removing the stove and refrigerator from this area is going to give you more room for an additional pantry. We’ll add more lights in both areas and extend the cabinets further so that they end three feet from your new doors. This should open the space up for you, give you triple the amount of cabinet space you have now, and more than double the counter space as well,” he said, describing exactly what she wanted, which of course meant that she was never going to be able to afford it.
Hating herself for ruining this dream so soon, she looked around her crappy kitchen and asked, “How much?”
“To renovate the kitchen and replace the living room floor?”
“Yes,” she said, worrying her bottom lip, because she’d honestly forgotten about the living room floor, which was now just a mess of mis
He made a show of looking around before he met her gaze and announced, “Twenty thousand dollars.”
“That’s it?” she asked, feeling her lips pull up into a smile, because this was honestly the best news that she could have hoped for. She could definitely afford this, which meant that she was finally going to get her-
“Well, that,” he said with a shrug before adding, “and you have to spend the day with me.”
“I’m sorry. What’s this now?” she asked, praying that he hadn’t just asked her out, because she honestly wasn’t sure that she could do it, not without freaking out, kind of what she was starting to do now.
“I’m going to have to take a trip back home tomorrow to get some equipment to keep the costs down and I’m going to need some help,” he said with a shrug as though what he was suggesting wasn’t a very big deal.
It was a very big freaking deal!
“Couldn’t you take one of your cousins?” she asked, feeling like a bitch before the words were out of her mouth, but she couldn’t help it, not when it meant saving herself from spending an entire day alone with him.
There was just no way that she could do it. She just couldn’t. She could handle spending time with him in small blocks without feeling like she was going to lose her goddamn mind, but a whole day?
She would never survive it.
“Normally, I would, but…”
They were here on vacation with their families and she felt like a selfish brat for even suggesting it. For a moment, she looked around, trying to imagine what her kitchen would look like if she gave Mr. Parker a call instead and had him do the job, but she just couldn’t do it. She wanted the kitchen that Reese promised her and that was the only reason why she was about to agree to do this and not because she liked spending time with him, making him smile, or wanted an excuse to do both of those things.
At least, that’s what she was going to tell herself so that she didn’t freak out and call this whole thing off, because apparently she was a horrible little liar and right now, she was actually okay with that as long as he didn’t figure it out.
“Okay, but you’re buying breakfast,” she said, deciding not to mention that he was also buying her as much juice as she could handle for the long drive to wherever he was taking her since he’d figure it out sooner or later on his own.
“Fine. Then you’re buying me lunch,” he said, shooting her a wink as he headed to the door, leaving her standing there, smiling, because he was just so damn cute when he thought he got his way.
“He’s definitely buying me lunch,” she said to herself as she returned to her computer and decided that she should probably get back to work since it appeared that she was going to be taking a day off tomorrow.
“Oh, God, look at that breast,” Jason said, licking his lips hungrily as Reese was helpless to do anything but look at the breast that he would kill to get his hands on.
“I wish Zoe’s breasts looked that good,” Trevor added with a sad shake of his head as all three men stared down at the iPad in Jason’s hands before reluctantly scrolling to the next page only to break out in identical groans.
“Lord have mercy,” Jason hissed as Reese imagined all the ways that he could devour that breast.
“What are you looking at?” Mac asked, as she joined them at the kitchen table and leaned in to get a look at the iPad before rolling eyes her eyes with a chuckle and headed towards the refrigerator that was most likely empty. “You guys are pathetic.”
“Don’t act like you don’t want to sink your teeth into that delectable morsel,” Trevor said, leaning in closer to get a better look.
“Is there a particular reason why the three of you are gawking at a cooking website?” she asked, smiling easily as she grabbed a bottle of water and sat down at the other end of the kitchen table.
“Reese’s new girlfriend runs the site,” Jason said, scrolling back to the page for desserts.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Reese corrected him as he took one last look at the picture of the triple fudge cake that he would somehow convince Kasey to make for him before this summer was over and returned his attention back to the list of tools that he was going to need for this renovation.
“Then what is she?” Trevor asked, sounding genuinely curious as he took the iPad from Jason and opened up the designs for Kasey’s new kitchen.
“The woman that hired me to do a renovation,” he said instead of admitting that he had absolutely no idea what she was to him or why she intrigued him so damn much, because he honestly had no fucking clue and until he did, he wasn’t going to say anything.
“And you’re taking this job, because…” Jason, the nosy bastard, prompted.
“I want to stay busy,” he said, which was the main reason that he was doing this.
Trevor gave an appreciative whistle as he looked over the plans that Reese had worked on last night. “Whatever she is, this is going to end up being one hell of a profitable job. How much did you quote her? Forty grand?”
“Something like that,” he said, still wondering why he’d agreed to do it for twenty.
“There’s no way this job is going to cost less than forty-five,” Jason said, frowning as they looked over all his plans. “Especially with that custom kitchen island. Jesus, Haley would kill for something like that.”
“Zoe, too,” Trevor said, throwing him a curious look. “You can really do this?”
“Yes,” he said, as he continued to stare down at his list, debating on which skil-saw he was going to need. He had a few that he could grab, including his father’s, but space was going to be an issue unless he took one of his Uncle’s trucks.
“Did you design this?” Jason asked after a slight pause.
“Yes,” he said, adding another saw to his list, already knowing that he would regret it if he didn’t grab it now.
“Oh, my god, mom would kill to have this!” Mac said, shoving her way between their cousins and snatching the iPad from Trevor’s hands.
“Hey!” Trevor snapped, but made no move to get it back, knowing damn well that he would never survive the encounter and if he did, Reese would be honor bound to kick his ass on principle alone.
“When did you design this?” Mac asked, already shoving Jason out of his seat and ignoring his murderous glare as she sat down in the freshly vacated chair.
“Last night,” he said, double-checking his holster before standing up and grabbing his list, eager to get going.
“No fucking way,” Trevor said, momentarily forgetting the danger of pissing off a Bradford female and snatched the iPad back.
“Let me see,” Jason said, leaning in to look at the design that had taken Reese most of the night to create.
“This alone is going to cost five thousand to make,” Trevor said, shaking his head in awe as he took in the design and Reese would have to agree, that is if he was planning on charging her for his labor and time, which he wasn’t.
After checking out her website and seeing just how insanely talented she was, he hadn’t been able to help himself. He’d designed this with her in mind, even adding a little drawer for Mikey’s collection of baseballs that she seemed to like to leave around the house. He’d watched a few of her videos, taking note of the equipment that she liked to use, how she liked to use it, what she used the most and he used all of that information to design this kitchen island for her.
“I’ll be back tonight,” he said, heading towards the front door, hoping to avoid any more questions.
“Are you sure you don’t want help?” Trevor asked, again just like he knew he would when he’d spotted him waiting for him this morning, which was why Reese was trying to get out of here before his plans for the day were ruined.
“All set,” he said, already heading out the door, eager to get next door and see if he could start the day off right with another one of those blushes that he couldn’t seem to get enough of.
“What do you think?” Jason asked, as soon as Reese was out the door.
“Every woman in the family is going to want this,” Trevor said, still having a hard time believing that Reese designed this.
It was incredible.
Hell, the entire kitchen that Reese had designed was incredible. As far as he knew, Reese had never designed anything before, but you wouldn’t know it from these designs. They were perfect, absolutely perfect and it made him wonder why Reese hadn’t done this before.
“He’s in the wrong line of work,” Jason said, voicing his opinion as the two of them took their time going through the designs that Reese had created.
“No kidding,” he agreed, shaking his head and wondering if Reese would let him help with this project, because he would kill to work on that kitchen island.
“He’s going to need help,” Jason said, grinning and obviously coming to the same conclusion.
“Yeah, he’s really not going to want your help,” Mac said, as she moved her chair closer so that she could look at her brother’s plans.
“He won’t want it, but he’s going to need it,” Trevor said, swiping the page until he came across the plans Reese had drawn up for the living room floor.
Delectable by R. L. Mathewson / Romance & Love have rating 4.3 out of 5 / Based on43 votes