Delectable, p.13
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       Delectable, p.13

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

  “Holy-” he started to say only to have the sentiment finished by Jason.

  “Shit. There’s no way that he’s going to be able to do this on time without help,” Jason said with an excited gleam in his eye, because this was the type of thing that every man in their family would kill to work on.

  The only question that remained, of course, was…

  “Where did he learn how to do this?” he couldn’t help but ask as he shifted his gaze to the side to take in the intricate floor that Reese had designed, seriously wondering if his cousin was going to be able to pull this one off.

  “Rory,” Mac said with a shrug as she dug a candy bar out of her bag and proceeded to open it in front of them.

  “When?” Trevor had to ask even as he snatched the candy bar away and took a huge bite.

  Narrowing her eyes on him, she snatched it back. “Dad started to send him to spend summers with them when he turned fifteen. I think he was hoping that the time apart would help Reese figure some things out for himself instead of always letting Darrin call the shots,” she said with a shrug as she went to take a bite only to end up glaring when Jason snatched the rest of the candy bar out of her hand and finished it off.

  “And Rory showed him how to use the saw?” Jason asked, which explained so damn much, because if there was one person in their family who could pull this project off it was Rory.

  And apparently Reese, Trevor thought, absently noting that Mac was taking another candy bar out of her bag and snatched it, needing the sustenance to figure a few things out about his cousin, who clearly required his help with this project among other things…

  “He smiled,” Mac noted with a soft smile of her own as she reached over and-

  “Ow! What the hell?” he snapped as she did what needed to be done in order to reclaim her candy bar, because they both knew that he never would have given it back otherwise.

  “Who smiled?” Jason asked, still going through the designs that Reese had created.

  “Reese,” she said, looking quite pleased with herself.

  “What about him?” Trevor asked, rubbing the back of his head even as his other hand started to go after that candy bar.

  “He’s smiling,” she said around a small bite of chocolate. “She has him smiling.”

  “How do you know it’s not because of us?” Jason asked with a pointed look that Mac chose to ignore.

  “Yeah, so I’m gonna go call in reinforcements before the two of you screw this up,” she said, popping the rest of the candy bar in her mouth as she pulled out her phone and began texting, which given their track record in the past was completely understandable.

  Then again, given the history every man in their family had of fucking things up on their own maybe she should be a little more concerned about Reese screwing this up.

  Chapter 21

  “Please, don’t leave me!” Mikey begged and as much as she wished that she could say that heartfelt plea was for her, she couldn’t.

  “Mikey,” she said, sighing heavily as she tried to pull her daughter away, but unfortunately for Reese, she had one hell of a hold on his arm.

  “Please!”

  Already exhausted and it was barely seven in the morning, she released her hold on Mikey to rub the bridge of her nose, mostly to hide the smile that she knew that Eric wouldn’t appreciate at the moment and said, “It’s just for today.”

  “But…” Mikey started to say only to let the word hang there as she looked from the man that she was trying to stop from leaving to the one that was most likely going to wring her neck the moment they left.

  “We’ll be back before you know it,” she promised, dropping her hand away so that she could gesture for Mikey to go back inside.

  With a stubborn set of her shoulders, Mikey shook her head. “No.”

  “You don’t have a choice. The camp lost power last night and it’s still not up so you have to spend the day with Eric,” she said, using her firmest mom voice only to earn an eye roll from the little traitor as she tightened her hold around Reese’s arm.

  “Please, don’t make me go,” she begged as she closed her eyes and held on for dear life.

  “Since I have absolutely no idea what’s going on,” Reese drawled as he stood there, looking more amused than anything, “would someone care to explain?”

  “That mean lady right there,” Mikey said, freeing one arm so that she could point in Kasey’s direction, “is trying to make me spend the day at a soul sucking office.”

  “Hey!” Eric gasped in outrage as Kasey sighed, “Mikey,” as she was once again forced to rub the bridge of her nose as she struggled not to laugh.

  “I see,” Reese murmured, clearly sharing her struggle.

  “My office is not boring!” Eric sputtered in outrage, earning an accusing glare from Mikey.

  “No, but your job is!” she snapped back.

  “How dare you?” Eric gasped, and god, it would really not help if she started laughing.

  Clearing her throat as she fought for control, Kasey said, “It’s not that bad.”

  “Not that bad?” Mikey demanded, releasing her hold on Reese’s arm so that she could gesture wildly as she said, “The last time you made me go they ended up high-fiving each other for twenty minutes straight, because they’d figured out a quicker way to download IRS forms!”

  “It wasn’t twenty minutes!” Eric said, but sadly, Kasey had a feeling that it had probably gone on longer than that since she’d experienced the boredom that was Eric’s office a time or two in the past.

  “It was!” Mikey shot back. “I timed it!”

  Eric gasped in outrage. “I was going to let you use the new pencil sharpener and everything!”

  Deciding to ignore the fact that Eric had just proven Mikey’s point, Kasey cleared her throat and tried to push on. “Aunt Sara is going to swing by to take you to lunch. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

  Crossing her arms over her chest, Mikey said, “No, no it really doesn’t.”

  “It sounds like fun to me,” Reese said with a smile, obviously trying to help, but god love him, he’d just made it worse.

  “Really?” Mikey asked whirling on him. “Have you ever tried edible twigs?”

  “Mikey,” Kasey groaned with a heavy sigh, because she really couldn’t argue this one, not when she was the reason why Sara was dragging Mikey off to try a naturalist restaurant that she’d absolutely refused to go near.

  “They actually have edible twigs there. I know, because I Googled it last night when she told me that we were going there,” Mikey said with a look that dared her to try arguing about this one, which she couldn’t and they both knew it.

  “Fine. Then I’ll take you out to lunch,” Eric said with exaggerated patience as he once again gestured for Mikey to go back in the house, which only made Mikey more determined.

  “Your idea of going out to lunch is to come home and see what mom made!” Mikey pointed out, which was sadly true.

  “How is it my fault that she’s ruined lunch for me?” Eric asked, throwing his hands up in a helpless gesture that had her rolling her eyes and looking at Mikey, who was either going to get stuck eating edible twigs today or whatever Eric could find leftover in the break room at work.

  She just couldn’t do that to her, which meant that she was going to have to put this off for another day or drag Mikey along with her and…

  That actually wasn’t a bad idea, she decided, realizing that having Mikey along would probably be her best bet at surviving spending the entire day with the man that she found herself thinking about a little too much, a little too often, and making her think about things that she’d sworn off years ago. She liked him, more and more with every passing day. The fact that she’d only known him for a week and she was already feeling like this was absolutely terrifying.

  Her only consolation was that he wasn’t interested in her and even if he was, he was only here for the summer. She could survive two months with him, she decided even as she admitted that she really liked spending time with him, which meant that she was going to need a buffer with her at all times.

  For some reason, she didn’t think that was going to be a problem.

  *-*-*-*

  He should stop smiling.

  He really should, especially since the woman squeezed in tightly against him didn’t seem to appreciate it. Not that he could blame her, not after it became painfully obvious with that sly little grin she’d tried to hide when she’d announced that they were just going to have to bring Mikey with them that she’d thought she’d found a safeguard against whatever it was that was going on between them only to have her plans ruined in a blink of an eye.

  If Sara hadn’t filled him in on the woman that was currently glaring at the windshield, he probably would have shrugged off his curiosity, accepted the fact that she wasn’t interested, and moved on, but sadly for her, everything she did or said was now taken as a challenge. Not that he hadn’t been disappointed when he’d realized that his plans to spend the day alone with her had been ruined, but that had quickly changed when Kasey’s plans had backfired.

  “Can we stop, Uncle Reese? I’m kind of hungry,” Sebastian, who was the reason why Kasey’s plan had backfired, asked, as he shifted to make more room for Mikey, who was sharing the passenger seat with him.

  “I’m thirsty,” Mikey added with a sheepish smile and a shrug as she continued to roll a baseball between her hands.

  When Reese shifted to get a little more comfortable, which caused his leg to touch hers, Kasey sat up straight and said, “We should definitely stop!” with a panicked little squeak that he found fucking adorable.

  Deciding to take pity on her, he pulled off the highway at the next exit and followed the signs towards a gas station and a couple of promising restaurants. He’d barely managed to pull into the parking lot and throw the truck in park when Kasey started urging the kids to climb out of the truck with a somewhat desperate smile.

  Shaking his head and wondering when she was going to learn, he climbed out of the truck, turned around and wrapped his arms around her just as she was about to shift to the other end of the bench so that she could climb out of the truck after the kids. Smiling, he pulled her towards him until she was sitting at the end of the bench and facing him. Noting the beautiful blush crawling up her neck and staining her cheeks, he bit back a groan as he stepped closer until he was standing between her legs and all he wanted to do was to lean in and press his lips against her neck where that beautiful blush started.

  “I’m starving!” came the reminder that they weren’t alone.

  “We’re coming,” he said, unable to stop h
imself from brushing his knuckles across her jaw as he took in the way her short hair swooped forward, matching his own, the way her beautiful blue eyes hungrily searched his for an answer that he didn’t have, the way that she worried her beautiful plump bottom lip between her teeth, and he was absolutely…fucking…lost.

  Chapter 22

  “No! Mikey, get back here!” Kasey whispered somewhat hysterically as her ten-year-old daughter ignored her and ran off with Sebastian towards what Reese had sworn was the best tree house in the state.

  “They’ll be fine,” Reese, the man that she needed to get a little distance from so that she could think clearly, said softly as he reached past her and closed the driver’s side door.

  “Okay,” she said, because that was apparently all she was capable of saying right now.

  “Do you want to go inside?” he asked, stepping back only to place his hand on the small of her back and gestured towards the large two story Victorian house that she assumed belonged to his parents.

  “Okay,” she said, immediately feeling like an idiot as she allowed him to lead her towards the front door while she tried to get her mind off the fact that for a moment there, she’d actually thought that he was going to kiss her.

  When he stepped back and broke whatever spell he had over her, she should have been relieved, but instead she was…

  Confused.

  “My father’s at work, but my mother should be here,” he said, opening the front door and gestured for her to go inside.

  “What does your father do?” she asked, proud that she’d managed a whole sentence, especially since he was now running his thumb back and forth over the small of her back in a gentle caress and making it hard to think about anything else but him and just how close he was.

  Back and forth…

  Back. And. Forth.

  “He’s a doctor,” he said, keeping his touch soft while he continued caressing her back as he led her inside the incredibly beautiful house.

  “What about your mother?” she asked, deciding that she needed to put a stop to this before it went any further.

  But, in another minute.

  Her back was just so sore from that four-hour drive and if she was going to be any use to him, she was going to have to suck it up and enjoy this. The things she did to help others, she thought with a sigh, wishing that she wasn’t so damn giving even as she paused in the foyer so that he could continue attending to her sore back.

  “She’s the boss,” he said with a warm smile as his hand slid across her back and settled on her hip, and before she could start freaking out, he dropped his hand away and gestured towards the back of the house, “and she’s most likely in the kitchen.”

  “Lead the way,” she said with a smile as she shoved her trembling hands in her pockets.

  With a wink, he did just that, leading the way and giving her a chance to…

  Well, since she had no idea what she was supposed to say or do, she settled for following him, promising herself that she’d figure this whole thing out later. Telling herself that everything was going to be fine, because apparently she was still lying to herself, she followed him as he walked into the kitchen and-

  Slammed into his back when he suddenly stopped and that’s when things really got interesting.

  “Reese!”

  “Shit!”

  “Oh, my god!” this one came from Reese as he stumbled back, forcing her to jump out of the way, which gave her a view of an incredibly handsome man, definitely older and definitely Reese’s father judging by the uncanny resemblance, leaning over a woman that she really hoped was his wife, in a desperate attempt to shield her.

  Sadly, the attempt only made what they’d just been doing more obvious.

  Well, that and the fact that his pants were down around his ankles, he was pressed up tightly against the woman that he had bent over the table and…

  Sighs, he had a really nice ass, she noted, shifting her gaze to Reese’s and couldn’t help but wonder if he took after his father. Probably, she thought with a wistful sigh and a tilt of her head, but before she could make a more informed decision, she found herself being herded back out of the kitchen.

  “Maybe you should have called first?” she asked with an innocent smile.

  “We never speak of this again,” he bit out as he rushed her back down the hallway towards the front door.

  “Speak of what? The lovely kitchen table that your father had your mother bent over? Or the special exam that your father was giving her? Are those the things that we’re not supposed to speak of?” she asked, blinking up at the man scowling down at her.

  “You’re evil, did you know that?”

  Sighing heavily, she nodded solemnly and said, “Yes, yes, I did.”

  *-*-*-*

  “Do you want the drop cloths?” his father asked.

  Still. Fucking. Smiling.

  “Yes,” Reese bit out with a glare as he grabbed the stack of drop cloths from his father and placed them next to the large stack of tools that was never going to be able to fit in the back of his truck.

  “So,” his father said, shoving his hands in his pockets as he rocked back on his heels, “what do you need all this equipment for?”

  “I took a job to keep busy,” he said, checking the blade of his utility knife before placing it back in his toolbox and moving on to check the rest of the tools in the toolbox.

  “What kind of job?” his father asked, picking up the circular saw and looking it over for him while Reese shot a glance towards the kitchen door, wondering how Kasey was holding up with his mother.

 
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