Delectable, p.14
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       Delectable, p.14

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

  “Renovating a kitchen and laying down a new hardwood living room floor,” he said, glancing out the window that overlooked the backyard to make sure that Mikey and Sebastian were okay.

  When he spotted them safely sitting in the tree house that he’d built with his brothers, he shifted his attention back to the toolbox that he was packing and added another hammer. For several minutes, they worked in blissful silence until the bastard that had put his dirty hands all over Reese’s mother decided to break the silence.

  “Who’s the girl?”

  “Which one?” Reese asked, glancing up again to make sure that Mikey was still okay.

  His father followed his gaze and chuckled. “Is this the little girl with the killer curveball?” his father asked, letting him know that someone in his family had a big fucking mouth.

  Nodding, he said, “That would be the one.”

  “She’s a little cutie pie,” his father said with a chuckle as he moved on to check the socket set for him.

  “She definitely is,” he agreed with a smile.

  “And her mom?” his father asked, shooting him a look that had Reese swallowing back a groan, because he knew that look.

  “I have no idea what she is, but I’m doing my best not to scare her off and it’s hard. It’s so fucking hard to hold back with her sometimes,” he admitted with a heavy sigh as he rubbed his hands down his face, starting to regret bringing them here, but the thought of going a day without seeing her hadn’t been a possibility.

  One fucking week…

  He’d only known her for one fucking week and the idea of going even one day without seeing her was tearing him up inside. He was in over his head on this one, but no matter how many times he told himself that he couldn’t seem to stop himself from thinking about her, wanting to touch her, to hold her, and that was dangerous.

  She was-

  “Oh, then perhaps one of us should go inside before your mother manages to get out the baby pictures.”

  -going to be the death of him, he realized as he shoved past his father and ran towards the kitchen door, praying that he was able to get to her in time.

  Chapter 23

  “Did I show you the picture of Reese being potty trained?” Mary, Reese’s very determined mother, asked, smiling hugely as she closed the thick leather-bound photo album. She tossed it aside and grabbed an identical photo album off the coffee table and opened it to the page of Reese smiling, naked and very adorable as he held up a bra for whoever had been holding the camera before she could utter a response.

  Not that she had one, because she really didn’t.

  She was used to mothers glaring at her, ignoring her, mouthing, “bitch,” at her when they didn’t think anyone else was looking, and crying hysterically, demanding to know where they went wrong when guys brought her home, but this…

  “Wasn’t he adorable?” Mary asked, gushing over the picture of Reese as a baby, sitting on a blue plastic potty that matched the one his twin brother was sitting on.

  “Very adorable,” she agreed, nodding, because that’s what she assumed she was supposed to do in this situation.

  Well, besides being amused, because she was definitely amused. Should she be smiling? Probably not this much, she thought, pulling back her smile a bit. If she had known that coming here would end up like this, she would have dragged Sara along, because she would have freaking loved this!

  “He was such a sweet little boy,” Mary said, smiling as she flipped to another page, this one showing Reese running around naked outside.

  For a second, Kasey considered asking her if it would be cool if she snapped a picture of that picture so that she could taunt Reese whenever the need arouse, but reluctantly decided against it. Besides, Mary was already moving on to the next page where Reese and his twin brother, Darrin, whom she hadn’t known existed until this afternoon, were playing in a kiddie pool, smiling hugely for the camera.

  “He used to smile all the time,” Mary said with a wistful smile as she turned the page, making Kasey frown, because she never had a problem making him smile.

  Granted, he was usually smiling at her expense, but that was neither here nor there at the moment. Right now she was wondering what happened to change this smiling little boy. As Mary continued flipping through the pages, she watched as things slowly changed and that easy, carefree smile of his was replaced with that scowl that she knew so well. He still smiled in most of the pictures, but now that smile was tainted with a level of seriousness that just broke her heart.

  As Mary flipped through the book, it became easier to tell Reese apart from his brother. While Darrin had a carefree smile that reached his eyes, Reese had that haunted look of someone who had the weight of the world on his shoulders. She watched as he went from an incredibly cute baby to the insanely handsome man that she liked so much.

  There.

  She admitted it.

  She liked him.

  It wasn’t a big deal. She was a grown woman who was attracted to an incredibly handsome man, who apparently loved to glare a lot. It was normal. This was normal. She was normal, which meant that this whole thing between them was no big deal. Just because she was attracted to him didn’t mean that she had to act on it. She’d been attracted to other men in the past and she’d never acted on it before, which meant that this was fine.

  More than fine.

  Then again, she’d never been this attracted to any of them before, but...

  Whatever.

  She’d figure it out.

  Until then, she fully planned on enjoying this lovely visit with his mother.

  “Is that his prom picture?” she asked, really enjoying the fact that someone had decided to shove him into a pink shirt with ruffles.

  “Yes, he was so handsome,” Mary said with a watery smile.

  “He still is,” Kasey said, only realizing seconds later that she’d made a tactical error.

  “Yes, yes he is,” Mary said with an assessing look that she actually found a bit frightening.

  Kasey opened her mouth to change the subject, but Mary wasn’t having that. “I like you.”

  “Umm,” was the clever response that she came up with, but again, Mary didn’t seem to mind.

  “I didn’t like Missy,” Mary announced with a firm shake of her head and a hard press of her lips as she reached for another album, making Kasey wonder how she was supposed to respond to that.

  Since she had absolutely no idea who Missy was, she went with a nod.

  “I try to stay out of my children’s lives, but it just broke my heart to see him with her. She was so vein, selfish and mean, god was she mean, and Reese-”

  “Isn’t,” Kasey said, unable to imagine someone like Reese, who was gentle and kind, being with someone that was selfish or mean.

  She just couldn’t see him going for someone like that, because he was…honorable.

  “No,” Mary said, shaking her head, “he isn’t. I should have said something the first time that he’d brought her home, but I didn’t want to overstep. I just didn’t think he’d end up with her or maybe it was more like I’d hoped that he wouldn’t end up with her.”

  “When she left him like that, and for his best friend, I was actually relieved. I think we all were. I just wish that she hadn’t hurt him like that,” Mary said, shaking her head in disgust while Kasey sat there, waiting to hear what this Missy woman had done to Reese, which was kind of funny, because she hated gossip.

  Hated. It.

  It probably had something to do with the fact that she’d been a topic of gossip since before she was born, but whatever. She didn’t want to hear it, didn’t share it, and avoided it at all costs. Yet, that didn’t stop her from sitting on the edge of her seat, tapping her foot, and wringing her hands as she waited for more.

  Instead of saying anything more, and god, was this woman good, she shook her head and went back to looking at pictures while Kasey sat there, waiting.

  And waiting…

  Finally, Kasey couldn’t take it any longer and she blurted, “What did she do?”

  “What didn’t she do?” Mary asked with a disgusted shake of her head as she continued to flip through the pages while Kasey sat there, not really sure how to proceed on this one.

  On the one hand, it wasn’t any of her business, but on the other hand…

  It wasn’t any of her business.

  With a disgusted shake of her head at herself, she shifted her attention back to the pictures and couldn’t help but smile when she spotted the picture of Reese in his uniform the day that he’d graduated from the academy. He was so handsome, she thought with a smile, somehow resisting the urge to reach over and trace her finger along his chin.

  “He’s so handsome,” she said, smiling as she leaned in to get a better look.

  “He really is, isn’t he?” Mary said softly, turning her head to study her.

  “How old was he in that picture?”

  “Twenty. He’d just finished training with the reserves before he went to the academy,” Mary said, going back a few pages to show her a picture of Reese standing at attention in an army uniform.

  “I didn’t know he was in the reserves,” she said even though it kind of made sense.

  He was just a good guy all around and god, did he look incredibly sexy in a uniform, she thought as she watched a familiar large, tanned hand pluck the photo album off Mary’s lap. She followed that hand up to the large muscular arm, well-defined chest showcased by a navy tee shirt and up to the handsome face marred by stitches and an aging bruise, reminding her of how incredibly kind he’d been to Mikey after it happened when any other man would have probably screamed at her.

  “There’s a lot that you don’t know about me,” he murmured with a challenge in his eye as he closed the book with one hand and reached out and took her hand into his, “Why don’t we go get this done, sweetheart?”

  Chapter 24

  “Kill. Me!” Kasey pleaded, finally accepting the fact that it was her time.

  She didn’t want to go, God knows that she didn’t want to, because she wanted to watch her baby girl grow up, but she didn’t have a choice in the matter.

  “You do realize that I’m four hours away, right?” Sara asked, sounding amused as Kasey squeezed her eyes shut and slowly rolled over on the double bed that she’d been given for the night only to stop mid-roll with a shake of her head, because it just wasn’t happening.

  “And if you cared about me at all, you’d grab a baseball bat, get in your car, and get your ass over here and put me out of my misery,” she pointed out with a pained groan as she fell over onto her back and stared up at the black ceil
ing fan as it spun around. She shifted her arm so that she could use the cellphone more comfortably as she begged for a quick death.

  “Tell me again why you’re still there?” Sara asked while Kasey watched the fan blades cut through the cool air being pumped into the room as she tried not to think about the pain radiating from her knee to her back.

  “By the time that we finished loading the truck everyone was hungry so we went to his brother’s restaurant where an insane amount of cousins, uncles and siblings showed up and before we knew it, it was too late to head back,” she explained, not bothering to mention that she’d spent the entire evening trying to ignore the way her back muscles continued to lock up on her anytime she shifted in her chair.

  “Are you okay with that?”

  No, not really, but she didn’t really have a choice. It was either stay here in Reese’s old bedroom, which was surprisingly spacious and comfortable, or spend the next four hours squeezed in tightly between Reese and Mikey while her back locked up completely on her.

  Not that staying here was going to stop her back from locking up, she thought with a pained groan.

  “Yeah,” she said, deciding that her muscles were not happy with her current position and shifted back onto her side.

  “What about Mikey?”

  She sighed as she once again gave up on trying to shift onto her side. “Has completely forgotten that I’m alive,” she said, smiling as she thought about how happy Mikey had looked tonight.

  Tonight, Mikey had smiled more and laughed freely as she’d spent time with Reese’s family. They’d treated Mikey like one of their own, talking to her, teasing her for knocking Reese on his ass, and seemed genuinely pleased to have her around. If she hadn’t been in so much pain she would have joined in, but god help her, she couldn’t remember ever hurting this much before.

  “They’re spoiling her?” Sara guessed with a pleased chuckle.

  “Absolutely,” she said, smiling, because smiling didn’t hurt right now.

  “And that’s the real reason you stayed, isn’t it?” Sara asked with a heavy sigh of her own, because they both knew that this short trip was a real treat for Mikey.

  “Yeah, probably,” she admitted with a small smile, although she was pretty sure that pulling that muscle in her ass, back, leg or wherever it was had something to do with it.

  While Mikey was loved and adored more than any child could ask for, she was also an only child being raised by a single parent. She had Eric and Sara wrapped around her little finger, had since the moment she came into this world, and they loved her more than anything, but…

  That didn’t make up for the fact that there was no one else. Kasey had no idea who her father was, her mother had bailed on her a long time ago and she had absolutely no idea if she was dead or alive, and that was pretty much it for family on her side. On Michael’s side was Eric. Just Eric. He was the only one that had anything to do with Mikey.

  His parents had tried, they really had, but they hadn’t been able to handle seeing Mikey. She was the reminder of everything they’d lost. It didn’t excuse abandoning their grandchild or even abandoning Eric for that matter, but she could understand how devastated that they’d been when they’d lost Michael. She’d been devastated, too, but she’d forced herself to move on for Mikey’s sake.

  One day, they were going to regret missing out on so much, but that was their problem. Her only concern was her daughter. She needed to do her best to make sure that Mikey was loved and taken care of and that was it.

  Or at least, it should be.

  Sometimes though, she wished she could give Mikey more, cousins, more uncles, aunts, people that adored her almost as much as she did and that could be there for her, make her smile, but that just wasn’t in the cards. Not unless she could get Eric to get off his ass and get married, but that was looking less likely with every passing year.

  Selfish bastard, she thought with another groan as she tried to get more comfortable only to end up gasping when the move made things hurt.

  “Did you just whimper?” Sara asked with a snort of amusement, because clearly she was mean.

  “I hate you,” she said, wondering what had possessed her to do this to herself.

  “You love me and we both know it,” Sara said, laughing, which officially ended their conversation.

  With a glare at the ceiling, Kasey hit the “End,” button, tossed the phone aside, and seriously considered dragging her ass back down the hall with the hopes that another hot shower would help ease some of the stiffness out of her muscles, but that just sounded like a lot of work so she settled on laying there and being miserable.

  Eventually Mikey would remember her and would come to check on her, but until then she was just going to lay here, wearing one of Reese’s old shirts…staring at the ceiling.

  “You look like hell,” the incredibly sexy voice that sent shivers down her very angry back, said, as the owner of that voice sat down on the edge of the bed, which resulted in her jumping up and-

  “Oh, my freaking god!” she gasped as pain shot through her back, knocking her back on her side where she curled up and waited for the excruciating pain stabbing her in the back and ass to subside so that she could climb off this bed and walk away with as much dignity as she could muster while wearing one of his old shirts and pretty much nothing else.

  Except for her panties, but since he couldn’t see those she wasn’t going to add them to this already mortifying moment. As she gasped through the pain, and god did her ass hurt, she couldn’t
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