Delectable, p.2
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       Delectable, p.2
 

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

  offer and move back home, but that would be admitting defeat and he wasn’t sure that he was there yet. He also wasn’t sure that he would survive living with his parents after the last time he’d made the mistake of staying there.

  Then again, he wasn’t sure of a lot of things, which was the reason that he was here. Since that note that Missy had left on his apartment door had gone viral, he’d been forced to give up his empty apartment, take a leave of absence from the force, and work for his Uncle Jared while he waited for the barrage of offers to marry and fuck him to die down. To be fair, it probably wouldn’t have been so bad if someone hadn’t leaked a picture of him in his uniform online and mentioned that he had an identical twin. After that things had gotten a little out of hand…

  Women, and quite a few men, began calling 911 and reporting fake crimes in the hopes that either he or his twin brother, Darrin, would respond to the call. A few had actually committed crimes and assumed the position before he had a chance to put his vehicle in park. When it became obvious that they couldn’t perform their regular duty, they’d been placed on desk duty with the hopes that it would die down.

  It didn’t.

  In fact, some might say that it actually got worse. Now instead of being content with calling 911, they showed up at the station at all hours of the night, wearing nothing under their coats and taking it upon themselves to drop their coats, bend over his desk, and wiggle their asses in invitation. He still couldn’t get the image of Mrs. Watson, his old kindergarten teacher, shoving aside her walker and dropping her nightgown so she could slowly bend over his desk, hand him a tube of KY lube and asked him to be careful of her new hip.

  After that, it was decided that perhaps it would be in the best interest of everyone involved if he went on paid leave for a little while and since Darrin was getting hit with the same attention perhaps he should join Reese in being bored out of his fucking mind. While his brother was more than happy to use the extra time to spend with his newborn baby girls, Reese was fucking miserable and the sad part was that he couldn’t exactly say why.

  He knew the obvious answers should have been his failed relationship, finding out that he’d been played for a fool, having everything that he owned stolen, and having his life ripped apart by complete strangers, but none of that explained why he was standing here feeling completely lost. If he were going to be honest, he’d admit that he’d been feeling like this for most of his life and nothing that he ever did seemed to make it better.

  His twin brother never seemed to have that problem. Darrin had always known what he wanted ever since they were little and never had a problem going after it, no matter how long it took to get it. Reese, on the other hand, had never cared one way or the other and had always been happy to follow his brother’s lead. It had always been that way. Darrin had known what he’d wanted in life and because Reese really hadn’t cared and they were twins, he’d never thought twice about following his brother’s lead no matter where it took him.

  Now he wasn’t so sure that had been the right thing to do.

  He needed to figure some things out for himself and he wasn’t sure that he was going to be able to do that spending the summer with the two large bastards currently glaring at him. Maybe he should admit defeat and go stay with his parents for a while, at least until he figured out his next move. Before he could seriously consider it, he was walking back to his truck to grab the rest of his shit. Going home where his mother could worry and fuss over him while he was forced to count down the minutes until Labor Day weekend when he was supposed to be reinstated wasn’t going to help.

  Besides, he wasn’t sure if he could handle walking in on his father bending his mother over the back of the couch again, he thought, biting back a gag as he turned around and came face to face with the two large bastards that never seemed to learn.

  “We want to have a word with you about that contest, Yummy,” Trevor said, letting him know that this summer was going to be extra fucking special.

  “Then I suggest you take it up with the judges,” Reese said, moving to step around them only to sigh heavily when Trevor pushed him back.

  “We’re taking it up with you, homewrecker,” Jason said, shoving him back and because Reese was a Bradford after all, he couldn’t help but ask, “Is this because your wife wants me?”

  “She gave you a pity vote, you bastard! A pity vote!”

  “Really? Because it didn’t feel like pity,” he drawled, flexing his muscles and reminding the bastard just whose wife had given him the winning point.

  After that, Jason and Trevor decided to make a few points of their own.

  *-*-*-*

  “After reducing the flour by a quarter of a cup and adding two more tablespoons of butter, I believe that I have finally figured out your grandmother’s secret recipe,” Kasey said with flourish as she held the fudge brownie that had taken her five attempts to make at an angle in front of the camera so that “Mamabear,” one of her website’s followers and the woman who’d paid her three hundred dollars to decipher her grandmother’s handwriting off an old, water damaged recipe card, could see the results.

  “Oh my, God! That looks just like the brownies that my grandmother used to make!” “Mamabear” gushed excitedly, smiling hugely and bouncing in her seat as she leaned closer to her computer screen to get a better look at the infamous MacArthur brownie.

  “I’m glad I could help,” Kasey said, smiling as she placed the plate down on the cracked granite top even as she silently prayed that Mr. Parker got a two-by-four shoved up his-

  “When do I get the recipe?” “Mamabear” asked, cutting off the violent fantasies that had been pouring through Kasey’s mind since Mr. Parker had presented her with a twenty-thousand-dollar bill to remodel her kitchen.

  “I’m sending the recipe to you now. If you have any problems, please e-mail me” Kasey said, as she hit “send.”

  “Thank you so much, Kasey!” Mamabear said, smiling hugely.

  “You’re very welcome,” Kasey said, smiling warmly as she ended the video call.

  As soon as the call ended she was worrying her bottom lip between her teeth and reading through the recipe, making sure there weren’t any typos. She uploaded the pictures she’d taken of the brownies and the video of her making them before putting the final touches on today’s recipe. Once she was done, she hit the publish button and shared the recipe on her website, “KaseyCooks.com.”

  Even though the brownie recipe would make a good addition to her website, she really wished that “Mamabear” would have forked over the extra two hundred dollars to keep that recipe private. It would definitely go a long way in helping her remodel her kitchen that had seen better days, she thought with a sigh. Groaning, she reached into the top drawer, pretending that she didn’t notice when it refused to close after she grabbed the roll of duct tape she kept for just such an occasion, tore off a strip and added it to the growing pile of duct tape that held the old tiled countertop together.

  When the corner of the countertop broke off a few seconds later and hit the cracked tile floor she sighed, pushed her wobbly stool back, stood up, and stepped over the mess on the floor. Groaning pathetically, she walked over to the tiny closet that was supposed to be the pantry, but was barely big enough to hold the broom and a bucket that she kept in there. She grabbed the broom and closed the door with a wince as the hinges emitted a grinding noise that no amount of oil seemed to help.

  Broom in hand, she turned around and looked at the old kitchen that had once belonged to her grandmother and groaned. This kitchen had definitely seen better days, she thought as she took in the old cabinets that were cracked, worn, warped, and in some cases, barely hanging onto the old hinges that refused to stay in place. The counters and floors hadn’t fared any better over the years either. They were cracked, stained from decades of children tearing through the house, and in some areas, she mused as her gaze shifted to her kitchen island, were missing.

  She should d
ip into her savings, but even though she had more than enough money to cover the costs of remodeling the kitchen, she couldn’t justify spending the twenty thousand dollars. Mr. Parker’s work wasn’t the best and for twenty thousand dollars she expected a heck of a lot more than just the basics that he’d promised her. Maybe she should look into selling the house again.

  She already knew that she’d end up walking away with a small fortune if she did, but she just couldn’t stomach the idea of selling the house that her grandfather had built even if it meant that she could buy a huge house with central air, a chef’s kitchen, an office, family room, and her very own bathroom, and a game room so that she wouldn’t have to put up with all of the baseball memorabilia all over the-

  “You throw like a girl!” Mikey, her pride and joy, yelled as she stormed into the house, tossing her worn and dirty baseball mitt onto the couch before yanking the refrigerator door open, grabbing a Gatorade, and downing it all while she glared at the man who’d stumbled into the house after her.

  “You’re a brat!” Eric, the poor, misguided man that had actually volunteered for this, snapped as he stormed in after Mikey and tossed his baseball mitt on the couch, renewing Kasey’s dreams of one day having a sports-free room.

  “And you throw like a girl!” Mikey announced once again with a murderous glare for her uncle.

  “Brat,” Eric bit out, grabbing his own Gatorade as he gave Mikey an affectionate pat on the head before he reached for one of the infamous MacArthur brownies.

  “I’m guessing practice didn’t go well,” Kasey said, chuckling as she cleaned up the mess on the floor.

  “Your daughter is the devil,” Eric said matter-of-factly around a mouthful of brownie.

  “You knew this going in,” Kasey pointed out as she finished cleaning up the mess and put away the broom.

  “He throws like a girl, mom,” Mikey said, sighing heavily as she helped herself to a brownie.

  “Well,” Kasey said, pursing her lips up thoughtfully, “you knew that going in as well.”

  “I don’t throw like a girl!” Eric snapped in outrage only to moan with pleasure seconds later when he took another bite.

  They all knew that while Eric had many fine qualities, playing sports was not one of them. But, since he always volunteered to take Mikey to practice and help coach her games, she kept her mouth shut.

  “Really?” Mikey asked, adjusting her baseball cap, “Then what would you call it?”

  “Keeping you on your toes,” Eric said with an affectionate glare as he put his drink down so that he could help Mikey fix her baseball cap.

  Mikey dropped her hands away and stared blankly up at her uncle, “By making me run after the ball?”

  “Exactly,” Eric said with a smile as he fixed her braids and turned her cap around so that it was facing backwards.

  “Since I have you both here,” Kasey said, deciding to press her luck, “I could really use a hand peeling potatoes and chopping some vegetables.”

  But, before she was finished, the two traitors were both making a run for it and leaving her to peel ten pounds of potatoes by herself.

  Chapter 3

  “Who are you?” a pretty little girl with sun kissed brown hair pulled into two braids and wearing a backwards baseball cap demanded, as she stopped in front of him.

  Reese cocked his head to the side as he looked up at the little girl staring right back at him. “Who are you?” he countered as he settled back against the old log that he’d escaped to an hour ago.

  “I asked you first,” she pointed out as she crossed her arms over her chest and shot him an expectant look, clearly deciding that she wasn’t leaving him alone until she got her answers.

  “So you did,” Reese murmured with a smile. “I’m Reese.”

  “Are you visiting or renting?” she asked next, not wasting any time in starting her interrogation.

  “Renting.”

  “Which house?”

  “The one right behind you,” he said, gesturing towards the large house that he was avoiding at the moment.

  “For how long?”

  “The summer.”

  “Any kids?” she asked, producing an old baseball mitt with a baseball securely held inside it from behind her back.

  “Seven.”

  “Seven,” she repeated with a thoughtful nod as she glanced over her shoulder.

  “And what’s your name?” he asked, curious about the little girl that was interrogating him.

  “Can’t tell you that. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” she said with a sniff as she returned her attention back to him.

  “I see,” he murmured, not pointing out that she was currently interrogating a stranger and decided to reassure her that he wasn’t a serial killer.

  He pulled out his wallet, flipped it open and held it out to her so that his badge was facing her. He didn’t say anything as she slowly reached out and took his wallet from him. He watched as she looked down at his badge and ID, to him and then back down at his ID again.

  “You’re a police officer?” she asked, shooting him a questioning look as she handed his wallet back.

  “Yes, ma’am,” he said, returning his wallet to his back pocket.

  “Are you the one that handcuffed those two men to the pole?” she asked, as she absently gestured towards the street.

  “That would be me,” he said with a nod, wondering how long it would be before they managed to escape and come after him.

  “You know they’re telling on you, right?” she asked, scrunching her face up in disgust as though the very act disgusted her, making him chuckle.

  “I figured,” he admitted with a shrug, already knowing that Haley and Zoe would be more amused than anything to find their husbands handcuffed to a telephone pole.

  “I see,” she murmured thoughtfully as she tossed the ball in the air and caught it, assessing him with a new look on her face, one that actually kind of scared him.

  “Are you going to tell me your name?” he asked only to frown when she once again ignored his question and demanded, “Do you throw like a girl?”

  *-*-*-*

  “So, what’s the verdict?” Eric asked, as he strolled into the kitchen and leaned back against the kitchen counter as she finished dicing the last potato.

  “On what?” she asked, putting the diced potato in the pot with the others.

  “The kitchen,” he said, watching as she moved around the kitchen island so that she could focus the insanely expensive camera that she’d bought last year, on the bowl of potato cubes soaking in the pot and snapped a few pictures.

  Shaking her head, she grabbed the pot and placed it on the stove. “I haven’t decided yet,” she admitted, as she grabbed a large mixing bowl out of the cabinet and placed it on the kitchen island.

  “I think you should do it,” Eric said, walking around the kitchen island so that he could snap a few pictures of the bowl for her while she grabbed the hamburger, eggs, and ketchup from the fridge and placed it on the counter along with the large mixing bowl.

  “I know,” she said, sighing heavily as she looked around the depressing area again, noting that the modern appliances that she’d added since she’d moved in didn’t match the rest of the kitchen, which created problems when she had to do her job.

  “It’s a tax write off,” he reminded her as he took a few more pictures.

  “I know that, too,” she said, as she grabbed some seasonings and the leftover loaf of bread that she’d made yesterday.

  “Then what’s the hold up?” he asked, snapping a few more pictures before he looked over at what she was doing with interest. “What are you making?”

  “Meatloaf,” she said, cracking an egg open.

  “Which recipe?”

  “Your favorite,” she said with a smile as she slowly added the rest of the ingredients, pausing long enough so that he could snap pictures as she worked.

  “There are other contractors out there,” he pointed out, befo
re licking his lips and asking, “Are you going to make fried apples?”

  “I wasn’t planning on it,” she said, grabbing a pan for the meatloaf and already resigning herself to making a batch of fried apples for the man that had saved her from spending the better part of the day sitting on an old splintered bench in this sweltering heat.

  “And biscuits?” he asked, sounding hopeful and making her chuckle.

  “Are you going to do the dishes?” she asked, mentally adding biscuits to tonight’s menu.

  “I would,” he said, sighing heavily, “I really would, but you know that you do them so much better than me.”

  “Cause you throw like a girl?” she asked teasingly as she put the pan in the oven and started on the apples that she hadn’t planned on making.

  “Exactly,” he said, waving it off as though that was a given. “What about the kitchen? What are we going to do?”

  Toying with the apple in her hand, she slowly sighed as she glanced around the eyesore that was becoming more difficult to deal with each passing day. “I honestly don’t know. It needs to be done,
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