Delectable, p.29
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       Delectable, p.29
 

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

  “You’re leaving?” Mikey asked, blinking up at her uncle as she pulled the large towel around her shoulders.

  “No,” he said with a snort of disgust. “Like I’m driving through that again.”

  “Then where are you sleeping?” Mikey asked, narrowing her eyes suspiciously on her uncle.

  “Your room,” he said with a shrug, sounding bored as he walked past her and headed towards her bedroom with Mikey quickly following in his tracks and demanding that he sleep on the couch, but Eric ignored her.

  Reese, however, ignored everyone but the small woman curled up in the bathtub, looking absolutely miserable as hot water continued to spray down on her. He continued to watch her for another moment before he turned around and left the bathroom so that he could toss his bag in her room before heading to the kitchen.

  “What’s going on?” Sara asked several minutes later as she let herself into the house and toed off her snow-caked boots as she set the large grocery bags she was carrying aside.

  “Sleepover in Mikey’s room,” he said, going to the fridge and grabbing a bottle of apple juice and a can of ginger ale, not really sure which one Kasey wanted at the moment.

  “Reese-”

  Shaking his head, he stared at the refrigerator door. “Don’t.”

  “Yeah, umm, I’m not letting you near her until I know that you’re not going to be a tool about this,” she warned him, which at any other time he would have appreciated.

  “Just go to bed, Sara,” he said, in absolutely no fucking mood to deal with this tonight.

  Not after the day he’d had and not after he’d driven here through a fucking blizzard to see Kasey only to find out…

  “Is it true?” he asked, closing the refrigerator door to face the woman standing in front of the hallway with her arms folded over her chest as she tried to warn him off with a scowl that had him shaking his head in disgust.

  “Is what true? That the love that we dare not speak its name has made you a daddy? Is that what you wanted to know?” she asked, blinking as he stepped in front of her.

  “Yes,” he bit out.

  “Oh,” she said, checking her manicure, “that’s really not my place to say.”

  “Move,” he said, gesturing with the ginger ale for her to step aside.

  “I really can’t do that,” she said with a shrug.

  “You really can,” he said, shifting the soda to his other hand so that it was holding both beverages.

  “No,” she said firmly, and as much as he appreciated her being here for Kasey, she was also pissing him off.

  With a heavy sigh, he reached behind her, grabbed her by the coat, picked her up and moved her out of the way as he ignored her, “Hey!”

  “Goodnight, Sara,” he said, pointedly as he headed back to the bathroom with absolutely no idea what he was going to say.

  “Wait! You’re going to need this,” she said, rushing to join him so that she could shove the grocery bags that she’d brought with her into his arms.

  “What’s all this?” he asked, frowning down at the bags filled with junk food.

  “Her nausea medication and something to hold her over in the morning,” she said with a firm nod as she pushed past him and went into Mikey’s room.

  “Bed’s mine,” she announced as she strolled into the room and closed the door behind her, blocking out the complaints of the room’s other two occupants.

  He paused by the bathroom and wasn’t surprised to find Kasey gone. Nodding, he walked the rest of the way to the bedroom to find her curled up in the middle of the bed, naked, wet, and trembling.

  “I don’t feel so good,” she mumbled, curling more tightly into herself as he stepped into the room and kicked the door shut behind him.

  He didn’t say anything as he toed off his boots and kicked them aside on his way to the nightstand where he placed the bags down so that he could search for her medicine. Once he found the prescription, he checked the dosage, tipped two pills into his hand and moved to carefully kneel on the bed next to her.

  “Open up, sweetheart,” he said, gently placing the pills in her mouth when she did.

  Closing her eyes, she set her jaw firmly as she waited for the pills to dissolve. Needing to stay busy, he pulled his clothes off and tossed them aside until he was stripped down to his boxers. Once that was done, he grabbed a shirt out of his bag and helped her pull it on before he moved her so that he could tuck her in. When there was nothing else that he could do to buy himself a little more time, he turned the lights off, crawled into bed behind her and wrapped his arm around her.

  Pressing his lips against the back of her neck, he closed his eyes and said, “I’m going to put in for a transfer.”

  *-*-*-*

  “Where?” Kasey asked, breathing through the last of the nausea.

  “Here,” he said quietly as he carefully pulled her closer.

  “Reese-” she started to say with a sigh only to be cut off with the sweetest answer, but it didn’t change the fact that she couldn’t let him do that.

  “I hate being away from you and Mikey,” he said softly against the back of her neck.

  “Don’t do that,” she said, wishing they could hold off on having this discussion until after the medication kicked in and the morning sickness had passed for the night. It would be even better if they waited until she could sit up without her head spinning and threatening to drop her on her ass.

  “Why?” he asked, going still behind her.

  “Can we talk about this later, Reese?” she asked, praying that he took pity on her and just let it go for now.

  “I’m not leaving you again, Kasey,” he said firmly, making her smile despite the fact that her stomach was trying to rebel against the nausea medication.

  “I’m not asking you to, Yummy.”

  “Then what are you saying exactly?”

  Sighing, she rolled over onto her back only to keep on going until she was curled up on her side and facing him when her stomach sent her a warning that she decided would be in her best interest to obey. Reaching up, she ran her fingers over his jaw, enjoying the way the light stubble felt against her skin and trying not to think about just how much she’d missed him.

  “I don’t want you changing your life for us, Reese,” she said, setting her hand on his chest.

  Chuckling he leaned in and kissed her. “You are my life.”

  “Reese,” she said on a sigh, torn between smiling and seeing how quickly she could make it to the closet before the panic kicked in.

  “What’s really going on, sweetheart?” he asked, giving her the distraction that she needed.

  “I don’t think we’re going to be staying here for very much longer,” she admitted as she shifted her attention to the Celtic tattoo on his chest.

  “Why?”

  “It’s just time to move on,” she said with a shrug as she traced her finger along the outline of his tattoo.

  “That and you hate it here,” he guessed correctly.

  Nodding, she said, “And so does Mikey apparently.”

  “What’s going on with Mikey?”

  “Besides the fact that they informed her that she’d be sitting on a bench again next season?” she said with a sigh before adding, “Apparently she’s starting to reap the benefits of my reputation.”

  “Meaning,” he said, sounding irrationally pissed and making her smile, because he was so damn protective of Mikey.

  “They’re just making me realize that it’s time to leave,” she said, not really in the mood to discuss all the reasons that she hated living here. She wanted to get Mikey out of here and give her a chance to be a kid without having to deal with the bullshit that came from living in a small town. She also wanted a chance to go a day without being called a whore and with the babies on the way there was no chance of that happening anytime soon.

  Leaning in, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Then we’ll get you out of here.”

  Sighing, she moved closer to him
so that she could press her forehead against his chest and close her eyes. “I can’t ask you to do that.”

  “You didn’t ask,” he said, as he absently ran his fingers up and down her back as he held her. For several long moments, no one said anything and just when she felt herself begin to drift off he said, “Maybe I could go work for my uncle doing construction.”

  “Is that what you want?” she asked, biting her lip as she debated saying something, but…

  It really wasn’t her place.

  “The pay’s good and so are the benefits. It doesn’t hurt that I enjoy the work,” he said, pressing another kiss against the top of her head as he took her hand in his and held it.

  He liked creating his own ideas, she silently amended, because it wasn’t her place.

  Not. At. All.

  She was just going to keep her mouth shut and support whatever decision he made, because once again, it wasn’t her place.

  “I can work small jobs for the rest of the winter, help with the warehouse until spring hits and then I’ll get a place on one of his crews,” he said, as she bit her lip to keep her mouth shut.

  “At least I won’t hate my job,” he said with a heavy sigh, not really sounding all that pleased, which she decided to take as his way of telling her that he would very much like her to tell him how much of an idiot that he was being, because that was definitely something that she could do.

  Chapter 53

  “I’m glad to see that you’re feeling better,” he said dryly against the pillow the crazed woman was currently trying to smother him with.

  “No!” she snapped, making him once again sigh, wondering if she was going to start making sense or just keep saying-

  “No!” she said, slapping him ineffectually with the pillow only to pause in her sad beating so that she could shift on top of him with a muttered curse and get more comfortable before returning to whatever it was that she was trying to do to him.

  “Should you really be doing this in your condition?” he asked, keeping his hands on her hips to make sure that she didn’t fall on her beautiful ass, which she had an unfortunate history of doing.

  “No!”

  “Any chance we could get past this and get to the point of your violent attack?” he asked, gently plucking the pillow out of her hands and tossed it aside.

  Narrowing her eyes on him, she pointed a stern finger at him and said, “No,” which had him rolling his eyes as he placed his hand back on her hip.

  “Kasey,” he said, sighing heavily as he ran his hands over her hips.

  “You are not going to work for your uncle doing construction,” she said sternly with a violent wave of that finger and a glare that was so damn adorable that he couldn’t help but chuckle.

  “No? Then how do you suggest that I support you and the kids?” he asked, as he allowed himself for the first time since Mikey had unknowingly broken the news to him to drop his gaze to her stomach, which unfortunately at the moment was concealed by the large tee shirt she was wearing.

  “I can take care of myself,” she said with a stubborn shake of her head that he ignored as he slid his hand beneath her shirt and after a slight hesitation, placed it on the swell of her stomach and found himself smiling.

  “How far along are you?” he asked, wishing that he’d left the lights on so that he could get a better look.

  “Three months,” she said, worrying her bottom lip and apparently giving up on her crazed lecture to wait nervously for his reaction.

  Nodding, he couldn’t help but run his hand over her stomach, memorizing the shape as he tried to wrap his mind around this. They were having a baby, he realized, chuckling as he sat up so that he could wrap his arms around her.

  “Why didn’t you tell me, sweetheart?” he asked, keeping his hand pressed against her stomach as he kissed her forehead.

  “I wanted to tell you in person,” she said with a small shrug as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and leaned into him.

  “And I haven’t been back for a month,” he said, pressing another kiss against her forehead as another thought occurred to him, one that he told himself that he should ignore, but…

  “Why didn’t you tell me the last time that I was here?” he asked, leaning back so that he could look in her beautiful blue eyes as he waited for an answer.

  “Would you believe that I was looking for the perfect Hallmark card for just such an occasion?” she asked, looking hopeful.

  “No,” he said, chuckling as he leaned in and kissed her, unable to help himself.

  Her shoulders sagged with a muttered. “I didn’t know how to tell you.”

  “Well,” he said, reaching up with his free hand and ran his fingers through her hair, mussing the short damp locks, “having Mikey make the announcement after I walked in to find you curled up in Eric’s arms was definitely a way to do it.”

  She closed her eyes on a wince. “I’m sorry about that.”

  “Me, too,” he said with a chuckle as he kissed the tip of her nose. “Next time you have something to tell me, don’t do it in another man’s arms.”

  “Well,” she said, opening her eyes and clearing her throat as she shifted on his lap, clearly trying to find the words to tell him something.

  “Out with it, woman,” he said, leaning in to kiss her.

  “Twins,” she blurted out, clearly taking him at his word.

  “What?” he asked, not sure that he’d heard her correctly.

  “Twins. We’re having twins, because apparently if you’re a twin the chances of having twins is slightly higher,” she said with an accusing glare that had him biting back a smile that would probably get him slapped.

  “I see,” he murmured.

  “If it makes you feel better, I don’t know what sex they’re going to be,” she said with a hopeful smile that had him nodding, admittedly still focused on the twin announcement.

  “I also didn’t tell Mikey. She must have overheard me talking to Sara, who only knew because she walked in on me changing a few weeks ago and figured it out. I wanted you to be the first one to know,” she said, reaching up to trace his jaw with her fingertips.

  He should have been here sooner, he realized, slowly exhaling as he thought of all the ways he’d fucked this up.

  He’d left her to go back to a job that he hated, which really made a lot of fucking sense. He’d left the woman that he loved for a job that he fucking hated so that he could crash on his cousins’ couch, because he was a fucking idiot.

  “Yummy?”

  Shaking his head, he said, “I’m just thinking.”

  “Well, could you possibly do it without that scowl on your face, because it’s kind of terrifying,” she said, running her fingers through his hair.

  “Sorry,” he said, realizing that he was going to have to marry her.

  “Yeah, that glare isn’t any less frightening, Yummy,” she said, scrunching her face up adorably.

  “Sorry,” he repeated absently as he thought about it and realized that he didn’t have to do anything.

  They didn’t need to get married, but he wanted to.

  For the past month he’d been toying the idea of asking her to marry him, but he hadn’t wanted to rush this. He needed to take his time with her, to do this right, which meant that he was going to have to ignore the impulse to throw her over his shoulder and take her to New Hampshire so that he could marry her before she had a chance to run away.

  Patience.

  He needed to tap into the one thing that he had an abundance of to stop himself from fucking this up, because something told him that it wouldn’t end well if he tried to drag her off for a typical Bradford wedding. He needed to take his time and do this right.

  Baby steps, he told himself even as he imagined how good it would feel to know that she was his.

  “Is there a reason for that predatory look on your face, Yummy?” she asked, shifting on his lap so that she could reach the
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