Part #9 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson
Needing a moment, she stepped behind Eric, wishing that he was bigger and slowly exhaled, telling herself that everything was fine and that the incredibly handsome man that had seen her naked didn’t make her nervous.
She was just overwrought by the loss of her precious hammer, she told herself as she risked a peek to find him watching her with a look in his eye that made her heart skip a beat and had her licking her lips, because that look in his eye wasn’t going to work for her.
Not. At. All.
“So, Reese, how long would it take you to renovate this kitchen?” Sara asked with that creepy smile, even as she threw Kasey a look that clearly asked, “What the hell is wrong with you,” for which Kasey promptly shook her head with a shrug, because she had absolutely no idea what was going on here.
“Two months, give or take a week,” he answered Sara even as he kept his gaze locked on her, which only left her feeling unbalanced. It was not a feeling that she welcomed.
“And how much would it cost for you to do said remodel?” Sara asked, pointedly clearing her throat to get his attention, but he didn’t take the bait.
He also didn’t shift his gaze away from her.
“I could do it for free,” Eric offered, sounding hopeful and she would have rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t seem to move, not with Reese watching her.
It was stupid and foolish and she had no idea what was wrong with her, because men didn’t make her nervous. They didn’t make her heart skip a beat, make her palms sweat, make her mouth go dry, leave her trembling, or make her wonder what it would take to have his arms wrapped around her again, because that wasn’t something that she wanted.
So, why did it feel like she was lying to herself?
“Don’t make me kill you, Eric!” Sara bit out, but he vaguely registered the threat that promised bodily harm, because he couldn’t for the life of him take his eyes off the woman in front of him and he had no idea why.
“I can help!” Eric snapped back, all while the woman that intrigued him more than he ever thought possible noticeably took a fortifying breath and then practically ran the rest of the way to the refrigerator, threw the door open, and promptly hid behind it.
The smart thing would be to leave her alone and go back to enjoying his vacation, but as he watched that blush crawl up the back of her neck as she did her best to ignore him, he found that he didn’t want to leave her alone. He wanted to keep making her blush, and make her lick her lips in the way that was starting to drive him crazy for the simple fact that he could.
She cleared her throat, awkwardly, before saying, “He’s on vacation,” as though that was going to somehow save her.
“Which means that he has plenty of time to kill,” Sara quickly added.
“He probably has plans,” Kasey pointed out, sounding so damn hopeful that he couldn’t help but smile.
“Actually…” he said, letting his words trail off, loving the frustrated groan she released as she grabbed a bottle of water and reluctantly closed the refrigerator door.
“See? This works out perfectly!” Sara announced while he watched Kasey make her way back to the safety of the table, worrying her bottom lip and clearly trying to come up with a reason to get rid of him.
“And what about his girlfriend?” Kasey suddenly asked, looking relieved as she latched onto whatever fucked-up excuse was running through her head.
“What girlfriend?” he couldn’t help but ask, because he honestly had no fucking clue what they were talking about.
“The hot chick that loves to glare?” Sara suggested, blinking innocently.
“Loves to glare? I have no idea who you’re talking about,” he said with a shrug and a shake of his head as he continued to watch Kasey and noting that she was once again blushing.
Had he mentioned how much he loved that blush? Because he did, he thought as his eyes devoured the way that she shifted nervously in her chair, causing her breasts to bounce ever so slightly and giving him a better view of that heart shaped ass that was now clad in another pair of cutoff shorts.
“Mac?” she said, looking hopeful, really hopeful, he noted.
“Mackenzie’s my sister,” he said, tearing his eyes away from her ass and glad to have the matter settled so that they could-
“But, don’t you think that you should spend some quality time with her?” Kasey suggested in that same hopeful tone.
He pretended to think about it before he said, “No, not really.”
“But…” Kasey started to say only to let her words trail off as she tried to come up with another bullshit excuse to keep him from taking this job that she hadn’t exactly offered him.
“It’s a lot of money!” she suddenly blurted out and it took everything he had in him not to smile, because she was just so fucking cute right now. “I’m not sure that I can afford it right now,” she added in a softer tone with a shrug that had her best friend rolling her yes.
“What the hell are you talking about? You’ve been saving for this for years,” Eric, his new best friend for life, said, shooting her a confused look that earned him a glare that should have eviscerated him on the spot.
“I’ve changed my mind,” she bit out evenly, throwing him a look that dared him to argue, but thankfully his new BFF was completely oblivious.
“Since this morning?” Eric asked, frowning at what was left of the kitchen sink.
“Yes!” she hissed, which had Sara shaking her head with a pitying sigh and absently petting Kasey on the head.
“It’s okay, sweetie. No need to play hardball anymore,” she said and before Kasey had a chance to argue, Sara got to the point. “How much and when can you start?”
“I don’t remember offering him the job,” Kasey pointed out, which they all ignored, except for Eric, of course.
“I can start tomorrow!”
Reese ignored the ensuing argument and glanced around the large kitchen and for once he wasn’t thinking about all the changes that he would make if he had the chance. Instead, he was thinking about beautiful blue eyes and an intriguing blush and just how badly he wanted to see both of them again.
“I’ll do it,” he said, forcing himself to leave before he ended up talking himself out of doing this and ended up with one more regret.
Then again, he thought as he walked away, he might just end up regretting this, too.
“What? Wait, no!” Kasey said a tad desperately, but she didn’t care, not when the man that was threatening her equilibrium walked off before she could get a chance to put an end to this nightmare.
“Not happening,” Sara said, as she deftly grabbed hold of her arm and held on with all her might as Kasey struggled to stop this before it was too late only to groan pathetically when the front door closed behind him with a resounding click.
“Crap,” she muttered, yanking her hand free so that she could rub her hands down her face as she struggled to figure out what just happened.
“What the hell was that?” Sara asked, sounding terrifyingly intrigued.
“I don’t know!” she snapped, dropping her hands away and shrugging, because she had absolutely no idea what just happened.
“You blushed,” Sara said, grinning hugely.
“No, I didn’t,” she scoffed in outrage, because if there was one thing that she could say for certain, it was that she hadn’t bl-
“You really did. It was disturbing,” Eric said, tossing his bag on the kitchen island before joining them at the table.
“You’re exaggerating,” she said, folding her arms over her chest and leaned back in her chair, uncaring that she was pouting.
“Oh, how I wish we were,” Sara said with a sad shake of her head. “But, you, my friend, blushed.”
“Shut up,” she grumbled, hating them almost as much as she hated herself for what just happened.
“You also hid,” Eric pointed out.
“And mumbled,” the
“And she blushed when she mumbled,” Eric added with a thoughtful expression on his face as he studied her. “It was probably the creepiest thing that I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“It really was,” Sara agreed.
“I hate you both,” she said, picking up a chip off her forgotten plate and popped it in her mouth as she glared at the two traitors that were enjoying this way too much.
“You love us, which is why we’re concerned,” Sara said, sighing heavily as she shifted in her chair in order to give Kasey her full attention. “Now, would you like to talk about what just happened?”
“You mean besides you screwing me over?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest as she glared at the woman that had just guaranteed that she was going to have to hide out in her bedroom for the next two months, give or take a week.
“By screw you over, do you mean saving your ass?” Sara asked before nodding. “Then yes, let’s talk about that.”
“What the hell were you thinking?” she asked, getting to the point.
“I was thinking that you needed a contractor,” Sara said with a sniff as she checked her manicure.
“Umm, I’m right here,” Eric reminded them as he pulled up a chair and joined them.
“Yeah, we didn’t forget,” Sara said with a sad shake of her head as she returned her attention back to Kasey. “Is this because you can’t look at him without imagining tearing off his clothes and tracing every delectable golden muscle with your tongue?” she asked, blinking. “Is that why?”
“What? No!” she snapped, because she hadn’t been thinking about that…until now.
“I’m not interested in him,” she said, wondering how they’d ended up having this conversation.
“Really? Then please explain the blushing and the fact that you couldn’t take your eyes off him?” Sara suggested, crossing her arms over her chest as she leaned back in her chair and waited for an answer that would hopefully shut her up.
Since telling her best friend that Reese had torn her clothes off and held her in his arms would only come back and bite her in the ass, she moved on. “Did it ever occur to you that I’m not interested in him? Or that maybe I wanted to do this myself so that I could save money and get the kitchen done the way that I wanted it?”
Sara seemed to think it over for a minute before she shook her head and said, “No.”
“What exactly happened to the sink?” Eric, the bastard that she should have never let move in with her, asked, gesturing towards the mess that they’d made with the potato chip that he’d swiped off her plate.
“Yes, Kasey, what happened to the sink?” Sara asked brightly with a triumphant look that she really didn’t appreciate at the moment.
“Nothing,” she bit out with a glare as she shoved another chip in her mouth.
“Really? Because to me it looks like someone that didn’t know what she was doing tried to do renovations on her own and ended up being saved by an incredibly hot cop, who also just happened to be a contractor,” Sara said, ending with a satisfied sigh as she helped herself to a chip.
“Look,” Kasey said, pushing on and ignoring the fact that her best friend was right, “I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“And why’s that?” Sara asked, giving up on stealing her chips and settled for stealing the entire plate.
“Besides the fact that he never gave us a quote? How about the fact that we don’t know anything about him?” she pointed out, wondering why they were having this conversation when it should be more than obvious that hiring Reese just wasn’t a good idea.
“Maybe because you didn’t tell him what you wanted?” Sara shot back as she nibbled on a chip, looking thoughtful while Kasey sat there, scowling at the chip-stealing bitch.
“Because I don’t want to hire him?” she shot back.
“You don’t want to hire an available contractor, who just happens to also be incredibly hot and can renovate your kitchen within your timeframe?” Sara asked, blinking.
“How do we even know that he can do the work? For all we know he might be a glorified handyman,” she pointed out as she got to her feet and headed for the refrigerator, confident that she’d made her point and had effectively ended this conversation before it had a chance to shift back to her and all the mortifying things that she’d done today.
“Because he showed me pictures of his work on his phone and the website for Bradford Construction where he works when he has the time,” Sara said, sounding smug.
Needing a minute, she grabbed a juice box from the fridge, tore the thin plastic cover off the straw and viciously stabbed it in the hole before taking a much-needed sip. Turning around, she watched Sara for a moment as she tried to come up with an excuse to cancel the whole thing, but between the damage they did to the sink and every other problem that she had with the kitchen, she didn’t have much of a choice.
She needed his help, which meant that she was going to have to suck up her pride, pretend that today hadn’t happened and pray that he did the same.
“You’re going to wake him up!” came the whispered hiss as the sounds of someone, probably several small someones, snuck past him on their way to the kitchen.
“I’m starving,” eleven-year-old Sebastian announced, which was seconded by his twin brother, Johnny.
“There’s no food!”
“I told you that we should have hidden some!” came the accusing whisper from one of the twins, which one, he wasn’t sure and he really didn’t care since there was no chance in hell of him falling back to sleep now, not after they’d mentioned food.
A quick glance at his watch had him rubbing his eyes and sitting up on the couch with a heavy sigh. It was seven in the morning, he was fucking exhausted and with a houseful of Bradford children on the prowl there was no way that he was going to get any sleep anytime soon.
“Go get dressed,” he told them, deciding that he might as well take the boys out for breakfast before they woke up the rest of the house.
The boys didn’t need to be asked twice, not when food was involved. Grinning hugely, the boys shoved each other out of the way and raced back to the room they shared with their cousins. He didn’t have to tell them to be quiet, because they knew better than to wake anyone else up.
Hoping to get them fed and back here before nine so that he could go make a certain neighbor blush, he went back to his room, took a quick shower, dressed, attached his gun holster to his ankle, and opened his bedroom door to find his cousin’s boys waiting for him. He cocked a brow in question and the boys nodded, letting him know that they’d told their mother where they were going.
Gesturing to the front door, the boys preceded him and in minutes they were in his truck, and pulling out of the driveway. As soon as they reached the end of the road, the boys were sighing with relief and turning the radio on.
“What are you in the mood for?” he asked, taking in the restaurants along the beach-lined streets and noted that their options were limited at this time of the morning.
“Food!” came the response from both boys, making him chuckle.
Having had enough donuts and fast food egg sandwiches to last him a lifetime, he kept driving until they came upon a diner that looked promising. “How about pancakes?” he suggested, already pulling into the small parking lot.
“God, yes,” Sebastian said, sighing heavily with relief.
“You boys paying?” he asked, cutting the twins a look to find them watching him with calculating looks that would probably scare anyone else, but since he was a Bradford twin himself, he simply chuckled and gestured for the boys to get out.
Before he had a chance to close his door, the boys were there by his side, fully alert and dragging him towards the diner. They’d barely managed to get through the door when the boys were saying, “Three, please,” startling the hostess.
“Three, please,” he said with an apologetic smile as the waitress shifted h
“Three it is,” she murmured as her gaze dropped to his left hand in search of the gold ring that would save him from situations like this before looking back up at him and murmuring, “Right this way.”
Delectable by R. L. Mathewson / Romance & Love have rating 4.3 out of 5 / Based on43 votes