Checkmate, p.17
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       Checkmate, p.17

         Part #3 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson
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Page 17


  "Yes, and an apple fritter or two," she said, throwing him a wink as she climbed out of his truck.

  "I'll see what I can do," he said, chuckling as she shut the door.

  She sent him one last wave as she walked towards her Jeep and sighed. She was just too tired to mess with the air compressor right now and was glad that Craig had given her an AAA membership last year for Christmas. Bunny came running around the house as she pulled out her cell phone. He jogged over to her and sat by her feet, obediently waiting for her to finish her phone call.

  With a promise of an hour wait she gave Bunny his customary behind the ear scratch and headed for her front door, forcing herself not to look around like some paranoid chick in a horror flick. Whatever happened, happened. She wasn't about to live the rest of her life looking over her shoulder. He just wasn't worth the effort. Besides, she was too tired at the moment to really care.

  After feeding Bunny she went upstairs and took a quick shower. Normally she would have taken her time and allowed the hot water to ease the ache in her sore muscles, but tonight she really needed a hot cocoa fix. She quickly dried off, pulled on a light blue tank top that ended just above her belly button and pulled on a pair of Craig's old grey gym shorts with the fading Mickey Mouse on the leg and tied them off so that they wouldn't fall off and headed towards her much needed fix.

  Ten minutes later she was carrying an extra large mug of cocoa as she walked up the stairs with Bunny on her heels. She walked down the hall, letting out a loud yawn as she gestured Bunny towards her bed. As she pulled back the thick curtain she sent up a silent prayer for a Connor free night and nearly cursed when she spotted the bastard in question lounging on his deck with a bottle of beer and a magazine.

  Hopefully, he was too exhausted to annoy her. For a moment she considered going downstairs and relaxing on her couch, but it wasn't the same. She liked relaxing on her deck after a long day and wasn't about to let Connor take that away from her. She took a sip of her cocoa for fortification, opened the door and stepped out onto her porch.

  Connor didn't so much as bat an eye in her direction. Hmmm, that was interesting, she noted as she took another sip from her cocoa before setting it down on the small table. Well, maybe she got her wish and he was too tired to do anything, she thought as she sat down on her lounge chair and stretched out.

  When he still didn't say anything a few minutes later she became a little nervous and shot him a look only to find him taking a sip of his beer as he continued to read his magazine. It was a little unsettling and unexpected, but if he was willing to let it go for one night, then so was she. Perhaps he realized that they needed to get along for the sake of the project.

  "Are you going to move your trailer tomorrow?" Connor asked in a bored tone, never taking his eyes off his magazine.

  Maybe not.

  "No," she said on a sigh.

  "Okay," he said, shrugging.

  She cocked a brow at that. "Okay?"

  "Yup," he said absently as he took another sip of his beer.

  She narrowed her eyes on him, wondering what the hell he was up to. He never gave up this easily, never. Not even when they were fourteen and she may have pantsed him in front of the entire school one afternoon and he may have broken his arm in an attempt to pull her out of the air duct where she might have been hiding. He simply waited until the cast was dry and his mother was looking the other way before he snuck out of the exam room at the clinic over on Chestnut and made his way to the waiting room where he knew her father would make her wait so that she could give him the customary muttered "sorry. "

  As soon as Connor stepped into the waiting room she knew that she was in deep shit. She'd barely turned to run and hide when he clamped his good hand around her wrist and dragged her kicking and screaming into the staff kitchenette where he found a strawberry yogurt three years past its expiration date in the back of the fridge. For the next ten minutes he sat on her back while he forced her to eat the brown concoction and even when the doctor, three nurses and his mother tried to drag him off of her, he still managed to shove a large spoonful of the fuzzy gunk into her mouth.

  No, he was definitely up to something, she thought as she picked up her mug of cocoa and gave it the attention that it deserved. Since there really was no way to prepare herself for his little antics she didn't even bother trying. Whatever he did she would make damn sure that she did something ten times worse to him.

  "I'm drawing a blank here and I was wondering if you could help me out," he said in a thoughtful tone and just like that the small hairs on the back of her neck stood up, but she refused to visibly react to him in any way.

  She didn't answer and he didn't seem to care as he continued, "What was the name of that guy, you know the one that you bitch slapped at McGill's Bar last year for no reason at all?"

  Rory wasn't sure where he was going with this, but she was sick of people, especially Connor for some weird reason, thinking that she attacked the jerk for no reason at all like she was some crazed bitch with a bad case of PMS. She hadn't told her brothers why she slapped the man, because she thought that she'd taken care of it, but obviously she'd been wrong. By the next morning he'd spread rumors all over town that she begged him for a quickie in the bathroom and that he turned her down, making her look pathetic and slutty. Her brothers' fists had taken care of the rumor, but men still thought she was easy thanks to him.

  "Oh, you mean the guy that cornered me in the small hallway near the jukebox and grabbed my br**sts while demanding that I give him a blowjob in the bathroom?" she asked in a bored tone even though the memory of that night still had the power to make her feel weak and vulnerable, something she didn't like.

  Connor paused just as he brought the beer to his mouth. He looked thoughtful as he took a slow sip and placed the beer down on his small table. "He attacked you?" he asked in a deceptively calm tone that didn't match the way his jaw clenched tightly and the little muscle that ticked just below his eye.

  "You didn't really think that I would slap some jerk for no reason, now did you?" she asked with a shrug.

  He sighed heavily as he took another sip of his beer. "No, I didn't, but I didn't know the ass**le was that stupid," he said, shifting in his seat to look at something over his banister. "Speaking of the ass**le, you called triple A to take care of your tires?" he asked, conversationally.

  "You mean for my tires that mysteriously deflated sometime after I got home last night?" she asked dryly. "Yeah, I hoped they'd send someone else, but it figures that they'd send him," she said, not even bothering to get up to look since she didn't need to sign anything for him to fill up her tires.

  She didn't need any added drama to her night and she sure as hell didn't want to face Barry tonight. The guy was a prick and took being shot down a little too personally. As far as she was concerned the man should just be grateful that she hadn't told her brothers what he'd done, because the man would still be eating through a straw if she had.

  "Hmmm, looks like he's towing you," Connor said in an innocent tone as he watched Barry do whatever the hell he was doing.

  "Yeah, right. " She snorted in disbelief. It was really sad that Connor had to resort to lame jokes to try and scare her. Seriously, like she'd believe Barry was really stupid enough to tow her truck away. There was no way Barry would ever. . . . . . .

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