Checkmate, p.23
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       Checkmate, p.23

         Part #3 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson
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Page 23


  She thought over what he said and could only come to only one conclusion. "So it'll be soon then?"

  He chuckled softly. "Probably. "

  Chapter 11

  She was so damn beautiful, he thought as he gently pushed her hair away from the small cut on her forehead that hadn't needed stitches. He hoped it didn't leave a scar, not that it would lessen Rory's appeal, but it would be a constant reminder of the time that he failed her.

  Instead of stubbornly standing there yesterday while she worked, he should have taken over. Then it would have been him falling through the floor and not her. He'd take a broken arm and bruised ribs over the scare she'd given him any day.

  After she was placed on a backboard, hoisted up through the hole and placed in the back of the ambulance, he forced himself to walk away like it didn't bother him. He spent the rest of the night thinking. Rory was stubborn, holy hell was she stubborn and no matter what he did or said the damn woman wasn't going to stay away from the job site even with a broken arm. He could either fight with her and waste precious time and energy or he could give in, with a few conditions of course.

  Rory needed someone to watch over her and since her brothers were too damn lazy to do it, that left only him. Not that it bothered him. He'd been doing it for most of their lives after all. At first he did it because he hadn't liked the idea of anyone else tormenting her and of course it did make it easier to make her life a living hell, but later on when they were both adults he did it out of guilt. He'd f**ked up her life, big time, and he couldn't stomach the idea of her ever going through that much pain again, not because of him.

  He'd tried to apologize several times, but she wouldn't listen to him. She hated him and he couldn't blame her. He'd done it for her own good, but he knew there was nothing that he could say to get her to see that. So instead, he kept an eye out for her and if anyone hurt her, he stepped in. A few of her boyfriends hadn't treated her right. They treated her like shit, cheated on her left and right, and just made her miserable.

  A few of them, her brothers stepped up and handled, but there were a few that slipped their notice. He noticed. The ass**le that shoved Rory in the parking lot over on Harrison after she dumped his ass ended up in the hospital later that night when Connor caught up with him. The ass**le that bragged to his buddies that Rory was a bad lay ended up taking back every last word through a mouthful of broken teeth. He did his best to make up for what he’d done and this time would be no different.

  He'd watch after her and keep her out of danger. Keeping an eye out for her would add to his workload, but if it meant keeping her safe then he'd do it. He owed her that much at least. If he hadn't interfered all those years ago she'd probably be head of the PTA by now with a dozen or so kids at home fighting for her attention instead of the pain in the ass dog with a f**ked up name. Thanks to him that's not how things turned out. Thanks to him, she was doing a job that she had no business doing and was alone.

  Not that he took the entire blame for her being alone. He didn't. Rory was easily the sexiest woman in town. Every man in town with two working eyes agreed. She was Playboy level hot. Great body, beautiful long hair with natural highlights and a face meant to take a man's breath away and she knew it, too.

  Rory James knew how hot she was, but didn't care. Her focus was on her company and that was the problem. If she stepped back or let her brothers take over, she'd be able to find a decent guy to settle down with. Not that he was going to push for that. Oh hell no, she was his to torment. He might watch over her because of the damn guilt that racked him, but that didn't mean he didn't enjoy their daily antics. He did and he fully planned on continuing with them until she either slapped a restraining order against him or a doctor called his time of death.

  Until this project was over, he would have to keep an eye on her and while he did that he would continue to work on winning her brothers over. They'd gotten off to a rough patch, but now he knew what he had to do. Thanks to her father's invitation to join them this Sunday it was just a matter of time before the James boys ditched their sister and came to work for him, hopefully taking Rory's best employees right along with them.

  If Rory needed a job after she lost her business because her best employees came to work for him then he'd consider letting her be his assistant. She could fetch his drinks and food all while wearing a tight Highland Construction tee shirt and tight jeans that showcased her ass perfectly. He'd be able to keep her safe, keep her close by to torment and really, that was all that mattered.

  * * * *

  "What the hell are you doing?" Rory demanded as she sat up, a little too quickly, she realized a few seconds later when the dull ache above her temple protested.

  Without taking his eyes away from the laptop on his lap, Connor reached over and grabbed the prescription bottle off the night stand and handed it to her. "I'm working, Rory. What does it look like?" he asked distractedly as he looked at a file that he had spread open on the bed next to him.

  "It looks like you're half na**d in my bed!" she said, screeching just a tad bit.

  He simply shrugged one wide shoulder as he grabbed a bottle of water and handed it to her. Since her head hurt and her arm felt like someone was shoving hot pokers into the bone, she decided to take her pills before she killed him. She took the pills, never taking her eyes off of him while she did it. Connor simply ignored her as he continued typing away at his computer, only pausing long enough to absently scratch his bare chest.

  Her eyes darted down to the pair of charcoal colored sweatpants he wore and back up to his bare chest and then finally to his face, confirming her first observation, the man truly was half na**d in her bed.

  "Get out," she said, inwardly cringing when pain radiated up her arm as she slowly climbed off the bed and got to her feet.

  "Can't," he said, keeping his focus on his computer while she looked around for something to throw at him. When she spotted her boots she considered throwing them, but they really wouldn't get the job done so she settled on glaring at him while she made her way to the bathroom.

  "Out," she said firmly as she closed the bathroom door behind her.

  He didn't say anything so she decided to take that as an agreement. Now that he annoyed her first thing in the morning he would be content on going about his day and leaving her alone. By the time she stepped out of the bathroom he would be gone and she would unfortunately be spending the rest of the day in bed since the damn doctor opened his big mouth and told her brothers that she shouldn't work today.

  At least she'd get some paperwork done, she thought as she used the bathroom and cleaned up. She hated doing paperwork, but now that she was stuck in bed for a day she had no excuses not to do it. That wasn't entirely true since she was pretty sure that she could come up with a good excuse not to do it. Maybe she should just suck it up and get it over with, she decided as she opened the door and sighed with relief.

  Connor was gone.

  She didn't even bother wasting her time trying to figure out what the man thought he was doing in her bed this morning. It would just be one of those things that was best left alone. Her stomach rumbled as she reached her bed and she tried to ignore it, but it refused to be ignored.

  Grumbling and admittedly bitching a little, she padded barefoot out of her room, down the hall and down the stairs as she prayed that her brothers hadn't hit her kitchen on the way out. Her cabinets were mostly empty to begin with, but if her brothers somehow forgot to make a side stop on their way out the door last night she should be able to whip something up with the half sleeve of saltines, third of a jar of olives and scrape a teaspoon or two of peanut butter out of the jar that probably should have been thrown away last year to make something somewhat edible.

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