Checkmate, p.32
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       Checkmate, p.32

         Part #3 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson
Page 32


  It took some time convincing McGill to take the chance on Rory's plans, but once he did, Connor knew the James boys were as good as his. He'd been foolish to think that he could win the James boys over on his own. They might have refrained from tying to kick his ass over the years, but that didn't mean that they liked him anymore than their sister did.

  The looks they gave him when he climbed out of the hole and went to help the paramedics, reminded him where he stood with them. Then again, the fact that they shoved him out of the way and scowled in his direction any time he got too close, meaning within twenty feet, of Rory told him that his plan would never work. He knew then that if he continued this little war with Rory that he wouldn't have a chance to get to the James brothers and convince them to come work for him.

  Now, as Rory's boyfriend. . . . . . . .

  That was a different story all together. They'd be suspicious and rightly so, but it would get his foot in the door and that's all he needed. If they saw him treating Rory with respect and taking care of her the way that she deserved then he'd win them over.

  Not that it would be a hardship treating Rory like a queen, it wouldn't. Sure he screwed her over and enjoyed making her life a living hell, but he always made sure that she was okay, always. When they were seven and a bunch of stuck up little girls made fun of the way Rory dressed and acted, he made sure that those three girls had a run in with the large mud puddle in the playground. Over the years he lost count of how many little boys, teenagers and grown men he'd taken care of for her after they treated her like shit. It probably made him a hypocrite to enjoy screwing with her and then beating the shit out of anyone who hurt her, but he just couldn't stomach the idea of Rory being hurt in any way. Not that he would ever tell her that, especially since she wouldn't believe him.

  That was also why he didn't even bother trying to trick her into dating him. Not that she'd go for it, she wouldn't, but he didn't like the idea of hurting her. Stringing her along so that he could get her brothers to come work for him, just felt wrong. At least by blackmailing her, he was honest with her so that he was free to enjoy screwing her over without any guilt.

  He opened the door for the furious woman and didn't bother hiding his grin as she muttered a few violent words about his balls as she shot another nervous look at the increasingly busy restaurant as she climbed out of the truck. She looked cute when she was nervous, still hot as hell, but cute.

  "Um, maybe we could," she noticeably swallowed as she took a step back, "do something else?"

  "Would that make you feel more comfortable with this arrangement?" he asked, sounding concerned and biting back a smile when she noticeably relaxed as she gave him a quick nod, never taking her eyes away from the restaurant.

  It was really pathetic that she didn't know him by now. Then again, knowing that she didn't want to do this just made the situation too damn irresistible to ignore.

  "Fine. We can go home," he said, biting back a smile when her shoulders slumped in obvious relief and she moved to open the truck door. "Right after we eat, play a few games of pool and hang out for two or three hours," he said as he took her good hand in his and headed for the door, not really caring that he was practically dragging her behind him.

  He had a game plan after all and she was the key to making it work.

  "I really hate you," she muttered, but he decided to ignore that since it was just her crankiness and her severe disliking of him talking.

  Chapter 16

  "H-h-how many?" Amber, the hostess and a woman who'd graduated two years ahead of them in high school, asked as she noticeably struggled to tear her eyes away from the sight of Connor holding her hand. That was understandable because right now Rory was struggling with a nervous breakdown.

  Connor O'Neil was holding her hand, in public, on purpose, and she liked it, a little too much, but sadly that wasn't the worst part. The most frightening? Yes, but not the worst part. No, the worst part was that every single person in the bar had stopped talking, eating, dancing, and drinking to stare at them. It was actually a little bit unnerving to be able to hear the jukebox playing Kelly Clarkson's Mr. Know It All, which she normally liked, but right now it was creeping her out as everyone stared at them as if they couldn't quite believe what they were seeing.

  They were never going to be able to pull this off. Not that she really cared. She really didn't. Although, it would be nice to be able to go a day without someone pointing at her or being asked to leave a store or restaurant because Connor was already there and the damn establishment was one of fifty-seven that had the damn rule about not allowing both of them inside at the same time. It was really an inconvenient little rule and one that she wouldn't mind having lifted. Having the banned and no trespass orders lifted wouldn't exactly hurt either, but none of that was worth this little nightmare.

  Unfortunately for her, Strawberry Manor was worth it. Otherwise she wouldn't be here at the moment. She'd probably be back at the site putting in a couple more hours before calling it a night. Not that she could do much with her arm broken, but it was still enough to bring them one step closer to their goal.

  If they didn't meet the deadline not only would their reputations be marred, but they'd lose the bonus money and she wasn't about to let that happen. She'd worked her butt off for years building her reputation for running a dependable company and she wasn't about to let the project of her dreams change that. They would finish this project on time along with those suites and Shadow Construction's reputation would be set for life.

  "How many?" Amber asked, shooting a nervous look over to Phil, the manager, who was acting as the backup bartender for the night.

  Rory nearly sighed with relief. Phil ran a tight ship and had several strict rules when it came to them and thankfully this was one of the fifty-seven establishments that didn't allow them in at the same time. He was going to throw her out on her ass and she couldn't wait. So when Phil only shrugged a moment later she nearly stomped her foot in frustration. What the hell kind of manager was he that he couldn't even follow his own rules? Rules were made for a reason!

  "Two," Connor said as he released her hand and before she could sigh with relief or make a run for it, he had his arm around her shoulders and was pulling her closer.

  She felt her cheeks burn as every eye in the restaurant watched that move. Oh, she was never going to live this down. This moment of stupidity was never going to be forgotten. Years from now people were still going to talk about this. She couldn't do this. She couldn't go through with this farce. She couldn't-

  A collective gasp sounded throughout the restaurant, but she couldn't really care about that, not with Connor kissing her. One thing she could say about the life ruining bastard, he sure knew how to kiss, and well, very well, she thought as he moved his lips against hers one more time before pulling away. He didn't go far before he leaned back in and pressed one last rather sweet kiss against her lips and then one to her cheek before he whispered in her ear, "Relax, Rory. "

  "This is so going on my Facebook page," someone said, drawing her attention away from Connor and his surprisingly soft lips. She looked past the shocked hostess in time to see several people put away their phones.

  Great, her humiliation was about to go viral, she thought with a little whimper that had Connor chuckling as he once again took her hand in his and pressed a rather sweet kiss to the back of it. Damn, the man was good, she thought as she allowed him to lead her through the crowded restaurant towards a back booth where the waitress waited, looking a little more relaxed as she ran an appreciative eye over Connor.

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