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       Checkmate, p.39

         Part #3 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson
Page 39


  He didn't work for free and neither did his men. He offered more than fair prices to his customers and didn't play games to jack up the price. The woman knew the price going in and had agreed that it was more than fair when she'd signed the contract. In fact, if she hadn't added a new office for herself and asked for a carport built at the back of the building to keep her car protected from the elements, the price would have been fifteen grand cheaper. After a half hour of her bullshit, he had enough and told her to deal with his lawyer as he headed for the door.

  Apparently that was the magical phrase, because twenty minutes later he had a check for almost the full amount. It turned out that she'd spent the money set aside for renovations on new equipment for the coffee shop. When he spotted the large box with fancy writing in the corner of her office with the magical words, "Hot chocolate" printed beneath the picture of the product, he decided to take pity on the woman and do a little bartering. He was out a thousand bucks, but had a professional brewing machine and cabinet for Rory.

  He meant to give it to her in front of the trailer as he made a big show of it so that her brothers could see how well he took care of her. He hoped to soften them up towards him, but at the last minute he changed his mind. He had five months to butter her brothers up to come work for him so there really was no rush, he decided. While her assistant pouted and glared at him, he hauled in her new cabinet and cocoa maker and did a little redecorating. Andrew arrived a short while later with every cocoa product known to man.

  Unfortunately, ten minutes later he had to haul his ass out to the site to deal with the truck driver that was contracted to replace the dumpsters. The man tried to refuse to have all the dumpsters replaced today. He gave some bullshit story about construction materials being a problem and overtime issues. It took an hour to get the man to remove the dumpsters and replace them. They would have been screwed if he hadn’t dumped them. They only had half of the first and second floor torn out and they desperately needed to be able to finish ripping the roof off and if they didn't have dumpsters they'd be f**ked.

  As soon as he was done dealing with that bullshit, he hauled his ass back to the trailer, anxious to see Rory's expression when she saw his gift. He missed her initial reaction, but the way she settled back against him and sighed contently in his arms more than made up for it. When Rory laid her arms over his, he was glad that he'd saved this for just them. There was plenty of time to butter up her brothers, so he wasn't going to stress over a missed opportunity, not when Rory felt so damn good in his arms.

  "What does it do?" she asked in a reverent whisper that had him smiling.

  "The machine?" he asked, ducking his head to press a kiss against her jaw.

  "Mmmhmm," she said as she absently tilted her head to the side in silent demand for more, which he was more than happy to give her.

  He pressed another kiss against her jaw before he slowly ran his lips up to her ear and pressed a kiss just below it. "It makes hot chocolate even creamier. "

  "Are you sure?" she asked, sounding hopeful.

  "Very sure," he said, pressing a kiss just below her jaw.

  "And this is for me?" she asked slowly, cautiously.

  "Mmmhmm," he said, pressing another kiss against her neck. "It's for you," he said, loving the way she felt in his arms. Hell, he could happily hold her for the rest of his life and never grow tired of it.

  "Why?" she whispered, tilting her head back and to the side so that she could look up at him as he answered.

  "Why what?" he murmured distractedly as he leaned down and brushed his lips against hers, unable to help himself.

  "Why did you get that for me?" she asked quietly, following his lips as he started to make a slow retreat, but once he felt her lips touch his, he stopped moving back and simply enjoyed the way her lips teased his.

  "I can take it back if you don't like it," he teased, his lips twitching against hers when she let out a cute little growl.

  "Lay one finger on it and they'll never find your body," she swore against his lips and even though she sighed softly in pleasure, he knew that she meant it.

  "Does that mean that you don't want me to show you how to use it?" he asked, leaning in for another kiss when he suddenly found his arms empty.

  When he spotted her standing in front of the machine, gesturing impatiently for him to get on with it, he couldn't help but chuckle. How could such a sexy woman be so damn cute? he wondered as he dutifully walked over to get the little addict her next fix, pausing only long enough to press a quick kiss against her lips that earned a gagging sound from her assistant.

  Rory didn't seem to notice. The woman was too focused on her cocoa machine, barely able to stop herself from fidgeting as she ran her greedy little eyes over the machine. Since she seemed too distracted at the moment to handle her assistant, he decided to give her a hand.

  "Ow!" Jacob whined when the small canister of Belgian cocoa powder bounced off his head.

  Connor couldn't help but shake his head in disgust as he started the machine, pausing only long enough to steal another kiss from Rory. As she returned the kiss he wondered if she was even aware of how quickly they'd settled into this level of intimacy. Kissing her felt like the most natural thing in the world to do and he wondered if it was the same for her.

  "Cocoa," she murmured against his lips, making him chuckle.

  After pressing one last kiss against her lips, he gave into the addict's demands and showed her how to use the machine. He didn't miss the way her assistant watched his every move and shot him murderous glares each and every time he touched Rory. It wasn't too hard to figure out that the man was in love with Rory.

  Not that he could blame him. He didn't. But, that didn't mean that he was going to step back and let the man have a shot at Rory. Oh hell no, that shit wasn't happening. He was not about to step back, even though he wasn't really dating Rory, and give some prick who'd already proved that he couldn't protect Rory a chance to hurt her. Wasn't happening and the sooner the man realized that, the better.

  "Is it done yet?" Rory asked, shifting from foot to foot as she tried to keep herself from reaching out and snatching up the large tan coffee cup as the flow of hot cocoa slowed down to a drip.

  He reached out and picked the cup up, afraid that she'd burn herself, and gestured towards her office. "You can attack it in there while we go over some paperwork," he said, smiling when she pouted. When she reached out for it, almost as if she couldn't help herself, he raised the cup higher and moved to step around her.

  Rory being Rory, of course tried to reach up and take it away from him, but he simply shook his head and sighed as he raised it higher and moved past her. He didn't bother to look back to make sure that she was following him since he knew that the little addict wasn't about to let the cocoa out of her sight. As he stepped around her desk he placed her mug of cocoa down and sat in her chair.

  His ass barely touched the chair when Rory was climbing onto his lap, sitting sideways as she picked up her mug of cocoa and took a slow sip as she settled against him. As he put his arm around her and gently cupped her hip, he couldn't help but wonder if she even realized how comfortable she was around him. Considering their history, the woman should be a nervous wreck whenever he was within a fifty foot radius of her. Then again, Rory James never reacted the way he expected her to, he thought with a smile as he leaned in and pressed a kiss against her neck, chuckling when she let out a little moan of pleasure.

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