Checkmate, p.49
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       Checkmate, p.49
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         Part #3 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson
Page 49


  He was actually pretty proud of himself this morning. He managed to beat the shit out of his alarm clock, get out of bed and into the shower without giving into temptation. He may have lingered in the shower for a few minutes on the off chance that Rory decided to join him. She had an injured arm after all and might be in need of an extra hand or two to help soap up her incredible body. It was a sacrifice, but one he was willing to make for her.

  After a few minutes, he gave up and started getting ready. When he stepped into his room, he didn't even bother to bite back his disappointed sigh when he found his bed empty. He'd been hoping that she'd be there, giving him the excuse that he needed to focus on her. A wave of exhaustion hit him and he'd been tempted to crawl back into bed, but without Rory lying in his arms he hadn't seen the point.

  He'd just been resigning himself to spending a few hours without kissing her when he spotted her walking towards her Jeep, carrying her backpack and thermos. When their eyes locked, a hot current shot through his body, shooting straight to his heart and stealing the air out of his lungs and before he knew it, he was making his way across their yards and pulling her into his arms.

  She went willingly, more than willingly, which still stunned him considering that only a month ago she would have gone for her pliers. He'd dated plenty of women in the past, but none of them made him feel the way that she did, complete. On some level she'd always made him feel that way, but after making love to her, something inside of him clicked. He didn't understand it, but he wasn't going to fight it either.

  He was done fighting with her.

  When this project was over, he was keeping her, deal or no deal. She belonged with him. They were so much alike that it was a little frightening, well, to everyone else. Years ago he knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, but he'd convinced himself that they were both better off without the added complication in their lives. It wouldn't be easy convincing her to take a real chance on him, but he didn't care. This morning he had a taste of what it could be like between them and he'd have to be out of his f**king mind to give that up.

  He was still going to steal her brothers out from under her and run her out of business, but now he planned on doing it with a little more finesse. Instead of watching her business go under, he was going to step up when the time came and buy her business. That way Rory wouldn't feel like a failure and leave town so she'd be able to spend the day working for him and her nights moaning his name in his ear.

  "Tonight," Rory said, sounding out of breath as she pulled her lips away from his.

  "Tonight, what?" he asked in a daze as he moved in to pick up where they left off, but Rory had other plans. With a teasing smile, she pulled her lips further away from him, but quickly made it up to him by wrapping her legs around his waist

  "We'll have to continue this tonight, because I really have to go now or I'm going to be late," she said with a sigh as she tried to pull her legs away from his waist, but he wasn't having that.

  He moved his hands from her waist to her ass and kept her right where she was so that he could lean in and steal a kiss before they clarified one or two things. "You're having dinner with me, right?" he asked, even though she really didn't have a choice in the matter.

  "I usually meet my brothers for dinner on Sunday," she replied against his lips as her hold around his waist tightened and he was tempted once again to say the hell with everything and take her back to bed, but he had work to do, sad, but true. If he wanted to keep Rory in his bed on a permanent basis, and he did, then he was going to have to learn to prioritize.

  Plan and work first and then amazing sex second.

  "You're having dinner with me instead," he informed her, since she seemed to think that she had a choice.

  She didn't.

  But that didn't mean that he was going to be a complete prick about it. "You can pick the place. I don't care if you're brothers are there, but you're going with me. "

  He wasn't too surprised when Rory pulled back, looking more amused than anything. "And if I don't?"

  For a few seconds, he considered threatening not to put out, but then he remembered who he was dealing with and decided that it would probably be best not to take a chance of her calling his bluff. Instead, he carried her the rest of the way to his truck as he said, "You will. "

  "What if I pick the most expensive restaurant in town?" she asked, tilting her head slightly to the side, studying him as she waited for his answer.

  "That's fine with me, Rory," he said, leaning in to steal a quick kiss before he carefully set her on her feet. "You can have whatever you want. "

  "For the deal, right?" she asked, eying him curiously as she held onto him until her feet touched the ground.

  "Yes," he answered, knowing that was the only way that she would accept what was going on between them right now.

  "Of course," she mumbled as she looked away.

  It was hard to tell in this early morning light, but he could have sworn that she looked a little disappointed. He should just let it go, especially since he couldn't risk her figuring out just how much she was coming to mean to him, but he couldn't. He didn't want her to think that she wasn't worth everything that he could give to her and then some.

  "I would take you anyway, Rory," he admitted, feeling like a dope.

  "Why?" she asked, looking and sounding as though she couldn't understand why any sane man would happily die for the chance to put a smile on her face.

  "Because you're worth it," he simply said, cupping her face as he leaned in to kiss her, but her next words gave him pause.

  "Because I'm beautiful?" she asked with a touch of acid lacing her words.

  He didn't even want to imagine how many times she'd heard some ass**le compliment her on how beautiful she was. They probably thought that's what she wanted to hear. It wasn't. Not for a woman like Rory who knew that she was beautiful and didn't care. They really were f**king idiots.

  "Yes," he said with absolutely no hesitation and when she tried to pull away from him, her expression a combination of hurt and disgust, he held onto her and continued to move in to kiss her. "But I'd take you because you're the best part of my day, Rory. Always have been and always will be. "

  He planted a quick kiss on her stunned lips before pulling away from her and opening the passenger side door. "You can decide where we're going for dinner while I drive," he said, gesturing for her to climb in and she must have been a little shocked, because she did just that. By the time that he climbed into the truck, carrying her bag and thermos, she'd worked her way out of her stunned silence.

  "I have somewhere to be," she said, taking her things as he turned the truck on.

  "I know," he said with a shrug. "Buckle up. "

  "I can drive myself," she pointed out, only looking slightly confused now as she reached for the door handle.

  "You're going to your father's, right?" he asked, throwing the truck into reverse and taking the matter out of her hands.

  "I go every Sunday," she said, frowning, but she did buckle up.

  "Well, today you're going with me," he explained, taking her injured hand gently into his.

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