Playing for keeps, p.5
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       Playing for Keeps, p.5

         Part #1 of Neighbor from Hell series by R. L. Mathewson  
Page 5

 

  The man's eyes widened as his mouth dropped open. He took several steps back, shooting nervous glances towards Haley's house. When he reached his car he said, "I, uh, just suddenly remembered I have somewhere I'm supposed to be. " With that he practically jumped into his car and sped away.

  Jason chuckled as he made his way to Haley's front door. He knocked on the door and wasn't too surprised a moment later when there was no answer. He pushed aside his disappointment and knocked again.

  Just great.

  It seemed last night had been a fluke and his shy neighbor was here to stay. He really liked spending time with Haley last night, more than he thought possible. Feeling like an idiot he headed back to his house and keg.

  A loud wet hacking cough had him pausing halfway down her small walkway. The front door slowly opened as Haley said, "I'm sorry I took so long," another hacking cough, "to answer," another cough, "the," cough, "door. But, the doctor said I was still," several loud and disturbing coughs later, "contagious, so I--Oh, it's only you," Haley said with a relieved sigh.

  His lips twitched as he took in her outfit. On her head was one of the ugliest puke green knitted hats he'd ever seen. Her oversized ratty bathrobe was worse, but the large wadded up ball of tissues in her hand was a nice touch. There was no doubt in his mind that she was faking it. Considering that he'd hung out with her last night and she'd been the picture of health. Right now she looked well enough, just frumpy in those oversized ratty clothes.

  "Love the hat," he said, smiling as he walked over to her.

  Laughing, she pulled the offending hat off and chucked it at him. He caught it before it hit him in the face. "What's this all about?" he gestured towards her getup with the hat.

  "Nothing," she said quickly.

  "Looks like date repellant to me. "

  With an innocent doe-like expression she said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm sick," cough, "really sick. " And just to backup her story she sniffled.

  It was sad, adorable, but sad.

  He couldn't stop himself from rolling his eyes and chuckling. "It's just sad that you can't just admit that you were ditching the love of your life. But, as much as I'd love to listen to your sad little denial I'm afraid I have to go since you're sick and all. "

  "I am," she stressed. "Really sick. I might very well be dying as we speak," she said as she pushed her cute little glasses back up her nose.

  With a shrug he took a step back towards his house. "That's a damn shame because I was hoping you'd come to my party today, but since you're sick. . . . . . . "

  She pressed the back of her hand against her forehead. "Hmmm, what do you know? I'm all better. What time is the party?" she asked with the cutest little shy smile he'd ever seen.

  "Eight o'clock, you little faker," he said, chuckling when she let out an excited little squeal as she ran back into her house.

  ***********

  Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, Haley thought as she stood on Jason's doorstep with a plate of brownies. With an inward groan she berated herself for being an idiot. What kind of geek brought brownies to a kegger? Okay, she was assuming that this was a kegger since she'd witnessed some rather scary behavior over the years during his little gatherings and never witnessed that type of behavior at any party or get-together she'd ever been at.

  Some of the things she'd heard and seen had scared her, but some of it had intrigued her. Not that she'd ever admit it, but on more than one occasion she'd wondered what it would be like to go to one of Jason's parties, which is why she'd jumped at the chance today. Jason's parties had to be the equivalent of the parties the popular kids in high school used to throw and somehow forgot to invite Haley, but now she was about to rectify all that.

  Maybe not, she thought, worrying her bottom lip as she looked down at the overflowing plate of brownies. She was going to look so stupid bringing brownies to a kegger. Figuring that probably no one heard her knocking over the loud music, she decided a quick stop at a package store was in order. She was just about to make her escape when the door opened.

  "What do you want?" the woman glaring at her demanded. Haley frowned as she quickly took in the woman's sleek black hair, perfect features touched up by flawless make-up and the killer short dress and decided that she was severely underdressed for this party in her jeans and baby pink Yankees long sleeve tee-shirt.

  Haley opened her mouth to make an excuse so she could leave, knowing she was in way over her head here when the woman snorted.

  "You're the next door neighbor," the woman said, sounding amused. "What do you want?" Her eyes narrowed on the plate in Haley's hands.

  "I just-"

  "Amy, who is it?" Jason's voice came from somewhere behind the woman apparently named Amy.

  Amy rolled her eyes. "It's just your neighbor dropping off brownies. " She reached forward to take the plate from Haley. "I'll just take them so she can g-"

  "Brownies?" Jason said, suddenly filling the door, causing Amy to stumble back and out of the way.

  "Hey!" Amy snapped, but Jason didn't seem to hear her. His eyes were glued to the plate.

  "Are those," he noticeably swallowed, "brownies covered in peanut butter frosting?"

  Did he just whimper?

  "They're chocolate chunk fudge brownies with peanut butter frosting," she clarified automatically as her eyes caught the murderous glare Amy was sending her way. She was just about to hand the plate over to Jason and leave when everything in her stilled.

  After last night she was through with getting pushed around and intimidated. She was sick of missing out on things because she was too scared to do anything about it. She was a grown woman, damn it, and if she wanted to party it up at her first kegger then she was damn well going to do it and she was going to have fun doing it. Even if it killed her, and judging by the mascara glare being sent her way that was a good possibility.

  "Let me just take those off your hands so you can grab yourself a beer," Jason said, taking the plate from her, gazing down at it lovingly as he stepped back inside the house, leaving Haley to follow him.

  "Hey, those look good! Can I have one?" a man she'd seen hundreds of times around Jason's house asked, reaching out to take one.

  "Back the f**k off! She brought them for me, you bastard!" Jason snapped.

  Haley automatically took an anxious step back, fearing getting caught in the middle of the fight that was most definitely about to happen. But instead of yelling at Jason or getting mad like she'd seen a lot of guys do in bars over less the man just rolled his eyes and turned his attention to her.

  "Hi, my name is Brad," he said, holding out his hand.

  After only a slight hesitation, she hoped he hadn't noticed, she took a step forward and shook his hand. "Haley. "

  "Haley, it's nice to meet you," he said with a charming smile. "I apologize for my friend's rudeness, he just learned how to walk upright last year," he said dryly, earning a soft chuckle from her and most everyone around them.

  Jason threw him a dirty look before making his way towards the kitchen, making sure to glare at anyone that came within touching distance of the brownies.

 
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