Authors: R.L. Mathewson
Tags: #Romance, #Love, #hell, #funny, #Contemporary, #sweet, #neighbor, #Contemporary Romance, #funny romance, #neighbor from hell, #friend romance
Playing For Keeps
A Neighbor From Hell Novel
Other titles by R.L.
Playing For Keeps: A Neighbor From Hell
Tall, Dark & Lonely: A Pyte Series
A Humble Heart: A Hollywood Heart
Perfection: A Neighbor From Hell
Without Regret: A Sentinel
Reclusive Heart: A Hollywood Heart
Sudden Response: An EMS
This is a work of fiction.
All of the characters, organizations and events described in this
novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used
Playing for Keeps © R.L. Mathewson
2011. All rights reserved.
Rerum Publishing House
This book is dedicated to everyone who
was willing to take a chance on me.
Also, to my mother, grandmother, and
Cousin Jamie who keep me entertained with online Scrabble
And of course to my children who will
always be my inspiration and my little buddies.
Playing for Keeps
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no!” Haley
murmured in disbelief as she watched her pink, white, and yellow
tulips being yanked viciously out of the ground. She shoved back
from her computer desk and stormed towards the front door. She was
going to kill him this time there was no doubt about it.
After five long years of juvenile
nonsense he’d finally gone too far. Her college roommate hadn’t
even been able to aggravate her this much, even when she went
through her six month period of not showering, or using deodorant
to “save the planet.”
Five years ago she’d been proud to buy
her first house at the ripe old age of twenty-four. She'd worked
her butt off to buy her dream home, a one level two bedroom ranch.
The experience of owning her own home was better than anything she
could have ever imagined.
She spent countless hours picking out
the perfect color scheme for each room, cleaning, organizing, and
hitting every yard sale within a thirty mile radius, trying to turn
wood and plaster into a real home. None of that work could even
begin to compare to the countless hours she spent on her lawn and
garden. With countless blisters, cuts, bee stings and back aches
she turned her dull yard into a paradise.
Her enjoyment lasted for
all of four months. That’s when
moved into the house next door. At first she was
excited to have a neighbor, one that wasn’t elderly and well,
cranky. All of her enjoyment ended the moment she met Jason
Within the first ten minutes of his
arrival he’d backed into her mailbox, spilled fast food wrappers
from his car onto his property, which quickly made their way onto
her immaculate lawn, and relieved himself on the great old oak tree
in his front lawn with a sheepish smile and a shrug in her
The man was a barbarian.
For the next five years he
turned her picturesque life into a nightmare. She wasn’t sure how
one person managed to take so much control over her happiness, but
he did. Over the years she dealt with paintball pellets decorating
the laundry hanging on her clothesline and the side of her house,
loud music, parties, twice she found naked people trying to climb
the fence to skinny dip in
pool, three a.m. drunken basketball games, women
throwing hissy fits on his front lawn and sometimes on
when the jerk
refused to come out and deal with them.
What made it worse was that they both
worked at the same private high school, in the same department,
with adjoining classrooms, and parking spots. It didn’t take long
for him to turn her dream job and house into a nightmare. At work
she had to deal with him constantly “borrowing” things from her
room like paper, pens, books, and even her desk one
He seemed to think he was the most
charming man on earth and had no problem with using it to get his
way, leaving her with extra work and responsibilities while he got
to be the laid back teacher. It didn’t take her long to figure out
that she would have to suck it up at work. There was no way at her
age she was going to be able to land a better job. She'd been lucky
to land this one. So the only option left for her was to
After the first year she tried to sell
her house, unsuccessfully. Every time a prospective buyer came
around he scared them off by just being Jason. She gave up the idea
of selling her house for the next two years and put it up again
last year when he took up golf and shot out three of her windows.
After he managed to scare off fifteen prospective buyers by walking
out to get the mail in his boxers, a particularly memorable fit of
rage when he threw his computer out the window accompanied with a
loud roar, and of course there was the upkeep or rather lack
thereof of his property.
His lawn was covered in crab grass and
weeds. He only paid the neighborhood kid to mow it once a month.
The rest of the time it was the chosen habitat of little woodland
creatures. The house needed a serious paint job, or at the very
least a cleanup of all paint chips that had fallen to the ground
over the years. If he didn’t personally scare someone off his house
did the job. She gave up the dream of moving away five months ago
and settled for praying that he would move soon, very
Now he was going after her babies.
This was not happening. Enough was enough. Over the last five years
she bit her tongue, too afraid to complain. She’d always been like
that, even as a little kid.
She was always the shy quiet girl with
her nose buried in a book, hoping no one would notice her. It
wasn’t so much that she wasn’t a very social person, she was. It
had more to do with the fact that she was a huge chicken. When the
other kids picked on her or pushed her around she cowered, unable
to deal with confrontation. That nasty habit followed her into
It was made even worse with good
looking men like Jason. His ebony hair, ocean blue eyes and
chiseled good looks made her nervous. She just wasn’t any good at
handling people. Throw good looks onto a guy that was being
particularly jerkish and she turned into a blubbering idiot. Pushy
people just sucked and it really sucked that she never learned how
to deal with them.
When she caught her roommate stealing
her papers, food, and money what did she do? She avoided her room
until well after two in the morning when she knew Angel would be
asleep and then hurried the hell out of there before she woke up in
the morning. The same could be said when the few boyfriends she did
manage to have over the years took advantage of her.
Instead of throwing them to the curb
like she should have done she pulled back into herself, knowing
they would get bored eventually and move on. Yes, she was a
chicken. That was the only reason why Jason Bradford had gotten
away with his behavior for the past five years. No more. The
flowers were the last straw. Her grandmother had given her the
bulbs from her own garden when she bought the house and she loved
She spied the rolled up hose and made
a snap decision. This ended here and now. The days of being the
world’s biggest pushover were over.
“What the hell!”
Jason jumped to his feet as a torrent
of ice cold water hit him.
He didn’t know what he expected to
see, but it certainly wasn’t his timid little neighbor and
co-worker aiming her very long hose at him. Clearly she’d lost her
“Step away from my tulips,” she
ordered in a tone of authority.
He really couldn’t help grinning at
her. She looked so damn cute standing there with her long bronze
hair pulled back into a twisted pony tail, green eyes full of fire
hidden behind large glasses making her look adorable, and of course
her rather tight black tee shirt with the word “Nerd” written
across her very decent size chest made her look rather hot. His
eyes dropped to the cute little shorts that revealed short, but
very nice curvy tanned legs, very nice indeed.
Of course he knew his quiet neighbor
was stunning. It was the first thing he noticed about her the day
he moved in. The second, she was a very shy, very nervous, easily
frightened female. He still winced when he thought back to that
day. After five hours on the road and three giant gulps he was in
desperate need of a bathroom. Unfortunately the realtor hadn't left
the keys where she said she would and he had to make a split second
decision, piss his pants or water the tree. In the end the tree got
a healthy amount of recycled cola.
She hadn't even given him a chance to
explain or apologize. Her face reddened before she practically ran
into her house. From then on she avoided him at all costs. If he
waved or said hello to her she would mutter something or ignore
him. If he or one of his asshole buddies broke something on her
property she didn’t say a word. If he was a jerk he could have
easily gotten away with not paying for all those broken windows or
paintball streaked sheets, but he wasn't that big of a prick. He
learned she would never speak up for herself so as soon as the shit
hit the fan he made a call and replaced whatever he fucked up. It
would just make him feel like an even bigger asshole to take
advantage of the situation.
It always bothered him that she never
spoke up. He couldn’t remember someone disliking him so fast and
intensely before in his life. No matter what he did she couldn’t be
bothered to speak to him. Hell, he would have kicked his ass years
ago, or at least called the cops on him like the other neighbors
did or file a complaint with the principal like so many of his
other co-workers had. Hell, she never even signed any of those
numerous petitions the rest of the neighborhood liked to give him
every few months. He checked each and every time.
It wasn’t like he was purposely being
an asshole. It just came naturally to him. Everyone understood and
accepted it. Probably because even though he was an asshole, he was
a likeable asshole…..most of the time.
As happy as he was that she finally
came off her throne to talk to him he was also pissed to be soaked
to the bone in his favorite shirt and khaki shorts in seventy
degree weather. Apparently he didn’t move fast enough because she
sprayed him again.
“Are you fucking insane?” he
She gestured with the hose for him to
take a step back. “Get away from my flower bed…..Now.”
“Your flowerbed?” he asked in
“Yes, my flowerbed!” Another short
spray. “I planted these flowers five years ago, before you moved
Jason ran frustrated fingers through
his messy hair. “Then you should have checked the fucking property
lines before you wasted your time!” he snapped.
Her eyes narrowed on him. “The
flowerbed is my property!”
“I don’t think so,
sweetheart. Go check your deed if you don’t believe me. This
flowerbed is one hundred percent on my property,” he said harshly.
He pointed to the two feet of space that separated their houses
where the flower bed continued until it came to the large wooden
picket fence that started at the corner of her house and continued
to the back, separating their backyards. “You have five inches from
the wall of your house out. Your property ends two inches
bed! That’s why the stupid little white picket fence starts against
your house instead of on the other side of the
He watched as she glared at the small
space that separated their houses. Whoever built their houses was a
real prick. Both of their master bedrooms were built less than two
feet apart. Yet, there was more than thirty feet of space between
each house and the other neighboring houses. There was no privacy
with the way the identical houses were designed. He had no choice
but to place his large bed directly at the window and from what he
could see neither had she. Taking the smaller bedroom was out of
the question. His bed would never fit in it.