But clearly he hadn't done his job if this one was coming back for more. As he watched the ass**le step out of his car as he smoothed his hair back and straightened his obviously new shirt and slacks, Connor couldn't help but wonder how dumb the man really was.
When the man spotted him, he froze and noticeably swallowed. A loud menacing growl had the man taking a step back. Because that too pleased him, he pulled the second peanut butter dipped hot dog out of the baggy and tossed it to the dog Rory dared to name, “Bunny.” With a grunt, the dog swallowed the treat whole, but never took his eyes away from the ass**le that refused to step away from behind his car.
Like that would protect him, Connor thought with a sigh as he walked over to the corner of his large white Victorian home, which happened to be a mere twenty feet away from the corner of Rory's house, an almost identical house. When the homes were built over two hundred years ago they had been identical in every way, except the direction of the layout was opposite in each house. The Master bedroom suite of each house had its very own open porch that extended past the walls of the house by ten feet and cut the distance between the two houses to eighteen inches.
It wasn't exactly a surprise that the house were built together since the houses had been built by identical twins. The brothers had built the homes for their wives only to discover later that their wives could not stand each other, at least that's what his realtor had told him. Whether or not it was true didn't really matter to him. All that mattered was that he could look forward to aggravating the piss out of Rory each and every night when she sat out on her porch to relax.
When he'd first bought the place, the small strip of land that separated the two properties held not only a tall wood fence that started at the street and ended at the back of the property, but large arboreta trees that were nearly as tall as the house, completely blocking Rory's house from his sight. Since he'd bought the house for the entertainment value, he of course had the fence and trees taken down the next day.
Rory had been pissed at the time, but she soon got over it and focused her attention back on fixing up her house while he did the same with his. It took him two years to get the house the way he wanted it, but it was well worth it. When he first bought the place he'd considered giving it a more modern look, but after his first night in the place he decided to go with what he thought it might have looked like when it was originally built. It took extra time, money and a lot of guessing, but he was happy with the results.
When he originally bought the property he planned on fixing it up and selling it off, having Rory around to torture was just a bonus, but once it was done he knew that he wouldn't be able to part with it. He knew it was the same for Rory. Although he'd never seen what she'd done, and god how he wanted to see what she'd done, he knew that she loved the house and also changed her mind about selling when the renovations were complete.
"Is Rory here?" the man asked as he shifted nervously.
"Is she expecting you?" he asked, leaning back against the house as he discretely reached behind the rosebush one of his ex-girlfriends insisted on planting and flipped the switch off of what he liked to call his “Little Box of fun” and settled his fingers over the three black buttons on the small panel.
"That's none of your business," the man snapped, noticeably bristling.
"Then I guess you'll just have to find out for yourself," Connor said with a careless shrug as he watched the man shoot him a scowl just before he stormed up the walkway and damn near jumped out of his skin when Bunny decided to block his path.
"Easy," the man said anxiously as he backed away from the dog. Even though it probably should be enough that the dog most likely made the man piss his pants, Connor felt that he needed a little more incentive to get the hell out of here and never come back.
"What the hell!" the man yelled as Rory's sprinklers came on full blast. Connor waited until the man ran back to his car, only falling twice and ruining his clothes with mud and grass, and was peeling out of the driveway before he turned her sprinklers off.
Best damn thing he'd ever built, he decided as he gave his partner in crime a mock salute and headed for the front door. It really was too bad he couldn't stand her dog since he did come in handy from time to time.
* * * *
"Why are you covered in mud, sweetie?" Rory asked as she bent down to cup Bunny's mud splattered face. When she caught a whiff of peanut butter and hot dog she knew exactly how her poor baby got all dirty.
"Connor," she bit out, momentarily forgetting that she couldn't kill him for at least five months.
"You called?" the annoying bastard said, sounding amused.
She looked up, not surprised to find him standing on his second floor porch, shirtless and holding a bottle of beer. Sometimes she wished that he hadn't cut down those damn trees. At least she could have pretended that he wasn't next door and probably would have enjoyed relaxing on her porch more if she didn't have to see him. Then again, he would have just found some other way to annoy her.
"You want to tell me why you felt the need to soak Bunny?" she asked, resigning herself to waiting another hour or two before she ventured out onto her own porch. Not that it would make much of a difference since he'd just come back out again to aggravate her, but after three years she was used to it. She also loved her time on her porch too much to really care most of the time.
"I will if you tell me why you named that poor dog, Bunny," he offered, taking a sip of his beer.
Because the dog was her little honey bunny, but she would never tell him that. "Forget it," she said, sighing as she headed for her front door.
"Come up here and join me," he called after her.
"I'll pass," she said, wanting nothing more than a hot cup of cocoa as she went over the new plans McGill gave her earlier and work them into her plans. She also needed to figure out ways to speed up the renovation. Even with Connor's men and equipment they were looking at long hours. She needed to figure out how to get it all done without destroying their profit with overtime.
"Don't you think the two of us should sit down and go over the plans for Strawberry Manor?" he asked casually, but she wasn't stupid. She knew the only reason that he wanted to talk to her was so that he could pick her brain and discover what resources she had at her disposal. It's exactly what she would have done if she hadn't managed to corner one of his men an hour earlier and sweet talk him into spilling his guts about Highland Construction's equipment, its men and their skills. Now she just had to work all that newfound knowledge into her plans.
"Not really," she said as she unlocked her front door and sent up a silent prayer to have a Connor-free night. Of course her prayer was ignored. They usually were where Connor was concerned.
"That's too bad. I guess I'll have to tell McGill that you're not willing to fulfill your end of the contract," he mused loudly.
She didn't say anything as she slammed the door behind her, because there was nothing to say. He knew he had her in a tight spot and had no problem screwing her over. If she didn't play nice he could cost her the contract and more importantly, her reputation.
Clenching her jaw shut, she stormed into her kitchen and dropped her things onto the light oak country table. If she was going to deal with Connor and not kill him, then she was going to need a hot cocoa fix. As she waited for the water to boil, she fed Bunny and sorted through her notes. If he wanted to pretend that they were going to play nice that was fine with her since none of this bullshit mattered anyway.
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