* * * *
“What do you mean, you and Connor aren’t coming in today?” Craig demanded, sounding stressed and for good reason. They had less than two months to finish the hotel and they were barely keeping their heads above water. They should be at work, but Connor needed some rest and she needed to do something.
She leaned over and kissed Connor’s cheek as he slept, his stubble tickling her lips and making her smile sadly as she looked down at him. He’d been shouldering this secret for far too long. She hated seeing him in this much pain and she refused to let it continue. With that in mind she said, “Our cousins aren’t coming in today either. I need their help with something.”
* * * *
“This has to end,” Andrew said, his legs giving out beneath him, dropping his ass to the ground before he could make a half ass attempt to hold himself up against the wall. He was tired, too damn tired and couldn’t wait for it to end.
He was ready. He’d said his goodbyes and accepted his fate. He’d just wish fate would stop f**king with him and get it over with, because he wasn’t sure that he could-
“Rory?” he asked, sure that he was seeing things as he watched the stunning woman climb through his window. When two very large men followed her inside, he prayed that they were there to finish him off. The woman hated him, always had and he really couldn’t blame her, because he had been an ass**le. He’d love to say that he’d had an excuse to treat her the way that he did, but unfortunately he’d been a dumb kid, a jealous dumb kid who’d crushed on her and hated the fact that Connor loved her. Connor was his best friend, more like a brother and because of him, he never tried anything with Rory, but once upon a time he’d dreamed of making her his own. He’d hated that she was off limits, but as the years passed he realized that he’d simply been harboring a childhood crush on her and had been a complete ass**le to her for no good reason.
“Oh good, you’re ready to go,” she said, smiling when she spotted him.
Frowning, he looked down at his bare chest and boxers and had to wonder what she was talking about. He moved to open his mouth, but no words came out as he watched more men crawl through the window, a lot more. A few he recognized, but most of them he’d never seen before. He knew by their builds, their dark hair, and bad boy looks that they were all related and they were all looking at him.
“W-what’s going on?” he asked, hating how weak he sounded.
Rory gestured a few of the men forward. “Nothing much. We’ve just come to get you and end the bullshit.”
“Oh shit,” he mumbled when they came for him.
“Get the hell away from me with that, you psychotic harpy!” Andrew shouted, making Connor smile as he headed downstairs, more than ready for this morning’s battle.
It had been almost a month since Rory and her cousins kidnapped Andrew. Well, “talked him into leaving his house and come live with her” as Rory had explained it to the nice police officer that showed up when Andrew managed to get his hands on a cell phone and called for help. The two of them fought day and night and they seemed to hate each other more than ever, but Rory didn’t let that stop her from making sure that Andrew was cared for. She took care of him in the morning, came by several times during the day to check up on him and even had that little snot rag of an assistant of hers help out, and she took care of him at night as well.
Andrew, who’d been ready to give up, hated every last second of it. He bitched and whined and tried to make several escape attempts, but unfortunately for him, the Bradfords decided to take a special interest in him. They now had three Bradfords a week, two to work on Strawberry Manor and one to hang out at Rory’s during the day and keep an eye on Andrew. He’d only managed to sneak past a Bradford one time, but he didn’t get very far, not with Bunny on the job. One vicious growl and Andrew was making his way back to the bedroom Rory had set up for him on the first floor.
Thanks to Rory taking over, Andrew gained back some weight, had health insurance and all his medication. He also made it to all of his medical appointments and Rory somehow managed to browbeat the man into putting his name on the wait list for a transplant. He was somewhat lucky that a bone marrow donation should heal him. The only problem was that he had a very rare blood type, but that didn’t stop Connor from praying for a miracle.
“Take your medication!” Rory snapped.
“Go to hell!” Andrew shot back.
“Make me!” Andrew snapped, making Connor cringe on his behalf as he stepped over Bunny and headed for Andrew’s room.
When he stepped into Andrew’s room and discovered that Rory had his best friend in a headlock and was trying to shove a pill into his mouth, he wasn’t all that surprised. The man had set down a challenge after all.
“Would you two cut the shit? We have to get going or you’re going to be late for your appointment,” Connor said, ignoring the little power struggle going on behind him and grabbed some clothes for Andrew.
“Actually,” Rory said, pausing just as Andrew muttered and made a few gagging noises, “if you have room for one more, I need a ride to the medical center, too.”
Frowning, he tossed the clothes he grabbed to Andrew, who was chugging down a bottle of water as he glared at Rory. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” she said, waving it off like it was no big deal, “I just have a checkup.”
“Then why do you have to come with us?” Andrew asked, watching Rory suspiciously, probably because Rory had a tendency of taking over Andrew’s appointments and interrogating his doctors, making Andrew feel like a five year old.
Rory rolled her eyes as she snatched the tee shirt out of Andrew’s hands and returned it back to the drawer only to pick out a different shirt and toss it to him. He tried to bite back a smile as Andrew shot him an “I told you so look.” The man bitched day and night about Rory babying him and even though Connor told the man that he was imagining things, he wasn’t. Connor wasn’t about to interfere, for several reasons. One, he knew that Andrew secretly liked the attention. It had been a long time since anyone took care of him. Secondly, it entertained the hell out of him and her cousins. It lightened the mood and helped relieve some of the stress of trying to get the manor done and it kept their minds off of what would happen if the doctors didn’t find a match.
“Because I lent my Jeep to Max so that he could check up on some orders in town for us and help with the manor. Now stop your bitching, eat your breakfast and get your ass dressed or you’ll make us late,” she said as she walked out of the room, only pausing long enough to give him a kiss and then she was off, probably to double check Andrew’s afternoon pills.
“I hate her,” Andrew said evenly as he picked up the toast that Rory had slathered with butter, peanut butter and jelly, part of her effort to put some weight back on the man.
Connor chuckled. “No, you don’t.”
Andrew sighed long and loud as he took a big bite, knowing the little general would just shove it down his throat if he didn’t eat it. “You’re right. I don’t. But if she tries to check up on me in the bathroom one more time, I’m going to throttle the little pain in the ass!”
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