A Neighbor From Hell - 2


R.L. Mathewson

This book is dedicated to everyone who was willing to take a chance on me, but a special thanks to Rhonda Valverde, who has helped me get my start by taking a chance on an unknown author.

Thank you.

I also have to mention all of my forum friends at who keep me entertained with their antics.

And of course to my children who will always be my inspiration and my little buddies.

I love you, Kayley and Shane.... even if you do frighten me from time to time.

Chapter 1

"You stupid bitch, you ruined my life!"

"Mrs. Sands, wait!" Zoe cried, holding her hands in front of her face as she desperately tried to back up in her small cubicle only to bang into the cheap off-white colored plastic wall, leaving her with nowhere to go and a seriously pissed off woman holding the extra large iced coffee Zoe bought ten minutes earlier, coming her way. "Please don't-"

Her words were cut off by a stunned gasp as twenty-four freezing ounces of her much needed caffeine fix hit her in the face, neck, and chest, instantly drenching her.

"You'll pay for what you did!" Mrs. Sands screamed, pulling her hand back to slap Zoe. Thankfully someone, probably Mr. Sands, already called security and the two large burly guys that she passed every morning in the downstairs lobby grabbed Mrs. Sands and yanked her back before she could make good on the murderous glare she was sending Zoe's way.

"Bitch!" Mrs. Sands screamed, kicked, and screeched as she was carried off the tenth floor.

With a shaky hand, Zoe reached out and grabbed her wobbly office chair and carefully sat down, making sure to keep most of her weight off the front left side wheel. When the chair didn't collapse and deposit her ass on the floor, again, she counted herself lucky.

"I told you to keep your mouth shut," John, the office asshole, said in a bored tone as he walked past Zoe's cubicle.

Yeah, he really had and she was kicking herself for not listening to him when she had the chance. With a groan she dropped her face into her hands and wondered if anyone would notice if she left work a little early today. Of course they would, she thought miserably. The penny pinching management watched their employees like hawks, never missing a thing and ready to swoop in and attack at the slightest blunder.

She'd lost count of how many times she'd been written up for "excessive office supply waste" for not reusing paper clips, leaving her computer running for two minutes while she used the bathroom, throwing away paper that could be used again no matter what was printed on it, and her absolute favorite, using more than one staple on a packet. If she tried to leave even one minute early they'd know and for the next week they'd double her workload to get back the time they believed she owed them.

After three long years she was too tired to argue or care. At this point she was resigned to come in at eight-thirty on the dot and put in eight and half hours and work through her unpaid lunch break as was required and then go home to the new hell that she was beginning to hate.

Two months ago when her landlord unceremoniously evicted her so that his eighteen year old daughter and her thirty-two year old boyfriend could have her apartment, she'd been desperate to find a decent apartment that she could afford on her meager salary.

When she found a beautiful two level townhouse located in a decent neighborhood for two hundred dollars less than her old apartment she'd been ecstatic and snatched it up quickly, hoping that it was a sign that maybe things were going to start looking up for her. Of course she really should have known better since nothing in life ever seemed to go her way.

The first clue should have been when she found out the other tenant in the two family townhouse was the landlord's nephew. Over the years she'd dealt with that situation enough that she really should have known better. In her experience landlord's relatives were ruder, louder, and had a huge sense of entitlement, making the rest of the tenants' lives a living hell. She learned early on not to complain to the landlord when his or her kid had all night parties, had shouting matches until three in the morning, or when their grandkids detonated water balloons in her mailbox. The result just wasn't worth it.

So when her new neighbor, Trevor Bradford, parked his pickup truck halfway into her parking spot, leaving her with no choice but to park on the street and risk a parking ticket, she shut her mouth and sucked it up, knowing complaining would do little good. Whenever he did something to piss her off like steal her paper, blast his television, or track mud into their small hallway and all over her cute welcome mat with puppies, she bit her lip and kept her mouth shut, reminding herself that even with the jerk next door the townhouse was still the best place she'd ever lived in.

"What are you still doing here?" a harsh voice demanded.

Zoe looked up, half-afraid that she'd find Mrs. Sands standing there ready for round two. Instead she found the woman's husband, Mr. Sands standing in her cubicle opening, glaring at her with open disgust. That was a little unexpected considering she was the one who realized that five million dollars had been embezzled over the past six years and found the proof that linked Mrs. Sands to the theft. Then again she could certainly understand why he was in such a pissy mood since his wife had just screwed him over.

"I asked why you're still here, Miss. O'Shea. Your employment was terminated an hour ago. I expected you to leave immediately," he said coldly.

"W-what?" Zoe asked, jumping to her feet quickly, too quickly. Her chair fell back with a loud groan and two of the wheels popped off and rolled off somewhere beneath her desk. "Why am I fired?"

It didn't make any sense. Most bosses would appreciate finding out that someone had stolen from them, right? She didn't expect them to be happy, but grateful wouldn't exactly hurt, especially right now.

With a drawn out sigh, Mr. Sands gestured for one of the security guards who'd dragged Mrs. Sands away to step forward. Zoe automatically took a nervous step back.

"Please remove her before she destroys any more company property," Mr. Sands ordered, stepping away.

Destroying company property? With a frown she looked down at the chair that had given her nothing but problems over the past three years and by this point consisted mostly of duct tape. Before she could tell him that the chair was given to her already broken the large security guard had her by the arm and her worn black purse in the other hand and was dragging her towards the elevator.

"Hey!" she said, desperately trying to dig her feet into the cheap paper-thin carpet. "Why am I being fired?" she asked, reaching out to grab the wall of one of the cubicles only to have the security guard yank her away. She grabbed another wall. Damn cheap plastic walls, she thought as her hand slipped off the cubicle wall. "I don't understand why you're firing me. I'm not the one that stole!" she cried as she was dragged into the elevator. She reached out and slapped her hands against the edge of the elevator door to stop the doors from closing so she could get her answer.

Mr. Sands shrugged. "Because you should have found it sooner," he said, leaving her absolutely stunned.

Her hands dropped away, allowing the elevator doors to close and her world to crumble.

What the hell was she going to do now?

"I would have kept my mouth shut," the security guard mumbled.

Zoe sighed unhappily. "I really am an idiot."


* * *

"Please, please, don't be in my spot," Zoe chanted softly as she slowly turned the corner, wishing she knew how to change or at least temporarily fix her windshield wipers as she did her best to squint through the heavy downpour.

A moment later she slowly stopped in front of her least she thought it was her house. With a small groan, she pressed the button to roll down the driver's side window and tried not to cringe when the window emitted its usual grinding noise. Once it was down, Zoe leaned out the window and tried to make out the color of the townhouse, pale blue, not hers, but at least she now knew that she only had two more houses to go.

Just as she was pulling back, a car sped past her, crashing through a large puddle and further soaking Zoe. This day could not get any worse, she thought, wiping mud out of her eyes and jumping when somebody behind her blasted the horn. With a resigned sigh she started driving once again, but apparently not fast enough for the people behind her, who accompanied her twenty yard drive with continuous horn blasting.

After the day she had she wasn't too surprised to find Trevor's pickup truck parked in the middle of their short double wide driveway. With a groan she did her best to park across the street, trying to ignore the cars that sped past her, telling her off, and adding a special blast of the horn just in case she didn't quite get the message the first time.

When she tried to close the window she received another little surprise when the window slid up noiselessly. Well, that's a relief, she thought, grabbing her purse and climbing out of the car. She was really afraid she'd have to pay three hundred dollars to have her windows fixed, again. She closed the door and turned to walk across the street when an odd swooshing sound caught her attention.

Praying that is was just her imagination, Zoe turned around and frowned. Why did her window look weird? She pushed her wet hair out of her face and leaned forward to get a better look. It didn't take long before she realized that her window had come off its tracks.

She wiped her wet hands on her soaked skirt and gripped the edge of the window and tried to pull it up only to have the window slip through her hands and slide further down.

"Oh no you don't," she muttered, dropping her purse and grabbing the window and doing her best to yank it back up. The last thing she needed was for the window to slide down into the door where it would have to stay until she could scrounge up the money to have it fixed. With no job and no prospects that wasn't happening any time soon and since there was a very good chance that she'd be living out of her car soon she wanted to keep it dry and mold free.

It took several minutes, but she managed to pull the window up several inches. One last pull should do it, she decided, gripping the window tightly and pulling as hard as she could. When the window slid up easily she couldn't help but chuckle. Finally things were-

Her hands slipped and before she could grab the window it slid down quickly into the door and if the noise that followed was any indication, cracked. She stared numbly at the empty window for a long moment before she picked up her purse, not at all surprised when the strap broke off, or when the heel on her left shoe snapped off a minute later.

Clutching her ruined purse to her chest, she wobbled towards the front door, only getting stuck in the mud twice and losing one shoe, the right one, before she found herself on the front stoop, searching her purse for her keys. By the time she found them she was shivering violently from the cold and close to crying for the first time in five years.

She opened the door, spotted her now mud caked puppy welcoming mat and let herself into her apartment, praying that her next door neighbor took it easy on her tonight since she really wasn't sure that she could handle much more.

Doing her best not to ruin her landlord's carpeting, she made her way over to the phone, deciding that she needed the ultimate pickup after the day she had. She knew she shouldn't, especially since she would have to live off what little savings she had, but she just couldn't help herself. She called up Black Jack's Pizzeria and ordered the special, a two liter bottle of Coke, a large order of chicken fingers with extra honey mustard sauce, and an extra large, extra thick Chicago style pizza called, The Monster.

For once the customary one hour wait for delivery didn't bother her. She pulled off her mud soaked shoe and stockings and made her way upstairs to her bedroom and grabbed a change of clothes as she headed for the bathroom, praying that her surprisingly quiet neighbor remained that way.