Breaking Even (The Sterling Shore Series #5)(7)

By: C.M. Owens



We turn onto my road, and I grow curious when I see people walking down the sidewalk in mass quantities. It's rare I see more than a few joggers. These are regularly clothed people in suits and casual wear, all of them walking as though they're on a mission.

Just as I near my house, I quickly whip into the spot that will piss her off in the morning. I can't help my smug-as-fuck grin.

“Holy shit!” Wren says through a cough, his gaze going across the street to my house.

It's then I realize my lawn is littered with people who are dying laughing, and a projector screen is playing on the side of my white home. What. The. Hell?

It's a scene on repeat, and it's not exactly something I want my damn neighbors seeing.

“What the fuck is that?” I screech, irritated by the unusual octave of my voice.

I climb out of my SUV, wondering why there's guy-on-guy porn on the side of my house.

“What the hell is this?” I growl as soon as I near Leslie Marks, my neighbor from down the road.

“It's Broke Back Mountain,” she says through a chuckle, and I cringe as the scene starts back over, apparently playing on a loop as two cowboys in a tent breathe a little too heavily.

“Ah, hell,” Wren says, walking away from me like he doesn't know me at all.

I'm going to kill her.

I rush over and grab the projector, and then I stomp the fuck out of it as the sounds and images end.

Everyone is laughing, but I tune them out as I zero in on the girl sitting on her porch, grinning as she absently stirs a straw in her glass. My stride turns into a sprint, and she squeals while jumping up and running inside, dropping and shattering her glass in an attempt to escape me.

The door slams and locks seconds before I reach it, and I pound fiercely as the neighborhood continues laughing at my back.

“Who is it?” she asks in a singsong voice, a mocking lilt to her tone that proves she feels cocky and safe inside her house.

“Open the damn door!” I bark, and her laughter pours out to taunt me.

“Not happening. Consider us even.”

Even? “You've got to be fucking kidding me!”

She only laughs harder, and I glare at the door like I can blow it to pieces with the sheer power of my enraged mind. Unfortunately, all that happens is the abrupt promise of a migraine.

“Fine. You want to play this game? Then consider this a declaration of war. Just remember you started it.”

“Bring it on, Darlin’,” she says in a playful, deep tone, recycling my words from yesterday.

There will be hell to pay for this.

***

BRIN

“Shit!” I yell as the blue dye drips from my body.

Maggie's laughter rolls out, and I turn to glare at her as the blue continues to soak through my clothes.

“Damn,” she chuckles as I close the refrigerator door.

“It's everywhere,” I groan when I look at my body, the kitchen floor, and the wall behind me. Oh, and my poor, pitiful hair.

Maggie's laughter only grows. How did he rig my refrigerator to explode blue dye packs the second I opened it? And when the hell did he do it?

“Did you let him in again?” I growl, giving my murderous glare to the possible traitor.

“No,” she chuckles, shaking her head. “He must have found a way in.”

“And disarmed the alarm?” I ask skeptically.

“Must have,” she says, lying her ass off.

“How could you?”

She only laughs harder, grabbing her side as though she’s in pain. I glare at my ex-best friend, and she leans back, trying to catch her breath.

“He's dead,” I hiss, doing all I can to come up with something as equally destructive to do to him. “Right after I get this damn blue off me. It had so better not be permanent, or you'll be the next one to suffer my wrath.”

Instead of cowering in fear—as she should—she only continues to laugh, and I storm into my bedroom to shower and plot my revenge.

***

BRIN

“It's not so bad,” Maggie lies, biting back her grin as she looks at the remnants of blue that are still staining my hair.

“It looks like I have a lot of graying hair.” I could cry—if I knew how to cry. The blue faded to be a duller, lighter color, but it didn't all wash out. My clothes are ruined, and my hair... I'll kill him.

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