The Billionaire Next Door

By: Judy Angelo
CHAPTER ONE



"Oh hell, no."

The words exploded from Solie's lips as she stared out the kitchen window.

Ever since that flippin' man moved in next door he'd been nothing but trouble. First, his stupid robotic lawn mower smashed up her hedge when he'd been landscaping. Then his Great Dane wouldn't stop howling in the middle of the night. And now this. A friggin' construction crew in the backyard?

Bristling like a porcupine she flung open the back door and marched out. "What do you think you're doing?" She was yelling the words before she even got to the hedge. "Don't you know there's no construction allowed in this neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon?"

The man didn't even have the grace to turn and acknowledge her. His back to her, he waved to a man in a fluorescent orange vest, directing him as he lifted a plank into the air. Another man grabbed the other end, fitted it against a frame and proceeded to bang away, not seeming to care one hoot that he was making one heck of a racket.

"Hey, you. I'm talking to you." Solie could feel her ire rising the closer she got to the hedge that separated her yard from his. She hopped onto a flat-topped rock by the hedge so she could get a better view. "You can't just ignore me. I have my rights."

That must have gotten his attention because slowly and deliberately he turned then caught and held her gaze in a stare so icy-cold it almost froze her in her tracks. His dark eyes boring into her, his brows knitted in a heavy frown, he straightened and she could see he was well over six feet tall. As if she didn't know that already. He'd been her neighbor for the past two months and she'd checked him out from day one.

But that was beside the point. Ever since he'd moved next door he'd been annoying the heck out of her and now it would have to stop. "Whatever you're doing can wait till Monday when people are out at work. This is the weekend, for Christ's sake. What joy do you get in disturbing your neighbors?"

The man's mouth curled in a cynical smile. "As far as I see, you're the only one complaining."

"Yeah, because you don't have a neighbor on the other side of you. If you did they'd be hopping all over you right now."

He raised an eyebrow. "Like you're hopping all over me?"

"Oh, you think I'm hopping all over you? Not even close." She screwed up her lips and gave him her tough girl look. "You don't want to see me when I'm hopping mad, mister. Trust me on that."

To her chagrin, instead of backing off the man gave a bark of a laugh. "So I'm living next door to a bulldog, am I?" He cocked his head to one side and regarded her for several seconds, an evil glint in his narrowed eyes. "I might piss you off just to see what you'll do about it."

Solie's breath tightened in her chest. "You think this is a joke, do you?" She took a step closer to the hedge, close enough so the others couldn't hear her but the words would hit him where it hurt. "You think I won't call the police? Keep this up and just see if I don't. It's against the law."

The man gave a snort and took a step closer, mimicking her move, then he regarded her with unveiled scorn. "What law? I'm on my own property. There's no law that says I can't build a gazebo in my backyard."

"No, but there's a law that says you can't create a heck of a noise nuisance for your neighbor on a Sunday. This is a day for relaxation and family, in case you didn't know."

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Oh, really."

"Yes, really." There. She had him. He would have to shut this thing down or else he would be in hot water for sure. She was not going to back down on this one.

"And what if I told you," he said, his voice suspiciously gentle, the sardonic smile back on his lips, "that today isn't Sunday?"

Solie glared at him. What did he take her for? "Please don't waste my time. Just shut this thing down right now if you don't want a holy mess on your hands." She threw him a sarcastic smile of her own. "I'm sure you don't want a visit from our friendly neighborhood police.”

“Go ahead and call,” he said, giving her a confident grin, “but I recommend you check your calendar before you put your foot in it.”

He was turning to walk away when Solie jammed her fists on her hips and growled, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He only chuckled and said, “Just do what I told you,” and then he was heading back toward the men, barking orders for them to continue working as if she hadn’t just complained about the noise.

“We’ll see about that.” Solie was grumbling as she whirled around and headed back to the kitchen. She’d have the police out here so fast he wouldn’t know what hit him. And if the police wouldn’t come she knew she could count on the president of the neighborhood association to fly to her rescue. Sandy Parkinson was nothing if not enthusiastic about her role as president. Maybe a little too enthusiastic, but still…