Home > Thankless in Death (In Death #37)

Thankless in Death (In Death #37)
J.D. Robb



Bitch and complain, bitch and complain, and nag, nag, nag every time she opened her damn mouth. He’d like to shut it for her.

Jerald Reinhold sat at the kitchen table, while his mother’s never-ending list of criticisms and demands rolled over him in dark, swollen clouds.

Every f**king day, he thought, the same thing. Like it was his fault he’d lost his stupid, dead-end job. His fault his girlfriend—another bitch who never shut up—kicked him out so he had to move back in with his whining, mouthy parents. His fault he’d dropped a few thousand in Vegas and had some credit card debt.

Jesus! His fault, his fault, his fault. The old bitch never cut him the smallest break.

Hadn’t he told her that he wouldn’t have lost his job if his prick of a supervisor hadn’t fired him? So he’d taken a few days off, who didn’t? So he’d been late a few times, who wasn’t?

Unless you were a work-droid like his idiot father.

But God, she made it such a big f**king deal. He’d hated the job anyway, and only took it because Lori badgered him into it, but he got all the blame.

He was twenty-six, for Christ’s sake, and deserved a hell of a lot better than working for chump change as a take-out delivery boy.

And Lori gives him the boot just because he’s out of work—temporarily—and goes batshit on him because he lost a few bucks on a trip with some friends?

He could, and would, do a lot better than Lori wide-ass Nuccio. Bitch threatened to call the cops just because he gave her a few smacks. She deserved a lot more than a couple love taps, and he wished like hell he’d given her just what she deserved.

He deserved more than a room in his parents’ apartment and his mother’s incessant hammering.

“Jerry, are you listening to me?” Barbara Reinhold fisted her hands on her hips.

Jerry lifted his gaze from the screen of his PPC where he was trying to relax with a game. He spared his skinny, flat-chested, know-it-all mother one smoldering glance.

“How can I help it when you never shut up?”

“That’s how you talk to me? That’s how you show your gratitude for the roof over your head, the food we put in your belly?” She lifted a plate that held a slice of bread, a thin slice of fake turkey. “I’m standing here making you a sandwich since you finally dragged yourself out of bed at noon, and you sass me? It’s no wonder Lori kicked you out. I’m telling you one thing, mister, you’re not getting a free ride here much longer. It’s been almost a month now, and you haven’t done diddly about finding a job.”

He thought: Shut the f**k up or I’ll shut you up. But he didn’t say it. He wanted the sandwich.

“You’re irresponsible, just like your father said, but I said, he’s our son, Carl, and we have to help him out. When are you going to help yourself, that’s what I want to know.”

“I told you I’d get a job. I’ve got options. I’m considering my options.”

“Your options.” She snorted, went back to building the sandwich. “You’ve gone through four jobs this year. What options are you considering while you’re sitting here in the middle of the day in the ratty sweats you slept in? I told you they’re looking for a stock boy down at the market, but do you go and see about it?”

“I’m not a freaking stock boy.” He was better than that. He was somebody. He’d be somebody if people gave him half a break. “Get off my back.”

“Maybe we haven’t been on your back enough.” She layered a slice of bright orange cheese on top of the turkey, and her voice took on the soft, reasonable tone he hated.

“Your father and I scrimped and saved so you could go to college, and you flunked out. You said how you wanted to train so you could learn how to develop those computer games you like so much, and we backed you on that, put the money to that. When that didn’t work, your dad got you a job at his office. He went to bat for you, Jerry, and you screwed around and mouthed off, and got fired.”

She picked a knife from the block to cut the sandwich. “Then you met Lori, and she was the sweetest thing. A smart girl, a hardworking girl from a real nice family. We had such high hopes there. She got you working as a busboy in the restaurant where she works, and she stuck with you when you lost that job. When you said how you could get a messenger job if you had a good bike, we made you a loan, but that didn’t last two months. And you never paid us back, Jerry. Now this last job’s gone, too.”

“I’m tired of you throwing the past in my face, and acting like it was all my fault.”

“The past keeps repeating, Jerry, and seems to be getting worse.”

Her lips pressed together as she added a handful of the Onion Doodles he liked to the plate. “You’re out of work again, and you can’t afford a place of your own. You took the rent money and the tip money Lori had saved up and went off to Las Vegas with Dave and that no-account Joe. And you came back broke.”

“That’s a damn lie.” He shoved to his feet. “It was my money, and I’ve got a right to take a break with my friends, to have some goddamn fun.”

There was a sheen in her eyes—not of tears, not of anger, but of disappointment. It made him want to punch, punch, punch that sheen away.

“It was the rent money, Jerry, and the money Lori saved up from her tips. She told me.”

“You’re going to take her word over mine?”

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