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|Throttle Me(Men of Inked #1) by Chelle Bliss|
Suzy: I love your idea of or what.
Based on her message I could tell I wasn’t the only one thinking about our time on the beach.
“Iz, what the hell do you call the what, where, when, why, and how in English?” she looked at me confused as I sat down at the table.
“Trying to impress the teacher?” she giggled.
“Just answer the question, please.” I sighed and stared at her, placing the phone on the table.
“What teacher?” Ma asked.
“Iz, what’s it called? Throw me a bone.”
“Interrogatives.” My sister rolled her eyes before turning to face our mother. “He’s stuppin’ a teacher, Ma.”
“Isabella! That’s not appropriate at the dinner table.” My mom set the lasagna on the table. “I want details, Joseph.” Ma winked at me.
Me: Wait until you feel the rest of my interrogatives.
I placed the phone on the table and looked around the room. Everyone had their eyes glued on me instead of the meal as they usually were. “What?”
“You’re smiling as you type – who is she, Joseph?” Ma said as she dished out the first steaming slice of heaven to my father.
“Just a woman, Ma.” I held up my plate as I waited to be served. My mother was traditional in many ways, refusing to let us serve ourselves. She was the one to dish out the food and to sit last.
She held the lasagna over my plate. “I’ve never seen you like this. You want your piece, baby? You hungry?”
“Hell yes.” I licked my lips and moved my plate closer to the piece hovering just out of reach.
“Then you’re going to tell me about her, yes? No information means no food.” She held the slice of lasagna to her nose and inhaled it. “Mm, it would be a shame for you to miss out on this meal.”
I sighed. Women – the root of the evil in this world – if pu**y wasn’t so f**king perfect I’d swear them off for eternity.
“Fine, Ma. I’ll tell you about her after we eat. Can I please have a piece now?”
“Sure, baby. You can help me wash the dishes and tell me all about her.”
Fuck. “You’re an ass**le, Iz.” Throwing me under the bus with my mother had been a skill and kept the heat off her. “What about Tommy? Still seeing him?”
“Bella, you better not still be seeing that man. He’s nothing but trouble.” My mother chastised her. Iz glared at me across the table. Served her little gossipy ass right for airing my shit at the dinner table.
The conversation turned to sports and football as it always did on Sunday. My grilling was soon forgotten as my brothers and Dad stuffed their faces and rubbed their stomachs. I finished my lasagna, wiping my plate clean with a piece of garlic bread, before picking up my phone again.
Suzy: WTF. I teach Math - no clue what an interrogative is. Hello – I don’t get your angle.
Me: At the end of my linear path I have a point for you.
Did that makes sense or did I just make a complete ass of myself? Fuck. This girl had me all f**ked up. My parents always wanted their children to ‘settle down’ and make babies, but I’ve always been more interested in perfecting my skills and not wanting to get tied down, at least not after Joni. We didn’t marry young and follow their path in life and I think my parents were secretly proud of us for waiting. They were happily married and have been for over forty years and tied the knot right out of high school. Times were different.
Suzy: Ooo, you know just the right things to say to a girl.
Me: Tuesday night = (dinner) + my linear path + your diameter
“Joey, grab your plate. We have a date with a sink and some dishes,” Ma said from behind me. I looked up at her and saw her smiling and reading over my shoulder. Fuck.
Suzy: No can do – grad classes. I’ll take a rain check.
I turned off my screen and placed it in my pocket. Nothing was secret or sacred in this f**king house.
“Everybody bring your plates in the kitchen. Come on. Clear off the table,” Ma said. The room filled with grumbles, but we all knew the drill. Thirty years later we didn’t need to be told what our roles were in this family. My father was the figurehead, my mother told everyone what to do and we did as told without giving lip.
Ma waited for me by the sink as I set my plate on the counter. “Did you find someone?” She was beaming.
“I just met her, Ma,” I shooed her to the side so I could start tackling the dishes.
She threw the dishrag over her shoulder and eyed me. “Baby, the heart knows what the heart wants. Your sister told me you’ve been acting differently. It’s written all over your face. Sometimes fate steps in and throws you off the course we’ve set in life.”
“Don’t go crocheting baby blankets yet, Ma.”
She placed her hand on my shoulder as I scrubbed and avoided eye contact. “Joseph, I know the man you are. I know you’re guarded with your heart after Joni, but you have to open again sometime. You need to find someone to trust in life. Is this girl worthy of that trust? Is she worth the risk?”
“Ma, I barely know the chick.”
“Tsk, tsk. Someone doth protest too much.” She kissed my cheek, ruffling my hair. That shit made me crazy, but with my hands full of soap I had no other option but to let her do as she wished.
“I can see you’re not going to stop. She seems like a good person. She’s different, Ma. She seems genuine, but I’m not rushing into anything.”