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|Throttle Me(Men of Inked #1) by Chelle Bliss|
“Sophia, this is City.”
“Nice to meet you, Sophia.” I extended my hand to her. Sophia’s hair was pulled back in a sloppy bun that sat on top of her head. She had a bright white smile and kind eyes.
She placed her hand in mine. “Nice to finally meet you, City. I’ve heard all about you.” She winked.
A grin crept across my face – I guess I got the thumbs up from her friend. “Nice things, I hope.”
“She spoke very big of you.” She giggled and I felt my cheeks heat. I could tell these girls together were going to be a handful. “Come on in. Kayden and Jett are out on the patio starting the grill.”
I extended my arm for Suzy to walk in front of me as I watched both girls walk inside and stayed close behind. They lived in a small apartment that was decorated with mismatched pieces that all worked. Sports Center was on the television and baby things were scattered everywhere.
“Don’t mind the mess. Children have a way of overtaking everything, no matter how small.” She waved her hands around and picked up small toys off the floor before tossing them in a basket near the television stand.
The door to the patio opened and a tall, muscular man holding a baby walked into the living room. His head was clean-shaven and he looked like someone that I’d find down at the Neon Cowboy or a guy who would walk in my shop for some work.
“Kayden, baby, Suzy brought her new beau, City.” Kayden eyed me warily.
I held out my hand to him. “Nice to meet you, Kayden. Suzy talks very highly of you and Sophia.”
Kayden placed the baby in the crook of his left arm before extending his right hand to me. “Glad to meet you, City.” He squeezed my hand tightly, almost to the point of pain, but I didn’t dare pull away. I knew the f**kin’ macho bullshit. He was staking his claim on Sophia and giving me a silent warning with Suzy.
“Oh, Jett, come here baby.” Reaching for Jett, Suzy plucked him from Kayden’s arms.
“No hello, Suzy? How are you, Kayden? I’ve missed you, Kayden. Just Ooo, Jett.” Kayden laughed.
“Oh now, Kayden, you know I love you. Gimme a kiss,” she said puckering her lips and closing her eyes.
My heart raced with the thought of Kayden placing his lips on hers. I squeezed my hands into fists. They’re just friends. Kayden planted a kiss on her cheek as he rubbed the head of his child before walking into the kitchen and wrapping his arms around his wife.
“He’s gotten so big,” Suzy said as she bounced the baby in her arms, patting his butt. She looked natural with a child in her arms, like it was something she did every day. Her eyes lit up as Jett gripped her thumb.
“He’s growing like a weed,” Sophia said from the kitchen. “What do you guys want to drink? City, what can I get you?”
“I’ll take a beer if you got one.” Suzy’s eyes grew wide and her nostrils flared and I didn’t know what I said, but obviously I f**ked up somehow. “But it’s okay if you don’t. I’ll really drink anything.”
“Coming right up. Suzy? Virgin daiquiri, babe?” Sophia snickered as she opened the fridge and began to dig around.
“What did I say wrong?” I whispered in her ear.
“Kayden doesn’t drink. He’s an alcoholic and has been clean for about a year now.” She looked at Kayden and Sophia before returning her attention on the cooing baby in her arms.
“I didn’t know. Shit, you should’ve given me a heads up, sugar.”
“I’m sorry. It just slipped my mind.”
“It’s okay, City. It’s not something the ladies like to talk about. It’s always the giant elephant in the room,” Kayden said as he handed me the beer. “I can be around alcohol and not drink.” He sat down on the couch and put his feet up on the coffee table. “Sit down, let the ladies work their magic in the kitchen. We’ll take care of the meat like God intended.”
“I don’t want to hear about your meat, Kayden,” Suzy snickered.
“Kitchen, Suzy, but let Sophia cook.” He pointed at her then toward the kitchen and snapped his fingers.
“I can cook, Kayden,” she said as she rubbed her nose against the baby’s face before handing the baby to Kayden and walking away.
“City, Suzy can’t cook a lick. She’s the queen of pre-made. Just an FYI,” he said as he cradled the baby and ran his finger along the chubby cheek.
Sitting on the couch, I set my beer on my knee and relaxed. “Eh, I can cook so it’s not a deal breaker for me. Bucs fan?” I asked.
“Fuck no, Browns fan born and bred.” He stretched out placing his free hand behind his head.
“No shit? You like an underdog or abuse?” I smiled before lifting the beer to my lips.
“I stay true to my roots, you?”
“Bears fan. No other way to be.”
“They’ve had some f**kin’ horrible seasons, but the Browns have the market cornered on losing.”
“Give ya that,” I said as I tipped my beer toward him. “Suzy said you three lived together.”
“Yep, for a while. She was a lifesaver and I owe her. Don’t f**king break her heart – I’ll beat the f**k out of you.” He laughed. “Seriously, you’ll have a few more holes to match the ones you currently have.” What? I can see the girls talked about me in detail.
“Not my plan,” I said. “Suzy isn’t like other girls.” Suzy leaned against the counter and watched Sophia as they chatted. They looked over at us and started laughing.