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|Throttle Me(Men of Inked #1) by Chelle Bliss|
The guests left a couple of hours later after coffee was served and the football game ended. After the last person walked out his mother yelled from the foyer, “Who’s ready for gifts?”
“Anthony, get your ass in here,” Izzy yelled from the floor.
His mother sat down next to the tree and waited for everyone to take a seat. “I love you all, but I miss Thomas. I wish he could’ve been here with us this year.” The smile on her face faded as she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. I knew little of Thomas and he was the only sibling I hadn’t met. “He called this morning and spoke to your father and I. He promises he’ll be here next year.” She cleared her throat. “I’m thankful that Suzy could join us.”
She pulled a gift from under the tree and held it out to me. “For you,” she said.
I placed it on my lap and looked around, noticing that all eyes were on me. “What?”
“We all take turns, sugar.” City patted my leg.
“Oh, sorry. My family it’s more like a free for all. Not used to this, but I’ll learn.”
It took hours to open gifts. They ranged in all sizes and shapes. I watched the family in front of me with joy. I’d never experienced something as loving as the Gallo Family Christmas.
“I love everything you got me, sugar. I’ll use it all.” He kissed my cheek.
I smiled at him and whispered in his ear. “Wait until you see your last gift, but it’s at home – for your eyes only.” I bit his ear lobe and was rewarded with a deep kiss.
“Hey, I know I want grandbabies, but not right here on the couch, please. There’s one more gift under the tree and it’s for Suzy.” His mother beamed as she handed the last present to me.
The box was small, but not a ring box. City leaned back and stared at me to gage my reaction. I looked around as I undid the ribbon It’s a horrible feeling to be the one left out – to be the surprise and not the one doing the surprising.
Tucked inside was a small business card. I read it, but didn’t know what it meant. “You gave me a business card?” I asked confused.
“No, sugar. Read it. Turn it over.”
Florida Real Estate Specialist
I flipped the card over and recognized Joey’s handwriting.
Something to call ‘ours’
Merry Christmas, sugar
“I don’t understand,” I mumbled as I turned the card over again.
Joey grabbed my hand as he spoke. “I want to buy a house for us. I want you to pick out your dream home or we can build on my land.”
“Joey, we can’t afford that, but it’s a nice thought.” I knew his gesture was sincere even if it were a fairytale.
His mother started to giggle and the entire family laughed. I didn’t get the joke. “Tell her, Joseph,” his mother said as she sat down next to his father.
“Suzy, we can afford it. I can afford it.”
“How?” I felt like an idiot.
“Jesus Christ, son. Suzy, our family owns a vineyard in Italy. We’ve owned it for generations. Joseph doesn’t flaunt his wealth, but he has the ability to buy five homes.”
I looked from his father to Joey, who sat there with a grin. “Is he telling the truth?”
“Yes, sugar. We all own a portion of the vineyard. We run the tattoo shop because we don’t want to sit on our ass all day. We wanted something that was entirely ours and separate from what we inherited.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I felt awkward having this discussion in front of his family, but I figured they knew his reasons.
He stroked my face. “I like my little farmhouse. It was enough for me. I also don’t like people to know my business. Too many people want things when they know you have money. Sugar, you have to understand. I thought if I ever, and I didn’t think I would, found someone that I loved, I had to know they loved me for me and not my money.”
“I do love you for you, Joey.” The words came out with ease and even though I know he lied to me for months, I could understand why. “I’m happy in my home though, no need to buy another.”
“Exactly, ‘your home’, sugar, not ours. I want something that we pick out together with room to grow. We’re cramped, but happy. Anything you want is yours. All I ask is for a big garage for my motorcycles and a space for the guys to hang out.”
His mom clapped her hands. “Get lots of bedrooms too. I want an army of grandbabies.” Even though the idea of a hoard of children made my body break out into a blotchy rash a big house would be wise.
“Not helping, Ma.”
Her laughter filled the room. “Sorry, a girl can dream, can’t she?”
“So what do you say, sugar? Can we buy a home for us? It can be a fresh start, the beginning of an amazing journey. We’ll take our time until we find the perfect place. I love you, Suzy McCarthy and this is what I want for us.”
I didn’t really have anything to think about. My last wall had crumbled. Everything I had on my impossible checklist had come true and Joey was the man I’d always wanted. His family waited for my reply and the air felt heavy. “Yes, Joey. I’d love to find our home and look to the future. I love you too.”
His kiss stole my breath as it always did. I thought back to the words Sophia told me not long ago – butterflies – I still felt butterflies every time I saw him. The nervous energy never left my body and I felt the electricity when we touched. When it’s right you know it. He was the one. Mine.