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|Throttled(Men of Inked #3) by Chelle Bliss|
I handed him my shoes and stood still looking down at the man I loved. I held his shoulder, trying to maintain my balance as he placed each shoe carefully on my feet and laced them up tight. They felt like tiny pillows, relieving the pressure in the muscles of my feet.
“Better?” he asked, running his hands up my legs.
“So much better. Thank you, City.”
“It’s my job to take care of you,” he said as he stood and grabbed my chin. “I plan to spend my lifetime doing just that, sugar.”
“Mmm,” I mumbled as he leaned forward and kissed me.
I could’ve collapsed in his arms and fallen into a peaceful slumber, but there was a party going on downstairs and we were the main event. We couldn’t miss it even if we were exhausted. As we entered the ballroom, the party was in full swing. The DJ was playing instrumental music before dinner and many of the party guests surrounded the bar in conversation.
“Hey, sister,” Izzy said as she walked toward me. “I’m so excited to be able to say that and it be true. I’ve always wanted a sister.” She wrapped her arms around me, squeezing me a little too tight.
“Can’t breathe,” I whispered.
“Man up,” she said as she released me.
“I’ll be back ladies, I’m going to grab a drink at the bar with my boys,” City said as he kissed my cheek and left us alone.
“Where’s your sister?” Izzy asked, looking around the crowd.
“Don’t know and don’t give a shit either.”
“You know you’ve turned into a badass with a potty mouth, Suz.” She smiled, shaking her head.
“City. It’s all his fault.”
“I’d like to think I played a part in it too.” She laughed.
“You’re always getting me in trouble, Izzy.”
“Me?” she asked, holding her hand to her chest.
A man cleared his throat next to us and we both turned in his direction. “Excuse me ladies, I don’t mean to interrupt.”
“Well then don’t,” Izzy said, looking the stranger up and down.
He was big and handsome as hell. He reminded me of an Italian version of the Rock. Muscles bulged from his suit, close shaven black hair, shimmering green eyes, and knockout lips. They were the puffy kind that fit his strong jawline perfectly and called the name of countless women.
“Don’t be rude, Izzy,” I said, turning to face him. “How can I help you?”
“I’m a friend of Thomas’ and he asked me to drop off a gift on his behalf.” The man held out an envelope and waited for me to take it.
“Is he okay?” Izzy asked before I could thank the gentleman.
“He is and he’s very sorry he couldn’t make it,” he said, looking down at Izzy as if he was not sure of how to take her change in attitude.
“Don’t mind her,” I said to him, my eyes flickering between the two. “Thomas is her brother.”
“Ah, you’re that Izzy,” he said, his lips turning up into a smile. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
She snarled, not entirely liking the shitty grin on his face. “And you are?” she said, holding out her hand for him to take.
“James.” He grabbed her hand and stilled. “James Caldo.”
“Never heard of you, Jimmy,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Perfect,” he said as he brought her hand to his lips and placed a kiss just below her knuckles.
I could feel the electricity between the two of them. Izzy basically eye f**ked him as he kissed her hand. As soon as he looked up, her face went back to a pissed off sneer. The girl could play a good game, but to an observer, I could see the lust.
I coughed, breaking the moment of awkwardness for myself. “Thanks, James. I’ll give this to Joseph for you. Why don’t you stay and enjoy the wedding?” I said, smiling at the man. He’d taken the time to get dressed up and I wanted to see Izzy’s squirm in all honesty.
“What?” Izzy asked, turning toward me.
“We have plenty of food and I’m sure the Gallos would love to talk with you about their Thomas.” Izzy gave me the death glare. “You can keep James company tonight, Izzy. You didn’t bring a date.” I smiled and I could almost see the venom dripping from her fangs.
“I’d love to stay. Thank you. Izzy, would you like a drink?” he asked, still holding her hand in his.
“Only because Suzy would want me to be a gracious host,” she said, looking at me out of the corner of my eye.
“I don’t want to put you out or anything. I’m a big boy and can handle myself. I just thought you could use a drink to unwind a bit. You feel a little tense and that mouth of yours could get you into trouble.”
“I don’t need a babysitter, Jimmy, but I’ll take the drink.”
“It’s James,” he said, squeezing her hand.
I’d been around Izzy enough to see when she was attracted to someone and she was to James. She may not want to admit it, Izzy often picked guys that she could push around, but I had a feeling James could give her a run for her money.
“You two kids play nice,” I said as I waved and walked toward my husband. I curled my arms around his waist, leaning my head on his back as he stood talking to Michael. “Hey, baby. Someone dropped this off for us.”
“What is it?” he asked as he grabbed the envelop from my fingers.