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|Uncover Me(Men of Inked #6) by Chelle Bliss|
I smoothed out the black sweater I was wearing, trying to find something to make my features stand out and not wash away my pale skin. I was wearing my favorite pair of Miss Me jeans with a fleur-de-lis on the pockets and a pair of five-inch, black, strappy high heels to match my sweater, which hung off one shoulder, showing just the right amount of skin to be sexy but not slutty.
I could hear talking coming from downstairs and a female voice laughing and loud. Without a moment to spare, I left the bedroom and headed down the hallway. Then I stopped before hitting the steps, took a couple of deep breaths, and counted to five. I can do this.
Walking down the stairs, I saw a beautiful woman hugging Thomas with a giant smile on her face. Then she looked up, capturing me in her gaze.
“There she is,” she said, pulling away from him before moving toward the bottom step.
Please don’t let me trip. My knees still felt weak from the sexathon.
She held out her arms, waiting for me, as I took the last step on shaky legs. Smiling, I attempted to hide my inner turmoil and stood straight, showing no fear.
“It’s so good to meet you,” she said, wrapping her arms around me as soon as I was close enough.
I froze for a moment, locking eyes with Thomas. His face broke out into a gigantic smile—this was probably the happiest I’d ever seen him. His eyes twinkled as the corners crinkled, brilliant blue shining from them.
“You too,” I whispered, finally returning her embrace.
“I promise I don’t bite,” she said in a soft voice. “But don’t ask James. He’ll say I do.” She chuckled, released me, and turned toward James, giving him a quick wink.
I moved toward Thomas’s side, holding my hand out to James. “It’s nice to meet you.”
He grabbed my hand, pulling it to his lips. “It’s great to meet you finally.” He gave me a tiny kiss and looked at me with a smile
“Finally?” I asked, caught off guard by his words and the kiss. Swallowing hard, I waited for the shoe to drop. I figured the family would have to find out someday, but I wasn’t ready to start dealing with my past yet.
“Yeah. I knew you were his girl while he was with the MC. I was his handler, and I knew his movements and people he spent time with.”
I wanted to crawl inside Thomas and escape. It must’ve been written on my face, the panic and fear that started in my stomach and began to spread throughout my body.
“Oh,” I whispered, unable to take my eyes off him or remove my hand from his grasp.
Thomas coughed, breaking my trance. “Want a drink, Izzy?”
“Fuck yeah. I’m parched, big brother.”
They left James and me alone, standing in the foyer, as they headed to the kitchen. I started to pull my hand away, but James held it tightly.
“Angel, don’t worry,” he said. “We all led different lives. It’s in the past. I have more secrets than a diary. Shit isn’t getting beyond Thomas and me.”
I just stared at him, blinking, still frozen.
“We’re all starting with a clean slate. Izzy doesn’t know shit, and no one else will until you feel the time is right. If you ever feel the time is right. Don’t give a second thought to the Gallos, either. They’re good people. They welcomed me in like one of the family and they’ll do the same for you.” He squeezed my hand, trying to give me reassurance.
Family. It was a foreign word to me. I didn’t even know what it would be like to be part of one.
“Thank you,” I said on a shaky breath, feeling relieved that he said that he’d keep my secret and everything would be okay.
“How about a drink, Angel?” James asked, releasing my hand to guide me toward the kitchen with his hand on the small of my back.
Usually, I’d take the gesture as a sexual one, but maybe he felt my hesitation and inability to move. “I could use one or ten.” I laughed, feeling some of the pressure release from my shoulders. If Thomas trusted James, I would have to do the same.
“James, leave the girl alone,” Izzy teased, pouring a glass of wine. “Don’t listen to him. He acts all big bad wolf, but I know how to tame the beast.” She held the glass out to me, a playful smile on her face.
“Izzy, I don’t want to hear about James’s beast. Ever.” Thomas glared at her, grabbing the bottle of wine and then filled three glasses on the counter.
“I’m just fucking happy she called it a beast,” James told Thomas as he swiped a glass and wrapped an arm around Izzy’s shoulder.
“No more dick talk. Let James and me talk some business, and then we can go to dinner.”
I nodded, sipping the red wine and trying not to worry about being left alone with his sister. Maybe she was one of those girls who was nice when necessary and then turned into a viper when left alone. I had experienced a lot of them as a dancer. Girls could be so shitty to each other for no reason. I prayed that she wasn’t like that, that her kind, playful nature was the true Izzy.
“You two go talk, and Angel and I will get to know each other better. We’ll go in the living room and give you boys some private time.” She stood on her tiptoes, giving James a kiss before motioning for me to follow.
I smiled at Thomas, joining Izzy in the living room. She plopped down on the couch, somehow not spilling a drop. “You didn’t want to stay and listen to their boring shit, did you?”
“Nah. They’re going to talk about work. I’d rather have some girl time,” I replied, sitting on the other end of the couch.