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|Uncover Me(Men of Inked #6) by Chelle Bliss|
“Sorry. I kind of get carried away sometimes,” she blurted as her cheeks turned pink. “My baby boy.” She held her arms out, pulling Thomas into her embrace.
I giggled, knowing exactly how he felt—unable to breathe.
“Ma,” he said, squeezing her back before releasing her. “This is Angel, and Angel, this is my pop.”
I held out my hand, smiling at him and comparing the two men. They had the same facial features: amazing blue eyes, strong jaws, and full lips. I could see Thomas as an older man when I stared at his dad.
Without speaking, he hugged me, crushing my ribs. “Nice to meet you, love,” he said, holding my shoulders and taking a good look at me. “You’re stunning.”
“Thank you,” I replied, trying not to smile, but it was useless. I could feel the love and excitement in this house. It was abundant and easy.
“Back away,” Izzy said, waving her hands and stepping in front of everyone. “She’s mine next.”
I laughed, reaching out and grabbing her. “How in the heck are you so damn chipper? I feel like a zombie today.”
“Practice, sweet Angel. We’ll get you there. Don’t worry. You’ll be a champ in no time.”
“Oh, no, no, no. Last night was it for me,” I told her as I watched everyone hugging Thomas.
“Fuck that. You’re getting drunk with me again. The girls and I were just talking about a girls’ night out. It’s been a long time and we all need to get away from our Neanderthal men.”
I chuckled, wondering how bad they could actually all be. “We’ll see.”
Izzy backed away, glancing over at a blonde and a brunette, and announced, “She’s in, ladies. Girls’ night it is!”
“Damn,” I mumbled to myself, as Thomas came to stand by my side. I shrugged, plastering a smile on my face. I hadn’t said yes, but Izzy, in her own special way, had sealed the deal.
“Yay!” the blonde screeched. Then the brunette echoed her.
One by one, they said hello as Thomas introduced them to me. Joey, Anthony, and Mike were his brothers, and Izzy was the sister. They were all gorgeous, but from the looks of their parents, it wasn’t surprising.
“Dinner’s in five minutes,” Mrs. Gallo said, clapping her hands, a giant smile on her face. “Go sit for a few minutes, but don’t get too comfortable.”
Everyone moved to the living room, spreading out amongst the furniture and floor. While I sat next to Tommy, he kept my hand in his, slowly stroking my palm with his thumb. It was calming in its rhythmic nature as I tried not to notice that all the eyes in the room were focused solely on me.
“How’re the Cubs doing today, Pop?” Thomas asked, breaking the silence.
“Shitty, but what else is new?” Mr. Gallo said, leaning back in his chair and placing his foot across his opposite knee.
“Hey, Angel,” Izzy interrupted. “Want to go help Ma with dinner? It would win you major brownie points.” She jumped up from the floor, kissing James on the lips before motioning for me to follow.
I liked that idea more than feeling like a caged animal. “Sure,” I replied, giving Thomas a quick peck and then joining Izzy in the kitchen.
“Ma, we’ve come to help you.” Izzy turned, winking at me, and I couldn’t help but smile. The girl was slick, and I liked her. If I could have a sister, I’d pick Izzy Gallo. “It was Angel’s idea.”
“Isn’t that lovely. Grab the salad from the fridge, and one of you take the meatballs out of the sauce and put them in a bowl.”
The smell in the kitchen was something that couldn’t be described. It was better than any restaurant I’d ever set foot inside. I could almost pick out the individual dishes with each inhale. My mouth watered as the dishes were placed on the counter, waiting to be brought out to the hungry crowd.
“I’ll do the meatballs,” I said, moving toward the stove. “In here?” I asked, grabbing a bowl.
“Yes, dear,” Mrs. Gallo answered, testing a noodle over the sink.
When I pulled the lid off the giant pot, I was hit by the smell of the most divine tomato sauce ever. It was a rich red color, with specks of spices and a hint of heat. Using a slotted spoon, I took a meatball out and placed it in the bowl. One by one, I removed meatball after meatball. I didn’t bother to count.
“Jesus,” I muttered, digging inside, thinking there couldn’t be another one, but I was wrong.
“She cooks for an army,” Izzy said. “But then again, there are five hungry men and a pregnant girl who puts them all to shame.”
“Oh, honey. I always make extras. Anthony usually brings some home, and lately, I’ve been giving some to Suzy to fill her late-night cravings,” Mrs. Gallo said as she dumped the pasta into the strainer, a plume of steam collecting above the sink.
“What’s left, Ma?” Izzy asked, putting the garlic bread she’d pulled out of the oven in a basket.
Mrs. Gallo started to go down the list. “Salad, pasta, bread, sauce, meatballs… Did you take out the eggplant?”
“Nope. Is it ready?” Izzy asked, placing the oven mitts on her hands.
“Yeah. It needs a moment to cool while I assemble the pasta.”
This must be what it’s like to have a mother who actually cares about a family. I silently watched them as they interacted with each other, feeling a pang of jealousy for all I’d missed from being the unlucky SOB to have been born to my witch of a mom. Life would’ve been different if my father had lived, but it never would have been like having the Gallos.