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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
“There’s nothing wrong with me, Malia. I just don’t have time to deal with a boy.”
“Man,” I said as I lifted my beer to my lips.
“But he’s a fine-looking man, Max. How could you say no to that?” Nita waved her hand in my direction, motioning up and down. “I mean, hell, I’d jump on him in a hot minute.”
Max shook her head as she chewed the inside of her lip. “You know why, Nita.” She gave her a serious look.
“Yeah,” Nita said.
“Does someone want to clue me the fuck in?” It was the second time I’d heard the statement. There was a secret no one would share. My mind started to fill with crazy things. Imagination could be dangerous.
“Nope,” Max said, and looked between the two women.
“Be honest, are you married?”
“No!” she screeched, vigorously shaking her head.
I rubbed my chin and thought of all the possible scenarios. “Gay?”
“God, no. She likes cock too much,” Malia said, and started to laugh.
“Malia!” Max yelled across the table.
Malia shrugged as she took a drink of her vodka, her lips hidden by the rim of the glass.
“Hmmm,” I muttered, trying to think what else would keep her from men. “STD?”
Please say no. Fuck, it would have been such a shame for the beautiful creature in front of me to have something that would stop me from sinking my naked dick inside her wetness.
She laughed, giving me a funny look. “No. Jesus.”
“Well, I’m trying to think of all the reasons you wouldn’t go on a date with me, Max.” I continued to rub my chin and stare at her.
Briefly, I glanced at her friends to gauge their reactions. They weren’t giving anything away, though. I was sure they were scared of Max—or at least they made it seem to me as though they were.
“I won’t date you because you’re an asshole. I think we went over this before, Anthony.”
“Is it because I’m white?” I didn’t want to throw it out there, but it could be a reason.
Even now, people still seemed to have an issue with race. Not me, but others. Even though segregation had ended more than fifty years ago, people couldn’t let go of the past.
She shook her head. “I don’t see color, but I clearly know an asshole when they’re in front of me.”
“I think you have an anal fetish,” I said with a smile. Max had brought up the word asshole more than any other person I’d ever met.
“No, I’m not. I’m easy, Max. You’re the one making this difficult.”
Max turned to Malia, who was giggling quietly. “What are you smiling about?”
“I think you two make the cutest couple. Finally, someone who won’t listen to your bullshit.”
“I’m with Malia,” Nita interjected, raising her sangria in the air. “This could turn out to be a very interesting night.”
“I’ll drink to that,” I said as I raised my glass and clinked it to hers.
“Fuckers,” Max mumbled as she chugged the last of her beer and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
I’d let her brush me off once, but I wouldn’t let it happen again.
Tonight, I’d seal the deal and let her know how wrong she was.
My girls, the two people I shared my deepest, darkest secrets with, had sold me out. They knew me well enough to know that I didn’t want him tagging along, but they didn’t listen. If I could change things and make falling in love a possibility, I’d be throwing myself at Anthony.
His cocky swagger and killer smile had hooked me from the moment he asked me for my name. I understood why women willingly threw themselves at him, but I didn’t have that luxury. I’d sworn off men, even those I wanted to get to know, because it would be easier for everyone in the end.
I know what you’re thinking: what does one night matter? How could it hurt? But this was my life, my future, and my heart at risk of being crushed. I wasn’t willing to open up to anyone. I couldn’t. I didn’t have that luxury, and I wouldn’t claw my way back from a broken heart.
Nita and Malia had been telling me for months to find someone to be my “friends with benefits,” but I couldn’t do it. I’d always grown attached to people. I’d never been the type to fuck and run. With my luck I’d fall head over heels and wouldn’t be able to climb out of the black hole that would eventually fill my heart.
I’m not cold-hearted. I’m the average African-American girl. I’ve fought for everything I have. My life never took an easy path; even today I struggle to be taken seriously. Owning my own business as a female doesn’t open as many doors as it would if I had a dick dangling between my legs. I’d made a name for myself in Tampa and done it in a short time. I immersed myself in my work, forsaking love and relationships to keep me sane.
I’d done a good job and succeeded, until he found me at the King Corona. The first time I saw him at the Ritz, I wanted to get to know him. I wanted to chat and look into his sparkling blue eyes. I was a total bitch to him, but I’d become good at the role. Most men would take the hint and get lost, but not Anthony. It drove him forward.
What could a night of dancing hurt? I’d get him out of my system and he’d find out that the last thing he wanted was me—the bitchy black girl that doesn’t have time for him in her life. When we said goodbye after dancing at Liquid, I’d never see him again.