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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
Malia: Max wouldn’t want me to give you her number, but… I know she likes you. You know where she lives. Why don’t you just go to her house?
My hand began to shake at the possibility that I had a chance with her. Maybe it wasn’t really the end like I had thought.
Me: I don’t want to seem like a creep. I can’t just knock on her door. I need another way. So, how do I see her again if you won’t give me her number?
Women could be impossible. I knew that. I’d watched Izzy for years. I’d seen the misery she’d caused in her wake.
Malia: You could show up at her work.
I stared at the screen as my mouth hung open.
Me: How? Do tell.
Malia: Well, she’s a stylist. She owns her own business. Make an appointment, dummy.
I laughed at her insult. How had I not thought of that? Why hadn’t I Googled her? I was sure that, with enough searching, I would’ve found her.
Me: Genius. I’ll have to use a fake name. Hmmm
Malia: Richard Hung lmfao
I couldn’t hide my excitement. From the name Malia had picked, I’d say that Max had shared a lot about me—including the best stuff.
Me: Can I schedule it on a website?
Malia: Yes. She has a store. Make an appointment and then get to it, Anthony. Don’t let her get rid of you so easily.
Her words were true. I’d never let anyone treat me the way she had. In all actuality, I’d never given them the chance, always kicking them out of my bed. Maybe she had the same MO as I did. “Hit it and quit it” was a popular phrase when I had been younger, but it had almost become my personal motto. Suddenly, I wasn’t as proud of that fact as I used to be.
Me: Does she do that shit often?
Malia: Max? Fuck no. It’s been years since she’s been with someone. She doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.
I read her message repeatedly and was totally confused.
Me: What do you mean?
Malia: I’ve said too much. Just look her up. Her website is…
With that, we said our goodbyes and I went to her website. I set up an appointment for Wednesday night at seven p.m. I figured I’d be her last of the night.
I’d have her again.
Taste and feel her all over me.
Mark her as mine without letting her escape a second time.
Hung to the Right
The next couple of days dragged. Work consumed my evenings, but the days seemed to go on for fucking ever. The shop had been relatively quiet, and I spent more time watching the minutes tick by than tattooing.
By the time Wednesday evening arrived, I was a mess. I had received a confirmation email from Max yesterday. It was one of those that were automatically sent out without a personal touch. We were still on, no matter how it had been sent.
My hand trembled as I pulled on the door handle at five minutes to seven. A loud grumble rolled in my stomach as I looked but didn’t see her.
“I’ll be right out!” she yelled from the back room.
Hearing her voice again made my heart stutter.
I rubbed my sweaty palms on my jeans and shook out my shoulders.
Calm down and get control.
My emotions were out of control.
The shop was pretty, and looked exactly like it had on her website. A majority of the space was filled with women’s clothing and other feminine items, but about a quarter of the store had menswear and shoes. The light hardwood floor and overhead lighting made the space feel warm.
As I looked through the men’s shirts, I heard her footsteps behind me. I didn’t turn, pretending to care about the clothes in front of me. My heart pounded—no, it thundered—inside the walls of my chest as I listened to her walking toward me.
“Mr. Hung,” she said as she came to a stop behind me. “Find anything you like?”
I closed my eyes and turned with a cocky-ass grin. “I have now.”
Her mouth dropped open as her eyes grew to the size of saucers. “What the…” she whispered.
“Max,” I said, reaching out to touch her.
“Don’t.” She pulled away and took a step back. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m Mr. Hung.” I laughed, enjoying the double meaning as she glared at me.
She rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. “You’re still an asshole.”
“That may be true, but I still need your services,” I lied. I didn’t need her to dress me. I knew how to look good, but it was my only way in.
“I don’t have anything to offer you,” she said as she turned her back and walked toward the door. After she opened it, she looked at me. “You can leave now.”
I shook my head. “I’m not going anywhere. I came here to get your style advice. I’m not leaving until I get what I came for.”
“Anthony,” she said as she tapped her foot, still holding the door open. “There’s nothing here for you. I don’t have time to play games.”
“It’s not a game, Max,” I replied as I stalked toward her. No longer was I willing to take a back seat and let her dictate the terms of how the evening would go. This was my show and I was the frontman.
I reached up, touching her cheek with my fingertips. It felt just as I remembered—soft and silky. Even though her face wasn’t flushed, her cheeks were warm to my touch.
“Max,” I whispered on her lips. “Everything I want is here, standing in front of me. I won’t leave until I get what I want, either. It’s not a game, Kitty Cat. I’ve never chased anyone in my life.”