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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
“I don’t have any children.”
“Want kids?” I asked, cocking an eyebrow at her and trying to hide a smile.
“Never.” Her response was swift as another tear drifted down her face and caught on her jaw before falling to the floor.
“It’s okay. We can practice a lot.” I wanted to make light of the situation. She’d brought the mood down and made the air in the room feel heavy.
“I know, but only because I want you so much. Give in to me, Max, and I can make anything possible. I’ll move heaven and earth if you give me a chance to get to know you. I don’t think I can go through life wondering ‘what if?’ I’d be a shadow of myself, walking through a world where I knew I’d missed something spectacular.”
“How do you know we’d be spectacular, Anthony?” she asked as her shoulder sagged and she relaxed into my hold.
“I’ve never felt fireworks when I kissed someone. I’ve never dreamt of anyone night after night as if it were a fucking nightmare. I want to eat, breathe, and live you, Max. I don’t care if it’s only for a short while. I have to explore what’s going on between us.”
“Anthony, it’s not right.” Her eyes dropped back down.
“Is it because I’m white? I know you said it wasn’t before, but I can’t think of anything else. What’s left? It has to be because I’m white.” I looked at her. I couldn’t think of any other reason. I’d covered all the bases, every obstacle that might keep us apart.
“No!” she shot back as her eyes flew to mine.
“Is it because of your brother?” I asked, because I could understand that. Lord knows we’d tortured Izzy and every man who had tried to get in her pants.
“What about him?” she asked as her eyebrows drew together and her lips pursed.
“Obviously he hates me. He made that very clear. Maybe he doesn’t like me because I’m white.”
My parents had raised me to not judge a person based off the color of their skin but by the composition of their character. A man was nothing if he wasn’t true to his word and honorable. I didn’t care if they were white, black, green, or purple. I judged them by their acts and not the amount of pigment in their skin.
Everyone bled the same color and had the same feelings on the inside. We were the human race that had comingled over the years, creating humanity in its perfection that existed today.
Shame on her brother if he judged me because of the color of my skin and not the man I was. There were reasons to hate me, but color wasn’t one of them.
“Yes,” she squeaked and nodded. “He hates you. He told my mother about you and I’m forbidden to see you.”
“What the fuck?” I asked as I released her and stepped back. I raked my fingers through my hair, feeling the anger begin to boil inside me. “You’re a grown woman, Max. You’re going to let their hatred stop something we both feel? You’re going to let them cloud your judgment and possibility of true happiness?”
“Anthony, you have to understand—” she began, reaching out for me.
I shook her off. “There’s nothing I need to understand, Max. Either you’re the master of your destiny or you let others control you and become a slave to your wants.”
“You did not just play the slave card on me,” she whispered as her face transformed from sadness to highly pissed off.
“I didn’t mean it like that.” Fuck. Really, I hadn’t. She needed to be an adult and tell her family to fuck off.
“It sounded really shitty.”
“I want you to make your own decision. Your family doesn’t have the right to deny you your happiness. Or mine, for that matter. I don’t care what color you are. We both bleed red, Max.” My anger simmered below the surface, ready to break free. “We’re not living in the 1950s, for shit’s sake. Get a grip, Max. Clearly, you have other thoughts. I didn’t hear you saying no to my big white cock as you screamed my name.”
She winced. “You just wouldn’t understand.”
“I don’t. I wasn’t raised to look at a person’s skin color. When I look at you, Max, I see beauty. The inner glow and fierce attitude that emanate from you have drawn me to you.”
“My family is my everything, Anthony.”
“Mine is too,” I hurled back at her. “But I wouldn’t let them dictate my future.”
“Fucking stop saying that shit!” I yelled, slamming my hand down on a display case next to me.
She jumped from the loud clatter of the jewelry display as it moved with the impact.
“Don’t tell them,” I begged. “What if you don’t tell them about me? I don’t need to come over for dinner on the weekends. I don’t care if I ever meet your parents. All I want is you. Just you. Only you, Max.”
She closed her eyes as tears streamed down her face and fell to the floor. “I don’t know.”
“Max,” I pleaded. “Give me—no, give us—a chance. I don’t want to look back and wonder what could’ve been. Maybe we’ll fall apart and the flame we have for each other will fizzle out. At least we’ll know we tried. To deny ourselves the ability to know if there’s something more between us is just plain cruel.” I stepped toward her, cradling her face in my hands as I caught her tears with my thumbs.