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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
The week had breezed by as I’d tattooed, written music, and practiced with the band. I really had no free time, since I had neglected everything in my pursuit of her. But as I lay there with her, everything seemed worth it.
Peacefulness settled over me as my fingertips grazed her body and felt her softness. The familiar spark hadn’t waned with our separation. When I’d seen her after the week apart, fireworks had gone off. We’d torn at each other’s clothes like we were animals in heat.
“Do you want to go to my parents’ house for dinner tomorrow?” I asked, wondering if she’d take that step.
I’d never brought anyone home with me. Honestly, I’d never had anyone worthy of meeting them. Max was different. I thought she’d get a kick out of them and they’d enjoy meeting someone knew. Plus, I wondered how they’d react to her race. I knew my family would embrace her as just another possible childbearing female to bring a new Gallo into the world. Maybe if she saw that my family didn’t mind the race difference, she’d not worry so much about what her family thought.
When she didn’t reply, I added, “It’s Sunday and I haven’t seen you all week. I thought we could spend the day together, Max.” I trailed my fingers between her breasts, watching her skin break out into goose bumps.
“No,” she answered. “I can’t.”
“Have plans?” I asked, not willing to drop the subject.
“No, I just can’t.”
“Why not?” I asked in an angry tone, propping myself up on one elbow.
“Anthony, we’re not a couple. That’s what you do when you’re a couple.” She kept her eyes hidden under her arm.
“We’re not a couple?” It wasn’t that I was shocked. She had agreed to see me, not be mine. To say that it didn’t sting would have been a lie.
“I don’t know if I’d go that far either,” she replied, and drew her bottom lip into her mouth.
“What the fuck, Max?” I shot back, my back growing rigid.
“We fuck, Anthony. That’s it. It’s nice, but we’re nothing more,” she said as her voice grew quiet. “We can’t be anything more.”
I couldn’t let my anger get out of control. I wanted to scream, but I knew it wouldn’t get me anywhere. I kept my voice low as I spoke. “I’m just a piece of ass to you, aren’t I? You can’t stand up to your family and tell them you have a right to be with me?”
“Anthony,” she said as she sat up, pulling her knees to her chest. “I can’t give you anything more than sex. You said you were okay with it.”
“I want to see you, Max. I want to be with you. I’m not asking to go to your mother’s for dinner. This is my family, and I don’t need to hide you.” I climbed off the bed and started to pace. “This is all we’re ever going to be?” I waved my hands haphazardly, toward the clothing that had been tossed in haste. “Just fuck buddies?”
“I can’t give you more.” She kept her eyes pinned on me, watching me as I paced.
I stopped and faced her, naked and vulnerable. “What if I want more? Maybe this isn’t good enough for me.” I had pushed the envelope; I knew it when I spoke.
Max had said that there were limits to our relationship, but I’d assumed the more time she spent with me, the more her feelings would change. Once again, I had it all wrong.
I threw up my arms and put them behind my head, giving her a full view of everything I had to offer. If I was only a fuck buddy, that’s what she’d want to see.
“I won’t accept it, Max. I know you want more. I can see it in your eyes when I’m inside you. You can pretend that you don’t feel what we have, but I can see it.” I pulled my hands forward, letting them slide through my hair before resting my palms on top of my head.
“There’s nothing you see, Anthony. You don’t know how I feel. I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
Wait a goddamn minute. It was like déjà vu. I was about to be tossed to the curb again like yesterday’s trash.
“That’s it? You’re ending us?” My anger rose, causing my heart to beat out of rhythm. “What the fuck, Max?”
“It’s best for both of us. You’re getting too attached to me. I like fucking you, but I don’t want to be with you. I’m not your girlfriend, never will be, and can’t give you anything more than this.” She waved her arms, motioning across the bed. “If you can’t accept just fucking me, then it’s best if we end it here.”
“You’ll change your mind,” I said as I grabbed my pants off the floor.
“I don’t know who fucked your head up so bad, Max. You really should talk to someone about your issues. We have a good thing going here. No matter what your family thinks of me, we’re meant to be together.”
I closed my eyes as I spoke the words. In all my life, I’d never thought I’d mutter those words, let alone say them with such conviction. The funny thing was, I’d meant it. Fuck her and her bullshit. I dressed without looking at her and headed home.
Max and I were over, and nothing in the world would make me change my mind.
I thought it was hard to say goodbye to him the first time I kicked him out, but that was a cakewalk. I said I’d give us a chance and go on a date with him, but when we did I immediately knew the error of my ways.