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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
“And you are?” she asked with a smooth, sultry voice.
“I’m Anthony,” I said, grasping her hand and placing a small kiss on the delicate flesh lining the top.
“Did you tell them to go away, babe?” Max yelled from the bedroom.
I touched my lips, begging the woman to remain silent. I turned and yelled back, “Yeah. They left, Max.”
“Thank shit. They almost ruined my orgasm.”
I looked back at her mother, and her mouth had dropped open.
“Take your time, love,” I called out.
“Be out in five. I have to put some clothes on.”
“And you are?” I asked the woman, who was still holding my hand.
“I’m Max’s mother, Ruth.” Her smile had transformed into something different. Maybe she was pissed off because I’d just fucked her daughter. No mother, no matter the race, wants to hear that.
“Ruth, I’m surprised you haven’t yelled yet,” I said as I stroked her hand with my thumb.
Her gaze returned to my face for a beat. “Why?”
“Max told me you had a problem with us seeing each other. I know you don’t like that I’m white.”
“What?” she asked as her voice grew shrill.
“You don’t have to deny it, Ruth. I’m just hoping I can change your mind.” I released her hand, letting it drop.
“Baby, I don’t know who filled your head with that nonsense. I never said anything about you being white. In fact, I didn’t know anything about you. I’m not entirely pleased that you just had sex with my baby, but it has nothing to do with the color of your skin.”
My head began to spin. Thoughts swirled in my mind as I tried to piece together what had truly happened. Max had tried to push me away, but when it hadn’t worked, she’d pulled the most visible reason from her bag. Racism. It was dirty and underhanded.
“Maybe she was confused. Maybe she just meant her brother.”
“No, baby. He doesn’t care about color. In fact, his fiancée is a beautiful, redheaded, white woman. I don’t know why Max would say that.”
My stomach started to knot as my chest tightened. The woman in front of me was looking at me like I was the most beautiful creature in the world. Her words were smooth and kind. No malice or trickery as she spoke to me.
Max had lied.
It wasn’t a little lie either. It was the biggest of lies. She’d said it without blinking, making me believe the trash she’d spewed.
“Would you like to come in, Ruth?” I opened the door, stepping out of the way to let her pass. “Sorry. I don’t mean to be rude.”
She nodded, brushing my chest with her bare shoulder as she walked into the house. If it were under different circumstances, I would’ve laughed, but it just made me realize how horrible the lie had been.
As she sat on the couch, adjusting the hem of her dress, I headed to the kitchen. I needed something to deal with the bullshit that would occur when Max saw her mother sitting in the living room.
“Would you like a drink?”
“No. Thank you,” she replied as she gripped her knees.
“I’ll be right back.”
When I opened the cabinet to grab a glass, I heard, “What the…” from the living room and froze. I didn’t want to make a sound and possibly miss what was about to be said.
“Max,” her mother said. “Sit.”
I poured myself a drink and headed back to the living room.
“This fine man,” she said as I walked back in the room and glanced at me, “he said I don’t like him because he’s white. Can you explain this to me?” She glared at her daughter, crossing her arms with her mouth set in a firm line.
“Well, I… I…” she stuttered, glancing between the two of us. “I…”
“Drop the shit, Max. Be truthful with me. Remember, God is listening.”
Not only did the woman have the mother guilt, she had thrown religion in Max’s face. It wasn’t unlike something my mother would do, but when it came from Ruth’s mouth, it sounded direr.
Max sat on the opposite couch and bit her lip. “Mama, I didn’t know what to say.” Max looked down at her hands and knotted them together. “Anthony, can you let me talk to my mother alone, please?”
“No,” I replied as I rested on the wall. “I’m not missing this for the world.” Lifting the glass to my lips, I sipped the Crown, letting it linger in my mouth.
“Please!” Max yelled, and shot me a glare.
“He’s staying,” Ruth said, turning to look at me. Before she looked back toward Max, she threw me a wink.
I grinned behind the cup, feeling a bit better about how the night was unfolding. Although her arrival had tossed a wrench in my plans, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“Mother. There are things I don’t want him to know,” Max said.
“It sounds like he knows plenty about you, Maxine,” Ruth replied. “Stop wasting time and tell me why you said I don’t like white people.”
“It’s complicated, Mama.” Her hands unfurled and she reached up, scrubbing her fingers across her face. “I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to like him.”
“You used me as an excuse. Why?”
“Because, Mama. I don’t deserve him.” She peered up at me through her fingers. “It’s not fair.”