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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
“So, it’s genetic?” Pop asked. Even though he looked impartial, I knew he fed off my mother’s emotion.
My parents were major donors at Mia’s clinic. They’d always loved to help the community, especially when it pertained to health.
“It can be. Not all types of ataxia are genetic. Even when it is, the person only has a fifty percent chance of having the defective gene,” Mia answered, giving me a weak smile. “Has she been tested?”
I chewed the inside of my mouth. “I honestly don’t know, Mia.” I tried to recall our conversations about ataxia and if she’d said that she had been or not, but I was drawing a blank.
“If she hasn’t, she needs to be. There’s a fifty percent chance she doesn’t have the gene that causes ataxia.”
“Well, shit,” I whispered as I grabbed my phone.
“Does it only affect adults?” Joe asked.
Mia continued to answer questions about the condition as I texted Max, needing to find out if she’d been tested.
Max: Hey yourself.
Me: Question for you.
Me: Have you been tested to see if you have the gene?
I tapped my foot, feeling nervous as I waited for her answer. I tried to focus on Mia as she spoke, but my attention kept reverting to my phone. She didn’t answer immediately, and the waiting was killing me.
Finally, she replied.
At that point, I stared at the phone, totally confused. With the way she’d had her fate figured out and she was all doom and gloom, I would’ve bet money on the fact that she had been tested.
Me: Why not? Maybe you don’t have it.
Max: I know it’s in me.
I sat there dumbfounded and confused as hell. Mia had said that a person only had a fifty percent chance of carrying it. At the track or in Vegas, those aren’t great odds, but when dealing with sickness, there was a decent chance she didn’t have it.
Me: You need to be tested, Max.
Max: I don’t need to spend $5000 on a genetic test when I already know the answer.
I stared at my phone and wanted to rip my hair out. I held my head in my hand and rubbed my forehead. Her thinking was off. There was no price tag that could be placed on knowledge. It was a steep price to pay, but I’d gladly fork over the money for peace of mind. If I were in her shoes, I’d sell everything I owned to find out the truth.
Me: You only have a 25% chance of carrying the gene, Max.
Max: How about if I tell you that you have a 25% chance of living. Sound like good odds?
Me: Don’t be unreasonable. There’s a 75% chance that you’re going to have a long, healthy future.
Max: Meh. I have it. There is no doubt in my mind.
I took a laugh and sighed. Women were impossible creatures. They liked to say that men were hardheaded, but I’d never met a reasonable woman. Once they made their mind up about something, it would be easier to become President of the United States than to get them to change their mind.
Me: We aren’t done talking about this. I’ll be over later.
“What’s wrong, baby?” Ma asked across the table.
I looked up at her and blew out a puff of air. “Max has never been tested. She’s being a hardheaded woman like the rest of you and claims she doesn’t need a test to tell her what she already knows.”
Mia’s head jerked in my direction. “What? She’s never been tested? You need to get her to do it, Anthony.”
“I know, Mia,” I said. “That’s easier said than done.”
“I wonder why she’s so sure she has it.” Mia rubbed her chin as her eyes shifted.
“I don’t know. Who knows what a woman is thinking. Ever.” I rubbed my forehead as I felt a pressure start to build. I could feel the fight before it happened.
Max would throw a fit, but I wasn’t dropping the topic. She’d be tested and we’d know for sure what her future would be. If we were going to be a couple, there was no way in hell I’d let her “feeling” dictate our life.
Max had told me not to come.
I’d do everything in my power to get her to agree to take the test. It didn’t matter if it showed that she carried the gene. At least we’d know for certain. But if it cleared her of a fate like her father, it opened up a world of possibilities for both of us.
I was nervous as I walked up her sidewalk. I knocked on the door and could feel the sweat that had collected on my palms. My stomach flipped, both from excitement and fear. I was scared as hell of the fight that was about to happen. Max wouldn’t make it easy, but I’d spent my entire life dealing with Gallo women. They could teach a course on standing your ground and getting your way.
I knocked again. I could hear music inside, but it didn’t sound loud enough to muffle the sound of a knock.
“Max!” I yelled into the door. “I’m not leaving until you open the door!” I pounded on the door this time and then followed it with two rings of the doorbell. “Max! I’ll bust the door down if you don’t open the damn thing up.”
Just as I stopped, the door flew open. Max stood there in a pair of booty shorts and a black tank top. I wanted to reach out and rip her clothes off, but I was here for more important things.
“Don’t you get the hint?”
“Listen, woman. We’re going to have this talk.”
“There’s nothing to talk about, Anthony.”