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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
Suzy waddled in first, looking like she was ready to burst. I hadn’t known that the human body could expand that much and not explode. She still had some time left before the baby was due, but I didn’t know how she could possibly grow more.
Joe rushed to her side, grabbing her by the arm as she stopped in the middle of the living room.
“I swear I’ve turned into a walking whale,” Suzy whined as she rubbed her stomach. “I can’t do this anymore.”
“Sugar, you can do this. You look more beautiful than ever before.” Joe kissed her on the forehead as he cradled her face.
I silently gagged. Suzy was stunning, but not more beautiful than she had been before the alien had started growing inside her. That statement could only come from a man who clearly loved his wife. Or maybe he liked his balls and had decided to give her a compliment to make his life simpler. Whatever his reason was, Suzy’s face changed as he kissed her.
“Joe and Suzy, this is Max,” I said, breaking up their moment.
They both turned as smiles crept across their faces. “Max,” they both whispered, and glanced at each other.
“What?” I asked, confused by their response.
“Oh, nothing,” Suzy sang, and shook her head.
“We thought Max was a dude. We made a bet,” Joe added with a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Oh, go fuck yourself,” I hissed. “You knew Max is a woman.
“I just like to see you get your panties in a wad.” Joe placed his hand on his chest and laughed.
“Nice to meet you, Max,” Suzy said as she nodded toward Max. Then she smiled at me. “Still love me?”
“I don’t have another choice, Suz. I’m stuck with your ass for the rest of my life,” I replied as I kissed her cheek. It was almost acrobatic with her belly, but thankfully, Suzy was so short, it wasn’t an issue.
“You are.” She smiled at me and then looked Max over. “Wow. Your outfit is beautiful.” Suzy touched her own dress, which wasn’t as feminine as she typical wore, but it was of the “about to explode and can’t fit into any other clothes” variety.
“Yo!” Mike said as he and Mia walked into the room.
For a moment, I thought the gang was complete, but then I remembered that Thomas and Angel weren’t here yet. We’d been without him for so long that it was still weird and hard to get used to. It was a happy weird, though.
“Max, this is Mike, my brother, and his girlfriend, Mia,” I said, motioning toward Mike and Mia. “She’s a doctor,” I added for no particular reason, but it had felt necessary.
She glanced up at me and then looked over at Mike and Mia. “Hi,” she responded with a gracious smile.
“Max,” Mike said, reaching out and pulling Max into a bear hug.
Her body looked tiny and fragile in his arms as her feet came off the ground. “Mike,” Max squeaked out as her arms tried to grab on to his body.
As he set her on the ground, he peered over at me. “Good job, bro.”
Mia smacked him on the shoulder. “Put the poor woman down, Mike. You’re probably crushing her ribs.”
“Sorry,” Mike said.
Max shook her head and waved her arms. “I see that this family doesn’t know how to grow a small man.”
“Nope,” Mia replied. “They’re all big. Don’t let their size scare you, though. They’re all sweet as pie.”
“So only I get the asshole Gallo?” Max asked as she giggled.
Her statement caused laughter to break out in the room.
“I’ll embrace my assholiness, but I’m a changed man.” I wasn’t embarrassed by their statement or by my past. It was who I was, and I still loved myself.
As Joe sat down, he chimed in, “He acts like an asshole, but he’s just as much of a pushover as the rest of us.”
I even had them fooled. For my family, I’d give my life, and I treated each of them with respect at times. The other people roaming the earth had to earn my respect. Women, on the other hand, I often had treated like I was a complete asshole. Most of them loved it. When women say they want to settle down with a nice guy and live in a house with a picket fence, it’s all a crock of bullshit.
I hadn’t wanted to settle down—not until I’d met Max. That was why I’d perfected my asshole persona. I’d give the women what they wanted for a night but didn’t want them coming back for more.
“I’m learning that fact, Joe,” Max said as she squeezed my waist.
“Let me go get dinner finished. Who wants to help?” Ma asked as she stood from her chair. She’d been silently watching everyone and sipping her Pepsi.
“I can,” Suzy said as she tried to get up from the couch, but she fell backward.
“You rest, Suzy dear. You’re going to need all the strength you have soon enough. Izzy and Mia will help me.”
“Great,” Izzy mumbled. “What about Max?” she asked as she glanced over at her.
“She looks too pretty to ruin her outfit,” Ma told Izzy.
“I’d love to help if you have an apron,” Max answered.
“I have an apron for you, love. We’d love for you to help.” Ma walked next to me, sliding her arm through Max’s and locking them together.
Just as my ass hit the couch, Thomas and Angel walked in. “Sorry we’re late. We got caught up doing something.”