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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
“I only want one asshole, Anthony.”
“I’m your man, then, Kitty Cat.” I grinned, bringing her hand to my mouth and kissing the top.
“Anthony and Max,” Joe said from the doorway as he watched us. “You want to see Gigi?”
“Hell yes,” I said.
We followed Joe down the hallway past a set of windows behind which little babies slept peacefully in their small plastic beds. They looked so sweet and quiet, but I remembered how loud a baby actually was, since I’d lived through the infancy of my siblings. Izzy had screamed the loudest and most. We should’ve known then that she’d be nothing but trouble.
I held Max’s hand as we entered the room. Suzy had Gigi in her arms as she looked up at us and smiled.
“Ah, look who came to see you, Gigi. It’s your asshole uncle, Anthony.” Suzy giggled.
“Don’t mind her,” Joe said as he patted my shoulder. “She’s on some pain meds from the birth.”
I chuckled, liking the calmer side of Suzy.
“It’s cool, man.” I patted him on the stomach and walked toward Suzy. “Can I hold her?” I asked, holding out my arms as I stood at her bedside.
“Sure.” Suzy gently placed her in my arms.
I sat down on the edge and cradled her. She was so tiny—much smaller than I remembered my siblings being. Maybe it was because I was bigger that she seemed that much smaller.
Gigi was wrapped in a pink blanket with one hand sticking out. Her long fingers moved as if searching for something. Holding her tight to my chest, I stared at her and instantly fell in love. Her straight, dark hair was like Izzy had when she was born—full and wild.
I bounced her lightly and touched her hand with my finger. Her tiny digits clamped down on my finger with force.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” Joe asked as he stood next to Suzy on the other side of the bed.
“She is,” I agreed, and looked at Ma. “Look how perfect she is.” I stared down at Gigi and rubbed the back of her hand in the same motion I used when I wanted to reassure Max. “It’s amazing.”
“Look at you getting all mushy, Anthony,” Suzy said, but I didn’t bother to look at her.
“She’s a Gallo. I have a right to be mushy.”
“God, she’s gorgeous,” Max cooed as she touched her cheek.
Gigi turned and tried to latch on to Max’s finger as she stroked her cheek.
“You can hold her if you want, Max,” Joe said.
For a moment, I felt a pang of jealously. I didn’t want to let her go. I wasn’t ready to share her with anyone else, even Max.
When Max said, “I’d love to,” and held out her arms, I gently handed her over.
I’d have a lifetime to spoil the little girl. I could be the cool uncle who bought her the best toys and let her run wild. I wanted to be that guy. I didn’t want to be the self-consumed douchebag I had probably been months ago.
As I scanned the room, I realized how much love I’d always had in my life. Suzy and Joe gazed at each other. Their love shined brightly and seemed to grow over time. I’d always secretly envied them for the way they loved each other. I hadn’t thought I’d find someone who would make my heart skip a beat until I’d met Max.
“It’s a miracle,” Max whispered, brushing her lips to Gigi’s head and inhaling. “There’s nothing like the smell of a new baby.”
I smiled at her, feeling everything inside of me warm. I loved this woman. I wanted to make babies with her. I wanted to watch her blow up like a balloon like Suzy had and carry a piece of me inside her.
More importantly, I wanted a piece of us to live on long after we were gone. It was the only way to have us be remembered.
“You want one?” I asked Max with one eyebrow raised.
“It’s not that simple.”
“It is,” I said. “I think we should go home and get to work on that ASAP.” I clutched Max’s hips, trying to convey the sense of urgency.
“Anthony,” she said as she glanced down at me and pulled Gigi closer to her chest.
“Did you two hear the news?” I asked Suzy and Joe.
“No,” they replied at the same time.
“Max and I are getting married.”
“Oh. My. God!” Suzy yelled.
“Way to go, man.” Joe said as he hung over the bed and shook my hand. “You better marry her fast before she realizes what an asshole you really are.”
“Nah,” I said. “She loves when I’m an asshole. It’s how I plan to get her knocked up.”
Suzy and Joe cracked up.
“Let’s let them have some time with Gigi before the rest of the family comes in, Max.”
She nodded and gave Gigi a kiss on the cheek. I dipped down, kissing her too as I took one last chance to hold her hand.
“Night, little Gigi,” I whispered against her face.
She let out a small cry and turned her mouth toward me. Cool baby spit landed on my nose. I was done for, and there was no turning back. She’d given me her first kiss, and it would be forever seared in my brain.
“Are you tearing up?” Max asked as she started to hand Gigi back to Suzy.
“No!” I shot back as I tried to blink away the mist that had formed in my eyes. “It’s the air in here. It’s killing my contacts.”
“Um, I didn’t know you wore contacts,” Max said with her face all scrunched up like she knew I was full of shit.