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|Without Me(Men of Inked #7) by Chelle Bliss|
All the warm, gushy feelings I already had amplified. “Max, you’re the one who saved me.”
“I was such a pissed-off person. You don’t even understand how angry I was about everything in my life. When I found you, I felt even more upset. I cursed God for letting me find you when I knew it wasn’t right for me to have you. I could have dealt with being alone when there wasn’t someone out there for me.”
“I didn’t know what love was until I met you. You drove me crazy, but I knew there was something I couldn’t let go. The moment I kissed your lips, I knew life would never be the same.”
“We did it, huh?” she said, resting her hand on my ass.
“I plan to do it a lot tonight. I mean a lot. If you’re not knocked up by the end of the honeymoon, I’m tying your ass to the bed until you have my seed growing inside you.”
“I was talking about being husband and wife.” She shrieked as she pinched my ass.
“I know.” I kissed the top of her hair.
“Do not mess up my hair, Anthony Gallo.”
“Shhh,” I whispered. “You look beautiful, Maxine Gallo. I meant what I said, too, about the tying you to the bed.”
“It sounds like the perfect way to spend a honeymoon,” she replied, groping my ass cheeks in her hands.
“You guys ready?” my ma asked as she knocked on the door and stood in the doorway.
“Yeah, Ma. I think we are.”
“Yes, Mrs. Gallo. We’re ready.”
“Ma.” Max smiled brightly as she released my ass from her grip.
“I’ll tell the band to make the announcement for your first dance.”
“Okay,” I said as she grinned at us and walked away.
“What song did you pick?” Max asked me as she smoothed out her dress.
“I’m not telling. It’s a surprise.”
It was the only thing I’d asked to plan for the entire wedding. I had wanted to be in charge of the music. I’d needed the song to be special, and I’d found the perfect one for us.
“Am I going to cry?” she asked, checking her makeup in the mirror over my parents’ dresser.
“Maybe.” I smiled and shrugged.
“Damn it, Anthony. I don’t want to mess up my face.”
I gripped her from behind, staring at her reflection in the mirror. “You look amazing, Max. You couldn’t mess up that beautiful face with a few tears.”
“Thank God I wore waterproof mascara. It would be running down my face by now.” She glided a fresh coat of lipstick on and then smacked her lips together.
“Come on, Mrs. Gallo. I want to hold you in my arms and dance with you tonight.”
She smiled, setting the lipstick on the dresser, and turned in my arms. “I love you, Anthony.”
“I love you too, Max,” I whispered as I gently kissed her on the lips, trying to avoid leaving the room with a fresh coat on my lips too.
When we made our way to the dance floor, I took in the beauty of the backyard. Small lanterns were strung through the trees along with white, twinkling lights. Round white tables filled with the guests framed the makeshift wooden dance floor in the center. We hadn’t done assigned seating, hoping that the families would mingle.
Our families seemed to be getting along as they had drinks and chatted. Our mothers had formed a solid bond while planning the wedding. They had chatted daily on the phone and met for lunch once a week. It was something my mother hadn’t had the chance to do with the other women’s parents.
Even Denzel, Max’s brother and the man who had threatened to knock my teeth out, was part of the wedding party. He’d given me his blessing to marry his sister, and it had meant more to me than anything else in the world.
As the lead singer of the band announced us, we walked to the center of the dance floor. All eyes moved in our direction, and the chatter of the guests stopped.
The song I’d picked for our dance was to be played via recording. I wanted the original, not a version recreated by the band that had been hired to play for our reception.
As the music began, I moved my mouth next to her ear. I wanted to sing the words to her.
I could feel her breathing change as her chest moved with mine. Her heartbeat sped up and thundered so hard that I could feel the vibration in my torso.
I brushed my lips to her ear and began to sing along with the music—“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. It fit our relationship and the love we had for each other perfectly.
I sang softly as I moved with her in my arms.
“Oh, Anthony,” she whispered as she peered up at me with tears in her eyes.
I kissed her forehead, swaying with her in my grip. I kept singing and blocked everyone else out.
God, I loved this woman. I didn’t care what happened in our future. I was too lost in the here and now to worry about anything else. I wanted to enjoy every day we had together. I wanted to dance with her as long as I could and hold her in my arms.
Even if she was confined to a wheelchair, I’d carry her in my arms and dance with her. I’d never let her be alone.
“Anthony,” she cried as I sang the last lines of the song.
When the song ended, I kissed her on the lips, holding her face in my hands. Max had become my everything. I’d remember this night for the rest of my life.
I’d remember it as the day I married my soul mate.
The day I’d become a different man.