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  • Throttle Me(Men of Inked #1)(70) by Chelle Bliss
  • “Suzy, love, Merry Christmas.” She enveloped me in a hug. City cleared his throat and she chuckled in my ear and ignored him. “I’m so glad you came.”

    “Thanks Mrs. G, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It smells amazing in here.”

    She held my shoulders and looked at me. “I made all the classic Italian Christmas dishes. Got to fatten you up, my dear.” She rubbed my shoulder and stopped on the bone that sat below the skin.

    “Not too much, Mrs. G, but I’ll have some of everything.”

    “I knew I loved you and yes, we do. Someday you’ll be carrying my grandbabies.” She smiled at me and made a face at Joey.

    He choked and wrapped his arm around her to pull her off of me. “Ma, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

    “Just looking toward the future, Joseph. I want little ones running around. I’m too old not to have at least one. Try and make me happy for next Christmas, will you?”

    “In time, Ma. Just give me a hug and we’ll talk about it another day.” He made eyes at me over her head and I knew he was embarrassed, but I thought his mom was cute. Her words scared the piss out of me, but it was something nice to think about. I wanted him all to myself as long as possible.

    “Come in and grab something to munch on before dinner’s ready. Joseph, go introduce her to everyone.”

    “Yes, Ma.” He wasn’t always the most patient man, but that changed when he was around his mom. The reverence that’s paid to a mom in an Italian family was something to watch. No one f**ked with her or went against her word.

    We walked around and Joey introduced me to the family members that flew from Chicago for a warmer holiday and the friends of the family. In my family, handshakes were the norm, but here hugs were expected. There was a warmth in the house and love could be felt in the chatter of the guests. I felt at home.

    “Suzy,” Izzy yelled above the crowd and I could see her hand waving in the air beckoning me to join her.

    “I’m going to go say hi to your sister. I’ll be back,” I said, as I reached up and kissed his cheek.

    He smiled at me with loving blue eyes. “I’ll join you in a minute,” he said before turning his attention back to the neighbor. They were discussing football and the possible Super Bowl teams. Boring didn’t even begin to describe how I felt about the topic.

    Izzy looked amazing like always. Her long flowing black hair framed her face perfectly. She had on a skintight dress that hugged her curves and showed off her beauty.

    “Hey Iz, it’s good to see you.”

    “Merry Christmas, Suzy. I’m so happy you made it. How’s my brother doing?”

    “They’re talking about football. Thank you for rescuing me.” We both laughed and looked over at the two men waving their hands as they spoke.

    “Boys and their sports. Did you guys exchange your gifts yet?” The look on her face told me that she knew what City had bought me and she couldn’t wait to get my take on the gift.

    “Not yet, do you know what it is?” I squinted at her. I never liked surprises and maybe I could get it out of her.

    “Oh, I know and my lips are sealed, babe. City would be pissed if I spoiled his surprise.”

    A surprise. That means it’s something big and not a frilly dress or casual gift like we’d agreed on. I had purchased clothes and a cross pendant for him, along with new leather riding gloves. He was impossible to buy for, but I threw in some ultra sexy lingerie that would have to wait until tonight.

    “I hate surprises,” I grumbled.

    “This one you won’t, trust me.” She smiled and giggled and my heart began to pound in my chest.

    We hadn’t discussed marriage and I don’t know what I’d do if he bought me a ring and asked me in front of his family. Breathe – You can do it.

    “Hey big brother, Merry Christmas.” She wrapped her arms around Joey and they whispered in each other’s ear.

    Clinking of glass caused everyone to turn toward the kitchen. His mother stood with her antlers shaking with each stroke of her hand. A hush descended over the crowd as she began to speak. “I want to thank everyone for coming today. It wouldn’t be Christmas without my family and friends. Dinner’s served – feel free to help yourself.”

    “Your mother is really is adorable,” I said to Joey as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder.

    “Yeah, she loves the holidays. Anytime she can get people to eat, she’s a happy woman. Hungry?”

    “I just ate a ton of appetizers, but I don’t want her upset so I’ll figure a way to eat more.”

    “Better get used to it, sugar. Food’s the name of the game in this house,” he said as we moved toward the kitchen.

    A line had already formed and he stroked my back as we waited to grab a plate. Every granite countertop in the expansive kitchen had a dish of some sort filled with food. The woman should’ve opened a restaurant with her culinary skills. Every type of pasta dish, Braciole, Chicken Parmesan, and meatballs were waiting to be consumed.

    We found an open space on the lanai and chatted with the table guests until we couldn’t eat anymore. I kept eyeing the bottles of wine on the table – Gallo Vineyard. Gallo was a common Italian name and I’m sure out of pride they chose this label above the rest. I could hardly move. If they celebrated every holiday with this much food, my waistline would be in serious jeopardy.

    The ladies cleaned the kitchen and I was told under no circumstances was I allowed to help. His mom wanted me enjoy myself since I was a guest while she and her sisters did the dirty work. I dozed off on Joey’s shoulder during the chit chat and screaming at the football game on the television, but was woken up for the next round of eating – dessert.

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