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  • Home > Chelle Bliss > Men of Inked > Without Me (Page 19)     
  • Without Me(Men of Inked #7)(19) by Chelle Bliss
  • “I have shit to do. In fact, I need to clear my entire schedule next weekend.” I looked out the corners of my eyes and saw everyone staring in my direction. “I have a gig out of town.”

    Why in the hell had I said that? Not only had I not been honest about meeting someone, now I had to stay out of sight for a weekend. I’d have to stay far away and pray that my family decided not to attend Festa Italiana. What was the likelihood I’d see them there anyway?

    “You do? Where?”

    Izzy knew me best. I shared everything with her. But I couldn’t tell her about Max. I’d hold on to that information like it was the secret to the universe.

    “Vegas.” It was the first city that popped in my head.

    “Can I come, bro?” Mike asked, causing me to glance at him. “I fuckin’ love that city. I could be your roadie or some shit.” He smiled, giving me a hopeful look.

    “Nope. There’s no room. We’re booked up and bunking together. Sorry, man.”

    “I can get my own room. I just want to get away and hang out with you for a while.”

    He never went anywhere with me. Not since Mia, his lovely, sexy doctor girlfriend, had entered the picture. The one time I’d lied through my teeth, he was willing to hop on a plane and have a brothers’ weekend.

    “We could have a brothers-only weekend,” Joe chimed in, clapping his hands. “The girls can get a break from us and we can blow off some steam.”

    “No!” I yelled.

    The tone of my voice made Pop turn and give me a funny look.

    “Sorry, Pop. I can’t next weekend, guys. I already have plans. Maybe we can all hit Vegas next time.” I grinned, praying that they’d drop the idea of joining me in Vegas. I knew I should’ve said Branson or some sleepy town no one would want to go to, but my big, fat mouth had dug a hole.

    “It’s cool, Anth. If you didn’t want us to come, you just needed to say so. No need to get your panties in a bunch,” Mike said as he squared his shoulders.

    I hung my head and exhaled. My patience was very low today. I’d never been described as a patient person, but with all the shit with Max, I was dangling by a thread.

    “I thought I did say no…repeatedly,” I deadpanned, lifting my head. “My weekend is packed. Otherwise, I’d say yes. I’ll be back by Sunday.”

    “What the fuck? Are you just going for two nights?” Izzy asked as she gave me the “you’re full of shit” look I’d grown accustomed to over the years.

    “Yes,” I replied without blinking.

    She still had her arms crossed, one shoulder slumped. Yep, she knew I was lying. I could read her as well as she could read me. Even though we had the biggest age difference, there was something about Izzy and me that just clicked. Since we were best friends, she was going to be pissed off that I hadn’t told her about Max.

    “I’ll be back before Ma has the food on the table next Sunday.” I grabbed my phone and went back to my Facebook search, but kept an eye on Izzy.

    “How convenient,” she said quietly, but loud enough for me to hear.

    “Shut it, Iz,” I snapped. Not my shining moment. There would be hell to pay for being snippy with her.

    She turned as James began to snicker, giving him her full attention. “Jimmy, did I even invite you here?” she hissed.

    He slid his arm behind her back and pulled her toward him. “You know you did. Put the claws away, love. Your brother is old enough to do what he wants. Stop being so damn nosy.” He grinned at Izzy, stroking her stomach underneath her shirt.

    “This is family business.” She pouted but didn’t say anything more.

    “How about the weekend after? I think more people would come if we made it an all-day event,” Joe said.

    “Yeah, whatever,” I replied, too busy trying to find Max.

    “Anyone have plans that weekend?”

    “Nope. Sounds good, Joe,” Mike replied as he pushed off the couch. “I’m so damn hungry. I’m going to check on Ma.”

    “Izzy?” Joe asked.

    “Yep. It’s good.” I peeked over my phone to see if she was still giving me the stink eye or if she had already forgotten it.

    I caught her glaring at me. Nope. She hadn’t forgotten. There was something about Italian women. I swear to God, they had a filing system in their head. There wasn’t a thing they forgot. Especially when it was a fuck-up. Izzy didn’t forget easily, and I was in her crosshairs.

    “Dinner!” Mike yelled from the kitchen just as I got to King Corona, the place where I met Nita and Malia.

    “Fuck,” I muttered before I turned my phone off.

    Ma was known for flipping her shit if we used any type of electronic device at the table. Sometimes I’d get away with it, but it depended on her mood. As I walked into the dining room, I tucked my phone in my pocket.

    Before I could sit, Izzy grabbed my shirtsleeve. “I’m not stupid, Anth. You have some shit to tell me later. Got me?” She glared at me as she fisted my shirt.

    Looking down at her hand, I said, “I’ll tell you tomorrow before work.” I was trying to give myself a sliver of peace for the rest of the day.

    “Fine,” she snapped, releasing my shirt and sitting in the chair James had pulled out for her.

    When he pushed in her chair, he looked at me and shrugged. I shook my head and rolled my eyes as I sat down. I noticed that everyone sat in pairs except for me. I was alone. The way I’d always wanted it to be. But for some reason, it bothered me today.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire