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  • Without Me(Men of Inked #7)(54) by Chelle Bliss
  • “Did you get tested?”

    He nodded and released my hand. “Yeah. About a year ago.”

    “And?”

    He moved to the side. “Come on in.”

    As I walked into the house, he told me what he found out.

    “I was negative. The test isn’t one hundred percent accurate, though. There are forms of ataxia that don’t show up through genetic testing. They said even though I was negative, there was a chance I could still develop it later in life. It’s going to depend on what my sister’s results are.”

    “What do you mean?” There was a chance that Max’s results could be negative too. Maybe she was just like her brother.

    “It’s like this, Anthony. If my sister tests positive, then my father had a type that’s testable. If she’s positive, then I’ll always be negative. If she’s negative, we can both still get it later because it’s one of the types that they don’t have a test for yet. Know what I mean?”

    “Yeah, I think,” I lied. I didn’t want to seem like an idiot.

    “I’ll explain later after we have a beer.” He smiled at me and slapped me on the back. “Let’s get outside. They’re all waiting to see you.”

    When we had been talking, I’d forgotten about everyone else, but as soon as he reminded me, I began to sweat.

    “Right,” I mumbled, and tucked my hands in my pockets.

    “They aren’t that bad.”

    “Who’s this, baby?” a beautiful redhead asked as she slid her arm around Denzel.

    “This here is Max’s man, Anthony.”

    Her eyes raked over me, moving slowly from my feet to my face. “Hey,” she said as a smile spread across her face. “It’s nice to have a new face around here. You can be the new focus of the Washington family and take some of the heat off me.”

    “Heat?” I tilted my head, hoping I’d heard her wrong.

    “Yeah.” She giggled. “You’ll see. They’re good people. Don’t ever think otherwise. I’m Brenda, by the way.” She held out her hand and grinned.

    “Nice to meet you, I think,” I said as I placed a kiss on the top of her hand.

    “That’s enough touching my woman. You have one of your own. Let’s go meet the family,” Denzel said as he pushed down Brenda’s arm as it hung in the air.

    “Who’s here?” I asked as I followed them through the house.

    The smell was amazing and different than my parents’ house. I could smell the South. Butter, bacon, cheese, and so many other great things that I craved when I went to dinner. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Italian food, but sometimes, I needed something other than Ma’s homemade sauce.

    “Everyone is here. Aunts, uncles, cousins all came to meet the man who’s dating Max. Nita and Malia are around here somewhere too.”

    “Is it that unusual?” I asked as we rounded the corner to the living room. Through the sliding glass doors, I could see more than a dozen people standing in the backyard.

    “She hasn’t dated anyone in a long time. So, yeah, it is.” He didn’t give me any more time to collect myself before he opened the sliding glass doors. “He’s here!” he announced as all the eyes in the backyard focused on me.

    I needed to play it cool. “Hey!” I said, pulling a hand from my pocket and waving.

    “Anthony,” Ruth said as she walked toward me. “It’s good to see you fully clothed this time.”

    My face turned red. I really hated that she’d met me under those circumstances, but at least she could chuckle about it.

    “It’s good to see you too, Mrs. Washington.”

    “Ruth, please.” She hugged me, running her hands down my back.

    I felt a little molested.

    Max was giggling behind her as she watched my face. “Mama, let him go,” she said as she pulled her mother off me.

    “It’s just nice to feel a man in my arms again, Max.”

    Her statement made me sad. She’d lost her husband and had to be lonely.

    “You can hug me any time, Ruth,” I said before giving her a wink.

    “Now, who do we have here?” an old man asked as he approached. He was hunched over and walking with a cane. Even though it was warm out, warm enough that I wished I’d worn shorts instead of jeans, he had on a flannel and pants that were pulled up way too high above his waist.

    Ruth turned and smacked him on the arm. “It’s Anthony, Earl. I told you about him.”

    “Who?” he asked as he came closer and squinted.

    “Get those damn glasses fixed. It’s Anthony!” she yelled in his ear.

    “I’m not deaf, woman. I’m blind. Why are you yelling at me?”

    “You ol’ coot. I told you Max’s boyfriend was coming over.” She looked at me with a weak smile.

    “But this here is a white man,” Earl said as he looked me up and down.

    “Not so blind now, are ya?” Ruth asked before she snorted.

    “Does it matter, Uncle Earl?” Max asked as she walked next to me and hooked her arm with mine.

    He shook his head as his brow furrowed. “Suppose it doesn’t, Max.”

    “Good answer,” Ruth said.

    “Son, I’m not racist. No one told me you were white.”

    I felt a bit uneasy, but I chalked it up to his age. “It’s okay, sir.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire