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  • Without Me(Men of Inked #7)(73) by Chelle Bliss
  • “What?” I asked as I sank back into the couch and watched Tamara while she tried to push the giant sliding glass door open.

    “How much our lives have changed in five years.”

    “Yeah,” I said as I kicked my feet up on the coffee table after Izzy slid the door open for Tamara. “Everything has changed, but in the best way possible.”

    “I can’t believe Izzy is having twins. God has a sense of humor.” Joe slapped me on the leg. “She’ll get hers.”

    “The fact that she’s having boys is the best thing ever.”

    “It’s her curse for always bitching about us.”

    I nodded with a laugh. “It is. It’s going to be interesting to see how she deals with them.”

    “James is going to have his hands full.”

    “He already does.”

    “I what?” James asked as he walked into the room with a cup of coffee.

    “Have your hands full with our sister.”

    “Ugh,” he whined as he sat down. “She’s a beast.”

    “They all are,” Joe said.

    “I don’t know how much longer I can take the pregnancy deal. She’s so damn demanding.”

    “That’s Izzy.”

    “Dude, it’s so much fucking worse. Oh, and while you’re all laughing at me, ever think God is cursing you two because he gave ya girls?”

    Joe and I looked at each other and grimaced. We’d pay penance for all the havoc we wreaked on womankind. Hopefully the baby inside Max was a boy. I didn’t know how I could deal with two girls. I needed a boy to even things out.

    Just then, Lily ran into the room screaming and headed straight for Mike.

    “Lily,” he called out as he held out his arms. “What’s wrong?” He searched her face and wiped away a tear.

    “Daddy, Tommy.” She pointed toward the kitchen.

    “What did Uncle Tommy do now?” Mike asked as Thomas walked into the living room.

    “I was just having fun with the kids. Chasing them, but I snuck up on her and scared her.” He grimaced.

    “Lily, it’s just Uncle Tommy. He won’t ever hurt you.” Mike stroked her blond hair, holding her head to his chest. “You’ll be okay, sweetheart.”

    “Sorry, Lily,” Thomas said as he kneeled down in front of her and Mike. “I won’t do it again.”

    “Okay.” She sniffled, wiping her nose with the back of her hand.

    “Soon, you can scare your own kid,” Mike said as he kissed the top of Lily’s head.

    “He’s barely walking. I don’t think I’ll be able to scare Nick for a while.”

    “He’ll be running before you know it,” I replied as I thought about how rapidly time had passed.

    Five years ago, I was alone and not looking for love. Today, I had a beautiful wife, an amazing daughter, and a baby on the way. Everything about the family had changed. We were all parents, or about to be. It was no longer about us, but about our kids.

    Ma was beyond ecstatic. She had become the official babysitter, begging for us to drop off the kids and go out for a night. She spoiled the kids, but then again, we all did. The Gallo kids would grow up not wanting for anything. They’d probably be monsters by the time they were teenagers.

    Life couldn’t get any better than it was right now. I was thankful to have a beautiful daughter, a loving wife, and an amazing family. The house had been bursting at the seams every Sunday since the kids started to arrive. They’d be close cousins and probably give us heart attacks as they grew. I hoped to God that Tamara would be a calm child and a recluse as a teenager. The thought of her having a boyfriend someday made me break out into a cold sweat.

    I tried to enjoy the little moments in life, savoring the small things, such as tiny kisses from my daughter, the way she laughed with Max when they played on the floor during the day, and holding my wife in my arms. I’d worry about the future when it arrived, but for now, I’d bask in the happiness that surrounded me.

    It is bittersweet to type “The End”. There will be more Gallos to come. I’ve fallen in love with them and I can never say goodbye. They may pop up in other series too. Also, I will continue to write novellas as long as readers want to read about them. Thank you for your kindness, support, and love of the Gallo family.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire