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Worship me, p.10

Worship Me, page 10

 part  #7 of  Men of Inked Series

 

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  into the room to say good morning. “I’m only working a half day today, boys, so you’re going to be on your own this afternoon.”

  “We got this,” Bear told her with a chin lift and a flirtatious wink.

  “Does anyone need anything before I seal you inside?” she asked.

  She made it seem so ominous, as if we were being sequestered like the papal conclave at the Vatican when electing a new pope. We were only closing the door so potential clients who arrived early for their appointments didn’t overhear us.

  “We’re good, baby. Thanks,” Thomas said before he started to slide folders down the table for each of us to take.

  Angel closed the door and headed back to the front of the office to man the phones and keep us organized. It wasn’t an easy task either. Keeping seven of us in check had to be a pain in the ass, but she always had a smile on her face and never hassled us for being the assholes that I knew we were.

  “Let’s start with Matías. Where are we with him?” Thomas asked as we flipped through the extra-thick folders filled with assignments and details outlining the current status of the case and any headway that had been made.

  Ret spoke first. “I have feelers out to all my community contacts. I expect to hear something today. We should be able to move soon.”

  “Let us know as soon as you hear something,” I told him.

  “I will, boss.” He smiled.

  “Next order of business. What cases are we closing out this week?”

  “I have a hell of one that I can finally say is over. Cheating husband and shit got ugly.”

  Bear loved those cases. Anything that involved salacious acts, he’d call dibs on before anyone else could claim the cases. I didn’t know if it was the possibility he’d get a sneak peek into their bedroom antics or if it was catching someone red-handed that made him happier. Either way, he was up to his neck in cases like that, which left the best stuff for the rest of us.

  I loved working here. I loved the people Thomas and I had surrounded ourselves with. There wasn’t a better crew around to help solve cases, and some of them didn’t mind stepping over the line of legality to make shit happen…especially Bear.

  I was damn proud to call ALFA Private Investigations mine and the guys around this table my dysfunctional and slightly fucked-up family.

  Before the meeting ended, Ret’s phone started vibrating nonstop and dancing across the table. “I have to take this,” he said, excusing himself from the room.

  Ten minutes later, when everyone had gone back to their offices, Ret walked back into the conference room with a huge, shit-eating grin. “Found the fucker.”

  I rubbed my hands together, ready to go get his ass right now. “Where is he?”

  “He’s been frequenting a club in Jacksonville called Forbidden a few nights a week and has been there the last two weekends.”

  Thomas tapped his pen against the tabletop, leaning back in his chair and swiveling from side-to-side. “I can’t believe he’s still in Florida.”

  “He must not have heard about my trip to Taboo. When should we head out?”

  “Let’s get our ladies and head up there Friday. We may have to be gone a few days until he shows up. Is that okay, Thomas?”

  “Wait.” Thomas straightened, and his face grew serious. “You’re going to take Izzy again?”

  I shrugged. “Yeah. We need the ladies with us to maintain our cover.”

  He scrubbed his hand down his face, pinning me with his gaze. “I don’t like it.”

  “Have I ever let anything happen to her?”

  Fuck, I killed a man for her. Rebel deserved that bullet to the head for messing with my family and trying to hurt Izzy. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if it meant keeping her safe. His death should’ve weighed heavy on me. Taking a human life was supposed to be a life-altering thing, even if it wasn’t the first one I’d taken, but his death meant nothing to me. I felt no remorse or sadness when his light was extinguished.

  “I trust you. Just be careful. If there’s any sign of trouble, get the fuck out.”

  “I’ll be there with them, Thomas. Nothing will happen. I know the owner of the club, and we’ll be in good hands,” Ret stated, holding the back of the chair at the opposite end of the conference table, oozing with confidence.

  But if I was being completely honest, a man like Matías should never be underestimated. I knew how quickly shit could go south, and the last thing I’d ever do was put my wife in a situation she couldn’t handle.

  Izzy

  Trace ran down the hallway outside my bedroom, giggling as Grandma chased him. I sat blissfully relaxed in my bathtub, not worrying a second about the kids. Mrs. Caldo knew how to get the crew in check, but just like my ma, at times, she just let them run wild.

  Her being here the last forty-eight hours had been a godsend. My ma didn’t have any complications during her biopsy, and the doctor seemed fairly confident that it wouldn’t come back malignant, but we wouldn’t know for sure until the lab had studied the sample and given the all clear. Until then, I wouldn’t be able to fully relax, knowing there was a small chance that my mother had cancer.

  I didn’t have any early morning appointments at Inked, and I took the opportunity to pamper myself a little. It was a luxury I didn’t often have with three young boys running around the house and getting into Lord knows what while I closed myself away from it all.

  I had done it once, and Rocco ended up with a broken arm when he and Mello were playing tag on the staircase. I learned my lesson that day, after spending seven agonizing hours in the emergency room until they put a cast on him. They gave him pain meds to make him feel better, but I was the one who really needed a Xanax after the experience.

  I closed my eyes when Trace’s scream trailed off, and Mrs. Caldo’s footsteps on the staircase grew light. I could get used to this life. She cooked and cleaned, even though I begged her not to, and she made me wish that James would agree to hiring help around the house. He’d give me some song and dance about letting strangers into our home, but I swore the man just liked my cooking a little too much.

  That was my failure. I never should’ve let him know I could cook. I should’ve been like Suzy. The woman was basically barred from the kitchen unless Joe was feeling particularly daring and let her try her hand at a new recipe—which always ended up being an epic failure. I could’ve had a chef or we could’ve eaten out every night, but I had to ruin everything by showing him I had mad skills in the kitchen.

  My phone buzzed, but I ignored it. There was nothing that couldn’t wait while I relaxed, enjoying the last five minutes I had in the bathtub before I had to drag my ass into Inked to interview Kat.

  It buzzed again, and I groaned. I should’ve turned the vibrate feature off so nothing would interrupt me. I glanced at my phone and saw a text from my sister-in-law, who was still freaking out about the very possibility of Kat coming to work at Inked.

  Max: She’s too pretty.

  I rolled my eyes and slid down the back of the tub, almost putting my entire head underwater. What’s wrong with my sisters-in-law? Having another woman at Inked was a good thing. They were acting like every woman in the world wanted to steal their man. News flash…they were not that amazing.

  I should know.

  I’d spent more years of my life with my brothers than any of them had currently been in a couple. Joe, although I adored him, was broody and bossy as fuck. Mike was a goofball with a huge heart, but he was too much into his body and how veiny he could be for my liking. Then there was Anthony. My favorite and the biggest asshole of them all. I think I loved him most because he was usually too busy with his own shit to get on my ass about little things like the other guys. Thomas…well, he was older and had been basically MIA with the DEA since I was a kid. He and I weren’t as close, but he never once told me what to do. He knew I wouldn’t listen anyway.

  I dried off my hands, taking my time, as another message came rolling in, but this time,
it wasn’t Max.

  Suzy: Good luck today. I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.

  Ah. That was classic Suzy. She was being passive-aggressive, and I was sure she’d chosen those words very carefully before sending them. Before Mia could send a separate message, I hurried and sent out a group text.

  Me: Relax, bitches. I’ll make sure she’s a lesbian.

  I snorted a little because I couldn’t and wouldn’t ask her sexual orientation, but I was sure it would make my girls feel better thinking I would.

  Max: A pussy licker sounds perfect.

  Mia: We trust you.

  Suzy: I don’t care about that.

  Suzy lied, and I was sure everyone in on the text knew it.

  Me: Max, maybe you need to give Anthony anal and you’ll feel better.

  A text came in only seconds later.

  Max: Fuck you, Iz. It’ll make him feel better, but he ain’t getting near my ass.

  Suzy: You’re missing out ;)

  Mia: Bahaha. SMDH. Poor guy.

  Max: You give up the ass, Mia?

  Mia: I don’t kiss and tell.

  Suzy: I thought we all did.

  Me: Suzy’s a hoe.

  The texts were flying fast and furious now.

  Suzy: Takes one to know one.

  Me: Peace out. I’ll update you later. She could be a complete asshole.

  Mia: Anthony could use her, then.

  Max: Fuck off, Mia.

  Mia: ;)

  I closed the window and placed my phone on the counter before I dried off and tried to get motivated. Maybe taking a bath hadn’t been the best idea. I was too relaxed and ready for a nap, not work.

  By the time I kissed the boys goodbye and left them with James’s parents, I was already running late. I drove a little too fast in my souped-up minivan, if there was such a thing, and made it to Inked five minutes faster than usual.

  “I’m here,” I announced as I walked through the front door of the shop.

  Sitting in the waiting room was Kat West. She could be a pinup for Inked Magazine without a doubt. She was drop-dead gorgeous with pastel pink hair, a recent change, based on her Instagram profile. When she rose to her feet and towered over me with her long legs that seemed to go on for miles, I knew the girls would hate her.

  “I’m Kat.” She smiled and held out her hand to me, and I shook it a little too manlike after being around my brothers for so long.

  The girl had a smoking hot body. Big tits, long, thick legs, and totally curvy hot and our clients would go gaga over her.

  “Izzy Caldo, one of the owners of Inked.”

  “I love your work,” she said.

  “Thank you.” I couldn’t help but smile. Hearing from another artist that they loved my work was the biggest compliment there was. “Your work is amazing too. I was quite impressed with your portfolio.”

  “Thank you.” She blushed, batting her superlong fake eyelashes and biting down on her bottom lip.

  Lord. She had all the right moves to keep the customers coming back for more. There wasn’t anything about this woman that didn’t scream sex. I’d have to lie my ass off to my sisters-in-law and assure them that she only licked pussy and totally batted for the other team before they chased her away.

  “Come on back and meet the guys, and when they’re done, we’ll start the interview.”

  Much to my shock, when we walked into the back room, everyone was cleaning their stations and just about ready to start. All eyes in the room turned toward us, and all movement stopped.

  I wondered what they thought of Kat and if they felt the sex-kitten ooze off her like I did.

  “That’s Joe, Mike, and Anthony.” I pointed to each one of them, pausing between their names so they could acknowledge her.

  “It’s a pleasure to meet y’all,” she said in her best Southern twang.

  “We’re happy to have you interview with us, Kat,” Joe said as he walked toward her to shake her hand.

  “Max is going to kill me,” Anthony whispered in my ear as Joe and Kat spoke to each other.

  “I have a plan.”

  “It better be good.”

  “Well…” I trailed off as I rubbed my cheek and sighed. “I wouldn’t say it’s good, but it buys us some time.”

  “She’s way too beautiful for Max to be okay with this.”

  If James were hiring her to work at ALFA, I’d probably worry for about three seconds until he spanked my ass pink and reminded me that he owned me and me alone. I’d never once worried he’d stray, and the same went for him not worrying about me. I was completely satisfied and happy, but I wondered if my brothers could say the same about their relationships after so much angst about another female being in close proximity on a daily basis.

  “Maybe you need to man up and remind your wife how much you want her.”

  “How? I already spoil her rotten.”

  “Figure it out, old man, but the woman is seriously having trust issues with us hiring a girl.”

  “I know,” he groaned.

  Two hours later, Kat was hired.

  When she finally walked out the door, Anthony turned to me. “What’s the plan for our ladies? They aren’t going to like her at all.”

  “Well.” I glanced up at the ceiling and relaxed back into my chair, turning it from side to side. “We’re going to tell them that she’s a lesbian.”

  Mike started to choke and slapped his chest while clearing his throat. “Is she?”

  “Fuck if I know, but it sounds good.” I shrugged.

  “Suzy doesn’t care. I don’t need to lie to her.” Joe seemed so sure of himself, but that meant Suzy hadn’t been expressing herself like she did to the rest of us.

  “Listen up. I spoke to all your wives, and they’re all uneasy about Kat. I don’t know what’s going on at home, but you boys better step up and start being the men your women need.”

  “What more can we do?” Mike asked, clueless and cute.

  “Anthony.” I looked in his direction, waiting for him to look up from his fucking screen. “Put the goddamn phone down at home and make sure you pay more attention to Max. Joe, wine and dine your woman, you know she loves to be pampered. And Mike…” I stared at him for a minute, wondering what pearls of wisdom I could give him. “Maybe stop kissing your biceps as much and start kissing on her more.”

  “Izzy.” Mike put his hands on his hips and glared at me. “I love Mia more than anything. I quit fighting for her. Don’t you think I treat her like a queen at home?”

  “I’m sure you all do. But right now, with Kat just starting, you need to be extra lovey-dovey. Shower your woman with so much love that it leaves little doubt about where her husband’s heart lies.”

  “Got it,” Joe said with a quick nod. “I won’t let her out of bed all weekend.”

  I held my hand up and closed my eyes. “I don’t need details. Just take care of your shit, and remember Kat’s a lesbian.”

  Anthony shook his head and laughed. “This should be interesting.”

  “Anthony, I think your life depends on it, buddy. Max can be downright scary sometimes.”

  “I’ll handle her.”

  That statement earned a laugh from everyone in the room. The only person who handled Max was Max. Anthony could try to sell that lie, but we all knew the truth. The woman had mighty big balls, and I totally girl-crushed on her for it.

  The next few weeks at Inked were going to be real interesting. I wouldn’t let my sisters-in-law derail my plans for getting a little more tit power in the shop. I was sick of being the only female and done with having to deal with my brothers alone. In the end, they’d see the wisdom of my ways.

  This weekend, we were heading to Jacksonville to hunt down Matías, and hopefully, all hell won’t break loose without me around to handle it. But more than likely, I’ll return to a shitshow, knowing my brothers. They’d never been good liars, and I’d never ordinarily ask them to lie to their wives, but I knew it was in everyone’s be
st interest if they followed the program and labeled Kat West our in-house lesbian.

  James

  Ret and I carried the bags in from the cars as the girls settled into the hotel rooms. The sun had just disappeared behind the Jacksonville skyline, casting shadows in the parking lot and giving us some relief from the heat.

  “Women pack way too much shit,” Ret said, hoisting Alese’s duffle bag higher over his shoulder to free his hands for her other two suitcases.

  Izzy wasn’t a lightweight when it came to packing either. This time, she helped me pick out her outfits because she said she wasn’t sexy enough last time. She’d spent a few hours researching Forbidden and found it to be a trendier club than the old shit-in-the-wall Taboo. She wanted to look every bit the part of a pampered submissive.

  “Shit never changes as they age either.”

  We should’ve grabbed a cart with the amount of luggage we’d packed, but it gave us a few minutes alone to talk about our plan of attack tomorrow at the club.

  “We have to meet Connor at noon to learn the layout of Forbidden. I don’t want there to be an inch of the club you’re not familiar with when we’re there with the ladies. Matías is too dangerous for us not to be prepared.”

  We strutted through the lobby, looking like every other man in the place, heading to our rooms, shouldering the brunt of the work.

  I jabbed at the elevator button with my elbow, not willing to put anything down because it wasn’t easy to balance everything to begin with. “Agreed. We’ll do a late breakfast and take the women with us. It’s important that they’re filled in because I’m sure they’re already nervous.”

  Luckily, our rooms were near the elevator, and we didn’t have far to travel when we made it to our floor. “Meet downstairs for dinner in ten?” I asked before kicking open the hotel room door that Izzy left ajar even though I told her never to do that.

  “We’ll be ready,” Ret said before his door opened.

  Alese stepped into the hallway and plucked the smallest bag from his hands. “Let me help you.”

  Ret looked at me and shook his head. The last two feet wasn’t the time we needed help, but at least she offered. Izzy was nowhere to be found, which meant she was probably talking on the phone, checking on the boys.

  I dropped the bags as soon as I made it through the door, and Izzy turned around, giving me her signature glower. I jumped on the bed, trying to lighten the mood and wanting to relax for ten minutes.

  Izzy walked out on the balcony, resting against the railing as she chatted on the phone. Based on the way her arm was flailing about, it was a heated conversation too.

  “Fuckin’ Mike,” she said, walking back into the room.

  “What happened?”

  “He told Mia that Kat wasn’t a lesbian.”

  “Um,” I mumbled because clearly, I was missing an entire piece of the conversation. “And that’s a problem, why?”

  She sat down next to me and started to stroke my leg. “The girls are mad we hired a woman, so I told the guys to lie.”

  “A little higher.” I winked, wishing we had time for a quickie before we headed to dinner.

  She slapped my leg and shook her head. “I’m sure I’ll be walking funny by the
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