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Worship me, p.13

Worship Me, page 13

 part  #7 of  Men of Inked Series

 

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  “Mike probably doesn’t know what day it is,” I reminded her as I pointed at my head with a shitty smirk. “Listen, bitches. I don’t care if she sucks cock, eats pussy, or fucks a dog. She’s a damn good artist, and we’re lucky to have her at Inked.”

  Max scoffed and so did Mia, but Suzy nodded.

  “Maybe you should meet her before you condemn her to being a trollop who’ll steal your middle-aged husbands.”

  “Our men are hot as fuck,” Suzy said.

  I almost fell backward, toppling from my chair, at her words. I so loved dirty-mouthed Suzy, but she didn’t always make an appearance.

  “Bravo on the perfect use of the word, babe.” Mia reached across the table and gave Suzy a high five.

  “Well, it’s true.” Suzy looked pleased with herself.

  “Isn’t Inked’s birthday coming up?” Mia asked.

  “Yeah. Next week.” I’d totally forgotten about it. Typically, we had some sort of party to celebrate, but with everything going on, it was the last thing on my mind.

  “I’m planning a party, and we can all meet Kat together,” Max announced.

  “Fine.” I gave in. They weren’t going to let the whole Kat thing go until they met her for themselves and realized they were being ridiculous.

  “So, it is said. So, it shall be done,” Suzy said and finally relaxed back into her chair.

  “Where did all the kids go?” Mia asked after the entire troop ran inside.

  “Who knows? Just enjoy the moment of quiet.”

  I was talking about the girls more than the kids, but I wasn’t going to say it. My headache from drinking hadn’t waned, and being around my family and their loud voices didn’t do a damn thing to help.

  Suzy stuffed a huge bite of flan in her mouth and moaned. “This is amazing.”

  “Hmm.” The way I felt, flan would push me over the edge and have me running to the bathroom to hurl into the porcelain goddess. “Glad you like it.”

  “I need to get the recipe,” she said as she licked the spoon.

  “Suzy.” I rolled my eyes.

  “What?” Her forehead wrinkled as she frowned, glancing around the table as we all laughed.

  “Let’s be real, sweetie.”

  “Shut up, Izzy. I’m a better cook.”

  “Yes. Yes, you are. You no longer burn Ragu,” I snickered.

  Max tapped on her screen a few times. “Next Saturday night. I posted the party invite online already. It’s set.”

  “Well, we didn’t even run it by the guys.”

  “I always plan the party,” she said, and she did a bang-up job of it.

  Last year, the fire department showed up because we were over capacity. It was one of the biggest parties in our town, and people talked about it for weeks.

  “Got the tent too for overflow.”

  “Smart,” Mia said.

  I laid my head back, watching the overhead ceiling fan swirl in circles before I closed my eyes to enjoy the slight breeze. For spring, it was hotter than Hades on my parents’ lanai. With little wind, the humid air was more stagnant than usual.

  I couldn’t wait to get home to the air conditioning and put this day to an end. I wanted my boring life back, getting back to the grind at work and alone time with my husband and kids.

  Sometimes it was easy to forget it was the little things and the quiet times that meant the most. Adventure and danger didn’t interest me anymore. I was too old for that shit anyway. I was content with my life, and I decided I’d do everything in my power to keep it calm on the home front. We were at the point where we needed to spend more time together and less time working. Kat would make it happen for me, but what could I do to convince James to dial it back too?

  The third time the alarm went off, I rolled onto my back and groaned. “Do we have to get up already?”

  “I feel like all we do is work,” James said, moving to my side and sliding his hand over my stomach.

  I dug my fingers into his hair, twirling it between my fingertips. “I think we need to start taking time off. The kids are growing so fast, baby. We’re missing so much.”

  “It’ll be summer soon, and they’ll be off school.”

  “Maybe we can cut down to four days a week at work.”

  “Sure, doll. That’s not a problem. You have Kat starting, and maybe we can bring on some new guys at ALFA so I can cut back my hours.”

  I smiled down at him. “Thank you.”

  I couldn’t believe it was so easy to convince workaholic James to cut down. But maybe he felt like me…time was slipping away from us. In the end, we weren’t thankful for all the hours we worked. We were reminded of the moments we spent together, or we were filled with regret.

  He looked up. “For what?”

  “For agreeing.”

  “There’s nothing more important than you and the boys, Iz.”

  I let out a contented sigh and closed my eyes. “Just five more minutes,” I begged.

  The bed dipped, and James settled between my legs. “That’s all I need, baby.”

  I wrapped my arms around his neck and lifted my head to kiss him. “Imagine all the mornings we could do this,” I told him.

  “Then let’s quit.”

  “Don’t be silly,” I laughed. “Fuck me. You’re down to four.”

  “I only need three,” he said with a smirk.

  “That’s nothing to be proud of, sweetie.”

  He pushed inside of me, filling every inch of me. I moaned, resting my hands on his ass because I loved to feel it flex underneath my touch as he pumped into me. He gave me a solid minute of slow lovemaking before he pounded into me like a madman working against the clock.

  When we orgasmed and collapsed, he rolled onto his back and rested his hands on his chest. “Fuck, quickies aren’t as fun as they used to be.”

  I ran my fingers through the damp hair on his chest. “You’re getting old.” I chuckled.

  “Speak for yourself. Now you must pay,” he said, pulling me down and pinning me to the bed.

  “No, don’t,” I begged. “I can’t walk around all day all worked up. I’ll kill someone.”

  “No butt plug?” He pouted.

  “You ever want to be fucked again?”

  Like the smart man he was, James gave in and let me off the hook. Literally. I didn’t have to walk around all day with something shoved up my ass just so he could get his rocks off all day thinking about it. Sure, I loved a good punishment and the anticipation of him fucking me later, but today wasn’t the day. Especially not after the weekend we’d had.

  By the time I made it downstairs, James’s mother had the boys ready for school and standing at the door to kiss me goodbye.

  Trace had on his favorite Transformer shirt and denim shorts with a pair of matching high-top sneakers. Mello and Rocco had on whatever I left on their dressers. They were past the stage where they cared about how they looked and were too young to think about dressing nice for the girls.

  I knew the day was coming. The girls who would coo over them and chase them through the schoolyard, but thankfully, it was still a ways away.

  “Bye, Mama,” Rocco said, standing on his tiptoes to give me a kiss on the cheek.

  I ran my fingers through his buzz cut, loving the feel of it under my palm as he winced.

  “Ma,” he groaned.

  “Shush it,” I told him, doing it again because I fucking could.

  “You can touch my hair, Mama,” Mello said, pushing Rocco out of the way.

  My twin boys were so opposite of each other. They were both tough and growing like weeds. Soon, they’d be taller than me. But Mello was the gentler, kinder soul. He still loved to snuggle up to me on the couch and watch a movie. Whereas Rocco wanted his own chair like he owned the joint. He was more like his father in that way.

  I did the same thing to Mello’s hair as I did to Rocco’s, but Mello smiled. “Love you, Ma.”

  “Love you too, baby.” I kissed his soft cheek, inhal
ing his smell and wishing he still had that newborn scent.

  “Trace, be good today. No calls from the teacher this week, okay?”

  Trace smiled as his face turned red. “I promise.”

  The boy promised me the moon but rarely ever delivered. I basically was on a first-name basis with his teacher. She loved him to death and probably let him get away with more than she really should. Trace knew it too. But every once in a while, he pushed the envelope a little too hard, and she’d have to call me to reel him in.

  The last time I had a meeting with her, I learned Trace was caught tapping a little girl’s ass as he’d said, “Good girl.”

  I was mortified when I found out. I had to hear an entire spiel about hands and how that could be construed as a sexual act. They wanted him to attend a sexual harassment class, but I pitched a fit because he’s a fricking kid. He was too young to even realize what it meant, but I knew where he got it. The school overstepped its bounds, but obviously, I had failed as a parent. It didn’t help that he didn’t have any sisters to interact with so he was kind of clueless as to what was appropriate or not.

  After that, I told James to keep his hands off my ass and watch it with the sexy talk in front of Trace. Obviously, I didn’t want a repeat performance because James would be fielding that meeting, not me.

  “Let me grab my purse, and I’ll take you to school.”

  James’s mother came walking out of the kitchen with her purse already over her shoulder. “I’ll take them, dear. Sit and have a cup of coffee. You need to learn to relax a little more.”

  From her lips to God’s ears.

  “Thank you, Mama.”

  “Yay,” Rocco yelled and ran out the front door. “Shotgun.”

  “Darn it,” Mello grumbled and followed him.

  Trace looked at me and shrugged. “I like the back seat. I don’t understand the big deal.”

  “That’s good, baby.” I blew him a kiss. “Be good.”

  “You got it, doll.” He winked and ran out the front door.

  I stood there shocked. All I’d wanted was one girl. But, no. God had to punish me for being such an asshole most of my life. Instead, he gave me three boys who would probably be the death of me someday. If not that, they’d at least make me gray before my time.

  I didn’t even want to think about what was to come. Besides the girls, there were going to be parties, drinking, driving, and probably an arrest or two before they hit adulthood. I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to any of it.

  “We may be gone by the time you get home. We’re going back to Miami, but we’ll be back in about a month to check on the house.”

  I hugged Mama Caldo tightly. “Thank you,” I told her before kissing her face. “I couldn’t have gotten through the week without you.”

  “I loved spending time with you and the boys.”

  I knew she was including James along with the grandkids, and it made me smile. “They loved it too.”

  “Go have your coffee and give my son a kiss goodbye for me.”

  I waved as she walked down the driveway toward the car with the boys already fighting inside. “I will.”

  I closed the door, pressing my back against it. I took in the silence because I knew it was my last few moments of quiet before I headed to work and a very long day training a new girl in the way of Mike’s crazy.

  James

  I walked into the office just after eight and Angel had already set a cup of coffee in my office, but she was nowhere to be found. The hallways weren’t buzzing with activity, but I was too tired to even care.

  I collapsed in my chair, turned on my computer, and sipped the still warm coffee as I waited for the old piece of shit to start. The door to the conference room down the hall from me opened and closed before Thomas appeared in my doorway.

  “Feds are here.” He tipped his head. “They want to talk to both of us.”

  “Is it bad?” I asked as I stood from my chair, leaving my coffee behind.

  “They wouldn’t say. They wanted to talk about Matías.”

  I growled slightly as I followed Thomas to the conference room at the end of the hallway. We were only hired to find the man. After that was done, we should’ve been finished. Being at ALFA a little after eight in the morning on a Monday didn’t sit well with me.

  “We’re both here,” Thomas said as I walked in behind him and closed the door.

  I sat down across from a female agent in a pressed black pinstripe suit and looking nothing like the sexy ones in the movies. I still hadn’t found a single one who looked like Jennifer Garner or Angelina Jolie, but it didn’t stop me from hoping.

  “Thank you for joining us, Mr. Caldo.”

  “You showed up unannounced, and I own this company along with Mr. Gallo. You’re lucky I’m here at all.”

  I don’t know what it was about her statement, but it didn’t sound like she was giving me a compliment. I hated fuckers who acted like you owed them something just because they carried a badge.

  “What can we help you with?” Thomas asked, giving me the side-eye.

  “We wanted to fill you in on Matías and hand-deliver the reward.”

  “Is something wrong with Matías?”

  She shook her head and cracked a smile. “Amazingly, he’s spilling his guts.”

  I laughed. The fucker said he’d never talk. “Interesting.”

  “We found out he isn’t really the head of the operation. He’s only the face, and there’s someone more important that we need to catch.”

  “Need help?”

  They weren’t able to do what we did with Matías because they had to get warrants and wait for bureaucratic red tape; whereas we could follow a lead and use any means necessary to find the man.

  “We may. We’ll see how far we get with him in custody. Hopefully, he’ll give us everything we need to find the real culprit and put him behind bars.”

  “You’re not going to let him off, are you?” Thomas asked the first thing that popped into my mind as she finished speaking.

  “No. Matías will spend the rest of his life in prison. His cooperation will determine if he’s given a posh facility or goes to supermax.”

  He shouldn’t even have that option. The man deserved to be ass-raped every day, repeatedly, by a group of men that made him call them “Daddy.” The government always did bullshit things like this to get people to cooperate. While I understood it, I didn’t like it.

  The agent slid an envelope across the table and tapped on it with her fingernail. “As promised. There’s a check for one million dollars made out to ALFA to cover your expenses and as a reward.”

  “Thank you.” I smiled and pulled the small, nondescript white envelope in front of me. “We appreciated the chance to serve our country again.”

  It was nice to work on something other than cheating wives or business partners who stole money from each other. But I didn’t think I wanted to get involved in another case like Matías’s. The government should learn to handle their own shit without looking to outsiders to help.

  “We won’t keep you. I’m sure you have important things to do today.”

  “We do, but we appreciate you delivering the check personally,” Thomas said, standing to shake the hand of the agents.

  “The pleasure was mine.” The woman nodded, releasing his hand and expecting the same from me.

  “Thanks for this,” I said, waving the check in the air, but not bothering to stand and thank her for it.

  I was in a pissy mood, and she was taking the brunt of it. I didn’t know if it was because it was Monday or that I had to leave Izzy after such a clusterfuck of a weekend.

  After Angel escorted the agents out, Thomas closed the door and smiled. An emotion he didn’t always do so easily. “Open the fucker.”

  I tore open the envelope, pulling out the million-dollar check. “It looks real.”

  “Dude, that’s a lot of bank for a case we basically worked on for a week. What are
we going to do with it?”

  “You can do whatever you want with your part, but with mine, I’m taking a lot of time off this summer. So, I’ll use it to hire a new person and cover their payroll for a while.”

  He knocked on the table, his knuckles crushing into the wood. “Why?”

  “I need to spend time with Izzy and the boys. I promised Izzy we’d do things this summer before time got away from us. You should think about doing the same.”

  He sat down across from me and folded his hands together. “Angel and I have been talking about it too.”

  I wasn’t surprised. All we did was work. Izzy, at least, had slightly different hours at Inked, which gave us some leeway. But with Thomas and Angel both working at ALFA, they didn’t have that luxury.

  “Let’s throw the whole thing in the company kitty and hire some new people so we can enjoy our families a little more.”

  I rubbed my chin and suddenly felt a headache coming on. “Who are we going to leave in charge when we’re not here?”

  “Bear or Morgan. They know the business best.”

  “Bear?” I almost choked. He was the most senior, but the man fucked around so much, I wondered if he’d take the job seriously enough.

  “What’s going to work better? Morgan telling Bear what to do, or Bear telling Morgan what to do?” Thomas quirked an eyebrow.

  “Frisco, it is,” I said and started to laugh.

  “It’s a shame Flash isn’t going to be around. I would’ve had him handle shit in our absence.”

  “Yeah,” I said and found I actually missed the little pissant.

  He’d only been gone a few days, and his absence had already been felt. Skyping him and email conversations weren’t the same as seeing his face around the office and having someone to argue with. But I understood why he was home and supported him one hundred percent.

  “Frisco will be a great middleman.”

  I nodded my agreement. “When do you want to tell them?”

  “Not until we have to. I don’t want to listen to Bear’s mouth for the next two months.”

  “Good idea.”

  “And if the Feds come back?”

  “Fuck them. I’m done doing their dirty work.”

  “I’m with ya, buddy.”

  As long as we were both on board with turning down any further assignments the government had to offer, I was down for whatever cases came rolling in between now and summer. I’d cut my hours and do exactly as I’d promised Izzy. I’d spend more time with the people I loved most.

 
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