Honor me, p.12
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       Honor Me, p.12

         Part #6 of Men of Inked series by Chelle Bliss
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  babe. Not cool.”

  “So you’ll do it?”

  “Yeah,” he grumbled.

  Victory was mine.

  “As long as you’re sure?”

  “I’ve thought a lot about it, Joe.”

  “Okay. Are the girls ready to go?” He glanced down at his watch.

  “Yeah. Want to help me get them and head over?”

  It was Sunday—the first one since we’d been on lockdown with the threat against the entire family.

  We climbed the stairs hand in hand, and I couldn’t help but think how lucky I truly was. My life was blessed. Somehow, with all the insanity we’d been through, everyone had come out alive. So far. Thinking back on it all, and there was quite a bit, I couldn’t believe that we’d survived, that our love had endured, and we’d grown stronger as a couple.

  When we walked into the babies’ room, Gigi stood between the cribs talking to the girls. We watched at the doorway, peeking through the crack and listening.

  “You two gotta be good. Daddy hasn’t spanked me, but he does Mommy, and I don’t want him to do it to you.”

  Joe laughed softly, his body shaking against my back. I peered over my shoulder and narrowed my eyes. “We have to talk to her about this,” I whispered.

  He nodded. “It’s kind of cute, though.”

  “No. It really isn’t anymore. She keeps telling everyone how you spank me, Joe.”

  “Okay, okay. We have time for a quick talk before we head over.” Joe reached over me and pushed open the bedroom door. “Hey, baby girl. Whatcha doing?”

  Gigi turned to face us wearing her favorite pink dress that had lace frills around the hemline. She twisted her finger in her hair, twirling it around her knuckle. “Just talking to my sissies.”

  “What did you tell them?” he asked, walking up to her before scooping her into his arms.

  “I told them they have to be good, Daddy.” She peered up at him with the sweetest look—the one that usually got her out of trouble. I swear she learned how to bat her eyelashes and get her way from her aunt Izzy.

  Joe sat on his knees, cradling Gigi in his arms. “You know I don’t spank Mommy because she’s bad, right?”

  Her eyes widened and her tiny mouth fell open. “You don’t?” she whispered.

  Joe shook his head and smiled sweetly. “No, baby. It’s not that type of spanking.”

  Her eyebrows drew together. “There’s more than one kind?”

  “There is.”

  I glanced toward the ceiling and closed my eyes. There were embarrassing things, and then there were embarrassing things. Discussing your sex life with your kid was the worst kind of mortification. She’d probably be scarred for life. Someday, when she was older, she’d have a lot of questions that I still won’t want to answer.

  “But Billy at school says his dad spanks him when he’s bad. So why do you spank Mommy?”

  “It’s like a kiss,” Joe told her, pushing the tiny wisps of hair off her forehead.

  “A spanking is like a kiss?” She stared at him and gawked.

  Oh, God.

  “It’s like a love tap. I just touch her butt softly. It’s not really a spanking.”

  She placed her tiny hands on his cheeks and looked into his eyes. “So when you love someone, you touch their butt?”

  “Only if you’re married.”

  “I’m so confused,” she mumbled.

  “Me too, Gigi,” I told her and laughed.

  “No boy should ever spank you or touch your butt. Understand?” Joe’s lips were mushed together by her hands and the words sounded funny.

  “Unless I’m married.”

  “Right, but then, only if you want them to.”

  “Daddy?” Gigi scooted closer to him, still gripping his face.

  “Yeah, baby girl?”

  “I don’t ever want to get married. I want to live with you and Mommy forever, and I don’t ever want to get spanked.”

  “Your lips to God’s ears,” I whispered and sighed.

  I hated her growing up. She was still little, but every day I could see her changing and growing, becoming her own tiny person. Imagining the day she’d leave home to go to college broke my heart.

  “You never have to leave, Gigi. Daddy just wants you to be happy.” He pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her. Her tiny lips found his and she laid a wet one right on him.

  “I love you, Daddy.”

  “Love you too, baby girl. Want to go to Grandma’s?”

  “Yes!” she screeched and bounced in his lap. “Does that mean Papa spanks Nona?”

  “You’d have to ask them, kid.”

  That will make for an interesting dinner conversation.

  Gallo Sundays


  “Suzy get you to agree to the vasect—” Mike couldn’t even get the entire word out without turning white as a ghost.

  Poor guy. I knew exactly how he felt.

  “Yeah. I told her I would.”

  “Now Mia’s asking me to get one. Suzy started a chain reaction.” He bowed his head and rubbed his face. “I don’t think I can handle it.”

  “You made a living from people beating the shit out of you, and a tiny incision is going to scare you?”

  His hand slid around to the back of his neck. “It’s my balls, dude.”

  “Did you watch her give birth to Lily?”

  “Well, yeah, duh.”

  “Be happy she didn’t come out of your sac.”

  He shuddered. “Fuck, man. Don’t put that image in my head. Do you know how long it took me not to have nightmares of her birth?”

  “For a big man, you sure are a pussy, Mike.”

  He gripped his chest and smiled. “I’ll embrace that shit all day long when it comes to my junk.”

  “Thomas got it done. He said it’s not a big deal.”

  Mike’s mouth fell open and he turned toward Thomas. “You let a doctor cut your nutsack?”

  “Man up, Mikey.” Thomas didn’t even look him in the eye, just kept flipping through the channels of the television.

  Mike narrowed his eyes. “You’ve all been brainwashed by pussy. What about you, Anthony? Are you still fully functional?”

  “I have an appointment next week. Max asked right after Suzy. I think they made a pact to get us all under the knife,” he grumbled, tapping his foot nervously.

  “I knew it.” Mike shot up from the couch. “I’m going to tell Mia hell no.”

  “That should work out well,” I mumbled as he stomped off toward the kitchen.

  Thomas glanced at me and laughed. “Mia’s going to kick his ass.”

  “Rightfully so,” Pop added before returning his attention to his Sunday sports page in the newspaper.

  “Get the hell out!” Mia yelled moments later.

  “Baby, I won’t do it. It’s cruel and unusual punishment,” Mike told her.

  I turned around, waiting for the fireworks to really start and to see if Mike would stand his ground. My money was on Mia.

  “You know what’s cruel and unusual punishment, Mike?” She poked him in the chest, causing him to stumble backward. “Giving birth to your baby with a giant head and extra-wide shoulders.”

  “Stop!” he said and closed his eyes. “I don’t want to think about it.” He waved his hands, trying to block her from poking him again.

  “No baby should have a head as large as yours. I almost split in two when Lily was born. That’s some cruel and definitely unusual punishment. So get the hell over a tiny cut on your balls. I’ve had bigger paper cuts that you’ll have with a vasectomy.”

  “Tell my dick that,” Mike mumbled, staring down at her finger still pressing into his chest.

  “It’s your nuts,” Anthony yelled from the living room and laughed. “Dumbass.”

  “Either you get it done or I’ll handcuff you to the bed and do it myself.” Mia narrowed her eyes at him.

  I wouldn’t put it past her either. To be with Mike, she
had to be a tough cookie.

  “I’d listen to the woman,” Suzy said, tossing the dishcloth over her shoulder. “She knows how to use a scalpel.”

  “For shit’s sake.” Mike looked up to the ceiling and said a little prayer. “Fine.”

  Mia smiled, finally moving her hand away. “Thank you.” She stalked away from him with a satisfied look.

  He glanced at me and shrugged. Even the biggest man could lose a battle with a woman. Mike couldn’t use his muscles to intimidate her. He thought his balls were his own, but he quickly learned who really wore the pants in the family.

  “The Cubs might just do it this year,” Pop said, pretending he didn’t hear a thing that went on.

  “Keep dreamin’, Pop,” Thomas told him. “Hell hasn’t frozen over yet.”

  “It better happen before I die.”

  “Who wants dessert? I made cannolis.” Mom walked into the living room with an overflowing tray of cannolis and Gigi almost attached to her leg.

  “I do,” Pop said and set his paper in his lap. After he grabbed one and she started to walk away, he smacked her butt.

  “Nana, does Papa spank you because he loves you?” Gigi asked, tugging on Ma’s apron.

  Ma patted her head with one hand and smiled down at her. “He does, sweetie.”

  “Daddy’s always spanking Mommy too, and she makes this noise…” Gigi started to imitate Suzy’s moan, and Ma’s smile faded. “It kind of scared me at first, but Daddy said it’s because they love each other.”

  Her eyes darted to mine and I hung my head, unable to look her in the eye. “Gigi, baby—” She paused and chewed on her bottom lip, searching for the right words. “Joe, want to help me out here?”

  I cleared my throat. “Um, we already had this talk at home.”

  Ma narrowed her eyes and sneered before looking to my pop for the rescue. “Sal?”

  Suzy sat down next to me and grabbed my hand. “What’s everyone looking at each other so strangely for?” she whispered in my ear.

  “Gigi asked Ma about spanking.”

  “Shit.” Suzy stood and quickly scurried out of the living room.

  “Want to watch Frozen?” Pop asked Gigi.

  “Frozen!” she cheered, her brown hair bouncing up and down as she jumped in place.

  “Frozen!” Lily yelled, running into the room and almost crashing into Ma.

  “Nice,” Ma muttered to Pop and shook her head.

  He slapped his knee and laughed. “Works every time.”

  “Coward,” Ma whispered before setting two napkins on the floor and placing Lily’s and Gigi’s cannolis on top. “Sit and watch the movie while the adults have a little chat.”

  I swallowed, pulling at the collar of my shirt. “I want to watch it too.”

  “Oh, no, you don’t. Get your ass to the adult table for a little talk.” She smiled sweetly and glanced around the room at everyone. “Everyone I gave birth to in the dining room.” When no one moved, she yelled, “Now!”

  Just like we were kids again, everyone scurried into the dining room and took their seats.

  “You too, Sal,” she told him, and we glanced around the table at each other with our mouths hanging open.

  “Someone’s mad,” Anthony whispered and covered his mouth.

  “Jesus,” Izzy mumbled and started to laugh when we heard Pop grumbling in the living room.

  Ma sat down at the head of the table, brushing her hair back from her shoulders. She sat with her hands clasped in front of her, resting on the table, and looked around the table until Pop sat at the opposite end. “We need to talk about the things your kids are overhearing.”

  “Ma, I don’t think—” Mike started to speak, but Ma waved her hand and cut him off.

  “I’m really worried that they’re hearing some things that aren’t meant for little ears.”

  Thomas pointed toward me, throwing me under the bus. “That’s Joe’s fault.”

  “No.” Ma pointed her finger at Thomas and his head jerked back. “I’ve watched all the babies in this family, and it seems as soon as they can talk, they say the most inappropriate things.”

  “That’s just Gigi, Ma,” Izzy joined sides with Thomas.

  “Not so, my dear, sweet, dirty daughter.” Ma smiled at Izzy instead of waving her finger in her face.

  I leaned back in my chair, placing my arm on the back of Anthony’s chair and sighed. “What are they saying, Ma?”

  “I can’t go into specifics. I’ve never been one to use such language.”

  Izzy rolled her eyes. “You’re so full of shit. Where do you think we learned it?”

  “Your father and I—” She touched her neck, stroking it with her index finger. “We kept certain things for inside the bedroom. But you kids, you don’t hide anything from your children.” She had a straight face when she told that bold-faced lie.

  We burst into laughter.

  “What’s so funny?” she asked, peering around the table with her eyebrows drawn together.

  “We heard everything, Ma,” Thomas told her, the only one with enough balls to make the confession first.

  Ma’s head jerked backward like she’d been struck. “What did you hear?”

  Anthony raised his hand. “My bedroom was closest to yours. I heard everything.”

  “Everything?” she asked with wide eyes.

  “Why do you think I slept with the television on?” He crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. “I had to do something to block out all the racket you two were making.”

  “Well, I—”

  Pop laughed, smacking his hand on the table. “Mar, you were never a quiet one.”

  “I never thought they could hear.” She dragged her hand down one side of her face and cringed.

  “Oh! Sal! Harder!” Izzy mimicked my mother’s voice, and I almost fell off the chair in laughter at my ma’s mortified expression.

  “Ah! Good times,” Pop added and smiled, nodding as if he was replaying their wild sex life in his head.

  “Oh, God,” she groaned and put her face in her hands. “How didn’t I know?”

  “We just never brought it up, but we—” Anthony waved his hands around the table “—we talked about it more than once.”

  “I just can’t—” She pushed herself up from the table and started to walk away. “Go back to watching television,” she mumbled without looking back.

  Pop just smiled and shrugged. “I tried to gag her, but your mother didn’t like it.”

  I cringed at the thought. “Pop, come on!”

  He laughed, finding the topic comical.

  “Well, I did.”

  Izzy shook her head and couldn’t look him in the eye. “Thanks for too much information, Pop.” She grabbed a cannoli from the tray and stalked off toward the living room, mumbling curse words to herself.

  If Gigi wasn’t scarred for life, I sure as fuck was.

  It Takes a Village


  For years, Mrs. Gallo has been teaching me to cook. No matter how hard she tried and how much I practiced, nothing ever turned out the same way as hers. The night before the party, the girls decided to come over and help cook. Probably because they wanted to make sure everything would be edible for the guests.

  The men promised to stay out of our hair and keep themselves busy. Not only did my brothers-in-law show up, but so did Morgan, Sam, and Frisco. They were going to discuss “man things,” whatever that meant. We were just happy they were going to stay out of our way while we cooked.

  “How’s it going with Frisco around here all the time?” Mia asked while stirring together the dressing ingredients for the biggest bowl of macaroni salad I’d ever seen.

  “Fine. He helps with the babies sometimes, but he mostly stays outside.”

  “Yeah, Morgan too. Even at the clinic, he’s outside or in the waiting room. He has to be bored to death.”

  “Right?” I asked as I uncorked another bottle of wine. “Hopefully, this ends soon so ev
eryone can get back to their lives.”

  “I kind of like it,” Izzy announced, grabbing the bottle from my hands.

  I nudged her with my hip and took the bottle back. “That’s because they aren’t with you all day.” I filled my glass and handed it back to her. “James just comes home early from work. It’s different for you.”

  “You’ve met James, right? Nothing about that man is easy.”

  “It’s not a hardship when you have to spend more time with your husband.” Max rolled her eyes, pausing for a minute from chopping the cabbage for the homemade coleslaw.

  “Um,” Izzy mumbled and raised her wineglass toward Max. “It’s James. It’s always a hardship.”

  Max’s gaze flickered toward Izzy. “You married him, girl.”

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