The gallos the beginning, p.3
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       The Gallos: The Beginning, p.3
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         Part #0.5 of Men of Inked series by Chelle Bliss
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  “I couldn’t,” I declared with my face buried in her hair. “I was too in love with you not to spend eternity with you, Mar.”

  Whenever she told the story of how we met, she always made it seem like she fell first, but to be truthful, I knew I loved her the moment I laid eyes on her. It was like the world melted away, leaving only her and me.

  Her senior year in high school was like torture. We couldn’t see each other often, only when I had a break and could go back to Chicago for a few days. There weren’t cell phones and Skype, just phone calls that were monitored by her parents and letters we wrote. Things were simpler then. Couples had time to miss each other, unlike today, constantly connected through technology.

  I enjoyed the chase, trying to keep her as mine. She tried to run, pushing against what was inevitable from the moment we met. The way she blushed, pretending to be shy, she captured my attention. I couldn’t think about anyone else, wanting only Maria and setting myself on a path to make it happen.

  She was set to attend college close to home under the watchful eye of her parents. After some convincing and reassuring her family, she changed her mind and applied at Notre Dame. It was a Catholic college and got the nod from her parents, who were religious and figured she’d be safe. She was too, just not from me.

  Before she joined me in Indiana, we’d only kissed, making it to second base. I never pushed her.. I loved her, wanting to spend the rest of my life with her, and I would wait until she was ready.

  Maria was innocent when I started dating her. Looking back at our beginning, I was selfish. I couldn’t stand by and watch her date other men, playing the field like most college-age women. No, I made her mine and held on tight, not giving her any wiggle room.

  My senior year at ND, I popped the question, making sure I had her entirely. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her in Indiana for a job in Chicago, choosing to stay and to find a lower-paying job just to be close to her.

  As senior year ended, we found out she was pregnant. The wedding was already set and would take place before she started to show. By the time the family found out she was carrying my child, we were husband and wife, and there was nothing that could be said. Her parents were pissed but held their tongues, knowing we were in love.

  From that day forward, I swore to love her, and I’ve spent my life making her happy.

  Chapter 4 – Maria

  Lying in his arms, I listened to his snores as I thought about my life. I was truly blessed. I had five healthy children who grew up to be amazing adults. I still had the love of a good man, and there was nothing I wanted for. My life was made, filled with love and family.

  I wanted our kids to experience a life filled with as much love as we had, finding happiness and peace. I feared it wouldn’t happen anytime soon, most of them too content partying and womanizing to settle down. Kids today were different than when I was young. Things were simpler then.

  I didn’t worry about Isabella. She’d find her Prince Charming as soon as the right man entered her life. She was too much like me to give up on love. Even if she claimed her independence, wanting no man to weigh her down, she’d cave if the one walked into her life. I worried most about my boys, especially Anthony.

  The rock-star lifestyle didn’t lend itself to relationships. One-night stands, yes, but not companionship and love. Maybe he’d surprise me, settling down with a good woman first, but the likelihood of that happening was almost impossible. He loved the playboy lifestyle, living life by the seat of his pants as he jumped from one bed to another.

  Maybe our children just hadn’t found their match because of the love that Sal and I shared. We were deeply in love, openly showing our feelings for each other in front of the children. They grew up knowing how we felt for each other, and maybe that hindered their ability to settle. I looked at the ceiling, saying a prayer for my children before curling against Sal’s body and drifting asleep.

  I don’t know if it was how he took me on the dining room table, but I dreamed of Sal in his youth. The way he touched me, commanding my body as he stole my heart.

  In our youth, he was a wild man. In the dictionary, I swear there was a picture of him next to the word crazy. A stranger would have thought he was a good Italian Catholic man, attending college and working hard. It was the furthest thing from the truth. He did attend college and was hard-working, but he was also a die-hard partier, loved to drag race, and had a voracious sexual appetite.

  I lost my virginity to him in college. Waiting for me to graduate, he was a gentleman and didn’t force me into anything. Our first time wasn’t in the back of a car or some seedy hotel room. That wasn’t Sal’s style. No, he whisked me away on a weekend trip, taking me to New York City and booking a room at the Waldorf Astoria. When we arrived, the room was filled with flowers, rose petals thrown about, and champagne chilling on the nightstand.

  My mouth dropped open when we walked in the room. Soft music played as we sipped champagne and danced in front of the windows, watching the lights of NYC twinkle in the distance. It was one of the most romantic moments in my life. That night he made love to me, taking it slow and being tender. I cried when it was over, overcome with emotion.

  After our first time, I wanted more. My appetite matched his as I tried to make up for lost time. We did it wherever we could—in his car, in a dance club, and in the dorms. The hunger I felt for him never died.

  The man hadn’t stopped romancing me, even now he’d come home with flowers or cook me a beautiful, candlelit dinner. When the kids were growing up, date night was a necessity. Needing to escape the five screaming kids, we’d go to dinner and sometimes a hotel just for some private time.

  My life has been perfect. There wasn’t one thing I’d change looking back on the years.

  I dreamed of New York, the night in the hotel feeling so real I thought I was living it again. The feel of his lips on my skin and the way he touched my body had my skin tingling.

  My eyes flew open, breaking the wonderful memory that my sleep brought me, as I heard his voice.

  “You okay, Marie?” he asked, stroking my arm with his fingertips.

  Turning to face him, I smiled and covered my mouth with the back of my hand as I yawned. “I’m perfect, sweetheart. I was having such a nice dream.”

  He kissed my forehead, lingering on my skin. “What was it about?”

  I reached up, rubbing his cheek with my hand. “It was about you. Us. The first time we were together.”

  “Our first date?” he asked, a smile spreading across his face.

  “No,” I replied, feeling my cheeks heat at the memory.

  “Oh,” he whispered, his smile turning into a sly grin. “New York?”

  “Yes,” I admitted, closing my eyes as I tried to picture the room.

  “I was slick, huh?” He laughed, kissing a path down my face, sucking my earlobe into his mouth.

  “You were that, Sal.” I giggled as his scruff tickled my skin.

  “It had to be romantic, Mar. I wanted to knock your knickers off.”

  “You did that and more.” I opened my eyes, looking up at my amazing husband, the man to whom I’d given everything and received more in return.

  “I wanted you to be mine forever. I didn’t want to leave any doubt in your mind that your heart belonged to me,” he whispered against my ear, sending small shivers across my skin.

  “I always knew. That’s why it scared the shit out of me. You were too much for a girl like me.”

  “A girl like you?” he asked, one eyebrow moving toward his hairline.

  “An innocent.” I smiled, knowing it was a crock of complete shit.

  “Mar, I was there. I know you weren’t an innocent. You may have been a virgin, but innocent? Not a fucking’ chance.” He laughed, running his lips down my neck, sucking my skin lightly.

  “I was too,” I argued.

  “Were not,” he reiterated. “You weren’t easy, but I didn’t corrupt you.”

Sal,” I whispered as my eyes fluttered closed, feeling his tongue against my flesh.

  “Yes?” he murmured against my neck.

  “Once you touched me, I knew I could never get enough of you,” I confessed, tipping my head back to give him greater access.

  “Mar, I knew you’d never get enough once I touched you. I just needed to convince your mind what your heart already knew. I marked you, making you mine, and I’ve never regretted a moment of our life.”

  “Sal?” I asked, my voice breathy and full of want.


  “Mark me again and take me back to that night in NYC.”

  He laughed, his body shaking against mine as he continued the trail down my flesh with his mouth. “There’s nothing I’d rather do this morning than make love to the woman of my dreams.”

  “Mmm,” I mumbled as he captured my nipple in his mouth, sucking lightly as he nibbled with his teeth.

  Sal made love to me, taking his time and touching me the way he did the first time so many years ago. I relished it, soaking in every moment and locking it away to look back on with the fondness with which I remembered our first night together. After we both collapsed, exhausted and realizing we weren’t as young as were in NYC, we drifted back to sleep with our limbs tangled together.

  An annoying ringing sound woke me. Taking a minute to realize what the noise was, I reached for the phone, checking the caller ID. Inked. One of the kids had interrupted a peaceful slumber.

  “Who is it?” Sal asked as he rolled away from me with the sheets tangled around his waist.

  “The kids,” I replied, tapping ON to answer the call.

  “Who else?” he muttered, throwing his arm over his face as he tried to block out the sunlight that streamed into the room.

  “Hello.” I tried to make my voice sound chipper, not like I’d just woken up.

  “Ma?” Mike asked, his voice laced with concern.

  “Yeah.” I moved the phone, muffling my yawn with my hand against the receiver.

  “Were you sleeping?”

  “No, Michael.”

  “Are you sick?”

  “No.” Fuck, the kids knew our pattern. Typically when they called this late in the day, I was already buzzing from my multiple cups of coffee.

  “You sound weird.”

  “I’m fine, baby. What’s up?” I asked, trying to change the subject.

  “Um, okay. We were wondering if you could stop by the shop today. I finished decorating the piercing room, and Izzy wants your opinion.”

  “Sure, Michael. I’ll be there in a couple hours.” I turned, looking at the clock and staring at it as it showed one in the afternoon.

  “She’ll be here in a couple hours!” Mike yelled before speaking to me again. “Okay, Ma. Bring Pop if you want to.” Static filled my ear, and I could hear muffled voices. “Izzy wants to know what time?”

  “Tell her I’ll be there around three, and I’ll see if your father wants to come too.” I moved the phone above my head, yawning and trying to hide it.

  “I don’t know, Izzy. She said three. You fucking talk to her,” Mike barked, his voice sounding distant.

  “Ma, are you okay?” Izzy asked.

  “I’m fine, Izzy. I’ll be there at three.” I closed my eyes, knowing she was going to start asking questions.

  “Are you still in bed? You sound like you were sleeping.”

  “Baby girl, your father and I fell back to sleep. Everything is fine. I’ll be there in two hours.”

  “You were sleeping? What the hell, Ma? It’s afternoon.”

  “We were exhausted and fell back to sleep. It happens sometimes.”

  “I think they’re sick, Mike. Maybe you should go check on them,” Izzy said to Mike as the muffled voices in the shop were barely audible.

  “No!” I yelled, sitting up in bed. “Izzy, do not come here. Jesus.”

  “I’m worried about you two.”

  “We had sex and fell back to sleep.”

  “Fuck, Ma. I didn’t need to know that. Oh my God. My ears,” she hissed, a loud clank causing me to jerk the phone away from my ear. “They were having sex,” she said in the background.

  “Ma?” Mike asked, returning to the phone.

  “Yeah?” I puffed out air, waiting to hear his smartass remark.

  “Way to go. See you at three.”

  Before I could respond, the line clicked dead.

  “Freak her out?” Sal asked, knowing how much Izzy hated hearing about our sex life.

  “Yep,” I replied curtly, breaking out into laughter.

  “Kids,” he mumbled, stretching as he yawned.

  “It’s nice to drive them crazy for a change,” I said, still laughing as I thought about Izzy dropping the phone in horror.

  “What time is it?” Sal asked, turning on his side and resting his hand on my leg.


  “Mm, just enough time for a quickie.” He smiled up at me, sliding his hand between my legs.

  “Sal,” I warned, spreading my legs as I welcomed his touch.

  “Let them wonder why we’re late, Mar.” His fingers raked through my wetness, my body still ready from earlier.

  “You’re bad,” I whispered, lying back down.

  “I’m going to show you just how bad I really am,” he promised, kissing my hip as he slipped his fingers inside.

  Fuck. We were going to be really late. Sal wasn’t into quickies. It was against his nature. Inked and the kids would have to wait. It was adult time now, spending the day naked in bed with my husband, reliving our youth.

  Chapter 5 - Sal

  Strolling into Inked, the kids’ tattoo shop, we were about thirty minutes late. To my shock, Izzy wasn’t prowling at the entrance waiting for us.

  “Finally,” Izzy moaned, standing from her chair as I let Maria walk in front of me when we entered the work area.

  “Sorry,” Maria said, holding up her hands to stop Izzy from continuing. “We were busy.”

  “Hey, Pop,” Joe said, walking over to shake my hand and give his mother a kiss.

  “Hey, son,” I replied, looking around the shop. They’d done a ton of work. It looked nothing like it had when they purchased the store last year. Every time I visited, something would be changed, and I was truly in awe of their hard work. “It’s looking damn good in here.”

  “Thanks. Just when we think we’re done, Izzy has to change something. She’s so damn picky.” Joe rolled his eyes, taking a deep breath.

  “She’s a Gallo. Nothing is ever perfect.”

  “Fuck, I know it,” he hissed, raking his fingers through his hair as he walked back to his station.

  “So what was so important for me to see?” Maria asked, walking over to the wall and checking out some new artwork that had been hung. “These are stunning,” she said, touching the glass.

  “Thanks, Ma. I just hung them up the other day,” Joe replied, sitting in his chair as he cleaned off his workspace.

  “You made these?” she asked, staring at them in amazement.

  “Yeah.” He smiled, puffing out his chest as he took pride in his work.

  “You’re so talented, Joseph.” She turned, smiling at him.

  His face turned pink, showing a moment of embarrassment. Joe wasn’t one to take a compliment. “Thanks, Ma.”

  “I’m so proud of each of you. The shop looks amazing.” I beamed with pride, watching their faces light up. No matter how old they were, they still wanted our approval.

  “Thanks, Daddy,” Izzy said, giving me a peck on the cheek before grabbing Maria’s hand. “I wanted you to see how I changed the piercing room, Ma. Come see,” she said, pulling Maria toward the back of the shop.

  “Does it matter, Izzy? Why someone would want another hole in their body, I’ll never understand.” Maria shook her head as she sighed.

  “It’s decoration, Ma, and makes a statement. It’s about beauty, just like a tattoo,” Izzy answered.

  “A necklac
e is a hell of a lot easier and less painful than a piercing. Kids these days. Thank God you kids haven’t scarred your bodies in that way.” She looked around the room, watching their reactions.

  Each one of them looked away, staring at the floor or in the opposite direction. They didn’t have to admit it, but they all had a piercing. I hadn’t known firsthand, but their reactions confirmed it.

  “All of you?” Maria asked as she turned to look at each of them. “Damn. How do I not know these things?” She put her face in her hands, shaking her head.

  “It wasn’t important,” Anthony replied, looking at Maria when no one else would.

  “I think it’s important to know that my children added holes to their bodies. Jesus,” she hissed, moving toward Michael. “Did you do them all?”

  He shook his head, still staring at the floor as he whistled. “Nope,” he replied, not giving any more detail.

  She sighed, shaking her head. “Nothing I can do now.” She shrugged. “Show me the room, Izzy.”

  “I’m sorry, Ma,” Izzy stated, leaning over and kissing Maria on the cheek. “Don’t be mad.”

  “I’m not. You’re all grown and can make your own decisions. Just don’t hide anything from me again. Got it?” she asked.

  “Yes,” they each answered, nodding their heads as they looked at Maria.

  “Good. Now let’s see it.” Izzy smiled, grabbing Maria’s hand and taking her in the back room.

  “How’s business?” I asked, sitting down in Joe’s customer chair.

  “Busy. We’re booked the entire evening. People are still hungover from New Year’s,” Joe answered, kicking back in his chair and placing his hands behind his head.

  “I knew the shop would be successful. Is there anything I can help with?” They never asked for anything. Whether it was painting, picking out the location, or setting up a business, they handled everything and never asked for help.

  “Nah, Pop. We got everything handled,” Anthony replied with a giant smile on his face.

  “I’m always here if you ever need anything or just want advice.”

  “We know. How about we take you and Ma to lunch? Have you eaten?” Joe asked, rubbing his stomach. “I’m starving.”

  “Sure, son. I worked up quite an appetite this morning.”

  “Jesus,” Izzy groaned as she walked back in the room right as I made the statement. “I love you two, really, I do. But there are some things that aren’t meant to be shared.”

  I laughed, knowing she was probably right, but it was too much fun watching her freak out. “Okay, baby girl. You’re right.”

  “Did someone say lunch?” Maria asked, resting her hand on Izzy’s shoulder and smiling at me.

  “Yeah, Ma. We want to take you and Pop to lunch.” Anthony stood from his
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