Copyright © 2020 Elizabeth Reyes
“Maybe you’re the sun and I’m the moon and we were never meant to collide. But wouldn’t it be spectacular if we ever did?”
Happy May everyone! The long awaited story for Pat & Max is finally here! In case some of you may be scratching your heads about who these two are, Pat is Izzy’s older uptight sister who we loved to hate in Romero. And Max is one of Romero’s LOUD uncles. We got a hint that there might be something brewing between the two in Breaking Brandon’s epilogue and many have asked me over the years if they would ever get their own story. Quite frankly I just didn’t think I could romanticize these two but hey, one day I’m in the shower trying to think of who the next short might be about and bam! It came to me!
AVAILABLE IN IT’S ENTIRETY NOW!! GO READ THE WHOLE THING NOW!! Yes today!
In case you need a visual of these two here is my fantasy cast!
Glancing down at her dinging phone, Pat made a point to frown. Her sister Bell was already smirking. Pat picked up the phone again, only this time she dumped it in her purse without reading the text.
“Aren’t you gonna read it?”
“No.” Pat picked up baby Romeo from his crib. “All that man ever wants to do is argue. He always has to get the last word in, too.”
“What’s there to argue about?” Bell continued to smirk, even as she pulled the bedding off the baby’s crib. “And I didn’t realize you two texted this often.”
“We don’t.” Pat lifted her chin. “It’s an isolated incident. Only reason he’s gone on and on today is because the only time I’d even chatted with him—here when you had that barbeque for Art—the subject of making tamales came up. I mentioned the shortcuts I’ve perfected that make the whole process that much easier. He asked if I could text him the recipe along with my shortcuts, so I agreed. No biggie.” Pat rolled her eyes as she lulled the baby in her arms. “If I’d known he was expecting me to walk him through the whole thing, I never would’ve.”
“Max’s making tamales right now?”
Pat’s phone dinged three times in a row. “Yes, and it’s why he’s been blowing up my phone. ‘Is the masa supposed to be so sticky? The cooking chile is making me and Manny cough up our lungs. Manny says he heard you were evil and you tricked us. The smoke alarm went off again. I’m down to two good fingers.’”
Bell laughed as she put the clean bedding on the crib. “Aw, Pat. Don’t be mean. He’s probably in a pickle. Don’t ignore him. I’ve been on the phone non-stop with mom lots of times when I’ve made something I don’t cook often.”
Pat shook her head defiantly. “Did you not hear the stuff he’s texting me? They’re not all questions. He’s giving me the blow-by-blow of everything he’s doing. I don’t have time to respond to every one of his nonsensical texts.”
Putting the baby down in the crib when Bell motioned for her to, Pat remembered something. “Which reminds me I have to stop at the store still, so I think I’m gonna go now.”
“Really? You can’t stay for dinner? I’m making caldo de res.”
“Umm, sounds good.” Pat smiled. “But I’ll have to take a raincheck. I have some litigation papers I need to go over before I’m in court tomorrow.”
Bell started to walk Pat out, after giving the baby a bottle. “Mommy’s walking auntie out,” Bell said to Amanda, who was on the sofa watching TV. “Just stay there until I get back in.”
“No, don’t leave her alone,” Pat insisted hoping to keep Bell from walking her out. “I’m good.”
“She’ll be fine,” Bell said, motioning Pat along.
Pat had a feeling Bell was up to something. When they were far enough away from Bell’s parrot daughter, who repeated everything she heard, Pat got confirmation of what she’d been suspicious of.
“You know Max is a really sweet guy.”
“I’m just saying. He’s always reminded me of that actor mom likes so much.” She paused to think about it for a moment then snapped her fingers. “Guillermo Zapata, but in his younger years—” Bell stopped when Pat turned and gave her a look. “I mean younger as in his mid-forties. Zapata is in his fifties now, I think. Max isn’t that old. But not everything is about looks, right? Max is also hilarious and—”
“You’re wasting your time, Bell.”
“Why? I think you two would be great together.”
“Excuse me?” Pat opened her car door, scowling at her sister. “The man is an incorrigible foul-mouthed owner of a topless bar. On what planet would we be great together?”
“Okay.” Bell shrugged. “So, he’s a little rough around the edges. Romero was too when I first met him, remember? People can change.”
Pat got in the car but rolled the passenger window down for Bell to hear her. “I hate to break it to you, Sissy. But your husband hasn’t changed since you first met him. He’s exactly the same, if not worse at times. You’re just too blinded by love to see it.”
“So, you’re saying love can be blind?” Bell leaned over to get a better look at Pat, smiling big. “I’m just sayin’.”
“And I’m saying stop wasting your breath. It’s not happening.”
Pat started out the driveway, muttering under her breath even as she waved at her sister.
“He’s only ten years older than you!”
Pat mouthed the word stop before blowing her baby sis a kiss and driving away. Preposterous! As if she and that man could ever have anything in common. She’d give her sister that he wasn’t bad looking, though. If he weren’t so obnoxious, he could actually be an attractive man. But she didn’t know about the Guillermo Zapata comparison. Romero and his uncles were so foul-mouthed, Pat had always likened them to something out of Good Fellas. She’d heard enough stories about Max and Manny’s past that, despite the comedic acts she’d seen and heard so much of, she knew that, on top of their lack of decorum, they had a dark side. Maybe Bell could overlook Romero’s rough edges, but Pat refused to even consider opening that hairy can of worms.
At the first red light, Pat gave into her curiosity and pulled her phone out of her purse. But only because it hadn’t stopped dinging every several minutes. She read the first few.
Manny said fuck this shit, he’s ordering out.
It’s Aida’s Bingo night and Manny just left to pick up his dinner. I’m on my own now.
Down to one finger.
Pat’s lips twitched almost giving way to a smile, but she quickly shook her head. She’d also give Bell that the man could make her chuckle. But then so did Bill Cosby back when and look how he turned out. The light turned green before she could read the rest.
She was home sooner than she’d originally thought. The paperwork for her litigation tomorrow morning was more pressing than anything. It’s why she’d skipped the market and had gone straight home. After getting into her jammies, she sat down in her office with a glass of wine and began reading. Just a couple minutes into it, her phone dinged again. It was only then that she realized she hadn’t finished reading all the other texts Max had sent.
Taking a deep breath, she clicked on her texts, questioning for the hundredth time why on earth she’d given this man her number. Not once did he ask why she wasn’t responding. Just kept sending one random comment after another. She scrolled through several, the corners of her lips twitching with each silly text she read until the last one.
Manny’s calling bullshit on this recipe and that he’ll see you in court. ADM!
Pat paused, wondering what the punchline was, and what those last three letters stood for, but nothing followed. Giving into curiosity, she responded but only with a couple of question marks. A few seconds after placing the phone back on her desk, it dinged again. She picked it up and gasped when she saw the photo of his heavyset brother smiling big for the camera with a very chipped front tooth and a caption.
He’s on the phone with his attorney as we speak.
Bringing her hand over her mouth, Pat examined the photo closer to see if they’d somehow photoshopped it, but it looked very real. He couldn’t be serious. The next texts he sent made her giggle, despite feeling bad about Manny’s tooth. They were back-to-back photos. One he labeled Expectations with a picture of a delish-looking tamale. The next labeled Reality had a photo of the most pathetic-looking, sloppy tamale Pat had ever seen.
After giving in to an all-out giggle, she went back to the photo of Manny. She was still looking at an enlarged version when her screen lit up with Max’s name.
He was calling her now.
Clearing her throat, Pat lifted her chin, readying herself for a debate if he was seriously going to blame her for his brother’s chipped tooth. The second she hit the answer button she could hear the wheezing laughter in the background.
“Hey, you answered.” The phone was muffled momentarily, but she still heard what he said: “Shut up, she answered.”
“Did he really chip his tooth?”
“Yep.” He chuckled. “Didn’t think he could get any uglier, but you saw the picture.”
Scrambling to remember if she’d noticed Manny having a chipped tooth before, she shook her head in disbelief. “You’re not serious. How could he chip it on a tamale?”
“He bit one of the pits of the green olives I put in them. May as well have bit into a rock.”
“Didn’t you warn him? I warned you about that.”
“Yeah, I warned him, but the fat fuck still inhaled it like he hadn’t just eaten the burger special he bought.”
“Well, he can’t blame or sue me for that.”
“Sure, he can. Already put a call in to our cousin Vinny. You’re gonna fry, lady.”
Feeling the smirk tuck at the corner of her lips again, Pat sat back. “Did you forget I’m also an attorney?”
“No, but you don’t have what my cousin Vinny does.”
“Oh yeah?” She sipped her wine, not sure why she was still entertaining this. “And what would that be?”
“A lucky black leather jacket and hot girlfriend with a horrible Brooklyn accent.”
Knowing she was being had now, Pat sat up, not sure if she should smile or be irritated by this nonsense. She was supposed to be getting work done. But she decided to counter his comment. “Judge would never let him stand before him in a black leather jacket.”
“Because.” Feeling a little silly, she tried to remember the line exactly. “If he goes into a court looking like that, not only does he insult the judge, he insults the integrity of the courthouse.”
“Patricia,” he said overly exaggerating the rolling of the r in her name as he always did, and Pat could hear the big grin in the one word. “You actually saw the movie, and you have lines memorized? I almost married you just now, girl.”
She chuckled, despite the slight unease that last statement gave her. “My father was also an attorney,” she explained. “He was totally into watching courtroom movies, even the comedies. Made me watch them with him all the time. My Cousin Vinny was one of his favorites.” She cleared her throat, going back to the subject at hand. “Did Manny really chip his tooth or are you messing with me?”
“He did,” Max insisted. “But I’ll tell you what. He said if you show me how to make some real tamales he won’t injure himself eating, he’ll let it go. Because now he’s craving some. But good ones.”
“Yeah, not this bullshit.” Manny said in the background.
Feeling her smile wane, Pat was already shaking her head. “I did show you—”
“Nah, I’m a hands-on kind of guy. I gotta watch you make ’em.”
Chuckling nervously, Pat shook her head adamantly. “I wouldn’t have the hand puppets, crayons, or patience to give you a hands–on explanation of the process.”
“Hand puppets and crayons,” Max chuckled. “Good one. And here Moe said even alone you’re bad company.”
“I beg your pard—”
“Relax, I told him you’re not that bad.”
“Well,” Pat huffed, rolling her eyes as she brought her glass of wine to her lips. “Thank you for that.”
“You’re welcome. Now come on. My brother’s standing here looking like an inbred hick with those teeth. Least you could do is show me how to make him a real tamale.”
“I haven’t actually made them in a long time—”
“Good, you’ll get to practice while I learn. Say when. My schedule’s completely open.” Manny grumbled something in the background, even as she scrambled for a way out of this. “Shut up. I’m doing this for you. You don’t work weekends, right, Patricia?”
“Well, no, but—”
“Got plans this weekend?”
Unable to sit anymore, Pat stood up. “Uh, no, but—”
“You still at the same place we dropped off Mandy that one time?”
Pacing the room, Pat brought her hand to her forehead. “Yes.”
“Perfect. I’ll buy all the stuff and meet you there Saturday around noon.”
“Listen. I gotta go,” he said as Manny cursed about something loudly in the background. “Aida’s gonna be home soon, and this kitchen looks like a crime scene. See you Saturday.”
Unbelievably, the line clicked, and just like that, their conversation was over. She glanced down at her screen to confirm he’d hung up. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Surprisingly, El Super didn’t carry much of a variety of fine wine. Max had everything he needed for the tamales in his cart, but the wine aisle consisted of two rows of cheap wine and the really cheap wine. Deciding, he better make another stop, he was able to find a bottle of the stuff Patricia was drinking at the barbecue.
Manny had called him nuts for even thinking about bringing booze over to her place. Neither of them knew her that well, but over the years, they’d heard enough from Moe for Manny to come to his conclusion. “You’d probably have more luck lighting a match up her ass, than giving her booze to get that broad to lighten up.”
Except the wine wasn’t to lighten her up. It was his way of thanking her. Since she was a wine drinker, he just figured she might appreciate the gesture. It’s not like this was a social visit. Sure, he thought her attractive enough. Alright more than just attractive. While he had the utmost respect for Moe’s wife Izzy, and he wouldn’t risk getting his head bitten off by saying it out loud, he’d always considered Izzy hot as fuck. He got why Moe could be so overprotective of her. And Patricia was a slightly older version of Izzy. It’s the first thing that’d come to mind when he’d first laid eyes on her.
Max wasn’t even sure what he was doing here today. All he knew was that for months he’d been intrigued by her. The instances he’d seen and heard her stern personality only made getting on her good side an even more enticing challenge. He already knew he could make her laugh. But each time he’d see her at a gathering, and he’d struck up a conversation, they were always interrupted. He’d been trying for weeks to figure out how to get some time alone with her. So, when he finally got his shot, he went for it. But he still wasn’t sure what he was hoping for. He’d never done the relationship thing, and he sure as fuck had heard enough about her to know she wouldn’t be an easy lay. But he did want to learn to make tamales, and he was already here, so fuck it.
Shaking off the tiniest bit of nerves, he rang her doorbell. For a moment, he wondered if maybe she’d stood him up because no one came to the door. Then there it was. The knob jiggled, then the door opened, and there she was. She stood there for a moment, looking a bit unsure and vulnerable, so unlike how Moe described her hard ass all this time. Funny, Max didn’t remember her looking this . . . sweet, either.
Swallowing hard, he smiled, motioning to the bag of groceries he carried. “I figured the pork ones might take too long to make, so I just bought stuff to make the rajas ones.”
“Good thinking.” She opened the door, letting him in as she spun around, and Max followed her into the kitchen. “Because I really hadn’t planned on spending my entire day off cooking.”
“I’ll be doing the cooking. You’ll just point me the right direction.” He pulled the bottle of wine out of the bag. “I brought you this as a token of my gratitude. You can drink while I cook.”
Patricia peered at him suspiciously. “How very thoughtful of you, Max.”
“I know, right?” He gazed at her playfully. “You can thank me however you want.”
“I’m supposed to thank you for thanking me?”
Chuckling, Max continued pulling things out of the bag. “Yeah, then we’ll be even again.”
“Uh.” She took the bottle with her over to the counter where she opened a drawer. “I believe I’m still ahead here. I gave you my recipe, which you screwed up, and now I’m spending my day off trying to fix your mess. You still owe me.”
He watched as she opened bottle and poured herself a glass then glanced up. “Would you—?” She stopped as the smirk on his face grew bigger. “What?”
“I’m picking up what you’re throwing down, girl.” He bounced his brows, smiling even bigger. “If I’d known that’s what you were expecting, I would’ve worn clean chonies. But let’s get these tamales going before I start thanking you hard.”
Patricia’s confused expression morphed into a scowl as she rolled her eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself. That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”
“Do I? Do I?”
“Yes, you do,” she insisted with a slight lift of her chin. “Now would you like a glass of wine or not?”
“I’ll take one in a little bit. I wanna get these chiles going first.”
They started roasting the poblanos on the comal. Patricia then showed Max how to prepare the masa. “But I bought the one that’s already prepared.”
She shook her head as she pulled a container out of the fridge. “It says prepared, but it’s not enough. My mom still always added more lard, broth, and other seasonings.”
“Well, you see. You didn’t tell me that. No wonder my masa was tasteless as shit.”
“I gave you the instructions on how to prepare it.” Patricia arched a sexy little brow. “Not my fault you can’t follow simple instructions.”
“Yeah, but nowhere in those instructions did it say to prepare masa that was already prepared. I thought I one-upped you when I bought the prepared kind.’
The elusive sweet smile made an appearance as Patricia’s brow arched even more. “You’ll never one-up me, Max.” Their eyes met as she added, “And don’t you forget it.”
The gaze went on for a moment until she cleared her throat and glanced back down at the masa she’d began working.
“Let me try.” Max reached for the spoon she was using, grazing her hand in the process. She started to flinch but seemed to catch herself. “Easy, I showered.” Shaking his head with a smirk, he added, “Moe wasn’t kidding.”
“A little uptight there, no?” He turned to her, refraining from chuckling. “Got any matches?”
As expected, Patricia looked confused as she glanced around. “Matches?” She started looking in a drawer but stopped when the chuckle escaped Max.
He shook his head. “Never mind. Just drink your wine. Inside joke.”
Closing the drawer she’d begun to look in, Patricia made a show of glancing around the kitchen. “Inside joke implies two or more people got it, while someone or everyone else in the room didn’t.”
“Yeah, Manny would get it.”
“But he’s not here.”
“I got it.” He laughed. “It was a good one.”
“Whatever.” She took a sip of her wine. “And your nephew just says I’m uptight because we got off to a bad start. But that was years ago. We get along fine now.”
“Yeah, and I told you. After chatting with you a few times, I told him you’re not that bad.”
“Just what the hell—?”
“Oh, shit the chiles,” he said, wiping his hands and reaching for the chiles on the comal. “This one got all black.”
“Did you actually read any of the instructions I sent you?” Patricia shook her head. “They’re supposed to get black on the outside. We’re gonna peel them.”
“Didn’t get that far in your instructions, since I only tried making the pork ones.” He glanced up at her as she watched him continue to turn the chiles over on the comal. “So, this is okay?”
“Yes.” She nodded. “It’s all coming off anyway.”
Leaning against the counter, Patricia scrutinized his hands for a second before looking up at him curiously. “What’s up with the tattoos on your hands?”
Max glanced down at his hands and frowned. “Quid pro quo?”
The familiar little crinkle between her eyes made him smile. “Huh?”
“I tell you something personal about me,” he explained. “Then I get to ask you something personal about you.”
She stood up a little straighter, looking a bit unnerved. “I don’t see how the tattoos you have on your hands for all the world to see are so personal.”
“Reasons why I got them are, and it’s what you’re asking, right?”
“You don’t have to tell me if—”
“Jesus Christ. Just say yes, will you?” The brow arched again as she appeared to think about it. “Seriously? Where’s that match? Better yet a lamp.”
“Should I call Manny and ask him to explain that, because I still don’t—.”
“It’s stupid shit from when I was too young to know any better,” he said, looking down at the tattoos on his fingers. “Did a stint or two in the can when I got pinched for dealing.” He stared at her, waiting for a reaction, but there was none. She just stared back. “Gang shit I’m not proud of and thankfully stopped before having to do any hard time like my other brother.”
“Bell’s told me a little about Romero’s dad.”
Max nodded but didn’t offer more. Instead, he went back to preparing the masa. Even though she hadn’t actually agreed to it, he was holding her uptight ass to it anyway.
“So, why’s a hot successful attorney like yourself still single?”
He glanced up in time to catch an almost scandalized expression, but it was fleeting. She softened her expression significantly and, as she did so often, lifted her chin a bit.
“I’m not sure if I ever want to remarry. But I have dated since my divorce.”
This surprised Max. “You have?”
“Yes.” She looked almost insulted and this amused Max. “I have.”
“And you’ve slept with these dates?”
The appalled expression was back, only this time she didn’t try to hide it. “That is none of your business.”
“What’s the big deal?” Max quipped. “We’re both adults here.” He laughed when her eyes went even wider. “Alright, where’s that match.?”
“That’s it,” she said, setting her glass down. “Three times. You’ve brought up your stupid inside joke three times. Now you have to tell me what it means.”
Max put his hands up in front of him. “It’s no secret you’re wound way too tight, sweetheart.” He lifted and dropped a shoulder. “It’s just a reference about you lightening up. You know lighten up with a match?”
He kept to himself the part about shoving it up her ass, especially since he’d now also made reference to a lamp.
Patricia glared at him without saying anything then rolled her eyes, as only she could. “Just because I choose not to discuss my sex life with someone I hardly know, does not make me uptight.”
“So, you are having sex with them?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Sure, you did. You said you just choose not to discuss it. That’s cool.”
“That’s not what I meant.” She huffed as she filled the sink with warm water, dumped in the dried corn husks brusquely, and turned back to glare at him. “Do you practice turning people’s words around or does it just come naturally?”
“Why you getting so worked up? Look at you.” He laughed, enjoying how easy it was to get to her. Too amused to stop now, he went in for the kill. “Is your sex life really that sore of a subject, Patricia?”
Why hadn’t she gone with her gut? Why hadn’t she just called him back the day he so arbitrarily invited himself to her house? Now here she was stuck with Tall, Dark, and Obnoxious until they were done with all these damn tamales.
“Stop putting words in my mouth, Max,” she warned for the last time. “Just because I choose to keep my personal life private does not mean it’s a sore subject for me. But let me ask you this because this quid pro quo of yours has gotten a bit one-sided.”
“Have at it.” He smiled big. “I’m an open book.”
From day one, Pat admitted, were it not for his foul mouth and tactlessness, Max might be considered attractive, dare she say even sexy. But she’d never been around this man long enough to notice certain things. She’d never realized until today how much that smug smirk reminded her of his equally smartass nephew—and she hated it. As much as she’d disliked Romero in the beginning, the one thing she’d had to admit even then was that he had this very attractive bad-boy quality about him. Pat refused to start thinking of Max in that way. Despite the age difference between him and his nephew, the more Pat was assaulted with that infuriatingly self-satisfied smirk, the more she saw the resemblance. As much as she’d never dream of asking before and give his pompous ass more reason to rattle her, she was looking forward to turning this around.
“So, why are you single? Bell said you’ve never been married.”
That condescending grin would be the end of her. “No. It’s just come up over the years. But you’re a decent-looking guy,” she added cautiously, and even that swelled his grin to twice the size. “Any reason why you never married?”
“Decent-looking guy, huh?” The playful yet sultry way he assessed her made Pat’s breath catch, but she’d die before she’d let him notice. “Are you trying to seduce me, Patricia?”
The scoff was a bit overdone, but Pat got her point across. “Yes, if that’s what you were doing when you said I’m not that bad.”
Max laughed wholeheartedly now. “I’m telling you. You’re really not. Well, not all the time.”
Rolling her eyes again, Pat picked up her glass of wine. “You’ve been dancing around the question, Mr. Open Book. What’s the matter? Did I hit a nerve?” She took a sip of her wine, eyeing him and hoping she looked as smug as his cocky ass always did. “Sore subject?”
“Nope. But I’ll take that glass of wine now.”
“Ooh,” Pat mimicked his obnoxious amusement as she pulled out a wine glass for the cupboard. “Need a little alcohol before you talk about it?” She glanced back at him, lifting a brow. “Maybe a match?”
He laughed again, and as much as she hated it, because his laughter always seemed to be at her expense, she had to admit it was kind of sexy—kind of.
“I told you,” he started as she poured his wine. “I was in and out of the can, back in my heyday.”
He paused as she glanced up at him in that same way he had earlier when he’d mentioned this. Like he was waiting for her to judge.
“We all have skeletons in our past.” She shrugged as she handed him his wine glass. “No worries.”
“Who said I was worried?”
For the first time almost since he got there, that playful beam went flat, and there it was—another reminder of who he was related to.
“I didn’t. I just meant—”
“When I wasn’t in jail,” he went on, minus any trace of a smile now. “I was either on probation or too busy getting into more trouble. By the time my ass finally grew up and went into a legit business, me and Manny were already in our thirties.”
“The topless bar?”
Thankfully, and for some stupid reason, that had him grinning again. “That’s titty bar to you.”
Relieved to hear him laugh again, Pat took a sip of her wine and tried to lighten up. She hadn’t realized just how tense she’d gotten from seeing how fast he could go from hot to cold.
“But yeah,” Max said, after taking his first sip of wine. “People can think what they want, but it’s a legit business, and we pay taxes just like everyone else does. Those girls are some of the hardest working people I know. They rely on their paychecks just like you and me.”
Curious now, Pat had to ask. “You ever date any of them?”
“Nah.” He shook his head. “Not in years anyway. Both me and Manny learned early on it’s not a good idea to mix business with pleasure. They’re more like family now.”
He went on to explain how getting the hang of running a titty bar wasn’t nearly as fun as most might think. It was tough and a lot of work.
“Trying to get everything to run smoothly was both physically and mentally exhausting.” He shook his head. “Especially because women are so much fucking drama.”
That had Pat straightening out again. “Talk about blanket statements. Not all women are drama, you know.”
His expression was almost a comical one as his jaw dropped and his eyes went wide. “Are you kidding me?”
“You had a mother, right?” Pat shot back. “Would you say she was drama?”
“ADM!” He laughed. “She was one of the worst ones. Didn’t put up with shit.”
Pat peered at him, remembering his text. “ADM? You sent that in a text. I thought maybe it was a typo. What does that mean?”
“Ay Dios miyo,” he said very matter-of-factly. “Me and Manny got sick of hearing all these little white chicks saying OMG, so we use our Spanish version when we text.”
Little white chicks?
And this was why, despite admittedly having already had one or two moments of breathlessness since he’d arrived, her sister was out of her mind. Pat couldn’t even entertain the idea of anything remotely romantic with this man.
“Anyway, at that point I was too used to doing shit my way. Not having to compromise or deal with any bullshit relationship drama.” He shrugged as he started spreading masa on a husk. “It’s not like I never gave it a shot. But as the years have gone by, my patience for the drama has gotten down to nil. So much easier to just hit it and quit it.”
Pat glanced down at the tamale she was assembling, curious about something. “What do you mean by drama? Sounds like you’ve dated the wrong type of women.”
“They’re all the same.”
Once again, Pat felt floored, and she put down the tamale. Shaking her head, she walked over to the bottle of wine and poured herself a little more.
“What?” Max asked, flashing that perpetual smirk when she turned back to look at him. “It’s the truth. At least in my experience it has been. Look at you.”
“What about me?” Pat glared at him. “You don’t know anything about me.”
“I know enough.” He laughed.
“Like I can’t be honest and speak my mind, which by the way”—he motioned at her with his finished tamale before he put it in the pot—“in case you haven’t noticed, I do a lot. But it pisses you off, hence the drama.”
“Judging by your reaction to it, seems to me you enjoy the drama.” Pat was doing so much eye rolling she was surprised she didn’t have a headache yet. “And just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re full of dramatic bullshit. Ever stop to think maybe you’re the problem?”
“Me?” He scoffed, shaking his head. “Just because I speak the truth and sometimes the truth hurts?” He shrugged, grabbing another husk. “Ain’t shit I can do about that, sweetheart.”
“And therein lies the rub.” Pat began putting together another tamale.
Shaking her head, Pat didn’t bother trying to explain Shakespeare to him. “You make these obnoxious blanket statements that are nothing more than just your opinion, but you expect people to just accept them as facts. And when they don’t, they’re the ones with the problem.” Remembering his comment about her being wound too tight, she added, “And it doesn’t piss me off, Max. I’d have to actually care to get pissed off. I was just responding to your lame comments, is all.”
“Ooh, name-calling.” He chuckled. “I’m impressed. Didn’t think you could get any feistier.”
“I didn’t call you lame,” she clarified. “I said your comments are lame.”
Bringing her attention to the tamale he was trying to stand up in the pot, Pat demonstrated how it was done. The verbal sparring ceased for a while as she showed him some more tricks on how to make the process of making the tamales faster. It was more for her benefit than his. She needed to move this along.
Pat wasn’t sure if it was the wine, but the longer she stood in that kitchen with Max, the more she kept observing things she should not be noticing. Like how the muscle on his big forearms flexed whenever he moved them a certain way. How perfectly straight his teeth were each time he smiled big or laughed—which irritatingly was too often. As many times as she’d been around him and his brother, she never thought to use the term bedroom eyes to describe Max’s—until today.
She hated to admit it, but because she was so used to working with clean-cut professionals, she’d always sort of frowned upon Max and Manny’s disheveled facial stubble. But now that she’d had a much longer and up-close view of his salt and pepper stubble, she could see it wasn’t disheveled at all. It was very well kept. Too well kept. Like he paid for it to be trimmed that way.
Max had just made it clear he wasn’t into the bullshit drama of relationships. And despite the obvious impression she’d made on him; she wasn’t wound that tight. She was a grown ass woman with needs of her own. It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility for Pat to do something spontaneous to satisfy them. But getting involved with a man like him, even if it were just a onetime thing, would be absolute madness. The mere fact that she’d allowed even this to be happening had her questioning her sanity.
With the tamales nearly done and the wine bottle gone, Pat suddenly remembered something. “Oh shit.”
She rushed to the kitchen door that led into the garage and walked out. The dryer was still running after all that time. “Damn it.”
Max walked into the garage behind her. “What’s wrong?”
“This stupid dryer. The timer’s not working, and I totally forgot I turned it on just before you got here. It’s been on all this time.”
Taking a few steps closer to examine the timer, Max’s hard forearm grazed her hand, and this time Pat refrained from flinching. “Should be an easy fix.” He turned to her. “Where do you keep your tools?”
Pat winced as she ambled off toward the cabinets in her garage. “I might have screwdriver somewhere in here and a hammer.”
“What? That’s it?”
“Well, I usually call in a handyman,” she explained, holding up a pathetic little screwdriver. “Only reason I hadn’t this time is because I’ve been so busy and I keep forgetting.”
“That’s not gonna cut it.” Max informed her, shaking his head.
“Well, never mind.” She put the screwdriver back in the drawer. “I’ll just have to call someone soon.”
They walked back into the kitchen where Pat checked the tamales. “Umm, they’re ready and they’re good.”
After eating a few each, Pat got up and brought out some plastic wear. “I should’ve brought stuff to make some sweet ones for dessert,” Max said even as he spoke with his mouth full. “I always have to have something sweet after a meal.”
Remembering the lone chocolate-covered strawberry in her fridge, Pat decided she could part with it. She reached over and pulled it out. “Here.” She set it down on the counter in front of him. “It’s my last one, but it’s all yours. I’ll grab more next time I’m at Vons. They’re my favorite.”
She started packing them up for him as he continued to eat on the kitchen island behind her. “Aren’t you gonna leave some for yourself?”
“No, you bought all the stuff.” She glanced back at him. “Take them home to Manny and Aida.”
“Yeah, but you did most of the work,” he insisted. “Leave some for yourself.” Nodding, she placed three on a plate next to her. “Take more than that.”
“No, that’s fine,” she said, covering his container. “There’s only one of me here, and there’s three of you at your place. Besides my behind has enough cushion. Not trying to add more.”
“Oh, I think your cushion’s just fine.”
Feeling her face warm, Pat pressed her lips together, pissed that she’d walked right into that one. Turning back to look at him only made the warmth spread up her neck. He was standing now, holding his empty plate and making no qualms about enjoying the view of her ass.
She cleared her throat, and those bedroom eyes finally lifted to her face. Swallowing hard, she lifted the container with his tamales. “These are ready to go. Thanks for the . . . interesting afternoon and the wine. But I have work I need to get to now.”
“Don’t you ever take a full day off?” he asked as they traded his dirty dish for the container.
She placed the dish in the dishwasher then started to walk him out. “I will tomorrow.”
“None. Just relax, binge-watch something on Netflix, and maybe do more laundry.”
They got to the door, and he flashed that smile that just might be the end of her. “Well, thanks again for showing me how to get this right.”
“No problem. Glad they came out good.”
He started down the stairs, and Pat took in his broad shoulders, big back, and what appeared to be a very hard ass under those jeans. How in the world had she not noticed any of this before? She was only glad now she’d gotten through this and she’d be done giving it any more thought ever again.
Because it was completely out of the question.
Once in his car, he motioned the container of tamales at her and said something as he started to drive out of her driveway. Pat shook her head, touching her ear to let him know she hadn’t heard.
He slowed as he pulled out into the street and backed up a little, leaning over to the passenger-side window. “I said I’ll bring my tools tomorrow when I come drop off your container. Fix your dryer right up.” He saluted her before she could respond to that and drove away.
Pat stood there, jaw falling open. “No, he didn’t.”
Placing his toolbox on the counter in the kitchen, Max walked over to the dishwasher, frowning when he saw no one had bothered turning it on. So, he took Patricia’s container out and grabbed a sponge from the sink. Moe and Manny walked into the kitchen just as Max finished washing the container.
“I thought you said you were ready when I called?” Moe asked in the usual impatient tone he took with Manny. “You do this every time.”
“I had to take a shit!” Manny retorted. “And you know I always have to change my underoos after.” Manny turned to Max. “Where you going?”
Max motioned to the toolbox. “Her dryer needs fixing.”
Moe smirked, taking in the toolbox. “Resorting to doing odd jobs now to get laid?”
Of course, that had Manny instantly chuckling. “Yeah, right. You’d need the jaws of life to pry that uptight bitch’s legs open.”
Shaking off what almost felt like irritation, Max turned to Manny. “Easy. Who said she’s a bitch?”
“This one.” Manny pointed at Moe with his thumb. “Many times. Tell ’em before he gets any crazy idears about your sister-in-law.”
For a moment Moe looked confused; then his eyes went wide. “Patric—? You mean Pat? Izzy’s sister Pat?”
“Yeah, so?” Max finished drying the container with a kitchen towel.
“You’re going to her house?” Moe’s eyes went even wider as he turned to Manny. “And this isn’t the first time?”
“He was there all fucking day yesterday.”
“Not all day.” Max frowned. “Few hours.”
“Please tell me you’re not hitting that shit.” Moe looked completely exasperated. “I’ll never hear the end of it if you fuck with her and then—”
“I’m not hitting shit,” Max said as that odd flustered sensation continued to overwhelm him.
“Well, there’s a surprise.” Manny laughed.
“She was showing me how to make tamales.”
“Yeah.” Manny started up with the wheezing laugh. “After he tricked her and then invited himself over.”
“How’d you trick her?” Moe looked ready to spit. “I may not be crazy about the bitch, but I gotta deal with—”
“Can you both stop calling her a bitch,” Max raised his voice, and there was no question about it now—this did piss him off. “She’s not as bad as everyone says, and by everyone, I mean you, Moe. Manny don’t know shit about her.”
Manny and Moe both stared at him, looking flabbergasted. “Max.” Manny said, for once appearing speechless and said nothing more.
“You’re into Pat?” Moe asked, looking . . . appalled?
“I’m just saying she’s not so bad.” Max shrugged, picking up his toolbox. “I spent a few hours with her yesterday, and sure, she can be a little . . . feisty, but rattling her cage and getting her all worked up is amusing as shit.”
“How’d you trick her?” Moe demanded.
Max explained how he tried but totally fucked up her tamale recipe and how Manny’s fat ass still ate one. “He nearly broke a tooth, biting into an olive pit I put in it. So, I told him to take off his veneers so I could take a picture of his chipped ass teeth and—”
“One chip, asshole.”
Glad to see Moe easing up as the humor danced in his eyes, Max went on. “I sent it to her and told her that happened because of her tamale recipe.”
“By the end of the conversation,” Manny interjected as he always did, “he’d convinced her the least she could do was show him hands–on how to make them. I heard the whole thing. Oh, it was disgusting. You know what this guy was really trying to get his hands on, right?” The wheezing laughter started up again. “His rejected ass was home before five yesterday.”
“Not rejected, you ass.” Max started to the door, done with this conversation. “I didn’t go over there expecting anything. Only reason I went was to learn to make some tamales.” He turned to Manny, who was still laughing at his own fucking joke. “Tamales this guy inhaled half of when I got home. But the timer on her dryer’s broke, so I offered to fix it. Should be a quick fix.” Moe was still peering at him with suspicion. “Kind of fucked up that she has a brother and two brothers-in-law who could be checking in on her and she has to deal with this kind of shit on her own. But you can thank me later.” Walking backwards, he pushed through the screen door with his back, winking at his still-perturbed-looking nephew. “You’re welcome.”
Even as he walked down the steps of his house, Max braced himself to hear more shit from these two. Sure enough, he wasn’t even all the way down when he heard the screen door behind him open.
“Max, I’m serious man,” Moe said as Max continued to his car. “You’re not getting any ideas about Pat.” Max turned to look at Moe, who still appeared to be in complete disbelief about this. “Are you?”
“You know I’m not into relationships.” Max opened his trunk.
“Yeah, exactly,” Moe snapped back. “And she’s totally not the kind of woman you usually gun after, and I don’t just mean because she has a brain.”
Manny laughed, putting his hand on Moe’s shoulder. “Eh, let him be, Moe. What are you worried about? Like I said, he’ll need the jaws of life with that one.”
“Yeah?” Max asked, closing the trunk and feeling annoyed as fuck now. “What do you know about her, huh Manny? Just ‘cause she’s given this one some attitude. It was probably well deserved.”
“I’m just saying.” Moe started down the stairs as Max walked around to the driver side door of his car. “She’s not one of your usual conquests, okay? She’s been through a lot, and if it gets back to Izzy—”
“If what gets back to her?” Max asked over the roof of his car, his patience really beginning to thin. “That I fixed her dryer? She’ll thank me. That’s what should happen.”
“Look,” Max said before Moe said another word. “You’re right. She’s not my type. I’m not her type. She probably thinks me too old and too crass for someone like her anyway.” He shrugged. “I get it. So, stop worrying. I’m not stupid enough to start getting any ideas.”
“You’re not that much older than her!” Manny said, suddenly changing his tune. “That bitch would be lucky to have you.”
“Will you stop calling her that?” Max said through his teeth but took a deep breath. “She’s got some . . . spunk. I’ll give you that. But she’s not a bitch, okay?”
“Did she say those things to you?” Manny demanded, looking ready to spit, and Max had to laugh.
Dropping his shoulders in defeat, he shook his head. “No, she didn’t.”
Manny turned to Moe. “How old is she?”
“I don’t know.” Moe frowned as he turned to Manny. “But she’s a lot older than Izzy.”
Moe started toward the car because Max had already gotten in. He leaned into the passenger window, the annoyed expression replaced with a worried one now.
“Just promise me you won’t fuck with her. And I mean that both literally and figuratively. Izzy worries she’s still not over her ex, even after all these years so that makes her vulnerable. If by chance she has a temporary moment of insanity and actually gives into you—”
“Whatta you talking about moment of insanity?” Manny interjected again. “What makes that skank too good for him?”
“Swear to God, Manny, you keep calling her names—”
“Just don’t,” Moe said, interrupting Max’s threat. Then Moe’s expression morphed into a sweet one. “Please, Uncle Max?”
“Get out of here.” Max laughed, putting the car in reverse. “That shit never worked on me.”
“The hell it didn’t.” Moe laughed. “But seriously, man. Keep it in your pants. You don’t want none of her drama anyway.”
“I already told her that.”
Moe’s brows flew up. “You did?”
Eyeing him suspiciously, Moe was quiet for a moment. “Why? You two talking about that kind of shit already?”
“No.” Max rolled his eyes. “She just asked why I never married. I told her I’ve never done the relationship drama bullshit. So, there. Problem solved. She knows I won’t be suggesting or getting any ideas about a relationship with her. Back up now. I gotta go.”
Both Moe and Manny backed away from his car as he reversed it out of the driveway. Moe was still staring at him even as he pulled out into the street. Until something seemed to come to him.
“Wait!” Max shook his head, chuckling as he started to drive. “That still doesn’t mean you won’t try to . . .”
Too far to hear the end of whatever Moe was saying, Max laughed and finished for him. “Take her up against her kitchen island? Bend her over and spread that perfect little ass of hers? Tease her merciless with my tongue until . . .”
Alright he had to stop before he’d be forced to drive around until his cock calmed down. So, after spending more time with her yesterday, he’d discovered he had a thing for feisty women. Big deal. Thing is they didn’t get any feistier than Patricia, and like yesterday, she hadn’t called to cancel today either.
Maybe she discovered older crass men did do it for her after all. Who knew? All he knew was he wasn’t promising Moe shit.
Despite trying not to, Max’s mind had wandered back onto all the things he’d do to Patricia if he ever got a chance. Which meant his dumb ass did end up having to drive around her block a few times before being able to pull into her driveway without the throbbing bulge in his pants. The only thing that got rid of it was remembering what Moe had said about Patricia still not being over her ex.
It confused Max. What he’d said about not doing the relationship drama bullshit still stood. One day of hanging out with her wasn’t about to change that. And if she did by chance have that temporary moment of insanity, Max would be all for living out all those fantasies he’d begun to have. But that’s all it would be. Whether she was over her ex or not shouldn’t matter. Yet, the thought of it had killed his boner faster than a bucket of ice would’ve.
Shaking off those thoughts, he got out of the car and took the things out of his trunk. Once again, it took her a minute to open the door, and like yesterday, he’d begun to worry he’d been stood up. He was well aware she wasn’t exactly rolling out the welcome wagon. But she could’ve easily called or sent a simple text cancelling his visits, and she hadn’t either time. Could that be what caused the unfamiliar tightening in his belly. It had gotten worse as he’d waited for her to come to the door.
Thankfully, she was on the phone when she answered the door, so Max got a moment to compose himself, damn it. He motioned to her that he was putting the container in the kitchen and then heading into her garage.
“No, I really have given it some thought actually,” she said to whomever she was talking to. “Because this isn’t as easy for me as it is for you, Charles.”
For a moment, Max was curious who Charles was. But then he reminded himself that she was an attorney. She likely spoke to clients or other attorneys all the time.
“Yes, well, there’s a lot at stake for me here. You’re lucky I’ve even agreed to consider this deal.”
Max nodded, satisfied he’d guessed right. He put her container in the fridge and headed out to the garage. A few minutes later he was almost done fixing it when she walked out to the garage, holding the container. “You bought me chocolate-covered strawberries. Thanks.” She bit into one just as he turned to look at her again.
Seeing her wrap her lips and suck the strawberry then close her eyes in pleasure had his crotch coming alive again. “Yeah, I . . . uh . . . I stopped at Vons on my way here.”
He stared at her as she continued to lick her lips slowly, aware that this wasn’t helping the rapid swell in his pants. But he didn’t give a shit. Pat may be younger than him, but she was a grown ass woman. She had to know the one-piece short set she’d chosen to wear today might get him off. Couple that with her sucking away at that strawberry like she was getting ready to moan, no man could be held responsible for his reaction.
Disappointed when she was finally done making love to the piece of fruit, Max forced his eyes away. “I figured I took your last one, so I owed you.” Turning the gage on the timer to almost off, he turned it on, waited a few seconds until it hit off and buzzed loudly, then stopped. “Done.” He turned to her with a smile.
“Oh, wow. That fast?”
“I told you it was a simple fix.” He closed his toolbox, feeling smug. “Just needed the right tools.”
“Well, I guess I owe you now.” She bit into another strawberry, sucking slowly—deeply until their eyes locked.
Was she doing this on purpose? Not that he was complaining. By no means would this be a first for him if that was the case. But this was Patricia. He didn’t understand why, but for some reason, that made a world of difference. Aside from everything going on down below, he was also feeling something else he’d never felt in his life for any woman—awestruck. That is until her eyes traveled downward and her wide-eyed reaction to the unabashed tent in his pants snapped him right out of it. “What are you offering, Patricia?”
Leave it to Max to make Pat’s one shot at a little payback backfire on her so epically. Pat knew he had her pegged as uptight and wound way too tight. It’s why, when she noticed her sucking that first strawberry had messed with his focus, she decided to lay it on a little thicker. She figured, if he could relentlessly amuse himself at her expense, she could give him a harmless taste of his own medicine. Still, no matter how uptight he considered her, he had to know even the laxest of women would be feeling scandalized right about now. She’d dreamt of that damn smirk all night, and now it was taunting her in the worst way imaginable.
Gathering herself, she refused to comment on the elephant in the room. Mostly because she’d be damned if she’d admit to unwittingly asking for it. Lifting her chin, she turned back to the kitchen door and started marching her heated and likely bright red face right out of there. “I meant lunch, Max. But I’m thinking that’s a bad idea now.”
“What? I’m up, uh . . .” Unbelievably, she heard him chuckle. Of course, the shameless jerk was loving this. “Down for lunch.”
They walked into the kitchen, and she headed for the fridge to put the strawberries away. Thankfully, by the time she turned around, he was standing behind the kitchen island, and it was high enough so she couldn’t see below his waist. Following her lead, but still grinning unapologetically, Max went on ignoring the obvious. “Since you do owe me—your words not mine—I say I get to pick what we’re having.” Pat pressed her lips together, staring at that overly amused grin and braced herself. “How ’bout wings or baby back ribs?” Before she could figure out why this amused him so, he added the next part. “Anything I can watch you suck dry.”
Unwilling to give him the upper hand and pissed that he’d managed to turn this so completely around, Pat refused to let him see her squirm. Standing her ground and looking him right in the eyes as unfazed as possible, she shrugged. “Up to you. Just be careful what you ask for. Might be too much for you to handle.”
The offending grin started to go flat, and Pat felt a bit triumphant. Until he flashed those perfect teeth again. “That a challenge or a promise?”
Standing up a little straighter, in spite of how hot her face still felt, Pat was determined to not let him win, but this had gone too far. “Okay, ha, ha. Seriously, unless you want me to throw you out—
“Sweetheart,” he said, holding his hand up. “I’m sorry, but you can’t do or say shit like that and not expect a man to react.”
“Do what?” Pat asked, feeling like a complete hypocrite. “Eat fruit? If I’d known it took so little to—”
“Oh, you have no idea.”
Locked in his sultry gaze again for a moment, Pat managed to snap herself out of it and started back to the fridge.
“Alright,” she said, annoyed that he’d be so utterly tickled by this instead of mortified as he should be. “Do you want lunch or not?”
“Got either of my requests?”
Glad she wasn’t facing him anymore, she closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. “No, I don’t actually. She turned around to face him when she had a thought. “But I can order a pizza.”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” he said thankfully, and just when she thought they’d finally moved on, he added, “Most pizza places have wings.”
The verdict was in loud and clear. Pat had been debating from the moment Max drove away yesterday about whether having him over again was a good idea or not. She’d written several texts she’d talked herself out of sending. After her restless night of being haunted by those maddening grins, and then today, she knew this should end now. Knowing now how easily she could get this man going would only further the temptation of giving into something crazy.
But he had fixed her dryer after bringing her chocolate-covered strawberries, and she was getting hungry. She grabbed her phone from the counter, mind made up. She’d order a pizza, get through lunch with him, then send him on his way—for good this time.
“So, what’s your preference?” he asked. “Pizza Hut? Dominos?”
“Oh, hell no.” She shook her head. “There’s only one place I ever order pizza from.” She scrolled through her contacts. “Zia’s. Ever been?”
Naturally, his expression was a disapproving one when she glanced up at him. More proof that they couldn’t be more opposite. Pat loved the place. “That snooty Italian place on the beach? That place is overrated, and way overpriced. They’re not even all that.”
“Best pizza in all of San Diego if you ask me.”
For once, he was doing the eyerolling. “Yeah, well, I’m not surprised you’d think that.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” She put her phone down on the counter again, ready to go head-to-head with him now.
“I’m just sayin’ I was there once. Saw people eating their pizza with a fork and knife.” He shook his head. “Bunch of pretentious assholes.”
“Are you saying I’m a pretentious asshole, Max?”
Max laughed. Laughed like it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard, even as she continued to glare at him. “Hey, you said it, not me.”
“No. You said you weren’t surprised I liked the place and then followed up by implying only pretentious assholes eat there.”
“Oh, I know.” He pulled out his phone. “Can’t believe it wasn’t the first place I thought of.” He glanced up at her with that eternal gleam in his eyes, giving her objection of his name-calling as much concern as he had when she saw the tent in his pants. “But then I was a little distracted there for a minute.” He laughed again, tapping his phone screen a few times. “Ever try Naked Pizza over on the North Shore?”
Pat thought about that for a moment, still ruffled about the insult. “I have but not in years.”
“Let’s go there,” he said, putting his phone back in his pocket. “I doubt they deliver this far, but we can eat there. They have a bar too.”
“Go?” she asked, not sure she wanted to risk being seen with him.
The place wasn’t too far from either of her sisters and in the same shopping center where Bell usually bought her groceries. She’d have a field day with this, probably try even harder to convince her to give him a shot. But after today, Pat had every intention of putting an end to his intrusive little visits.
“Yeah, why not?”
Pat shrugged. “If it’s all the same to you, I really wasn’t in the mood to go out today. The plan was to just stay home and relax.”
“Alright.” He pulled the phone out again. “I’ll see if by chance they deliver. If not, we can order take out, and I’ll go pick it up. But I have to have it now.” Their eyes met as he brought the phone to his ear. “Pretty sure they have some of that fancy shit you like too.”
She rolled her eyes as he started talking into his phone. How in the world did her sister think for a moment she and Max were in any way compatible?
“No shit?” he said, smiling big, and motioned to Pat. “They do deliver here for a few extra bucks, but I got it. What do you want?”
“No, I got it,” she said, picking up her phone. “Give me a sec to look up their menu.”
Max nodded. “Okay, first, I’ll take an order of wings. What kind do you have?”
Pat shook her head, reading the place’s menu on her phone. If he really thought she’d be sucking those wings for him after what happened in the garage, he was woefully mistaken.
“Ooh, I’ll take the Guinea pie.”
“The what?” he asked.
“It’s the one with meatballs, spinach, and white garlic sauce.”
He stared at her blankly for a second before shaking his head. “One Guinea Pie and a meat lovers. Yeah, that’ll do it.” The smile was back as soon as he hung up. “Should be eating some real pizza in about thirty minutes. Though I don’t know about the one you ordered.”
Not getting into this again, Pat decided to let his comment go and change the subject. “Is your . . . bar open on Sundays?”
“Yep, titty bar runs seven days a week, ten in the morning until four a.m.”
“Really?” Pat started toward the front room, phone in hand, and he followed. “But don’t you have to stop serving alcohol at two?”
He told her about the other stuff they serve, including coffee, and how a lot of the chumps stuck around, thinking they had a shot with some of the waitresses. They chatted a little more about his bar and how it all came together. Then he asked her about her job.
“What made you wanna be an attorney?”
“My dad was one, and I just liked the idea of prosecuting scum.”
Max laughed. “I should’ve known you were a prosecutor, not a defense lawyer.”
“Actually, I started school, set on becoming a defense lawyer. My dad was one.” She picked up her phone when it dinged but put it right down after reading whatever it was. “It’s a lot harder having the burden to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s also heartbreaking to know they’re guilty and have them get off on some technicality or have to offer some bullshit plea bargain because you’re afraid they’ll walk.”
“So, what made you change your mind?”
She was quiet for a moment before frowning. “More like who changed my mind.” She shook her head. “I met my ex-husband in law school. He was studying to pass the bar exam the year I started school, so he started practicing before me. After hearing all the stories of his cases, it just seemed so much more rewarding. But then he was a damn good prosecutor, so I rarely got to hear about him losing a case. Too bad the brilliant bastard went and got himself disbarred.”
It was almost strange to finally get a response from Max where he didn’t look ready to drop another punchline. For once he looked serious—almost annoyed. Just as she was getting ready to respond, he added another comment. “I heard you’re still not over the bastard.”
Max stared at a very stunned-looking Patricia, who was now sitting up a little straighter—tenser. It’d be worth having to hear the shit he knew he was in for from his nephew if this got back to him. Moe’s comment about her still not being over her ex was the only thing putting a slight damper on what was otherwise turning out to be another amusing-as-hell day with Patricia. If he had to sit here and listen to her refer to her ex as brilliant, then Max wasn’t letting her off the hook.
“Romero told you this?” she asked, looking beyond annoyed. “How would he know—?”
“He said your sister worries that you might still be pining for the guy.” He shrugged, and for the first time in . . . ever, he had to force a smirk. “But you can’t tell her I told you. Moe wasn’t gossiping.”
She tilted her head, still looking very much annoyed. “Really? What else would you call it, Max?”
“Let’s just say I got a little warning this morning about not getting any ideas about you.” He brought one of his legs half up the sofa as he sat further back and made himself comfortable. “Are you over your ex?”
Her expression changed to a more quizzical one. “Why would he warn you? What did you tell him?”
He explained quickly about that morning and how, after he reminded Moe that he didn’t do relationships, his nephew jumped all over him and told him about Izzy’s worries. “Thinks your vulnerable because of it. Are you?”
She was momentarily quiet until she shook her head, her expression morphing into an unfamiliar one. The fire he’d seen in her eyes earlier was gone, and for a second there, she seemed a little pensive—poignant. Swallowing hard as he waited for her response, Max tried in vain to understand why the answer and her reaction to this line of questioning mattered to him.
“Well, nothing could be further from the truth.” She sat back again as Max continued to try and make sense of why this relieved him so. Still looking a little too pensive about this, she went on. “I hadn’t heard from him in a long time, and he reached out a little over a month ago. I mentioned it to Bell, who I know wasn’t thrilled I didn’t hang up on the jerk. Without saying you said anything to me about it, I’ll just have to make it a point to clarify how over him I really am.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Why didn’t I what?”
“Hang up on the asshole?”
Max made sure to emphasize that last part because, until Moe brought it up that morning, he’d forgotten about something he had no reason to remember before now—her ex had cheated on her. It’s why they’d divorced. While Max didn’t remember all the details of it because his nephew had told him and Manny about it a while back, the one thing he did remember was Moe saying the guy was a total douche. He wouldn’t sit here and listen to her upgrade the guy to just a jerk.
Again, with that undiscernible expression, she was quiet for a moment before shrugging. “I stopped hating him years ago. I just . . .” She shook her head before finishing. “It was less energy to just take the call than get all melodramatic about it by being nasty and hanging up on him.”
About to ask why’d she’d answered in the first place, Max was glad when his phone rang, keeping him from doing so. He still didn’t understand why the fuck this would matter one way or another. If he kept up the inquisition and she posed the question, he’d have nothing for her.
“What’s up, Moe?” Max smirked with anticipation, despite not really feeling it at the moment.
“Where are you?”
“I told you where I was going this morning.”
“You’re still there?” His nephew’s annoyance had him chuckling despite the unreasonable annoyance he’d begun to feel before the call. “We went to three different places for the spark plugs Manny needed because this cheap fuck thought he could get a better deal somewhere else.
“I did find them cheaper!” Manny yelled in the background.
“Then he made me stop at the taco truck,” Moe went on, ignoring Manny, “for a quick brunch snack, and he ordered a quesadilla the size of a fucking tractor tire that took forever to be made. I thought for sure you’d be home by the time we got back. You said this was a quick fix.”
“It was. I’m done.”
“So why you still there?”
“She offered to feed me as a gesture of her gratitude.”
“She’s cooking for you now?”
Max had to laugh. If his nephew only knew how unlikely his chances of getting into this woman’s pants were, he’d have nothing to worry about.
“No. We ordered pizza, but we’re waiting on it to be delivered.”
“And then you’re out, right? No funny stuff?”
“What are you talking about?” Max laughed again. “Maybe your stuff is funny. Mine is some serious shit that may get loud, but I guarantee you there’s no laughing involved.”
“Max, I swear to God you better be kidding—”
“I am!” Max continued to laugh. “But seriously, is this all you called for? Because if it is, I’m hanging up now.”
“Just listen to me,” Moe said, sounding uncharacteristically worried. “If things go there, because I have a bad feeling about this shit, just promise me that you’re both clear on the expectations here. She’s still hung up on her ex, and you don’t do relationships. You clear?”
With his laughing mood snuffed suddenly, Max ground his teeth for a moment. He glanced up at Patricia, who’d been listening to the one-sided conversation the whole time and seemed to be watching him closely now.
“Crystal,” he said as his and Patricia’s eyes locked.
“Good. Eat your pizza and get your ass out of there, before you do something I can guarantee you’ll regret.”
As soon as he hung up, Patricia hit him up. “So, what was he making sure you were crystal clear about?”
Surprised by this, Max peered at her, wondering if maybe the volume on his phone was too loud and she’d heard Moe. But she shrugged. “Unless you were talking about a girl named Crystal, typically the one-word response would be because someone was asking if you were clear about something?”
“Is that right? Wow.” Max smiled at her. “That’s exactly what he asked.”
Patricia smiled. “Don’t look so impressed, Max. Like My Cousin Vinny there are several courthouse dramas in particular I’ve seen often, and A Few Good Men just so happens to be one of the most quoted movies of all time. Not the part where Colonel Jessep demands certainty that Kaffee is clear about his pompous rant. But I’ve seen the movie enough times that it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I hear someone ask or say they’re crystal clear. Anyway, it was pretty obvious just from hearing your end of that conversation. Was he making sure you’re clear about not getting any ideas again?”
“Yeah.” Max nodded, keeping to himself how sure Moe sounded when he said she’s still hung up on her ex. “Guess he’s worried I might do something stupid that Izzy would be upset about. But we both know that’s out of the question . . . right?”
“It is. I’m surprised he doesn’t see how impossible it would be for anything between you and me to ever work.” Before he could ask her to elaborate, she was saved by the damn bell, the doorbell that is. She was instantly on her feet. “Can you get that, please? I have to go grab my wallet.”
“I got it. Don’t worry about.”
“No,” she said so loud Max turned to look at her on his way to the door. “I, uh . . . owe you remember. I got it.”
She hurried out of the room as Max continued to the door. He opened it, taking the two pies and wings from the delivery girl. “Thank you. She’ll be right out with the money.”
Patricia rushed back into the room. “How much is it?”
“Forty-three eighty-nine,” the young girl at the door said.
“Damn it, I only have a twenty in cash.” Patricia pulled the twenty out of her wallet. “Do you take credit cards?”
“Get out of here.” Max handed the food to Patricia and pulled out his wallet.
“Max, I said I got this.”
“You can get the next one.” He pulled out a fifty and handed it to the girl. “Keep the change, sweetheart.”
The girl thanked him and left as he turned back to Patricia and took the food from her. She held the twenty out to him. “Here, at least let me pay for part of it.”
“Nope.” Max started back to the kitchen with the food. “This place was my idea, and I forgot it can get kind of pricey too. But at least this pizza’s worth it.”
Once back in the kitchen, they ate off the paper plates the restaurant provided. The pizza was as good as Max remembered it, even the one Patricia ordered with the white sauce instead of marinera. To Max’s disappointment, she passed on the wings, but otherwise, the conversation as they ate was mundane small talk about the food itself.
That is until the subject of her ex was brought up again—by Patricia this time. “I used to order this particular pie all the time,” she said, biting into it and closing her eyes as she chewed. “I’d forgotten how good it is. Ironically, it was one of my favorites until my asshole ex introduced me to Zia’s.”
Eating the last piece in her hand, Patricia dropped the paper plate in the trashcan. Once again, the unmistakable poignancy was back. Despite her referring to her ex as an asshole, something about her melancholy demeanor when speaking of the guy Max found grating as fuck. As much as he knew it shouldn’t matter, for whatever reason, Max needed to get this straight. Especially after what Moe had said on the phone.
“You said you stopped hating him a long time ago. What does that mean?”
Their eyes locked for a moment until she lifted and dropped that dainty shoulder. “Exactly what it sounds like. It wasn’t worth the energy it took to continue being pissed at him.”
“Because you’d have to care to get pissed.” Max repeated the words she’d used on him earlier.
“Exactly.” She lifted her chin, though the conviction in which she usually did this was noticeably missing. “I stopped caring about him the moment I found out he cheated.”
“Is that right?”
She cleared her throat before answering. “Yes,” she said, looking Max right in the eyes.
But she wasn’t fooling anyone. Max had been right about having picked up on some of her unspoken gestures, and again he saw the uncertainty—or something in her eyes. Stop caring his ass. His growing irrational annoyance over this was confusing as hell. Maybe it was just his abhorrence of having his intelligence insulted. Clearly, she was still feeling something for the guy. As uncomfortable as this topic seemed to make her, Max couldn’t just drop it.
“So, why’d you bother answering when he called?”
Max thought he saw her eyes start to well up when she glanced away and then up, but she turned around and walked to the fridge before he could confirm. “I just . . .” She shrugged as she continued to search the fridge. “I dunno. I guess.” The pitch in her voice went up a notch as Max’s heartbeat sped up. “I wanted . . .”
“Are you crying?”
She closed the fridge but didn’t turn around to face him. Instead, she wiped at her eyes. Max watched in disbelief as she walked over to the napkin dispenser. She grabbed one, dabbed her eyes with it, and finally turned around. Her eyes were completely bloodshot, and for a second, Max wanted to ask if she was seriously crying over the fucking douchebag, but then her face scrunched up, and she brought her hands to her face.
Max was around the center island in a second and in front of her, cradled her tear-stricken, beautiful face in his hands. He searched those startled but still very much shattered eyes. As much as he hated that Moe and Izzy had been right, he needed to hear it from her. “You’re still hung up on this guy, aren’t you?”
Shaking her head obstinately, Pat felt stupid because she knew what Max must be thinking. As much as it shouldn’t matter what he thought about this scenario, she didn’t want anyone to think for a moment that she wasn’t over her asshole ex-husband. Because she was. Absolutely over him.
“I told you.” She wiped at her tears as he let go of one side of her face, but his other hand still cupped the other side of her face. “I’ve been over him for a long time.”
“Then why you crying over him? And why’d you answer his call if he’s such an asshole?”
Feeling her face scrunch again just thinking about, Pat couldn’t even look at him now. “It’s so humiliating.”
“What’s humiliating?” Max asked, sounding a little hot.
“Am I really that bad?” she squeaked, feeling so weak, but it was something she wondered for so long. “It’s no secret many think me difficult.” Max’s expression changed to a softer one, but she wasn’t trying to guilt him. She just needed him to understand the real reason for these stupid tears. “Charles risked everything because I was that hard to live with. For the longest time, I’ve had to live with the fact that the man preferred to risk ruining his life than have to live with me.”
“What do you mean ruined his life?” Max’s concerned eyes searched hers. “He had an affair, baby. Lots of men—”
“He lost his license to practice law forever.” Pat attempted to speak clearly even through her sniveling. “Something he’d worked so hard to get. He was a brilliant prosecutor with such a promising future, Max. He didn’t just have an affair either. He had a child with her and married her while he was still married to me. He was living a double life, and he knew what the risks were when he embezzled money from my father’s campaign funds to finance his other life, because I wasn’t enough woman for him. Between the embezzlement and bigamy charges, he could’ve done some hard time. His marriage to the other woman was invalid since he was already married. He knew it, but apparently, she didn’t. So, he knew the risks he was facing. In the end, he lost her and custody of his child as well. But it was still all worth the risk just to get away from me as often as he did.”
Her face scrunched up again, and it felt almost impossible to talk for the boulder lodged in her throat now. This time Max hugged her, and it wasn’t until that moment in his strong arms pressed against his big hard body and she’d calmed, that she gave any thought to him calling her baby. The distraction of that relieved a little of the discomfort she was feeling from her aching throat, but the knot she was feeling in her belly was for an altogether different reason now.
“I like that you’re uptight, Patricia.” She sniffled against his chest, feeling her heartbeat speed up. “Suits you well. It’s hilarious how worked up you get over things. Some guys . . . lots of assholes full of themselves, get a hard-on juggling more than one woman.” He pulled away to look at her and wiped some of her tears away. “How brilliant can this douche be not to see what he had? You’re the brilliant one, and on top of that, you’re fucking beautiful, babe.” He kissed the top of her head then the side of her face as Pat’s heart continued to pound away. “Fuck everybody who labels you difficult. It’s what makes you, you. Just because you were too much woman for him to handle . . .” Their eyes met, and he held her gaze for a moment. “I wouldn’t change a thing about you.”
His eyes dropped to her lips and then he kissed them, softly, gently, and with such tenderness that, despite her qualms about anything happening between them, Pat knew she was a goner. Everything she’d said about this being out of the question flew out the window with that one kiss. Giving into it, because she was so done missing out on life just because she never took risks, she inhaled deeply in between kisses and wrapped her arms around his neck.
Pat had always suspected that, despite his obnoxiousness, given Max’s smug personality, the man was likely a good kisser, and boy had she been right. She could only imagine him in bed. After spending a single day with him, she’d since upgraded her assessment of him from attractive to sexy-as-hell, but also someone she could easily fall for—and shouldn’t. It’s why this day had begun with her being completely against allowing anything like this to happen.
Now she didn’t want this to end. As he’d so blatantly displayed earlier, and he’d now admitted outright, Max was definitely attracted to her. The hard evidence of that pressed against her waist as he continued to kiss her, long and deep. Bringing a hand down from behind his neck, Pat slid it down his big hard shoulder and arm then down to his waist and hip. She was so ready for this. The stuff she’d told him about her dating since her divorce wasn’t a lie. She really had been on a few dates since. She just hadn’t slept with anyone, and her lady parts throbbed now in anticipation. Moving her hand a little lower, she slid it over his massive bulge, gripped it, and moaned.
Max moaned back against her lips, gasping as their kissing became more frantic. Then just as it started so unexpectedly, it ended when he pulled away suddenly. She moved her hand away from his still rock-hard erection, and they both struggled to catch their breath.
“I’d been dying to do that since yesterday,” he said, still breathing erratically but continued to pull further away. “Didn’t mean to take advantage of your emotional state. I just—”
“It’s okay.” She shook her head. “I enjoyed it.” A little embarrassed now, she chuckled. “Obviously, and at that moment, I needed it.”
“Yeah, that’s what I figured. It’s why I stopped.” Unlike most of the times he spoke to her about anything, there were no smirking or wisecracks. Instead, he seemed . . . unnerved. “Didn’t want you to do anything you might regret later.”
Her face warmed and she nodded. “I guess I did get a little carried away for a moment there.”
He smiled, but nothing like she expected from Max Romero after the moment they’d justhad.Itwasabitstrainedsomehow and so unlike him. Clearinghisthroat, he took a few steps back. “I think I should get going.”
Surprised and not sure if she should feel insulted, Pat was at a loss for words as he started out of the kitchen. She didn’t want to protest or question this very unexpected turn of events. As desperate as she’d felt just moments earlier and despite her still throbbing lady parts, she certainly wasn’t about to beg.
“You should take your leftover pizza,” Pat said, breaking up the awkward silence as he picked up his toolbox from the front room. “This is way too much for me.”
He walked back into the kitchen. “I’d probably be doing Manny a favor by leaving it. His ass could do without all the extra calories. But if you’re not gonna eat it—”
“I’m not.” Pat took a few slices of the Guinea pie and added it to his meat lover’s box as well then closed it. “Even the leftovers of mine are way too much.”
When she glanced up at him, he was staring at her, as he had just before he kissed her. “Any man would be lucky to have you, Patricia. I can guarantee you this asshole regrets losing you every day of his life.”
She began to nod, refusing to get emotional again as Max leaned in and pecked her lips. She pecked him back, and he did it again until he was kissing her long and deep again, and she was helpless to protest. But then, as he had before, he pulled away inhaling deeply. “I need to go.”
Beginning to understand what felt too much like rejection, Pat nodded. “I get it.”
“No, you don’t,” he said, grabbing the box of pizza, and headed out.
She wanted to ask him to explain it then. Why he needed to leave if he so obviously wanted this as much as she did now. Was he that afraid she’d demand a relationship? Had her tears spooked him into thinking she might turn into a blubbering cling-on? But her pride wouldn’t allow it, because a part of her knew that might not be too far from the truth. Not the clingy part, she’d die before she’d beg any man. But as much as her head insisted she could do the friends-with-benefits thing with him, her heart knew better. She’d never admit it now, but despite so vehemently swearing anything with him was out of the question, after just a day and a half and a few amazing kisses from this man, she’d already begun to fall for him.
He turned before walking out with a visibly forced smile so unlike him. Pat didn’t bother forcing a smile and said nothing. She stood there hearing the sound of his opening and closing car door or trunk outside. She waited to hear the engine start up and for him to drive away for very possibly the last time.
Had her doing something so out of character backfired on her ass again? Before she could wrap herself around that exasperating thought, there was a sound at the door, and she gasped when Max burst back in with conviction.
“Are you really over him?” he asked as he stalked toward her.
He cupped her face again as soon as he was close enough and searched her eyes. “Did you have a moment of insanity just now because of your emotional breakdown? Is that why you let me kiss you? Is that why you—?”
“No.” She shook her head as adamantly as she could, given his hands were still cupping her face. “I gave into the kissing because it was amazing. I wanted it.”
“You really think anything between us is impossible?”
“You tell me. You’re the one that doesn’t do relationships.”
“Forget everything I said about that.” He kissed her softly before pulling away and looking into her eyes. “You were right. I was dating the wrong women.” He kissed her again deeper this time, and she groaned when he pulled away again. “And the only reason you answered his call is really just because you wanted to ask him why he’d risk so much?” She nodded, feeling a little stupid now for getting so damn emotional about it. “What did he say?”
“I never asked him. I changed my mind.”
“Good. The asshole doesn’t deserve to know it bothered you that much.” He continued searching her eyes as if looking for something but said nothing for a moment until he took a deep breath before exhaling big and spoke quickly. “Patricia, the reason I walked out just now is because I didn’t know it until I kissed you that I’ll need more than what I thought might be happening. I need to know you’re not just doing this now on a whim. I know this is fast and we can take it as slow as you want. I’ll even keep it to myself until your ready to tell anyone. I just wouldn’t be able to deal with hearing about you and your ex or anyone else for that matter. Most important, I need to know you’re really over him.”
“I’m completely over him, Max. I swear to you.” She chuckled, squeezing his big forearm. “As much as I actually toyed with the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone and considering the possibility of something as spontaneous and wild as a meaningless fling”—she rolled her eyes with a smirk— “who are we kidding? If I do this, there’s no way I’d be able to handle hearing about you with anyone else either.”
That smile she didn’t even realize she’d been slowly falling in love with replaced the concerned expression Max wore as he’d laid it all out for her. “So that’s a yes?”
Pat nodded, still barely able to believe she was doing this. But then his lips were on hers again, and he kissed her so deeply her entire body burned with anticipation. Hell, yeah, she was doing this.
Max pulled away and reached for her hand. “Come on,” he said, pulling her toward the garage door.
“My bedroom’s that way.” She pointed the other way as he turned to look at her.
That evil smirk he loved to torment her with was back. “I said I can only do this if I know you’re mine and only mine, Patricia. But trust me. If stepping out of your comfort zone is something you wanna try, we’ll be stepping way out—a lot.
Surprised her heart rate could speed up anymore, Pat’s mind raced, wondering where he was taking her. They walked into her garage. “I had vision of bending your ass over that dryer when you were making love to that damn strawberry earlier, but I have a better idea now.” He pulled her to him when they got to the washer and indulged her with even more of his heavenly kisses then pulled away, gazing at her with those bedroom eyes. “I don’t suppose you have any toys, do you?”
“Toys?” The moment she said it she knew what he was talking about and her face heated.
Before she could say more, he was kissing her again, a little more frantic this time, and her body was going crazy now. He started down her neck and her shoulders, pulling the straps down her arm. “Tell the truth,” he said between kisses. “Did you wear this today because you knew it would drive me crazy?”
“No,” she said breathlessly, her body yearning for him now. “But I’m glad it did.”
“I take it that was also a no on the toys?” He started undoing the buttons on her one-piece. “I do actually. One.”
He stopped and looked at her, before grinning sinfully. “Then you know how this works.”
Like someone who knew exactly what he was doing, and before she even had a chance to gasp, he had her stripped down to nothing and picked her up onto the washer. Pat didn’t know whether to question the lack of time for modesty or be thankful for it.
He sucked her breasts as he fidgeted with the washer controls. Looking up at her as her ass started to vibrate to the spin cycle, the evil gleam in his eyes spiked her senses even further. “Think of this as one giant toy.”
Sliding a finger deep in her, Max pulled it out and slid it up and down her slit as Pat arched her back in reaction. “This is gonna be fast, Patricia.” He unzipped his pants, and Pat nearly gasped at the length he pulled out. “I can already tell, but don’t worry. We’ll move things to your bedroom where I’ll take it slow the rest of the day.”
Rest of the day?
She gulped as the adrenaline rush from barely believing she was letting this happen had her heart racing like crazy. Between that, his magic fingers, and the vibrating washer under her, Pat was glad about his warning about this being fast. The moment he plunged into her with a purpose, stretching her but hurting so good, she knew she’d be just a few thrusts away from exploding. She gasped as her sex began to implode and then it happened. Maybe it’d been too long. Maybe because she was going so against the grain doing this or maybe it was just the damn spin cycle. But it was hands down the single most incredible orgasm she’d ever experienced.
Her crying out had him burying himself deep in her with a groan. With the washer still going, it felt like she came several times as she held on to him for dear life. Mercifully, he hit the stop button, and the washer finally stopped vibrating under her.
They held each other as they both came down from the magical climax. With their breathing finally calming, Max pulled away to look at her. To Pat’s surprise, he didn’t smirk or even smile playfully. He looked . . . nervous? Pat searched his eyes. Did he regret it now?
Before she could ask, he lifted her chin and kissed her softly. “There’s no going back now, Patricia. I hope you’re ready for this.”
“I am,” she whispered wistfully.
Because she really was. Time to finally really live, and if this was living, she was all in.
“Good. Let’s take this to your bedroom.”
More than two weeks after Max and Patricia had consummated their new relationship for the first time, things were still on the downlow. They’d since done a whole lot of helping Pat out of her comfort zone. On her kitchen counter, in the shower, on the hood of her car in her driveway late in the evening—that one took some persuading. But he’d made sure she’d be all for doing it again after the way he took care of her that night.
They’d agreed to keep the relationship to themselves for now. Patricia wasn’t ready to tell the world, especially as fast as things happened. She said her sisters would worry, given how unlike her it was to do something so spontaneous like jumping into a relationship so quickly. Especially with someone she’d first thought she was so incompatible with.
“They’ll think I’ve gone off the deep end,” she’d said but was quick to assure Max she didn’t mean it in a bad way. “I’m just saying, if you thought I was wound too tight, you don’t know the half of it. I can admit it now, and my sisters would absolutely question my sanity for doing something so impulsive.”
They’d even been around everyone together for Moe’s birthday gathering. But they’d played up their disagreeing on just about everything. It wasn’t hard. Despite him being crazy about her now and her seemingly feeling the same about him, it was still too easy to rile her up.
Max was cool with keeping things on the downlow—for now. He could also admit this had been impulsive. Even for him. For years he’d been saying he didn’t do the relationship bullshit drama and now he’d jumped into one with a woman so opposite of him, no less. Talk about the potential for drama. But every time he was around her, with each new kiss and time they made love, he was even more sure he was all in. All he cared about, for now, was her promise that she was over her ex, wanted nothing to do with him anymore, and this thing they were doing was absolutely exclusive.
Even the age difference didn’t matter. At thirty-three, she was ten years his junior, but with Patricia being the way she was, most the time he felt like the younger much less mature one and he loved it. She’d keep him young forever. She’d since mentioned her ex was also older than her. Though, Max didn’t ask her to elaborate because, after witnessing her cry over the fucker, he didn’t even like to hear her talk about him.
He used to laugh and tease Moe about what a fucking cave man the guy could turn into when it came to Izzy. Now he knew better. Max had been dating the wrong women, because the entitlement he felt over Patricia in such a short span of time he’d never felt for any woman—ever. It was insane. Maybe seeing her vulnerable side had done him in. Maybe it was because a match that seemed so impossible and had come together so quickly meant that much more.
Whatever it was, while he’d been tempted to tell Manny about it, he hadn’t out of respect for Patricia’s wishes. Even that was huge. He’d never kept anything from his brother, especially something this big, but on top of the entitlement, he was beyond protective of Patricia’s feelings now. Though he had caught himself more than once talking too much about her to his brother.
“Where you going?” Moe eyed Max suspiciously as he walked into the kitchen.
It was Manny and Aida’s anniversary, and they’d invited Moe and his family over for dinner so they could watch the video of Manny’s drive-thru wedding in Vegas again. Like they did every year.
This was the first night since his and Patricia’s first night together that Max might not be able to see her. It was fucking ridiculous. He was a grown ass man, and here he’d been trying most of the evening to sneak out without being caught. But ever since that first night with her when he hadn’t gotten home until after midnight and Manny’s big mouth let Moe know, his nephew had been suspicious of what was really going on between him and Patricia. His being gone so much now because he couldn’t get enough of her didn’t help the suspicions either. But staying true to Patricia, he’d given nothing up. Though he knew both Manny and his nephew weren’t exactly buying all his lies.
“They’re about to start the video,” Moe said, lulling baby Romeo in his arms. “I thought maybe you were trying to sneak off. God knows I would if I could, but Izzy’s on the phone checking on her sister again, and I got these two all over me.”
Max looked down and smiled at Mandy hugging her daddy’s leg. But he was more interested in what Moe had said just before he’d motioned to his daughter. “Something going on with Izzy’s sister?”
“Charles is in town.”
“Pat’s ex-husband.” Romero looked down at the baby, who smiled up at him. “Mommy worries too much ’bout auntie, doesn’t she?”
Charles risked everything because I was that hard to live with.
It was a conversation Max had since blocked out until now. He’d hated seeing her so broken up over this asshole. “What’s she worried about?”
“Guess he’s trying to weasel his way back in her life. She told Izzy a few weeks back he’d been insisting they get together for lunch or coffee when he’d be in town this week. Izzy hasn’t been able to get a hold of her today.”
Last Max had heard from Patricia that day she’d been at work. Because of this anniversary dinner, he hadn’t tried to get a hold of her in a while, but she should’ve been home by now. Just then Izzy walked into the kitchen, taking Romeo from Moe.
“Did you get a hold of her?” Moe asked.
“No, but she did text back to say she couldn’t talk and that she’d call me in a little bit.”
Izzy smiled down at her giddy son as she cradled him in her arms. Manny hollered from the front room that the video was about to start. With a groan, Moe picked up Mandy and started back into the front room, a giggling Izzy following. She turned back to Max before walking out of the kitchen. “You coming? You know you love this.”
“Yeah, I live for it.” Max shook his head. “I’ll be there in a sec.”
The moment they were gone he started to pull his phone out, his mind still thinking of what Moe said. A few weeks ago, Patricia told Izzy Charles wanted to get together with her? And then he remembered something else. The morning Max arrived at her house to fix her dryer; she’d been on the phone with a Charles. Between everything that happened that day and now the whirlwind romance that followed, he’d forgotten all about that. When she’d said Charles had reached out over a month ago prior to that day, Max had just assumed it was the one time and she hadn’t heard from him again since. And she sure as fuck wouldn’t stay in touch with him now, right?
As his insides warmed, Max wracked his mind to remember why he’d assumed the call was work-related that day. Something about considering a deal. Could this be just a coincidence or was whatever deal he’d been proposing her asshole ex’s way of weaseling back in her life? And she’d been considering it?
This isn’t as easy for me as it is for you.
“Max,” Manny called out. “You coming or not?
“Go ahead and start without me. I need to make a phone call.”
It had to be a coincidence, he thought as he brought the phone to his ear. As his insides began to smolder, Max took a deep breath, reminding himself of his surroundings. He had to be cool.
“No fucking way,” he muttered as he walked out onto the back porch. “There’s no way she’d be considering anything with this guy.”
“Hey,” she answered, making his heart speed up.
Since she hadn’t answered Izzy’s call, he’d half expected her not to answer. “Hey, you busy?”
“No, what’s up? You on your way?” Normally, the playful and eager tone would’ve had him smiling; instead he gripped the phone a little tighter.
“No. Not yet anyway. I got this thing going on over here. Listen,” he said, eager to get this straight. “The day I fixed your dryer, that morning when I got to your house, you were on the phone. Who were you talking to?” There was complete silence on the other end, and for a moment, Max thought maybe their call dropped. “You there?”
“Yeah.” She cleared her throat. “I’m here. That um . . . that was Charles who’d called.”
“Your ex?” Max asked, feeling even hotter now.
“I thought the last time you talked to him was over a month ago.”
“I never said that.” The quick response felt almost prepared. “I said he hadn’t reached out in a long time before he’d called a little over a month ago. But he’s since called several times.”
“For what? And just what is it you’re considering?”
She was quiet again, unnerving Max to no end. “The first time he called he said he’d been doing some soul-searching and needed to get some things off his chest.” She cleared her throat again as Max ground his teeth. “Since we’d stopped speaking almost immediately after I found out about his affair and he’d been up to his eyeballs trying to stay out of jail, he said he never did get a chance to tell me how sorry he was about everything.”
“What are you considering, Patricia?”
It surprised Max how fast he could lose his patience, but even she had to know how little patience he’d have when it came to this shit.
Hearing her exhale only wound him up more. “I’m not anymore, but he knew even the first time he called that he’d be in the San Diego area this week. He asked if maybe we could grab some coffee or something, and at first, I said no.”
“At first?” Max asked as his insides ignited.
“I only ever said I’d consider after he called back several times to ask if I’d reconsider.”
“So, after everything that fucker did, you would consider—”
“For me, it was never about considering getting together with him, Max.” Unable to stand still anymore, Max had rushed down the stairs of the porch and started pacing in the backyard. “Somehow, he ended up with a box full of photos of me and my siblings and my parents. Photos of my parents as a young couple.”
She explained how she’d gone crazy looking for them and had just about given up until he mentioned it. “He said he’d meant to send them to me but always held out so he could deliver them to me one day when he finally got the chance to apologize in person.”
“I know, and after that Sunday, I knew that would be out of the question.”
“Completely out of the fucking question.”
“I get it, Max,” she said, sounding a little annoyed. “And he’s the first one I told about being in a relationship now.”
Max stopped in his tracks. “You talked to him again since then and you didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t see the point.” Her tone was less annoyed now, and she was back to speaking quickly as if she knew Max was about to lose his shit. “He’d texted me late last night when he was at the airport getting ready to fly out.”
Max was back to pacing as she explained further. Fucking relationship bullshit drama. Max knew he’d have to deal with it at some point. He just hadn’t expected it to be this soon.
“Only reason I answered this morning was because I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t hold my photos hostage.” She sighed. “They’re irreplaceable, Max. I don’t have copies or the negatives anymore. I had to play nice.”
Coming to what felt like a screeching halt again, Max pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, willing himself not to go ape shit. “What do you mean by play nice, Patricia?”
“I just mean I had to be nice about it.” She sped up her response again. “But he knows now why there’s no way I could ever meet up with him. I made that more than clear, and he said he understood. He said he’ll get the photos to me.”
“I don’t know. I’m assuming he’ll send them. But I cut the call short as soon as I had that assurance.
Taking a deep breath, Max started up the stairs of the porch again but stopped before going in. “Just so we’re clear here. From everything you’ve told me about this guy, he sounds like he’s got an ego the size of fucking Texas. You know what he’s trying to do here, right?”
She was quiet for a moment. “He can’t possibly think—”
“Oh, I’m sure he can, and he does. After everything he did, I’m sure this guy would love nothing more than to prove to himself—and you—that he could still get you back, at the very least in bed, if he really wanted to. Especially now that he knows it’ll be an even bigger challenge.”
“I know he’s an asshole, but it’s not the impression I got,” she said as Max closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “He’s seeing a shrink now and—”
“Patricia,” Max said, trying not to snap. “Just promise me you won’t take his calls anymore and stop responding to his fucking texts. No more playing nice. I’m sure the photos mean a lot to you, but you said it yourself. You’d already given up on them. Are they really more important than ruining us? Because this is exactly what I was talking about when I said I didn’t do the bullshit drama.”
“I wasn’t planning on taking his calls anymore, Max.”
“Or responding to his texts,” Max said, making sure he got this perfectly straight.
“Thank you.” Jesus Christ.
Max offered to go with her to get the pictures if she really wanted them that bad and couldn’t wait for the douche to send them. “Yeah, why don’t we do that?” he said as the idea sounded even better. “I can tell the fucker—”
“No thanks,” she said immediately. “I’ll just wait, thank you very much.”
Frowning, Max rubbed the stubble on his chin. “Suit yourself.”
Somewhat satisfied he’d heard the last of this, Max explained briefly about Manny’s lame anniversary tradition and let her know he’d be over later than expected. He had a feeling Manny and Moe were on to him anyway. Fuck giving up seeing her tonight just to be discreet.
He’d just about snapped out of his tense mood after he and Moe busted Manny’s balls for a while. Near the end of the video, Izzy got up to take a call in the kitchen. They got to the part where they passed the mic around for people to give their well wishes. “This part’s boring,” Moe said, getting up with the baby and heading to the kitchen.
“Yeah, fast-forward this shit,” Max said.
Manny and Max exchanged glances when they heard Moe ask Izzy what was wrong. Manny pressed pause so they could hear if maybe she’d gotten some bad news. Max was on his feet, heart thudding the moment he heard Patricia’s name. He slowed just before he reached the kitchen door when he heard Izzy mention Charles.
“. . . it’s why she had to hang up. He was at her door.”
“Charles is at Patricia’s,” Max asked, feeling his heartrate spike. “Right now?”
Both Moe and Izzy turned to look at him as a startled Izzy nodded. Instantly on fire, Max grabbed his keys. “This motherfucker.”
Moe handed the baby to Izzy as Max bolted past them. “I fucking knew it! Max hold up. Let me get my shoes on.”
Waiting for no one, Max was in his car skidding out the driveway within seconds.
The EXPLOSIVE Finale!
It took her a few minutes to kick off the three-inch heels and throw a robe over the little black dress she’d been wearing for Max. Pat had actually considered not opening the door at all. But the photo of her young parents Charles held up for her as she peeked out the window changed her mind. It was the only reason she hadn’t sent him on his way the moment she saw who it was at her door. Only after her conversation with Max earlier, Charles at her doorstep made her anxious now. Especially knowing Max would be calling any minute to tell her he was on his way.
“You’re as beautiful as always.”
You know what he’s trying to do here, right?
Swallowing hard, she held her hand out for the box of photos. No, they were not worth ruining her relationship with Max. But she figured there was nothing she could do about Charles being there now. She may as well take them from him.
“Thank you,” she said as he handed her the box. “I thought you’d be sending them.”
“Well, I drove by and figured if there was only one car in the driveway it might be okay to just stop by and deliver them in person—as I’d always hoped to do.”
“It’s not okay, Charles. I told you my boyfriend feels really strongly about this. Plus,” she added in her best bluffing voice, “he’s on his way as we speak.”
Charles smiled, but unlike Max’s smug smiles, it was anything but sexy. Pat had since concluded her ego had taken a much bigger hit than her heart when it came to Charles’s betrayal. For the longest time, she blamed her difficult personality for pushing him away. But her pride had never allowed her to admit it out loud. Her tears the day she’d broken down about it were tears of pride she’d held in for too long. In hindsight, she now knew he was just a selfish asshole.
This was the Charles she remembered—patronizing and arrogant. He’d always been able to see right through her. It was one of the things he’d coached her on often when she was practicing her cross-examination on him. You have to be more convincing than that. It was likely what he was thinking at that very moment.
“Patty, Patty, you really think I believe that, between the phone call Sunday morning just two weeks ago, when you never mentioned a boyfriend, and now, you’re in this serious relationship all of sudden?” He tilted his head, smiling bigger. “I just wanted to apologize and bring you a peace offering.” He picked up the wine bottle she hadn’t even noticed he’d set down on the ground near his feet. “I put it down so I could hold up the picture. It’s your favorite, and I made sure to chill—”
They both turned when Max’s car skidded to a stop right in front of her house. Pat’s stomach dropped as he jumped out of the car and stalked around it.
“Is this him?” he demanded as his long strides made it toward them.
Pat turned to Charles in a panic. “Charles, I think—”
She gasped as Max slammed Charles against the wall, the bottle of wine shattering loudly in the process. Grabbing his shirt all the way up to his neck, he spoke right in his face. “What part of no do you not understand, motherfucker?”
Charles lifted his hands at either side of him. “I just wanted to drop off the—”
“And bring her wine?” Max’s grip seemed to go tighter and higher, making Charles grasp for his hand, as Pat stood there frozen. “I know what you want, asshole.” Max slammed him against the wall again even harder this time as Manny and Romero pulled up and jumped out of their car. “But you’re fucking nuts if you think I’m gonna let that happen.”
The swift hook to Charles’s stomach might’ve had him keeling over if Max didn’t still have a death grip on his shirt. “Oh my God!” Pat gasped, even as Romero and Manny ran toward them.
Max landed one more to the gut before Romero and Manny were there pulling him off. The moment they were able to pull him off him, Romero turned to Charles who did keel over now that he was free to. They were still struggling to hold Max back.
“Get the fuck out of here,” Romero barked at Charles. “Go!”
“I’ll hunt you down, you piece of shit,” Max yelled out as Charles stumbled back to his car, “if I find out your ass is sniffing around her in any way.”
As soon as Charles was in his car, Max turned to Pat, the fire still in his eyes. “Did he just show up or did he call you first?”
“No,” she said, holding her hand over her walloping heart. “He just showed up.”
With Charles gone now, Romero and Manny finally let Max go. Romero shook his head, looking disgusted. “You two really doing this?”
“We really are,” Max said, stepping closer to Pat and taking her hand. “But she doesn’t want her sisters to know yet.”
“Well, I wouldn’t keep anything from Izzy anyway, but she already knows something’s up. She saw the way you bolted out of there and why.” He turned to Pat. “What did he want anyway?”
“You know what he fucking wanted.” Max motioned to the smashed bottle of wine on her porch. “She told his ass she couldn’t be getting together with him for shit now because of me and that fucker still showed up.”
Pat almost told them why. That Charles hadn’t believed her. But as fired up as Max still was, she was afraid he might think she was making excuses for Charles. Regardless of whether he believed her or not, it was still a shit move to just show up like that, assuming she’d not only be okay with it, but maybe he’d even get invited in for a drink. The smug asshole. As terrifying as it’d been to witness it firsthand, it’d been enjoyable to see Max put Charles in his place. She felt even stupider now for thinking even for a minute that Charles’s intentions were in any way selfless.
She’d heard it earlier and she could hear it now. Her phone was ringing inside. “That better not be his ass calling you,” Max said as he turned to her front door.
“It’s probably Izzy,” Romero said, turning to his car. “I left my phone in the car, but she wanted me to call her as soon as I knew what was going on.”
Pat started through her front door to find her phone. Max didn’t let go of her hand, and, as soon as they were inside, he tugged at it, pulling her to him. He searched her eyes the way he had the day he asked her if she was over Charles. “What’d he say to you?”
“That the wine was a peace offering.”
Max scoffed. “A peace offering he’d share with you when you invited him in for a glass.”
“I would never—”
“Didn’t say you would.” Max kissed her forehead softly. “I meant it’s what his blowhard ass was expecting.”
“He didn’t believe I’d gone from not mentioning a boyfriend that Sunday morning when he called, to me suddenly being in a relationship just two weeks later.” She lifted her hand when Max’s brows furrowed. “Not saying it wasn’t cool for him to show up after I’d told him meeting up in any way was out of the question now. It just makes sense now why he would. He’d always been a coward. If he’d truly believed there was any risk of a confrontation, he never would’ve chanced it.” She smirked, leaning in to kiss her big tough boyfriend. “He did say he drove by first and only stopped when he saw there was just one car in the driveway.”
Max stared at her, without a trace of that smirk she’d once resented. Now she hated seeing him this serious. Her phone rang again, and he turned to look in the direction the ringing was coming from. “Go see who it is.”
Thankfully, it was Bell. “My sister,” she said, turning the screen so he could see it before answering. “Hey, Bell.”
“Oh my God, I’ve been worried sick. What’s going on, Pat?”
“Nothing, it’s all under control now.”
“What happened? Why was Max so incensed?”
“Long story,” she said, regretting answering now in front of him. She really hadn’t anticipated telling Bell about this in front of him. “He and I have an understanding now.” Max’s jaw clenched, his expression still far from the easygoing one he usually wore. “We’re sort of seeing each other now. Exclusively,” she added when his expression went even harder. “I’d told Charles us meeting up now for any reason was out of the question. So, his showing up at my place, uninvited, with a bottle of wine was not . . . appreciated.”
“What?” Bell gasped. “Are you serious? What did Max do?”
“He’s a Romero.” Pat smirked, shaking her head, still trying to wrap her head around what she’d gotten herself into with this man. “How do you think he handled it, Bell?”
There was about as much gasping on the other end as Pat had done from the moment Max had showed up, guns blazing. “No. Is Charles okay?”
“I guess.” Pat said as Max wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. She held the phone to her ear as she wrapped her other arm around him. “He didn’t have much to say when he hobbled out of here.”
“But everything’s fine now with you two? And no one’s in the hospital or jail?”
“Yes, Sissy. Everything’s fine.”
Bell went quiet for a moment then squealed suddenly. “Really? Oh, my God. I called Gina and mom when I couldn’t get a hold of you or Romero. They both insisted it couldn’t be true, but I suspected maybe more was going on between you two than you were letting on—”
“Okay, okay,” Pat said, smiling at Max, who’d since pulled away and was a lot less tense now, but she’d never really done the girl talk with her sister. Not about men anyway. “We can discuss this tomorrow, not while he’s standing here listening to everything I say.”
Pat had always suspected neither of her sisters or her mother ever liked Charles. It’s why she’d never shared much about her relationship with him. And even though things between her and Romero were fine now, Bell knew that Pat had always frowned upon his foul mouth and overall crass behavior. So, her sister didn’t share too much with her about their relationship. Now that Pat would be eating her words and dealing with her very own Romero, she knew things would be changing. But she was actually looking forward to it.
“That Izzy?” Romero popped his head in her front door.
Pat nodded. “Do you wanna talk to her.”
“Nah, tell her I’ll call her on my way back.” He turned to Max with that infamous Romero smirk. “You done being Mad Max, you crazy son-of-a-bitch?”
“Unless he comes back.” Max squeezed Pat’s hand. “I’m good.”
Manny and Romero started off down her porch steps. “I told you he was doing her,” Manny said.
Pat shook her head, expecting no less from his brother. After Romero and Manny left, she went through the old photos she’d thought were lost forever.
“I guess it worked out,” Max said, and to her surprise, he was smiling when she glanced up at him. He lifted her hand and kissed it. “You got your photos back, and I couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying way to let that piece of shit know I own you now.”
Pat gave him one her best disapproving glowers. Of course, it only made him smile bigger. “Uh, last I heard slavery is over, Max.”
“Speaking of”—he practically jumped out of his chair— “I bought something today.”
Curiously, Pat walked to the front door he’d walked out of. He pulled a bag out of his trunk, closed the trunk, and rushed back. It wasn’t until he was inside that he pulled out what looked like a cat toy only thicker with strings hanging at the end. “What is it?”
“It’s called a sweet sting riding crop.” He slapped his hand with it as the evil grin stretched across his face. “Your slavery comment reminded me of your punishment.”
Pats eyes went wide as he slapped his hand again and she backed away. “You wouldn’t dare! And punishment for what?”
“Are you seriously daring me, Patricia?” The sultry gaze from those bedroom eyes had her heart speeding up even as she rushed behind the sofa. “Don’t you ever let me hear you say you played nice with any other man again.”
“I wanted my photos.” That last word went a little high-pitched when he started to her and she rushed toward the hallway. “You better not!” she screeched, laughing as he picked up his pace, and she ran toward her bedroom, dropping the robe she’d been wearing in the process.
Max caught her just as she reached her bed and spun her around, her heart pounding as he pulled her roughly to him, but it turned her on. He glanced down at her dress then back up as his eyes bore into hers. “I own you.” Pat stared at him breathlessly but didn’t respond. “Say it.” He tapped her behind with the riding crop.
“I own you.” She smirked.
When he tapped her ass harder this time, she yelped, laughing until he did it again. “Okay, okay!” She gazed into his eyes, heart still racing. Never in a million years would she have believed she’d agree to this, but as much as she’d like to deny it, he did. “You own me, Max.”
His lips stretched into a very satisfied smile. “Good girl.”
He kissed her hard, nipping her bottom lip, then put his hand up her dress and
tugged her panties. “Now take ’em off and get on all fours.”
It still felt too good to be true. It’d been a whole month since they’d had no choice but to admit to everyone that they were a couple now. Even harder to believe, was how impossible it felt to get enough of Patricia. She’d began to lighten up about a lot of things but not everything. Which was fine because Max hadn’t lied when he’d said he liked her feistiness. It never got old, and the biggest plus was that their verbal sparring almost always ended with them ripping each other’s clothes off.
Patricia sat in front of her vanity as Max watched her apply her makeup from the bed. She was fucking beautiful. They’d just gone at it earlier, and already he was ready to take her again. “Hey, Google, what time is it?” she asked, interrupting his thoughts.
The gadget informed her it was nine forty-five a.m. She stood up suddenly. “Crap, I keep forgetting.” She rushed into the bathroom and walked out, holding her birth control box. “Don’t worry. I haven’t missed a day. I’m just supposed to take them at the same time every day, and I don’t always.”
“Who said I’m worried?”
Glancing up at him, she popped a pill in her mouth and took a drink from the glass of water on the nightstand. They’d yet to talk about it, but Max figured this was as good a time as any. “You don’t want kids?”
“Didn’t say that.” She started back to the vanity, but Max reached out and pulled her to him. “It’s just a little soon for that, don’t you think?”
Max shook his head, wrapping his arms around her waist and leaning his cheek against her flat belly, eyes closed. “You and I are a perfect example that time and age mean nothing when it comes to love.”
She went a little stiff as his own eyes flew open. It was only then that he realized it was the first time he’d used the word in relation to them. But there was no turning back now, especially since he meant it. He pulled away and glanced up at her when she said nothing.
“I love you.” Max held his breath as his heart pounded in anticipation of her reaction.
To his surprise, her lips quivered as she smiled, her beautiful eyes completely welling up. “You do?” she asked as she caressed the stubble on his face.
“I do.” He smiled. “But don’t cry, baby. You’ll mess up your makeup.”
“I don’t care about that,” she said, leaned over, and pecked his lips softly. “I fell in love with you the moment your lips first touched mine. I just hadn’t said anything because Bell said she didn’t think you’d ever been in love.”
Max smiled big. Her words were music to his ears. “I haven’t. Everything about you is a first for me.” He took the pill box in her hands and placed it on the nightstand. “Too soon or not, I already know I wanna spend the rest of my life with you. Helping raise that clown nephew of mine had been enough for me, but if having kids something you’re gonna want, I’m open to it. No pressure or rush,” he added before opening her robe and smiling when he saw she was still completely naked underneath. “For now, we can just keep practicing making them.”
He took her breast in his mouth and sucked before pulling her down on the bed with him. Max loved how eager she always was. Flipping up on top of her, he rubbed his already throbbing cock against her and kissed her deeply. “I do,” she said between kisses.
Max paused to look at her. “What?”
“I do want kids.”
Smiling big, he spread her legs with his knee. “Well, then let’s do this.”
Patricia laughed. “That’s not how it works.”
“Lady, you might have some fancy degrees and shit, but trust me. I know how making a baby works.”
Without waiting for her to respond, he plunged into her with a groan. At that point, her only response was a very satisfying moan as she wrapped her legs around him.
I hope y’all enjoyed Max and Pat’s story as much as I LOOVED writing it! I get the feeling you’ll be seeing more of these two. 😉 Happy mother’s day everyone! and don’t forget to meet me back in the spoiler room with your thoughts!!!
In case you missed my other short Blindside it’s up in it’s entirety as well! Check it out by clicking the link below! https://bit.ly/2JuMYaZ
Coming soon I promise! Go add to your GoodReads shelf now by clicking on the cover below!
Happy Mother’s day! All I can say is stay tuned! Please share and join us in the spoiler room to discuss! Click the banner below to join the discussion in the Spoiler room!