Without Me by Chelle Bliss
To my father, my hero.
I’d led a selfish existence.
I’d never hidden that fact.
Pussy was the name of the game. I wanted it without attachment or complication. Getting women was never a problem for me, but keeping them away after they’d had their first taste became harder over the years. I was a male slut and fucking proud of it. Every pussy was so spectacular in its uniqueness that I couldn’t imagine settling down and fucking the same woman every day.
Watching my siblings fall in love over the last couple of years didn’t soften my heart. They changed during that time, growing soft in my opinion. My brothers, whom I’d always thought were tough, became a pile of pussy-whipped humanity in a short time. Their badassness went down a couple of notches in my mind.
It’s not women who ultimately change someone, but they affect the actions of the person they love. Why would I want to be different?
I liked who I was.
Fuck, I loved myself.
I wouldn’t apologize. I didn’t need to be changed.
Perfection’s pretty hard to top.
I steered clear of anything that resembled a relationship, including fucking a chick more than a couple of times. Relationships were for pussies or lonely-ass people who needed to feel complete. I wasn’t them—the weaker people in the world who craved their second half.
Relationships weren’t for me. I loved my time alone, and I wasn’t needy enough to require someone to constantly reaffirm how awesome I was. I just needed to look in the mirror, which was a hell of a lot cheaper. Why would I pay for a compliment, whether it was with dates or a fee of the heart, when women openly hurled catcalls in my direction?
Was I cocky? Quite simply, the answer is yes. I had every reason to be. Besides having a plethora of pussy offered to me on a silver platter, I was the complete package. I was handsome and wealthy and could fuck for hours.
My days were spent tattooing clients at my family’s tattoo parlor, Inked. During my free time, I sang. I wasn’t a rock star by any means. It was a dream I had, one I’d been striving to make real since I was a kid. The years had slipped by. Now that I was older, I thought of it as more of a hobby and enduring passion than a personal goal.
The one thing that singing had given me was an unending stream of pussy. It was like a buffet every night. Women of all colors and sizes offered themselves to me. What man on the planet with a functioning cock would turn that down? Not me—I wasn’t stupid.
My upbringing was Italian Catholic. My parents didn’t practice their faith weekly, but it always lurked in the background. When I was a kid, my mother would say, “Don’t do that or you’ll go to hell, Anthony.” We all learned to ignore her, and eventually, she dropped the self-righteous bullshit.
I had known I was different since before I could talk; I liked that term more than “special.” Being the oldest male had its perks. The worry of many families is the name—would it be carried on? When I was born, the worry vanished. I thanked God every day for three brothers to take that stress off me. Without them, it would have been hopeless. Children weren’t in the cards for me. Unless they were the illegitimate type born from a night of passion. Daddy material I was not.
Was I a good person? I thought I was. My family meant everything to me. Family, pussy, and work were my top priorities—and in that order too.
Nothing else mattered.
Women came and went.
Everything and everyone had changed, yet I tried to remain the same.
I sank my teeth into life, holding on to the bitch like everything depended on it.
The one thing I’d learned was that, no matter how hard I tried to fight the inevitable, it would sneak up on me when least expected.
The second I let my guard down and released the hold I had on life… What was my award for such carelessness?
A love so spectacular and heart-wrenching that it threw me for a loop. God had to be playing a wicked trick on me. I’d bet he was laughing his ass off the entire time it played out and sucked me in deeper every day.
When I was in too deep to escape, my greatest fears became reality.
This is my story.
And my love.
The Beginning of the End
I propped myself up on the bar, studying the only woman who hadn’t bothered to make eye contact with me. Not even a smile or a sideways glance. Nothing.
“What’s your name, beautiful?” I asked, trying to get her attention.
Her body inched away as she turned her head to look away from me.
What the fuck was her problem?
I stole a quick glance at the mirror behind the bar. My hair was perfect, just the right amount of stubble was on my face, and my smile was killer. I shrugged and called the bartender over. I needed something cool and smooth after the set.
Singing tonight had set my throat on fire. The change of season wreaked havoc on my system. Even though it had been difficult to sing tonight, it had given me the greatest high. There was nothing like standing on stage and belting out a song that meant so much to me.
“Double Grand Marnier, please,” I told the bartender when he came to a stop in front of me.
He nodded and headed to the other end of the bar.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I asked the woman, who was still ignoring me.
“No,” she replied without giving me the light of day.
Well, damn. Talk about a cold shoulder.
As the bartender placed the drink in front of me, I motioned to her drink.
“She’ll take another too.”
She turned toward me and glared. “I said I didn’t want a drink.”
“Um,” the bartender said as he looked between us.
“She’ll take another.” I lifted my chin to him, giving him the go-ahead for the drink. “Let me buy a beautiful woman a drink. You look like you could use one.” I cocked my head, raising an eyebrow as I threw down the challenge.
“I don’t take drinks from strangers.”
“I’m Anthony.” I held my hand out, waiting for her to touch me.
She glanced at my hand before returning her eyes to my face. “Not interested.” She wasn’t going to make this easy.
“I didn’t offer anything but an introduction and a handshake.”
“Listen,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Yes?” I repeated her actions, feeling a bit playful. Maybe it was her shitty attitude, but I was ready for whatever she had to throw at me.
We stared each other down. I didn’t know what was running through her mind, but I took the opportunity to soak her in. Exotic is the word I’d use to describe her. The rich, caramel color of her skin was darker than any member of the Gallo family. It was smooth and blemish-free, and it glistened like silk in the club lighting. My fingers itched to touch it. I wondered if it felt as soft as it looked.
Her eyes were dark, almost black in the dim lighting or the bar. I wanted to stare into them and see them in the light. In the sunlight, did they show hints of gold and specks of brown? Or did they sparkle as the sun hit them? They fit her face perfectly and sat above her high cheekbones and luscious lips.
She reminded me of Keshia Knight Pulliam, the sexy actress who cracked me up in that Madea movie. I remembered watching her as a child when she was Rudy on The Cosby Show. She was a dead ringer for her, and if I didn’t know better, they could’ve been twins.
Her lips were large and full. They looked like they had been made for kissing and nothing else. The red lip gloss shimmered in the light, the spots of glitter sparkling. It was like a beacon calling me home and begging for my mouth.
My eyes drifted down, and I noticed the way her arms pushed her tits up in the air. The V-neck T-shirt she wore showed the perfect amount of cleavage. Not enough to be trashy, but enough to entice. I was a tits man. Wait. That’s a lie. I was an ass man. Fuck. Who was I kidding? I loved every part of a woman. I could never pick one over another. I wanted the whole package.
“Up here,” she demanded.
When I looked up, one shoulder had dropped and her glare had been replaced by a scowl.
“I’m waiting.” I grinned
“For what?” Her lips formed into a firm line and not even a twitch crossed over them.
She was tough. I’d give her that much.
“Your name.” I reached for my drink without looking. I needed to maintain eye contact or I’d lose any ground I had won. I knew it wasn’t much, but she was no longer ignoring me.
“If I give it to you, will you leave me alone?” Her hands dropped to her sides as her glare disappeared.
“I can’t promise anything, but it’ll make things go smoother if I know who I’m speaking to.” I took a sip, letting the drink coat my throat. The scratchiness of earlier turned into something entirely different, relieving the strain.
“You’re all the same.” She rolled her eyes and sighed. “Why can’t a girl come to a bar and have a drink in peace without being hounded?”
I took another sip, thinking about my response as I studied her. Before I could reply, she grabbed her martini and placed the glass to her lips. Fuck, I wished I were the glass. I wanted to taste her more than I wanted the Grand Marnier that lingered on my tongue.
“First, if you want to have a drink in peace, you need to go to Applebee’s. You don’t come to the Ritz for a nightcap. Also, you don’t have your tits hanging out if you don’t want the attention of a man. You can’t look like that”—I motioned toward her body—“and expect not to be hit on.”
She squared her shoulders as she set her drink back on the bar. If looks could kill, I’d be dead. “Just because I have on a T-shirt doesn’t mean I want to fuck. I live nearby and there isn’t an Applebee’s for miles. This is within walking distance and it’s where I want to drink. I don’t know if you’re clueless or just don’t give a shit, but when someone turns their back on you and refuses to answer your questions, it means they don’t want to be bothered.” She reached for her drink and held my eyes. “You need to get the fuck over yourself.”
Oh my God. I think I’m in love.
Well, not really. But fuck, she had my full attention. Rarely did a woman treat me like shit, and for once, I found it refreshing. Her attitude reminded me a little of my sister, Izzy. She wasn’t known for being warm and fuzzy, but she was my best friend.
“Meow,” I blurted, unable to stop the sound before it left my lips. The one thing I knew was that it would piss her off more.
“You are an asshole,” she hissed, glaring at me as she sipped her drink.
I smiled, thinking at least she hadn’t thrown her drink on me. “I know I am.” I laughed. I knew I was a dick. I’d never claimed to be the nicest guy, but having someone point out what I already knew made me laugh. “So, what’s your name?”
“Now I know you’re fucking with me.” I couldn’t help myself as my laughter grew louder. Not only was she the most beautiful woman in the bar, she was funny and had one hell of an attitude.
“I am, but you can call me Kitty Meow.” She grinned and arched an eyebrow.
“I love petting a beautiful pussy,” I purred, moving a little closer to her, “cat.”
“You’re truly a sick fuck, man.”
“Anthony,” I responded, wanting to hear her say my name.
She moved closer, just as I had. Our bodies were close enough that I caught a whiff of her perfume. The muskiness with a hint of flower made my head a bit dizzy. I wanted to inhale her, fill my senses with her, but I thought that would be pushing the envelope. No one ever said that I was a pansy.
“Thanks for the drink, Anthony.”
I didn’t waste the opportunity. I moved my face close to her neck and inhaled deeply. Closing my eyes, I let the scent fill my lungs. It was heavenly and made me want to see if she tasted as good as she smelled.
“You’re welcome, Kitty Cat.”
She drifted away just as my lips were reaching for the flesh of her neck.
“Fuck,” I mumbled, missing the opportunity to lick her bronzed skin.
“Not happening, Tony.” She shook her head, grabbed her drink, and polished it off. “You have a good night.” Then she set her glass down on the bar and picked up her purse.
As she turned to leave, I grabbed her wrist and pulled her toward me. I felt the jolt of electricity that passed between us at the simple touch.
“You can’t leave yet.”
She looked at my hand and then to me. I couldn’t tell, but I bet she felt it too. That lightning that rarely strikes, the thing we all search for. A spark.
“Give me one good reason,” she said, her eyes drifting back to where we were connected.