The lump that had formed in my throat disappeared and was replaced by warmth that flowed throughout my body. Leaning forward, I rested my forehead against his and listened to his breathing – rapid and jagged. “I’d love to, Michael. Thank you.”

“What are you thanking me for?” He asked as he backed away.

“For not pressuring me and still wanting to see me after I turned you down.”

“Mia,” he said as he grabbed my face, “If anything, it made me want to see you more. I didn’t think that was even possible. I like you a lot and we’ll do things at your pace and when you feel comfortable. I didn’t do all this just to get in your panties.”

“But you were hoping to,” I said as I smiled, my face growing flush.

“I won’t lie. I can’t wait to rip those off of you and feel your body against mine. It’s worth the wait, you’re worth the wait,” he said, holding my cheek in his hand.

I smiled, resting my hand against his chest. “Want me to take care of that with my needle?” I asked with a smirk and pointed to his crotch.

His grip on my arms grew tight. “Don’t ever and I mean ever talk about my cock and your needle again, Doc. It was funny at the bar, but right now, not as much.” He laughed, his body shaking under mine. “Come on, let’s go before you get any more crazy ideas.”

I kissed him tenderly, still laughing, as he picked me up and carried me from the beach. Michael wasn’t the cocky bastard I thought when I first met him, well not entirely.

I looked at him in a new light after our first date. There was more to the man and I wanted to know every inch of him.

Chapter 8

It had been a week since I’d seen Mia and I was at my breaking point, I needed to touch her again. We spent the time apart talking on the phone, texting, and learning a lot about each other.

I found out silly things like her favorite color, which was purple, and that she loved listening to music and dancing around her house.

When she talked about her work her mood usually changed. Happiness wasn’t a word I’d use to describe her feelings about her job. The ER seemed to suck the life out of her. When she lost a patient she’d share her feelings of despair with me.

It was like a punch to my gut, more damaging than any blow I’d ever felt. I couldn’t imagine working in a place that was filled with sorrow.

But when she talked about the clinic the entire conversation oozed happiness. I heard the change in her voice as she told me about the people and how she felt like she made a difference.

Me: Why don’t you just work there full-time? It seems to make you happy.

Sitting on my parent’s couch, I tried to pay attention to the conversations around me as I texted Mia. Football season ended, the basketball playoffs were wrapping up, and baseball season became the main after dinner attraction at the Gallo Sunday dinners.

“Fuckin’ Cubs,” my pop yelled at the television.

They were his favorite team and hadn’t won a damn thing since before he was born. Think he’d be used to it by now, but not my pop, he was a die-hard believer and no Gallo would ever be called a quitter.

Mia: It’s all donations with little government funding. No money for that.

“Hey Ma,” I said as she sat across from me rolling her eyes at her still cursing husband.

“Yeah, baby.” She turned to me and smiled.

“Ever hear of the clinic in town that offers free medical care to the poor?”

Her smiled faded as she shook her head. “No, I don’t think I have. Why are you asking?”

I shrugged and turned the phone over in my hand. “Just curious. It’s all donation based and I know how the two of are about helping local charities.”

“What do you know about it? If it’s worthy, your father and I would be more than happy to help.” She leaned back in the chair, picking up her yarn to work on a baby blanket.

“A group of doctors volunteer their time but I don’t know much else. I’ll found out about it and let you know.” I glanced down at my phone, on silent around my family to avoid the questions.

Mia: Hey, what time are you picking me up?

“Okay, baby.” She placed the blanket over her lap before starting to work on it.

Me: At five and wear a swimsuit under your outfit.

“Who you making that for?” I asked.

“My grandbaby,” she said in a flat even tone.

“Is someone having a baby I don’t know about?” I asked as I looked around the room, but everyone ignored us.

“Not yet.” She frowned and said, “Soon though I hope.”

I looked at Suzy who was staring at the television a little too engrossed in the game. She hated sports but at the moment she was totally enthralled. My brother, Joe and Suzy could never tell Ma no. It had become the giant elephant in the room as both of them always pretended not to hear her when she talked about babies.

“I’m not ready for a kid,” Joe leaned over and whispered in my ear. “I’m too busy enjoying Suzy and I’m way too greedy to share my time with her.”

“She’s not going to stop,” I said softly.

“I may be old, boys, but I’m not deaf,” Ma said with a laugh.

“Busted,” I said.

“I’m watching your face as you type feverishly on that phone, Mike. I hope it isn’t the crazy lady,” he said as he leaned back and turned his attention toward the game.

“Hell no. I’ve been knocked in the head a couple times, but I’m not stupid.”

He hit me on the knee with a smile. “Stupidity isn’t the issue, our

dicks are the problem.”

“Amen to that, brother.” I laughed. “Nah, this one isn’t like that.”

Raising an eyebrow he said, “They’re all like that.”

“I haven’t even slept with her, Joe.”

He looked at me in horror. “When did you meet her?”

“That’s a complicated answer.”

“I’ll take your complicated over the Cub any day.”

“We met at a bar over a week ago and I took her on a date last week, but she treated me in the ER when I broke my ribs.”

“Wait. You went on a real date?” He eyed me suspiciously.

“I did.”

“And you didn’t sleep with her after?”

I shook my head and smiled. “Nope.”

“Well fuck me, never thought that was possible,” Joe said hitting my leg and laughing loudly.

There was no way in hell would I share that I rented the beach and went all sappy ass shit I did for Mia.

No fucking way.

That was for her and I and Joe sure as shit didn’t need to know. He’d laugh at me and probably call me Romeo for weeks, but I knew the truth about my brother. He was just as big of a softy as me. He swept Suzy off her feet and she described him as a Casanova.

“I’m not a walking hard-on. I can date someone without fucking them.” I looked at my ma, surprised she hadn’t yelled at us for our language, but she was wrapped up in grandbaby world.

The couch shook with his laughter. “We’re all walking hard-ons, but I’m proud of you, brother. When are you seeing her again?”

Before I could answer, Izzy walked in and stretched out on the floor with her head perched in her hands as she stared at the television.

“Today.” Looking at my watch I said, “One hour in fact.”

“What’s today?” she asked, turning around.

“Nothing, Iz. Why do you always have to be so damn nosey?” I sounded like a dick and I might as well have put a billboard above my head with my response.

She giggled like she did when she was a little girl watching her favorite television show, Fraggle Rock. “God, you boys are so easy to read. Don’t come crying to me when this one wants your name tattooed on her body. You sure know how to pick’em, Mikey.”

I swiped my hands across my face, shaking my head. “Where’s your man, Iz? We’ve been dying to meet him,” I said looking down at her.

“Hell no, I’m not bring him around you baboons for a long time. When I do, you’ll know he’s the one, until then he’s only for me. Learned my lesson long ago with you boys.”

“We’re not the same. We’ve grown up,” Joe said before grabbing Suzy hand and kissing it.

“In some ways,” she said over her shoulder, turning her attention back to the game.

“Anyway,” I murmured, changing he subject and looked at my ma. “Hey Ma, can

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