Authors: Braxton Cole
The List: Book 1
© 2013 Braxton Cole. All Rights Reserved
The lights came on, people yelled "Happy birthday!" and streamers fell from the ceiling when I entered the banquet hall.
I slipped and nearly fell on my ass when my foot landed on one of them. Party favors in my world often doubled as weapons of personal destruction. I laughed and clapped and thanked everyone for the surprise. The sooner I convinced them I was appropriately grateful for their generosity, the sooner I could move to the NC-21 rated portion of the night, my gift to myself.
“Happy birthday, Mari.”
Rachel Carelli, my best friend, had a flare for the dramatic. Her assignment for the evening--hijack my plans and bring me here under the guise of work-related emergency--had been fulfilled with gusto. She hugged me like she hadn’t seen me in years. In reality, she’d walked into the building with me a few moments ago.
“Thanks, Rach. I’ll make sure you pay for this.” I smiled, making sure she could see all my teeth and my bad intentions. A camera flashed in our faces. Excellent. The second I smile
d like a homicidal maniac, my baby brother, Ricky, immediately popped a picture. No wonder our family albums looked like a series of prison shots. He liked to tell his new girlfriends that he has a crazy sister the family had to sneak back to Mexico when the police came to question her about the mysterious death of her ex-husband. For the record, I still lived in Portland with the rest of my family and my ex is alive and currently eating chips in the corner with his new wife.
“Ricky, you little bastard, give me that camera.” Okay, Rach
wasn’t the only one who has a penchant for dramatics.
“Ay, Mari, don’t talk to your brother like that.” My mom
--Carmen to everyone else-- slapped my arm then pulled me into a hug. At five foot even, my mom was a good six inches shorter than me, and almost a foot shorter than Ricky. When she wanted to hug, which was often, Ricky and I had to compromise. My options were either bend slightly to embrace her properly, or have her hug my middle. Oddly enough, I didn’t want her face
pressed into my cleavage. “Are you surprised, baby?”
“Very.” I kissed my mom’s cheek. “Thank you.” Inconvenient or not, this party took a lot of work and planning. My mom deserved my gratitude, not impatience.
My phone vibrated in my pocket. Probably a text message from Luca. I pulled my phone out
as discreetly as possible—which for the record, wasn’t very discreet since I was the focus of everyone present—and checked my message screen.
Where are you, sexy? I’m hard and ready for you.
Damn it. I bit by lip and tried not to think about all the things Luca had promised to do with his hard cock. The promise of Luca made me ridiculously wet. I hoped like hell the reality lived up to the online fantasy we'd created together. Tonight was the night to find out. I texted him back.
Slight delay. Surprise birthday party. Be there as soon as I can.
“Everything okay?” Rach looked concerned. Maybe I should stop scowling and start working the room. The sooner I showed a sufficient amount of gratitude, the sooner I could escape.
“Fine.” I typed out one last message to Luca
I was about to slip my phone in my pocket when it vibrated with another message from Luca.
Where’s the party?
Before I could respond, my uncle Francesco scooped me up in one of his life changing hugs. He told me once that it was his goal to hug so hard the other person saw God. He wasn’t kidding. The way he squeezed cut off oxygen flow to my head and every other part of my body. If he hadn’t let go soon, I wouldn’t have just seen God, I’d have stayed with him permanently. Somewhere in the middle of his greeting, my phone flew out of my hand.
“Uncle Frankie!” I gasped and pounded him on the back. I hoped he’d take it as a sign of surrender and let me go. “So glad you could make it.”
He kissed both my cheeks with exaggerated movements and said, “So beautiful, Mari. I swear, you weren’t born, you fell from the sky just like your mother.” He was my father’s brother and when my father left home in search of a pack of cigarettes never to return, Uncle Francesco made it his mission to woo my mother into his arms. Unfortunately for him, mom was done with all Zapata men at that point, not just my “no good, run-around papi.”
“Here.” Ricky jabbed me in the arm with my phone. “You dropped this
“Thanks.” I slipped it in my pocket and hoped Luca would wait until I could get to him. If I’d known the patron saint of illicit affairs, I would have lit a candle to him. However, a prayer straight to the Big Guy on behalf of my neglected vagina seemed too crass, so I let it go.
“Who’s Luca?” Ricky asked with a slick smile. He rocked back on his heels and looked all the world like a little brother about to blackmail his big sister. He knew our mom didn’t know Luca or he would have been invited along with the entire neighborhood and all of my extended family.
,” hoping I didn’t sound nervous. Ricky was a devious little fuck and I didn’t want to explain Luca to him.
“Oh.” He smiled even bigger. “Well, he’s on his way here. I gave him the address while you were being mauled by Uncle Frankie.”
The blood in my face honest to God drained all the way to my feet. I felt dizzy. “No, Ricky. That’s not funny.”
“What do you mean? He’s just a
“Ricky, you puke-
sucking prick. I cannot introduce him to our mother. Do you understand me?” I was dangerously close to losing my shit. Luca was a fantasy. He was not meant to ever meet the people in my workaday nine-to-five life.
“Seriously?” Ricky had the decency to actually look scared, and maybe even a tad repentant.
“You obviously read his messages. What were you
?” I needed to sit down. I put my hand over my abdomen and breathed deeply. That made the head rush worse. I pictured my mom smiling with the twinkle of little grandchildren in her eyes as she asked Luca what his intentions were with her baby girl, me. What would Luca say?
Well, ma’am, first I plan to bend her over this table right here and fuck her from behind as hard and as long as I can. Then if she can still stand. . .
No, it was not an introduction I ever wanted to make.
I grabbed Ricky’s arm and hissed. “You have to fix this.”
“Okay, okay.” Ricky jerked his arm away. “What do you want me to do?”
“You meet him at the door and you keep him away from Mom.” Simple enough that even Ricky should be able to pull it off.
We made it three-quarters of the way through the birthday song before Luca walked in. His hair was longer than shown on his online profile picture, and the ends curled around his ears. It was too long to be short, but too short to be long, stuck in that unruly middle stage. It was perfectly tug
gable and I wanted nothing more than to run my hands through it, grab a fist full, and ride his face until I came.
He had beautiful, deep brown soulful eyes and a quick flirty smile. And if he didn’t stop directing that smile at every other woman in the room, I would grab hold of that hair sooner rather than later.
He finally found me right as the singing stopped and the cheering began. He tilted his head to the side and offered me a lopsided smile and mouthed, “Hello,” and I was dumbstruck. Instead of blowing out the candles like a normal person, I stood there smiling like a fourteen-year-old girl with her first crush. To complete my mortal embarrassment, I even finger waved.
My uncle roared with laughter and clapped me on the back. “Ah, Mari, blow out your candles now and make eyes at your boyfriend later.”
It took a lot to make me blush hard enough for it to show, but that did the trick. I ducked my head, blew out the candles and prayed that others would think my flaming face was caused by the candles. Thirty of those little suckers produced some impressive heat.
“Did you make a wish, baby?” My mom asked as she rubbed circles on my back. I don’t care how old I get, that shit will always be comforting. Watching her watch Luca, however, was causing a mid-grade panic rise up in my chest. That was far from comforting.
“I did, mom, but I can’t tell you what for.” Telling her that my birthday wish was standing across the room and he was just waiting for the opportunity to nail me into the floor was not an option. Somehow I doubted that would convince her to leave me alone with him any quicker.
“Who’s the hottie?” Rachel asked. She picked up a large chef’s knife and cut the cake into perfect little squares. She and I own a catering company together and I saw her signature all over the food in the room. I had no idea how she’d created this feast, especially the cake, without me finding out.
“Hottie?” I tried like hell to sound casual, but my voice went up on the end and I there was no way to pretend that I didn’t know who she was talking about. “His name is Luca. I was on my way to meet him when you intercepted me.”
Rachel stopped plating cake and stared at me open-mouthed. “Are you fucking kidding me? How is it this is the first I’m hearing about it?”
“Rachel, please don’t make a deal of it right now. I’ll tell you later.” I tried to motion subtly toward my mom. If ever there was a time for Rachel and I to develop a form of telepathic communication, this was it. No way was I interested in announcing for my mom and the rest of my family to hear that Luca was my booty call. All I knew about him could be summed up in one sentence: He was too beautiful for words, he had a smile that inspired me to do very naughty things, and he was hard for me when we arrived here an hour ago.
I took over where Rachel left off and started handing out cake to the guests. With any luck, they’d all slide quickly into a sugar coma and I’d be able to escape.
“Mari, look who I found.” Ricky stood next to our mom, his arm around Luca’s shoulders like they were buddies. I pictured Ricky with Rachel’s knife sticking out of his temple. It helped calm the flash of rage he’s stirred.
Luca stepped in and pressed a kiss to my cheek like this wasn’t our first time meeting in person. “You’re beautiful.” He whispered the words into my ear and his voice melted the part of my brain that controlled
All I could manage in response was, “Gah
. . .” I wanted to drop to my knees and find out for myself if he was still hard.
Luca pulled me into his side, protecting me from my overly curious family and friends. I snuggled into the crook of his arm and thought seriously about sticking out my tongue at Rachel, or possibly kicking Ricky in the nuts. I couldn’t decide, so I did neither. Instead I focused
on regaining the power of speech. I looked up at Luca and said, “I planned to meet you later.” Amazingly, all the words came out properly and I didn’t sound like I had marshmallow fluff where my brain used to be.
ined.” He shrugged and never had a dismissive gesture been so fucking sexy before. “I didn’t want to wait to see you.”
“Mari, introduce your friend.” My mom’s smile was so big there was a real possibility of it splitting her face in two. After my divorce, I didn’t date very often, and when I did, I didn’t tell
her. I overheard her talking to a friend a while back and she said she was afraid I’d given up men completely to become a lesbian. She looked at Luca like the souls of her future grandchildren rested entirely on him. At least she had enough tact to refer to him as my friend even if in her mind she already had us married off and making babies.
I glared at Ricky. If we’d been standing closer to one another, I would have gone ahead with
plan to kick him in the balls and then begged forgiveness from my mom for being ill mannered later. As it was, he was too far away. Causing serious injury would have involved stepping away from Luca and under his arm was my new favorite place.