The moment I looked into his eyes, I knew I was in trouble.
The second I heard his name, I knew I should stay away.
Our fathers were mortal enemies"Chicago crime bosses from rival families.
But that didn"t stop Leo Conti from pursuing me.
Being together was dangerous, reckless, and totally hot.
He wanted me. I wanted him.
Nothing could possibly go wrong.
Flow is the second book in the new, steamy Men of Inked: Southside series by USA Today bestselling author Chelle Bliss. Be ready for a hot, wild ride with the Gallos on the Southside!Books in Series:Men of Inked: Southside Series by Chelle BlissBooks by Author:Chelle Bliss Books
I didn"t think I"d feel this way. Laying eyes on my father after years of him being in prison is kind of like seeing someone rise from their grave.
He"s aged a bit since the last time I visited him. Two years into his sentence, he denied any further visitors, including my mom, which didn"t sit well with anyone in the family, but most of all her.
I suppose spending years behind bars can age a person prematurely, even someone as strong and stubborn as my father. From everything I know about prison life, nothing is easy, and the evidence is written all over my father"s face. The lines around his eyes, which used to be faint and barely visible, are deep and stark against his olive skin. His black hair has larger swaths of white, mostly framing his handsome face.
Ma"s the first one to make her way to him, throwing her arms around his shoulders as soon as she"s close enough. My father holds her tight, tucking his face into the crook of her neck as he lifts her off the floor and spins her in the air.
They"ve been through this before. My dad has spent most of my life in and out of prison, never learning his lesson.
There"s a brief moment of hope as I watch them embrace, hoping he"s reformed after this last stint. But then again, he"s Santino Gallo, and he"s never seemed to learn.
They say you can"t teach an old dog new tricks, but I disagree. My father learned; he just ignored the hell out of the lessons, preferring to live life on his own terms, always bucking the system.
At first, no one seems to notice my father"s presence besides my mother and me. But then, just like something out of a movie, the music stops playing, and the entire room goes silent. All eyes are on my parents, watching as they embrace.
I lift the whiskey to my lips, taking another sip as I try to collect my thoughts. The moment should be a happy occasion, but part of me is pissed. This is Lucio and Delilah"s day, not my dad"s, but he always finds a way to make everything about him.
"Well." Angelo comes up behind me and places his hands on the bar. "This should be interesting."
"One word for you." I set down my empty glass and turn to face him. "Clusterfuck."
"Maybe he won"t be so bad this time," he tells me, and we both start laughing.
We know the thought is utter nonsense.
We know Santino.
We know his tricks.
At my father"s core is a good man. A loving father and mostly, at least the last time he was out, a faithful and caring partner.
"Pop"s back," Vinnie tells us like the entire wedding reception isn"t seeing him with our very own eyes.
"Way to go, Captain Obvious," Angelo teases.
Vinnie has had the least amount of time with my father. Being the youngest, most of his life my dad was in prison. Even with that, Vinnie still idolized my father and always thought the best of him. We knew better. Years of disappointment will do that to people.
If it weren"t for Angelo and Lucio, I don"t know where Vinnie would be. They made him the man he is today, giving him guidance and advice as he navigated his teen years.
"He has the oddest timing. Why can"t he ever be normal"" I ask as I shake my head. "The man has no limits or shame."
"Shit"s about to get sideways," Lucio says as he comes to stand near the three of us, with Delilah at his side.
"Aren"t you guys happy"" Delilah glances between us. She doesn"t know the complexity of my father and the years of his bullshit either.
"Of course we are. He"s our dad, but he doesn"t make life easy for anyone." Lucio pulls her tighter to his side and kisses her head. "You"ll learn soon enough."
"He can"t be any worse than my father," Delilah says, putting things into perspective for all of us.
Delilah knows all about messed-up fathers. I"d rather deal with my dad"s revolving door at the local prison than her father"s alcoholic tantrums.
Even after months apart, her father hasn"t bothered to contact her. He really just washed his hands of her, preferring to pretend she never existed than to clean up his act and beg for her forgiveness. At least my dad never did anything to hurt me. He may have been a selfish prick at times, but he never did us any long-lasting harm.
"My bambini," my father says as he walks toward us with his arms outstretched like a proud papa and not an ex-con.
He"s wearing a new suit, no doubt having planned to make his grand entrance during the wedding without clueing the rest of us in on his release date.
My mother"s behind him, glaring at us. We aren"t running into our father"s waiting arms like she did, and she"s not too happy. I love my mother. There"s no other person on the planet I adore more than her, but man, she doesn"t seem to have a grip or any willpower when it comes to my dad.