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Chelle Bliss Books

Men of Inked Southside Series eBook Bundle

Men of Inked Southside Series eBook Bundle

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COMPLETE SERIES, featuring 5 full-length USA Today bestselling romance novels.

Includes: Maneuver, Flow, Hook, Hustle, and Love.

LOOK INSIDE CHAPTER 1

“Get out.” My father pulls over at the corner and slams on the brakes.

I gawk at him with my mouth hanging open as he puts the car in park. The look in his eyes is nothing short of ice-cold, devoid of all emotion and completely loveless.

“Dad, just let me drive.” I don’t move even though I know he won’t back down. He never has when he’s drunk. I keep my eyes on the flashing red traffic light in front of us, trying to keep my voice even and nonjudgmental. But really, I am judging the heck out of him. How dare he kick us out like trash? “You’re drunk, and it’s not safe for anyone.”

“I’m done with you and your self-righteous attitude. Survive on your own two feet, Delilah.”

I jerk my head backward as my mouth falls open. I’m used to his drunken ramblings and angry fits, but he’s never been as cruel as he is tonight. “What about Lulu?”

Lulu is in the back seat, oblivious to everything and somehow sleeping through my father’s tirade. My father has kicked me out plenty of times, or at least, that’s what he’d say, but I always had my credit cards and bank account to fall back on. He has never cut me off completely.

It has been over a year since his last outburst. Well, before Lulu was born. I thought her birth would change things. I thought he’d stay sober for her, but I should’ve known better. He never found it in his heart to stay clean for me. The invisible pull of his addiction outweighed any love for his child. Why would his granddaughter be any different?

“Leave her with me,” he snaps and leans over me, pushing open my car door. “But you gotta go.” His lip curls as he says the last word, showing the wildness the alcohol has soaked into his veins as he settles back into the driver’s seat.

My eyes fill with tears, and my vision blurs. I hate this side of him. When my father was sober, he was a nice guy, but when he was drunk, he could give the devil himself a run for his money. Lately, he’s spent more and more time drinking, and the old him, the one I loved, barely surfaced.

“I’m not leaving her with you,” I tell him and shake my head. I don’t care if I have to steal to make ends meet, I would never subject my daughter to my father’s alcohol-induced treachery without being there to protect her.

He leans back against the door, holding the steering wheel with one hand while balling the fingers of the other into a tight fist as it rests on his leg. “Both of you are ungrateful. You have five seconds to get out and take her with you.”

I move quickly at that point, but I don’t dare step out of the car without Lulu. I turn in my seat, avoiding all eye contact with the maniac next to me and pull her from the car seat. Without saying another word, I cradle Lulu in my arms and climb out of the car. But before I can grab my purse, my father speeds away, fishtailing down the wet pavement with the door still open. He swerves around the corner at the end of the desolate street, and the car door slams shut on its own.

“Crap,” I groan, realizing not only did he take my purse, but my phone too.

Here I am with my little girl, no money, no credit cards, no way to call anyone, and it’s well after midnight in the middle of nowhere-good downtown Chicago.

I press my lips to the soft skin of Lulu’s forehead, letting the tears roll down my cheeks as I whisper sweet words to replace his vicious comments. “Mama’s got you, baby. I’ll always protect you.”

Holding Lulu close to my chest, I shield her from anything and everything as I turn around, hoping to find someplace to make a call. I can’t stand on the street corner too long. Not in this neighborhood. There is bound to be someone walking by and probably not the type of person I want to ask for help at this hour of the night.

The sound of a bell and laughter down the street draws my attention as a young couple staggers onto the sidewalk, practically hanging off each other. I walk toward them but don’t yell out. They look nice enough, but they are clearly in the middle of something and in a lip-lock.

Walking quickly, I head toward the doorway the couple just walked away from, glancing from side to side because, in all honesty, I’m scared. Light from inside streams out of the windows lining the front of the building, falling on the sidewalk near my feet as if signaling to me like a beacon. I step forward, peering through the glass to get a better look before I dare walk through the door.

Gallos’ Hook & Hustle South Side.

The place looks nice. Not swanky or anything I’d find on the North Side, but not a complete dump either. But it’s still a bar and the last place I’d want to walk into, especially with my daughter. I step backward and glance both ways, hoping to see the faint glow of a nearby gas station or drug store, but there’s nothing but darkness.

I take a deep breath, hold Lulu a little tighter, and reach for the handle. For a moment, no one seems to notice us as we step inside. They’re too busy talking and drinking to even look our way. They’re not the type of people I’d see at my father’s country club, sipping martinis and other pretentious drinks while holding their noses high in the air as they try to one-up each other with the size of their bank accounts. Nope. Not even close.

The door closes behind me, and the bell rings overhead, and within seconds, half the bar turns around. No one yells or shoos us away. They’re too busy staring at and judging me for having an infant in a bar at this time of night. It’s like I can practically read their minds by the way their eyes are zeroed in on Lulu.
I was thinking so far, so good, but then Lulu lets out a blood-curdling scream like she just saw the boogeyman in her dreams, and I think about bolting for the door. Instead, I softly bounce her tiny body in my arms to quiet her down and smile nervously.

The gentleman sitting the closest to me holds his beer near his lips, looking me up and down in much the same manner my father often did when he was drunk. “It’s a little late to have a baby out, don’tcha think?” he asks, tipping his head and completely judging me as a bad mother.

“I just need to make a phone call.” I bite my tongue to stop myself from saying something about his late-night middle-of-the-week drinking, clearly doing it often based on the size of his beer belly. Instead, I look at the floor and head toward the other end of the bar.

The woman behind the bar is handing someone a drink and paying no attention to me or the guy hitting on me. “Excuse me,” I say, tapping Lulu’s bottom as I bounce her to keep her from crying out again, but the bartender doesn’t give me the time of day.

“I’m talking to you, beautiful,” the same man says, but the word comes out like beauful because he’s had one too many. He tries to touch me with his dirty, chubby hands, and I step sideways.

“Ma’am,” I say, but this time a little louder.

“C’mere,” the guy says again and moves faster than I expect, finally touching my arm.

My skin crawls from the contact. “Stop. Please,” I beg, trying to inch away from his hold, but he only tightens his grip.

“Harry, get your filthy paws off her, or I’ll put you on the ground.”

I jump and let out a little squeak at the sound of another man’s voice I hadn’t been expecting. If Harry wasn’t scared, I was enough for both of us.

Harry’s lip curls as his eyes finally leave my chest to somewhere behind me. “Sorry, Lucio. No disrespect, man. Didn’t know she was yours.”

Didn’t know she was yours? For a second, I think about not looking. If someone’s claiming me, I’m not sure I’m ready to know who he is. I glance over my shoulder with one eye closed, almost too scared to turn around even though I want to get far away from Handsy Harry.

My eyes land on a huge chest, traveling upward to a wide set of shoulders before finally settling on a handsome face.

“You okay?” he asks.

For a moment, I can’t seem to form words. I just stare at him with my mouth hanging open. “I…” I pause, not sure if I am okay and too caught off guard by him to finish the rest of the sentence.

Lucio, at least that’s what Handsy Harry called him, raises one eyebrow, looking at me funny when I don’t say anything more. When he cracks a smile, I’m a total goner.

“Are you hurt?” he asks as his gaze slowly travels down my body. I shake my head, still rendered mute. “Is the baby hurt?”

I shake my head again. Earth to Delilah. I better find my voice quick because I can’t imagine a guy like him has much patience for a strange woman walking into a bar at this hour.

“I was wondering if I could use your pecs,” I blurt out, and my stomach instantly knots.

He tilts his head to the side and laughs. “Come again?”

Gah. I want to hide or at least go back about ten seconds and get a do-over. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my entire life. Where did that come from? It doesn’t help that he’s built and the only part of him at eye level are his pecs, extremely large and, based on the looks of them, rock-hard too.

“Your phone. I’d like to use your phone,” I correct my earlier statement, but the damage is done.

“You only want my phone?” he teases.

I swear his pecs move up and down, taunting me, but my eyes may be playing tricks on me. I nod, but I don’t dare speak. I’ve already done enough damage and don’t trust myself to say another word.

“Daphne,” Lucio calls out, pulling his backward baseball cap off his head. Everything in the room seems to slow as he drags his long, thick fingers through the brown wavy strands. “She needs to use the phone.”

The woman, Daphne he called her, reaches under the bar, lifts a glass, and sets it on the bar near me. “It’s for paying customers only. What can I get you to drink?”

I close my eyes, wishing I could be anywhere but here. “I don’t have any money.” The words are bitter on my tongue and harder to say than I ever imagined.

“No drink, no phone,” the woman says without an ounce of remorse and ticks her head toward the doorway. “The police station’s down the street. You could try there.”

She’s cold as ice and not an ounce of sympathy for a woman without a dollar for a beer, holding a baby.

“We don’t treat people like that,” Lucio tells her, stepping around me and staring her down. “You know better than that.”

“Whatever, Lucio.” She rolls her eyes and walks away.

Lucio takes a step toward me, looking down at Lulu, and I force myself to stay still and keep my mouth shut. “Follow me.” He motions for me to go with him as he heads toward a hallway at the side of the bar.

Where does he want to take us?

“What’s wrong?” he asks, walking back toward us when I shake my head and stay still.

“Why can’t I use the phone here?”

Every nightmare scenario I’ve ever seen in a horror movie plays through my head.

“He’s taking you upstairs to our mom’s apartment,” Daphne says as she tosses a white towel over her shoulder. “He’s too nice.”

“Oh,” I mutter and feel like a fool.

“You can stay down here with all these drunk jerks, or you can make the call upstairs in the comfort and safety of my mom’s place. This really is no place for a baby,” he says.

He has a point.

I have to wait for the car service to come, and they are never quick. I don’t want to wait on the street or in the bar being hit on by drunken strangers either.

“Lead the way,” I tell him and finally take a step forward, hoping this isn’t some sort of trap.

POPULAR TROPES IN THIS SERIES

  • Protective Alpha Heroes
  • Troubled Past
  • Found Family
  • Women in Peril
  • Redemption
  • Opposites Attract
  • Friends to Lovers
  • Single Mother
  • Single Father
  • Widow/Widower
View full details

Collapsible content

Maneuver Synopsis

This isn't how fairy tales typically start, but it's where mine begins...

No money, no phone, and abandoned on the streets of Chicago.

With my baby in my arms, I wander into a bar in a shady neighborhood and ask to use
their phone.

When my father turns us away and completely disowns me, the bar owner, and total hottie, offers us a place to stay...no strings attached.

I'm leery at first.
Hot guy.


Down on her luck single mother.

I mean, who wouldn't be?Lucio Gallo isn't like most men, though. He's
fiercely protective, loyal, and did I mention he's covered in nothing
but muscle?

Above all else, he's everything I need but never knew I wanted.

Tropes:

  • Single Mother
  • Protective Alpha
  • Roommates
  • Friends to Lovers
  • Found Family
  • Woman in Need

Flow Synopsis

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 enemies—Chicago crime bosses from rival families.

But that didn’t stop him from pursuing me. Being together was dangerous, reckless, and totally hot.

He wanted me. I wanted him.

What could possibly go wrong?

Tropes:

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Alpha Hero

Hook Synopsis

Falling in love is supposed to be the easy part.

But nothing prepared me for losing my wife. I promised her that I’d love
again. Find someone to mend my broken heart. And that seems impossible, until the day that I walk into Tilly Carter’s cupcake shop.

I’ve never met a woman like her—sassy, dirty-mouthed, and smells like vanilla and sin. Someone that makes me want to sweep her off her feet.

But there’s pain in her emerald eyes that mirrors my own. A past that neither of us can truly escape.

Now that I have her, I’ll do anything to keep her.

Tropes:

  • Opposites Attract
  • Widow/Widower
  • Single Father
  • Friends to Lovers

Hustle Synopsis

Vinnie Gallo's the hottest rookie in professional football. He's a smooth-talker, good with his hands, and knows how to score.

Bianca Hernandez thinks she's immune to Vinnie's charms. She's not impressed by the glitz, glamour, or fame, but after a six month self-imposed break from men, she feels her resistance slipping.

Nothing will stop Vinnie from trying to get the girl—not a crazy stalker,
Bianca's two older brothers, or the fear he's falling in love.

Tropes:

  • Opposites Attract
  • Neighbors

Love Synopsis

Angelo and Tilly never thought they'd find love again...but they're about to say 'I do'.

Finding love once is hard, but twice is almost impossible. I'd almost given up, but then Tilly Carter walked into my life. The sweet talkin' Southern girl stole my heart.

With my future walking down the aisle, and my entire family by my side, it's time to make her mine forever.

Tropes:

  • Opposites Attract
  • Widow/Widower
  • Single Father
  • Friends to Lovers