Family is important this time of year, and I'm definitely grateful for mine. I've posted a scene from my latest release, Scandalous L.A. Desires. It's a big Thanksgiving dinner in Las Vegas, and shows the drama and excitement a family gathering offers.
Thanksgiving day at noon, the men—Dante, Antonio, Ryan, Valerie's dad, Scott, and her brother-in-law, Joe—sat in the media room watching football. Tony was on the floor with his toys, and shouted with the men every time they cheered a play.
In the kitchen, Valerie led the women—Lindsey, Valerie's sister, Monica, and her mother, Dena—through the choreography of getting a meal on the table for ten people.
Dante went in once to get more beer, and was nearly trampled. He refused to go back again.
Lindsey appeared in the media room doorway. “Dinner's ready. Come and eat.” Tony ran to her, fell, and then crawled toward her on his hands and knees. Lindsey went to him and scooped him up in her arms, kissing him on the head. “Are you hungry, Tony?”
Tony nodded and stuck his finger up her nose. Lindsey pulled it out and kissed his chubby cheek.
Dante's heart leapt in his chest. He'd never imagined anything as beautiful as Lindsey with a tiny Daniato in her arms.
The men filed out after her, but Antonio put his hand on Dante's shoulder. “You know, she got that very same expression on her face when she saw you holding Tony. What gives?”
Dante shook his head. “I'm hooked.”
“You're hooked, landed, and filleted, brother. When are you going to ask her?”
“Better do it before Ryan steals her away.”
Dante's jaw clenched. Ryan was an asshole. But he'd made a promise to Lindsey yesterday, and he would be damned if he'd break it.
Dinner was casual, the only choice when toddlers were involved. Dante ended up at the other end of the table from Lindsey, who sat next to Tony in his high chair, with Ryan on the other side of his nephew. Dante watched as Lindsey cut up little pieces of meat, vegetables and potatoes and put them on Tony's plate. Ryan chatted with her and helped keep Tony's food on his tray instead of on the floor. They talked baby talk and laughed at Tony's efforts to feed himself with a starter fork.
Lindsey chatted with Valerie's sister, Monica and her husband, Joe. “How do you and Joe like staying in the penthouse? I've heard it's beautiful.”
“It is,” she answered, rearranging the shawl over her shoulder to cover her nursing baby girl, three month-old Genevieve. She smiled at her husband, who looked at her and their daughter as if he couldn't believe his luck. “She's asleep.”
Joe took the baby from Monica and gently placed her on his chest to burp her. He spoke softly, “The condo's got every amenity, and you can walk to all the casinos. You should borrow it some weekend. Have a vacation.”
Ryan said loudly enough for everyone to hear, “I don't think Dante would want to stay there with you, Lindsey. He might run into one of the ladies he…dates…when he's in Vegas.”
Ryan had the nerve to wink at him, and Dante would have liked to pluck the man up off his chair and throw him out of the house. But he'd promised Lindsey.
She was looking at him, judging his reaction to Ryan's teasing.
Valerie brought in another platter of turkey and handed it to Dante. He had to unclench his fists to take it from her.
She nodded to the opposite end of the table. “They make a cute couple, don't they.”
He passed the platter to Antonio. “Valerie, you're just trying to get a rise out of me. But I'm going to ignore you and be the peacekeeper.”
She plopped down in her chair, laughing. “What's gotten into you? Oh, wait. Did Lindsey tell you not to pick a fight with me?”
He stared at her.
“That's it, isn't it? She told you to behave. I love it.”
“I'm also not supposed to pound your brother into the ground,” he glared at Ryan, “but he's making it difficult to resist.”
Her voice quiet, Valerie leaned toward him. “Dante, seriously, that girl is not interested in anyone but you. If you think for one minute she's even the slightest bit impressed with Ryan's 'woman charmer' act, then you're blind.”
“I know.” He stabbed his fork into a potato. “It's just the way Ryan works. He's a player.”
“And you're not?”
He looked at his sister-in-law. She was merely trying to help him understand her brother. He nodded. “I was. But not anymore.”
“There's the difference. You found your woman. My big brother's been looking for his, but he's disappointed every time.”
Dante looked across the table.
Ryan was dealing with a baby who was done eating and throwing the rest of his food on the floor.
Valerie said, “He's only 28, but he's ready to settle down.”
Dante nodded, understanding how Ryan felt. He watched Lindsey talk to Valerie's parents. She turned and looked at him, then touched her necklace—the one he gave her. His heart filled with emotion just seeing her smile.
“God, I love her, Valerie.”
“I can see that.” Her voice sounded choked. “I'm happy for you.”
“Me too, brother.” Antonio joined their conversation. “She's amazing. And when she volunteered to feed Tony, I think I fell for her a little myself.”
Dante and Valerie laughed, and watched Ryan pick up something from the floor and get a little boy hand full of potatoes in his hair.
Ryan pulled the gooey mess out of his hair and said to Tony, “Seriously?”
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I'm giving away a copy of Scandalous L.A. Desires to one lucky commenter. Can you express what you're most thankful for in 5 words or less?
Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful!
Secret Vegas Lives
Scandalous L.A. Desires
both available from Red Rose Publishing