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Authors: Elizabeth Reyes

Romero

BOOK: Romero
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ROMERO

(The Moreno Brothers series #4)

 

By Elizabeth Reyes

 

 

 

Romero By Elizabeth Reyes

 

Copyright © 2011 By Elizabeth Reyes. All rights reserved including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover Art
© Miroslav Georgijevic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book is dedicated to my loyal readers. Particularly the ones who emailed me more than once to request that I write Romero and Isabel’s story. This story was never going to be and if it hadn’t been for you guys it may never have blossomed the way it did and now I’m so glad it’s part of the Moreno Brother series. Just beware. Romero is … well Romero. =)

I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents
 
CHAPTER 1
High School Graduation

 

 

Romero

 

Manny was on his third disposable camera. His girlfriend Aida stood next to him, wearing a dress that looked like he just picked her up on a street corner.

“Can you wind up your plastic camera a little faster so we can get out of here?” Max said. “It’s hotter than shit out here.”

“Shut up and get in there, will you? I’m sending every damn one of these to Cousin Lou in Texas. That asshole didn’t think we could raise this kid.” He smiled at Romero, and if Romero didn’t know any better, he’d think Manny was getting choked up again.
Jesus
. “C’mon smile, will you?”

Romero’s uncles had always insisted he use their first names

“You know, if you break down and buy a digital camera like everyone else, you can send them to him tonight in an email,” Max said.

Manny took a few more pictures. Romero got tired of telling him about his finger on the lens. Let him be pissed about it when he got all the pictures back. All he could think of was getting the hell out of there to go party with his friends.

“I can do the same with these as soon as I get them back. They give you a disc over at the drug store, smartass. Besides why would I buy a digital camera when I got a load of these?”

Romero frowned. His uncles had plenty of friends with “connections.” They constantly hooked him up with things that
fell off
of delivery trucks, in exchange for favors. Because of the business his uncles ran they had plenty of favors to barter with that those types of guys would really enjoy. The latest hook-up had been a few dozen boxes of disposable cameras. “Are we done?” Romero asked.

“Yeah, with this one.” Manny dumped the camera in a tote and pulled out another brand new disposable camera. “Go get your friends. I want a few with them in it.”

Romero began to protest, but it was pointless. If he didn’t obey, his uncle was bound to start yelling for his friends to get their asses over here anyway. Rather than endure another one of their usual public scenes, he complied. “All right, I’ll go get them but make it fast because I got somewhere to be.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’ll go when I say you go. We’re going to dinner, remember? I didn’t get all dolled up for nothing.”

Aida fixed his uncle’s bright red tie. Both his uncles had worn suits for the occasion. As usual, their choice in clothes didn’t disappoint. Manny, a heavyset man, was in a white suit with a black shirt and bright red tie. Max looked like something out of a zoot suit movie. But it was all good. Romero was used to this. This was nothing compared to the matching powder blue suits they’d worn to his middle school graduation, and the scuffle they started in the crowd during the ceremony. “That fat bitch got right in front of me just as I was taking the picture!” was Manny’s argument.

That fat bitch’s husband didn’t take too kindly to his uncle’s foul mouth and it was on.

As he walked through the crowd of bodies, many still in their graduation robes, he spotted Claire—sweet, quiet, bookworm, Claire. Ever since the tenth grade when he’d caught her trying not to laugh at one of his lewd remarks, she’d been on his get-to-know list. Up until then he’d only had a to-do list when it came to girls. In fact, there were only two girls on his get-to-know list ever. Ironically, the other one, Libby, was a lot like Claire. Only unlike Claire, he’d never gotten the feeling Libby might actually be attracted to him, except for the few times he caught her staring and he thought she might’ve blushed. Unfortunately, they’d been in class and she’d spun her head around so fast he wasn’t able to tell. Another unfortunate thing about her is she’d moved away a year ago.

He’d been surprised to see Claire in the Forensic science class he’d taken this past semester on the weekends as part of their school’s regional occupational program. He hadn’t told anyone about the class. Not even his uncles knew. He’d told them he enrolled in a weekend program but said it was a weight training thing.

Like in school, he hadn’t expected to have much interaction with Claire, until they were partnered up on a project. There was no denying the attraction she tried so desperately to hide. He saw right through her. Even now, it made him smile at the times he’d broken through that sweet innocent wall of hers, and gotten her to admit a thing or two. Like when he teased her about being so holier-than-thou, she’d probably never even had a naughty dream. Not only did she admit to having had some, but they hadn’t all been about her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend—that wiped the smile right off his face. He’d waited too damn long to get to know her and by the time he started talking to her in the ROP class she was taken. If she had wanted to, it wouldn’t have been the first time that Romero had borrowed a little time with someone else’s girl. Only thing was, with Claire he hadn’t been too sure if he could handle sharing her. He never got a chance to find out though.

As strong as he felt her attraction had been, she wasn’t the cheating type and apparently things between her and her boyfriend were pretty serious. Of course, that only made Romero want her more. What had really thrown him was when he smugly asked her if any of those dreams had been of him. He completely expected her to blush and deny it vehemently. Instead sweet innocent Claire smiled the wickedest smile that nearly made
him
blush and she pled the fifth.

But even that didn’t top what he remembered most fondly about her. With all the suggestive teasing he’d done, he expected more demure responses. But after they finished up their project, instead of demure she’d teased him right back, calling him closet-smart. Something that for some reason always shut him right up.

Romero slowed down watching her pose for a picture with a woman he could only imagine was her mom. She noticed him after the picture had been taken and smiled, making Romero breathe in deeply. He smiled back and began walking toward her. She’d only taken a few steps, when her boyfriend stepped in front of her with a bouquet of flowers. The moment was over and he decided to walk away.

He rounded up his two best friends: Eric Diego and Angel Moreno. “Don’t ask me why, but Manny wants pictures with you guys in ‘em. Let’s get this over with. The sooner we’re done, the faster I can get dinner with them out of the way and we can meet up.”

“No fights this time uh?” Angel smirked.
“Shit, we’re not out of here yet.” Romero laughed.
They posed for a few hundred more shots, and the whole time Manny came up with more reasons why he had to take another.

“Do you have to make that face in every picture? This isn’t a mug shot. Max, will it kill you to fucking smile in just one of these? Stop with the tough guy poses, Moe, no one’s buying that shit.”

Eric and Angel stifled in laughs. Romero had always gone by his last name to everyone else but his uncles. His first name was Ramon, though he’d never gone by it. Manny and Max both called him Monie when he was a kid. Over the years it morphed into Moe. His uncles loved introducing themselves as Manny, Max, and Moe any chance they got. They thought it was cool but Romero knew people’s first thought, especially considering his two uncle’s appearances were the Three Stooges.

They finally got out of there and went to the Lucky Dragon for dinner. Besides his friend Angel’s family’s upscale Mexican restaurant, this was the only other fancy restaurant his uncles liked going to. They’d gone there for so many years the owners knew them well. The owner’s name was Pak Mi and even after all these years it never got old. “Pak Mi? No Pak
you
!” Then his uncles would go into a fit of laughter as if it were the first time they used that one.

After plowing through his food, Romero checked his phone again and replied to a text from Eric.

“Put that shit away, will you?” Manny pointed his chopsticks at Romero’s cell. “How many times do I have to tell you, not during dinner?”

“But I’m done.” Romero continued to text.

“Take that thing from him,” Manny said to Max.

Romero scooted out of the booth before Max could reach for his phone. He leaned in and hugged Manny and then Max, then smiled and nodded at Aida. “Eric is outside—party time.” He grinned. “Thanks for dinner. Don’t wait up.”

“Hey, Moe,” Manny called out as he began to walk away. “You got condoms. Use them.”

Romero turned to the women in the next booth who looked up at him after hearing his uncle’s loud statement. He smiled and winked. “Don’t worry. I always do.”

Angel’s family went all out as usual. They owned a restaurant and closed it up for the evening, just for the occasion. They’d party there for a while because they could sneak the free liquor from the bar and then move on to after-parties.

His two best friends couldn’t be more different than him, but they’d been his best friends since they were kids and they’d always gotten along great. Romero knew if he hadn’t lived up the street from them, they would’ve never been as tight they were now. That’s how different they were.

BOOK: Romero
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