TWO WEEKS LATER
I was feeling overworked and irritated as hell. The project me and Dane were working on was going to be the death of me. We had one month to complete a full renovation on an old Victorian house in the heart of Savannah and we hadn’t even received the blueprints or final plans yet. Without those, we had no idea where to start.
My brother, Dane, and I have lived in Savannah since we arrived in America when we were both sixteen years old. Coming here from Ireland was a huge culture shock to both of us, but we were settling in nicely. After college, we started a built a home construction company from scratch and were now the most wanted builders in town. Both for our skills and for lonely housewives to have some eye candy while we worked. We didn’t complain since the bills were being paid but we derived from being the best builders and not just handsome faces to look at.
With nothing left to do for the day and Dane being gone, I shut up shop and headed out for the night. I was stressed to the max and instead of sitting at the bar, drinking my liver into submission, I headed for my favorite spot: Midnight Ink. There was nothing a new tattoo couldn’t fix for me. My body was a testament to that as I consistently inked myself whenever I was stressed out, which was a lot lately. And Bobby knew my soul unlike any other person alive and drew up the best pieces, knowing exactly how I was feeling.
But when I stepped into Midnight Ink and asked if Bobby had an opening, my mood went even darker when Kristina, the shop owner, told me Bobby no longer worked here.
“What do you mean Bobby doesn’t work here anymore? Where the hell did he go?” I was even more irritated now and was thinking the bar sounded pretty damn good right about now.
If Bobby was really gone, where am I going to go for my ink now? I only ever let Bobby ink me and if he was gone, there wasn’t anybody else that I trusted with my work. What a shit thing to learn at the end of an already shitty day.
Kristina sighed. “He left a week ago, Dash, I’m sorry. His daughter was having a tough time so he headed North to be with her.”
I ran my hand over my face and breathed out a steadying breath. “Is he coming back?”
“It didn’t sound like it. Besides, he already hired someone to fill his spot.” She looked down at her appointment book. “Who has an opening if you’re interested in meeting with her and telling her what you want.” She kept her eyes cast down as mine followed hers. I saw that the new girl didn’t have any clients under her name at all, telling me that she either sucked or hadn’t been here long enough to obtain any clients for herself.
I really did want some new ink today, so why not see what the girl could do. “Does she have a portfolio I can look through? I want to see what kind of work she does.”
Kristina flinched. “She actually doesn’t right now. She’s very new and hasn’t settled into the shop just yet, but I can assure you that she is great.”
I was not amused or impressed. “So, you’re trying to set me up with this new girl who doesn’t have a portfolio and is net to tattooing and expect me to just go off your word? Come on, Kristina, you know me better than that.”
“To be fair... She isn’t new to tattooing and I am giving you my word because she’s my cousin and I’ve seen her work. It’s seriously amazing. I haven’t seen anyone do work like hers. Just give her a shot.”
I was in no mood to give anything a shot right now. I just wanted to sit in Bobby’s chair, hear the buzz from the tattoo gun, and forget about work for an hour or two.
“Cousin or not, I’m not letting some chick near my skin without seeing some of her work,” I hissed out. My irritation was bubbling to the surface and aimed right at Kristina. “I don’t want to be some chicks doodle book that looks like an art project gone bad.”
I heard a snort come from behind me as I turned to find who just snorted at me. But when I saw who was standing there, I froze. The woman who had just snorted at me was the most beautiful brunette I had ever seen. She had legs for days with hips that I wanted to grip with my hands as I pounded into her. I noticed the tattoos lining up each of her arms and disappeared beneath a skin tight tank top that revealed perfectly sized perky breasts. Her eyes were big, round, and a mesmerizing blue that almost looked grey from this far back. I finally noticed that she had a small nose ring and when my eyes landed on her plump lips I felt my dick swell in my pants.
Jeez, Dash, pull yourself together! She isn’t the first beautiful woman you’ve ever seen. No, but she was definitely doing something to me.
“My art projects kick-ass, buddy, and now that I know how you feel about it- you can find yourself a new artist. Hell, you can find a whole new studio for all I care.”
She stepped up to me and I couldn’t think about what to say because the scent of sexy and sweet filled my nose and made my mind cloud over.
“Dash, meet my cousin Adrena. Adrena, this is Dash McCarthy. He was Bobby’s regular.” Kristina introduced us and we both stood there staring at each other. I obviously stared at her with awe while Adrena was throwing daggers at me with her eyes.
“I would say it’s nice to meet you, but it’s not.” Adrena finally turned away from me and walked back behind the counter and disappeared into the back.
Kristina laughed when my eyes drifted to her and my eyebrow lifted. “Feisty little thing, isn’t she?” Kristina asked.
Feisty was one word for her, I thought, but I could think of other words to describe the woman who had my dick pressed uncomfortably tight against my jeans while my blood pumped like I had just ran a marathon.
“I should go apologize. Can I go back, Kris?” I asked, nodding towards the curtain Adrena had just disappeared behind.
“It’s your funeral, but go ahead,” Kristina replied with a small laugh and a shake of her head. The shop phone began to ring and Kristina answered, her voice drifting away as I pushed through the curtain in search of the brunette I just insulted and tried to think how I was going to apologize.
I passed several stations where familiar artists worked on their clients. The buss of the tattoo guns filled the air and the scent of sterilized equipment filled my nose. Some of the guys looked up at me and nodded their greeting without words as I passed. And then I finally found her. She had taken Bobby’s spot in the back and was leaning over a lit up easel, drawing a piece of work that made my eyes widen. Not only had I insulted her but clearly I had insulted some of the best drawings I had ever seen before; without even knowing it. Damn, my mouth could really get me into trouble sometimes.
I cleared my throat and watched Adrena turn towards me as she let out an annoyed sigh and crossed her arms over her chest.
“I thought I told you to get lost. I was being nice the first time, but I won’t be the second time.”
I had to bite the inside of my cheek so I wouldn’t smile. This girl was unlike any other I had ever met and I suddenly wanted her naked, underneath me, and saying more feisty things in my ear.
“I came back to apologize.” I finally spoke, a smile tugging at the corner of my mouth.
“Not accepted.” She spun back around and went back to drawing, making me gape at her.
Here I was, trying to be the bigger person and apologize for my mouth and she won’t even hear me out! I wasn’t the type of guy to openly apologize for being an asshole, since that seemed to be my middle name, and here I was trying my best to be a nice guy and she was shutting me down? Who is this girl?
“Listen, I’m trying to make amends. Can you just hear me out for a second?” She spun back towards me, not looking amused at all, as I continued. “I’ve had a really shitty day and I took it out on a complete stranger. So for that, I’m sorry. I had no right to treat you like shit when I don’t even know you. I didn’t even give you a chance, but it’s clear that I should have.” I nodded towards the drawing behind her. “So, if you’ll accept my apology, I’d like to see what you can do for me. Bobby was my go-to guy and he always knew what I wanted without me having to tell him. So, forgive me for being a bit pissy about his departure.”
She silently observed me with her eyes, sizing me up, and it was actually turning me on. I wished she’d say something already, though.
“So, what do you say?” I asked, breaking the silence.
She nodded towards the chair next to her and spun back towards the easel. “It’s later in the day, so the best I can do for you right now is a sketch and possibly starting an outline of something.”
I didn’t hesitate as I took the spot next to her and watched her move the drawing she was currently working on and pull out a fresh paper before look at me. I still can’t get over how beautiful she is. It was making me dizzy.
“So, what are you thinking?” Her face was emotionless and her words came out in a melancholy tone.
I wasn’t sure how to reply to her because I always let Bobby have open reign on me and he did an amazing job keeping everything flowing through each piece. I had a full sleeve on my left arm and lots of work done on my back. I never did large pieces, but rather had small pieces done here and there, resulting in large pieces when they were all done. It gave me more time in the chair when I got one small piece at a time.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” I finally replied.
Adrena sighed and leaned back in her chair, staring at me. “You came in for a tattoo but yet you have no idea what you want?”
I shook my head. “I usually let Bobby have free reign on me. Like I said, he knew what I wanted and worked every piece together.” I lifted my sleeve up and revealed the large piece on my arm. “It wasn’t done at one time. This is probably thirty different sessions.”
Adrena eyed my arm and leaned forward, grabbing my forearm to bring me closer to her. My breath caught in my throat when she touched me and when she got super close to me, I could see the silver flecks in her eyes and damn, she smelled amazing.
“Your eyes are beautiful,” I breathed out in almost a whisper. Honestly, I didn’t realize I had said that aloud until she sighed and sat back from me, looking upset.
“Look, I have no problems eighty-sixing a creep.”
“What?! No. No, I’m not a creep. Sorry. I just... your eyes really are beautiful. I have a habit of saying things before my mind has time to process my words. Really, I’m not a creep.” I was panicking on the inside. I was blowing this big time. This woman was going to kill me. Not only was she this beautiful and sexy woman, but she got me to apologize to her twice in one day! That’s a record!
I watched her mouth turn up into a smile before she revealed perfect teeth and threw her head back laughing. It was the kind of laugh that reached your eyes and shook your entire body. I couldn’t help but laugh with her, but I kept my laugh much quieter and stopped immediately when she looked back at me.
“Alright, Creeper, since Bobby had free reign and I can see where he was going... What’s your plan? Giving me free reign, too?” She had stopped laughing, but she was still smiling, the smile still reaching those beautiful eyes and it took everything I had not to grab her and slam my lips onto her plump mouth.
“I suppose that’s how this is going to work, huh? Why don’t you draw something up and I’ll let you know what I think and where to put it.”
She nodded with a small smile and turned back to the easel and started drawing.
There was something about this girl that made me want to know everything about her. What were her desires? Her secrets. Her dreams. But before I could delve into any of that, first I have to ask the most important question.
“The creeper is gone, but he was also wondering if you were dating anyone...” I broke the silence and watched Adrena as she stopped drawing and turned to stare at me.
“It’s complicated,” is all she said before returning back to the easel.
“Ah, so not that serious, huh?”
This time when she looked at me, all the humor from her features had disappeared and she glared at me. “Not that it’s any of your business, Dash, but no, it’s not that serious.”
When she didn’t pull her glare from me, I couldn’t help but stare into her soul. There was clearly something she wasn’t telling me and I could see a bit of fear looking back at me. What was she afraid of?
“Sorry I asked,” I replied softly, looking away from her as she went back to drawing.
“It’s a perfectly common question to ask. It’s just not one I like to answer,” her reply was lighter and I knew that she was trying to push the fear and anger back inside and put her professional face back on.
“So, um, who did that artwork on your arms?” I wanted to changed the subject before I lost the playful Adrena I finally got to see. I liked playful Adrena. I wanted to fuck playful Adrena. I shifted in my spot, trying to adjust the erection that was building in my jeans as my cock pressed tightly against them once more.
“I did,” she replied softly, intently staring at the drawing in front of her.
“Seriously? Both arms?” I was impressed to say the least.
She shrugged. “I can’t write with both hands, but when it comes to inking I’m apparently ambidextrous.” She lightly laughed, revealing that smile again and my cock began to throb.
I was seriously in an uncomfortable position at the moment. I was so hard it hurt, but I can’t exactly tell her that, or tell her that I needed to go jerk off before I exploded. She already thought I was a creeper, I didn’t need to make it worse. So I pulled my eyes from her and tried to think about something else.
“Done. What do you think?” Adrena turned the easel towards me and my eyes widened. She had drawn a skull that was cracked open on the top and had smoke flowing out through the opening. “You seem to have a hot head and ink put out the fire, am I right?”
This girl nailed it. I had been sitting here for ten minutes with her and she knew exactly what I needed.
“That’s awesome.” I beamed, leaning forward and getting a better glance at all the detailing she had put into it in such a short amount of time. “I think I have the perfect spot for it. Bobby never finished my back so there’s a spot right between my shoulder blades.”
I stood up then and pulled my shirt over my head with one hand and turned so she could see my back. When she didn’t say or do anything, I looked back over my shoulder and saw how she was looking at me. It was clear that I was affecting her as much as she was affecting me. And my current hard-on became impossibly harder when I saw her nipples harden beneath that tight tank top of hers.
She cleared her throat and said, “Yeah, that’s a good spot. I can do the outline tonight but you’ll have to come back for all the shading and details. Is that okay?”
I had a smile on my face when I looked straight again. “Yeah, that’s no problem. You open tomorrow any time?”
“My whole day is free.” I heard her fumble with some things as I watched her put on gloves, sterilize some tools and pulled new needles from their plastic casing. She cleaned my skin, the cold wet cloth making me jump, as she giggled. “Sorry,” she replied while setting the outline of my tat onto my skin.
“Hold up.” I stood and pulled my wallet out of my back pocket and tossed it on the counter behind her. “My ass goes numb when I sit on that for too long.” I sat back down then and let her do her thing.
I loved the feeling of her hands on my back, on my skin, and wondered what it would feel like to have her entire naked body pressed tightly against mine. I pictured my hands running down to her hips right before I pushed myself deep inside of her, claiming her. I had never had these thoughts over a woman I had just met before and it was strange that I was talking to her at all, or having this kind of reaction. I stopped going after women all on my own years ago. My erection was pounding against my jeans as I cleared my throat and started asking questions to clear my mind.
“So, how long have you been tattooing?” I asked, the buzz of her gun filling the air around us. I felt the first bite of the needle and instantly all the stress I’ve felt from the day slowly faded away; just like that.
“I honestly can’t give you a number. I started in my teens when a friend’s dad owned a tattoo parlor in Texas and let me mess around on people willing to let a kid tattoo them for free. I haven’t looked back since.”
I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to know everything about her actually, but how do I get more information out of her without sounding like an interrogator. Or, like a creeper.
“So, Texas, huh? That’s where you’re from?”
“Yeah.” That was all she was willing to give me and I didn’t feel like prying just yet.
“So, Kristina is your cousin?”
She sighed. “She has a big mouth and yes, she’s my cousin. We haven’t been in touch for years but she’s always been here when I’ve needed her.”
I knew there was more behind what she was telling me but I wasn’t going to pry today. I’d be back tomorrow and if I had it my way, I’d be back again and again until this mysterious, overly sexy woman opened up to him. Mind and body.
She wiped at his skin and shut the gun off before doing a thorough cleaning to it and applying tattoo goo over the freshly inked skin.
“You’re all done, Creeper. Want to take a peek?”
I stood up and walked over towards the mirror and smiled when I saw the first part of the new tattoo between my shoulder blades.
“Looks amazing. I can’t wait to see the finished product.” I looked back at her and couldn’t help but notice the reserved face she was putting on. Playful Adrena had left the building, that much was clear. “What time did you want me back tomorrow?”
She shrugged. “Whatever fits into your schedule.”
I laughed, shaking my head. “I make my own schedule. When is the best time for you?”
“It doesn’t matter,” she snapped, “Pick a time and have Kristina put it in the book.”
I had no idea what caused her to immediately change her attitude toward me and I didn’t like it. If it was something I did, I wanted to know so I didn’t do it again. I really wanted this woman to open up to me but she was all over the place with her emotions and I think she might never feel comfortable enough to do so.
“Alright,” I replied softly, “let’s shoot for noon.” I grabbed my shirt and slowly slipped it over my head and started walking away when Adrena called for me.
“Hey, wait up!”
I spun around and she slammed into me, chest to chest, as I stared down into her gorgeous blue-ish grey eyes, her scent filling my nose. I could also feel her nipples harden against my chest and heard her suck in a breath as she jumped back and held up my wallet.
“You forgot this.” Her voice had changed. It was quiet and reserved, not at all the feistiness she had sported for the last hour, and she looked away from me like a frightened puppy. I couldn’t help but want to reach out and hold her, protect her from whatever was bothering her.
I grabbed my wallet and left the subject alone. “Thanks, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I studied her face but she gave me nothing but a small nod before she spun around and walked away from me, disappearing into the bathroom and closing the door. What the hell was that all about?
As I left Midnight Ink, I couldn’t stop thinking about Adrena. A woman has never affected me like this before and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. I wanted to know why she made me feel this way, why she affected me so much. There was something about that woman that made me want to protect her with everything that I had. I just don’t understand why. But tomorrow I would be seeing her again and this time she would get to see who the real Dash was, not this stressed out asshole that I’ve been lately.
Yeah, tomorrow was definitely a new day. For both of us.