“You should come see the body I’m working on over at the shop.” Thor grinned wickedly at his Vice President as he leaned against the wall of the tattoo shop. His wild sandy colored hair was pulled back in a man bun and the overalls he wore were covered with grease.
Gunner, one of the best ink slingers in the city, looked up at his fellow biker and brother in the Iron Warriors MC. “You’re working on a classic car?” he raised his brows. It wasn’t often that they got the classics in the shop next door but when they did, it was a sight to see.
“Who the fuck said anything about a classic car?” Thor, aptly named because of his long hair and not to mention that his weapon of choice was a hammer, asked. “I was talking about the hot chick that is waiting over there for Wolf to finish up with her car. I mean her under carriage is hot as hell not to mention what her dashboard looks like.” He licked his lips.
Looking up from the client he was inking, Gunner’s eyes narrowed. “You have two seconds to get the fuck outta my shop before I hurt you.” The realization of what his brother was taking about set in and he wanted to reach over and smack him. Thor was one big hormone and usually got most of the club whores lusting after him. Thank god the guy was picky and didn’t want to go around with a STD.
Thor threw his head back and laughed as he slapped his leather covered knee. “Come on Gunner, you need to loosen up. I mean how long has it been?” He kept laughing. “You know if it stopped working they have blue pills for that.”
When his client in his chair snickered along with Thor, Gunner put his ink gun down. “Alright now I’m serious. Get the fuck out before I call Wrath to remove you.” Then he looked down at his client. “Adam what the fuck are you laughing about? You’ve been married to the same woman for thirty years and stand me if I’m corrected, you do use the fucking blue pills!”
Adam snickered even more. “True, Gunner. However, there is nothing wrong with admiring a good looking…. under carriage.” The older man laughed. “I mean hell, when Vivian comes in here to get her ink touched up you can’t tell me she’s not checking you boys out.”
“Whose side are you on?” Gunner looked down at him and growled playfully.
“Sorry my friend, I have to go with Thor on this one.” Adam answered honestly.
“You’re lucky that I’m done with your ink. Otherwise I’d mark you with a big ole’ hammer right on your back. Since you’re so fond of Thor.” Gunner smirked.
Before any of the fellow men could say anything, the bell over the door chimed as a woman walked in. “Excuse me, is this Inkology?” her voice was gentle.
Gunner turned away from Adam. “Yeah, it is. Can I help---” Once his eyes landed on the woman, his voice trailed off. “Help you?” he finished his words.
Standing in the doorway was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. First thing the biker noticed was that she was a tiny little thing. If she was taller than 5’3”, he’d be surprised. A dark curtain of rich brown hair fell around her face; almost as if she were hiding behind it. She wore a pair of dark sunglasses, even after she stepped inside. One thing that he noticed was she had a split in her lip and that didn’t sit right with Gunner. She was dressed in a pair of faded jeans and a Hinder t-shirt.
“I’m actually looking for a job. I’m a tattoo artist and I’ve just moved into town.” Her tongue darted out to lick at the split in her lip. She still kept the sunglasses on and that bothered Gunner. He couldn’t tell if she was making eye contact or not.
“Hell, sweetheart I can show you around the town. You’d be in good hands.” Thor smirked as he winked at her. “Very good hands.”
The woman ran her fingers through her hair as she looked down at the floor nervously.
“Thor!” Gunner growled.
“What? I’m just trying to be friendly, that’s all!” Thor gave him a look of mock innocence.
Gunner looked at her and nodded. “Just a sec, k?” Turning back to Adam, he helped the man sit up. “You’re finished. I’ll see you later. Say hello to Vivian for me, ok?” There was a dismissal in the tone of his voice.
Adam knew Gunner well enough not to argue. He could tell the man’s mind was anywhere but on the tattoo he just touched up on the older man. “Will do. You take care Gunner. You too, Thor.” He nodded to the bikers. As he made his way out of the store, he spoke quietly to the woman. “Good luck sweetie.” Then he was gone.
Cleaning up his station, Gunner looked over at Thor. “Hey brother, why don’t you go work on that body of yours at the garage?” There was heavy emphasis on the word, body. With like Adam, there was no room for argument. Gunner’s green eyes focused on his fellow club member and with his eyes alone he told Thor to get the hell out.
The blond giant snickered. “Yeah, I need to get back to the garage. See ya Gunner. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” He gave the VP a wave as he walked out. Passing the woman, he whispered loudly. “I’m right next door at the garage if you want a tour of the town sweetheart.” A loud growl from behind told him that Gunner was not happy about his choice of words.
Finally, when they were alone, Gunner walked almost lazily over to the woman. “Sorry about that. Thor is….” he sighed. “Thor.”
The woman gave half a smile. “I’ve known men like that. No worries.” She winced as she felt her lip tugging a bit since she smiled.
“Now you said you’re here for a job?” Gunner leaned against the front counter. When she nodded, he frowned. “You do realize what type of place this is, right?” he asked, doubt lacing his voice. Seeing her nod again, he stared at her. “Honey, we’re a MC.” Gunner tugged on the bottom of his cut. “I’m the VP actually. This is our shop. I’m the manager and I sling ink.”
“Don’t—” her voice waivered. She took a deep breath. “Please don’t call me honey.” She meant to be strong, but it came out as a plea instead. “My name is—” Once again she paused. “Daniella. But you can call me Dani.”
Gunner cocked his head. “Are you sure? You don’t seem so sure, Kitten.”
“Kitten?” Dani’s head cocked up. Did the man not have ears? She said her name was Daniella. Ok, so there might be only a shred of truth in that statement. A very small shred, but a shred nonetheless. “I said my name is—”
Gunner couldn’t help but smirk. “I know what you said. But you’re as skittery as a newborn kitten so I think the name fits.” He pointed out. “I’m Gunner. I run the ink shop for the Iron Warriors MC. Now Kitten, you said you were a fellow ink slinger?”
“Yes, I’ve done ink work for big guys such as yourself. So, I know my way around men. I also know my way around an ink parlor.” Dani told him. “Not only that but I can draw my own designs as well.”
“You know your way around men?” Gunner’s brows nearly reached his forehead. “That split lip is telling me different. Why don’t you remove those sunglasses, so I can see your eyes? I like making eye contact with potential employees.
Dani felt the panic rise inside of her like a tidal wave. Despite her best efforts to use make up, she knew that the black eye could still be visible. The last thing she needed was some nosy biker getting into things where he wasn’t wanted. Suddenly she realized the terrifying fact that he could know Kane. Dani began to tremble as she looked around. “You know, maybe this isn’t the place for me. I’m going to go.” The frightened woman whipped around to leave but a firm hand on her wrist gave her pause.
“Who hurt you?” Gunner’s voice was soft. “Was it your husband? Your father?”
Dani immediately whipped around and growled. “My father would never hurt me!” she spat. The thought alone made her sick. Her father was wonderful and despite his early years, a decent father.
“Then it was your husband?” Gunner pried even more.
“I’m not married!” Dani held up her left hand, revealing a ringless finger.
Gunter grunted. “You’d be surprised how many women leave their rings at home, swearing they are single.” There was anger in his words and tone. Not to mention bitterness. The past threatened to come from that deep place inside of him, but he pushed it back down.
“Well I’m not one of them.” Dani hugged herself as she stared at the floor.
“So, if it’s not your father or a husband, who the fuck hurt you?” Gunner repeated. It bothered him that she was even hurt at all. No one should lift a finger against a woman. They were to be cherished and protected. Yet someone hurt Dani. He was almost afraid to take off her glasses to find out what was behind them.
Dani’s head rose as she looked at him from behind the darkness of the glasses. “Why do you even care?” she asked softly.
Moving closer to her, Gunner could smell a soft flowery scent. Instantly his body took notice and he tried to push back the rather inappropriate and erotic thoughts he was having about her. “Because anyone fucks with an employee of mine, they mess with the whole MC.” he stated. “No one fucks what belongs to us.”
“You mean I’m hired?” For the first time there was actual joy in her voice.
Gunner pulled back. “Not yet. First you must show me your ink skills. If they are good enough, then you have the job. First, take off the glasses.” He crossed his powerful tatted arms across his broad muscular chest.
Dani growled as she reached up. “Fine!” Whipping off the glasses, she immediately hung her head so her hair fell in her face. It was then she felt two rough hands push her hair aside and tilt her head up. Swallowing hard, she looked up into the eyes of Gunner. “Happy now?” she sneered.
Happy would be the last word that Gunner would use. No, he definitely was not happy. Dani was wearing too much make up to start with. Underneath all that make up Gunner could see the black eye threatening to reveal itself. He had to use his breathing technique he learned in the Army for when he needed to relax. Otherwise he feared the shop would have a giant hole in the wall. “Who hurt you, Kitten?” This time his voice was velvet soft. His thumb brushed softly along her jawline.
“It doesn’t matter. I just need a job. Please?” This time Dani begged. “I’m on my own and I need to make money for rent and food. I’m a good artist, I swear. Just give me a damn chance.”
Gunner could feel the hit to his gut right there and then. He knew he had to protect her. Someone hit her and if he guessed correctly, hit her repeatedly. Whoever this guy was he sure as hell wasn’t a man. A real man never hit a woman. “First things first, Kitten. You go into that bathroom and wash off all this make up. I’m going to get you some cream to put on that eye. Then, I want to see your skills.”
Nodding her head, Dani agreed. For the first time hope surged through her. Maybe things were looking up. There was something in his demeanor and voice that made her feel safe. It made her feel as if it was alright to show her true self. In a manner of speaking. “Where is the bathroom?”
Gunner dropped his hands as he pointed to a door on the left side of the front desk. “Right there. Wash it all off and then come back out here.” He watched as she headed off to the bathroom. Dani was a mystery and Gunner hated mysteries. He liked having the answers in front of him, so he could take care of the problem. Whoever hurt her was going to pay in the end.