“No. There is no way I am getting a tattoo. Not ever.”
Pale blue eyes flashed in front of mine. They were slightly bloodshot, untrained and buzzing. “Come on... Have a little fun.”
He sung it softly to the tune of one of his favourite talk shows. He had a strange obsession with them. “No, Luke, you idiot.” I slapped his shoulder, a chuckle forcing from my lips. He must’ve been drunk off his ass.
My thoughts were confirmed when he swung his arm over my shoulder, his head falling into the crook of my neck. “My pretty little Indiana, why do you never want to have some fun with me?”
“Your definition of fun is quite different to mine,” I retorted, shoving his slouching body off.
I leaned back against his car, a midnight black Audi. We stood alone in the dark parking lot, the only light being of a tattoo parlour seen opposite us. Its name was lit up in neon red.
My eyes were taken from the store when Luke tugged my arm toward him, drawing me into a lazy hug. His warm head rested heavily against my neck. “I appreciate you very much, Indiana. You know that?”
“Oh, screw off.”
He dropped to my side, a look of utmost shock on his face. I rolled my eyes and leaned against his shoulder, sighing tiredly. I had lost track of time hours ago.
He drew me closer and begun to fiddle with the fringe of my washed-out jean shorts.
“Luke,” I complained, slapping away his hand. “Where is your girlfriend? You know that girl would have your balls on a string if she saw you now.”
He groaned to himself and leaned most of his weight against my side, I barely able to hold him up. He didn’t bother with an answer, probably because he hadn’t a clue where she was.
“How about I just take you home?” I offered, glancing across at him. His eyes were set on the tattoo parlour.
“How about we get matching tattoos instead?”
He groaned again, louder, and threw his arms into the air as he said, “When was the last time you did something crazy?”
“I decided to be your friend,” I grumbled, to which his mouth turned up into a grin. He chuckled to himself and settled back again, gripping to the ledge of the doors.
“I’m serious, Indiana. I rate we get some cliché shit.”
I nudged his side with a faint smile, shaking my head lightly. Honey-blonde hair brushed over my shoulder as I did so, a strand falling over my eyes. I titled my head forward and run a hand through the messy waves. “I dare you to get a dolphin on your ass, Luke.”
“How much will you pay me?” he asked.
I laughed when thinking about how many bets he had made to keep he and his lifestyle afloat after his parents booted him. “...Ten dollars.”
He went silent for a moment. I expected him to make some cocky comment at the amount being too stingy, but he eventually gripped onto my hand and dragged me off his car.
“Wait, Luke... You aren’t actually going to...”
“Yeah, for ten bucks. Let’s go.”
My eyes widened as I was pulled into the light of the parlour. I gripped onto his hand when noticing the stares that fell over us.
My head lowered slightly and I slung behind Luke. My once pristine white converse-now a questionable shade-seemed to grasp my interest as we approached a lady working behind the desk. My vision lifted momentarily. Her hair was a dark indigo shade, matching her eyeshadow. Black piercings clung to her ears, lips and nose, followed by a dozen tattoos scattered over her visible neck.
Luke begun talking to the young woman, evidently attempting to appear as sober as possible. This only made it more obvious. Luckily for Luke, this establishment cared not for your mental health; they only requested he produce a proof of legal age.
I looked around curiously. I had never been in a tattoo studio before, but I supposed it was a new experience. It was fairly regular-looking, more so than I would’ve liked to imagine. The waiting chairs were of red leather and the low table before them, metal. The walls were decorated by images of sixties’ themed pop art and neon posters. There was a strange smell to the air – like the subway. I crinkled my nose at it.
“Alright, they said it wouldn’t take too long.” Luke pulled me from thought by patting my arm. “You owe me ten, babe - Plus, I used your wallet to pay for the deposit.”
“You can’t just-”
“Cheers. I’ll see you again when a dolphin is swimming across my ass cheek.”
I found myself smiling instead of scowling him. He already had a few tattoos, but I knew he would be pissed as hell by the morning.
“Good luck,” I mumbled, nudging him toward his tattooist. This would make up for the time he helped dye my hair and thought it would be funny to switch it with a colour choice of his own. I had walked around school with curious stares following me for ages.
Once he was out of sight, I dropped onto one of the seats and sunk into the chair. It had only now occurred to me I would have to sit here and wait for him. I looked around the store some more, picked at my nails, ignored the blatant stare of the young woman behind the desk.
My thoughts ran over how Seth and Vivian were doing. I began to feel guilty leaving them at home alone. I unlocked my phone and checked the time. 2:09 am. They would be fast asleep in bed by now, I’d hope.
I sighed and sent a hand through my hair again. I had to stop running about with Luke every time he got one of these crazy schemes in his head.
“Leo, you’re late for your shift.” I looked up at the secretary with a frown.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Debs,” a deeper voice replied as the back door shut. “If you’re wearing any, that is.”
I felt very much uncomfortable and out of place as the owner of the voice lowered his duffle bag and spun on his heel.
I tried not to stare too long at the new sight. I had a bad habit of it. He soon acknowledged me sitting alone. He looked around my age and, although masked in tattoos and piercings of his own, seemed too young to be working in a tattoo studio.
Debra (I assume that was her name) rolled her eyes at the boy but otherwise ignored him.
To my horror, he begun to stride over to me. His thin and loose white shirt stood out against his tan skin as he slowly crossed the room. My eyes darted down his body for a second. I recognised the logo of a grunge rock band from the nineties that was printed to his shirt.
“What are we doing tonight?” he exhaled, gripping to the armrest of my chair.
My gaze glided up his tattooed arm before meeting his eyes, being surprised at the close proximity.
His skin was inked in various artworks of black tattoos, only his hands and neck left bare. A light grey beanie clung to his dark hair, though still revealed small curls that drew across the sides of his face. I was still shocked at how close to me this stranger was.
“Let me guess,” he said in a lowered voice. His eyes dropped. I folded my hands over my lap. I began to find the words to explain to him I never planned on ruining my skin, but he interrupted. “Perhaps you’d like a butterfly, or an arrow through a heart, but most likely a little love quote to sum up your last boyfriend.”
“No, actually. I’m just-”
“Maybe you’re feeling brave and thinking about pulling off a rose.” He looked me over once again, awaiting my retort for his own amusement.
My lips hovered against one another, my eyebrows knitting together. I watched as he glanced to my lips with a carefulness that terrified me, but agitated me all the same.
“Stop patronising your customers,” Debra grumbled. “She’s not here for a tattoo anyway, asshole.”
Annoyance crossed his expression as he huffed, looking into my eyes once more. I felt too small to move. “Then what’s a girl like you doing up this late, huh?”
I wanted to tell him that I could stay out as long as I pleased but, “My friend’s getting a tattoo,” came out instead.
His rosy lips moved slowly as he stared me down. “Well that makes more sense, I suppose.”
He soon backed away to lean across Debra’s counter, throwing her a look over his shoulder as he lulled, “And what’s your friend getting, sweetheart?”
I swallowed hard, glancing to the door Luke had left from. I bloody well wished he were here now. “A dolphin.”
It seemed as though a smile might reach his face but he soon turned from me, losing interest and speaking with Debra.
I exasperatedly folded my arms, turning my eyes to the floor. What a prick.
Here I was at two-something in the morning in some dirty tattoo studio getting slayed by a stranger while Luke tattooed his ass.
I always regret going out with that boy, every time.