Beneath This Ink (Beneath #2)

by Meghan March

“Con, can you take this walk-in?” Delilah called from the front of the shop.

I pushed back from the desk and shoved my hair away from my face. It was too damn long. I needed to get it cut, but the girl I’d been going to for the last year had basically fallen onto my cock last week, and I wasn’t going to be letting her near my jugular with scissors any time soon. She wasn’t enamored of my, ‘I don’t go there twice unless there’s something worth going back for’ mentality. I probably could have phrased it a little nicer, but why give the girl false hope when I’d all but forgotten her as soon as I’d slid the condom off my dick? I didn’t have time for bullshit, and I didn’t like to be misunderstood when I spoke. So I was firmly in the ‘tell it how it is’ camp. Women didn’t seem to appreciate my particular brand of honesty. Mostly because it didn’t line up with what they wanted to hear. Not my problem.

I stood and headed for the door of the break room. Time to meet my newest walk-in.

If I had to tattoo one more “YOLO” on some idiot kid, I might hang up my tattoo gun and call it a day. Thoughts like that made me feel older than thirty-one.

I scanned the shop, looking for my next client. If I hadn’t learned a hell of a long time ago how to lock down my reactions, I might’ve missed a step.

It was no kid.

And if she wanted YOLO tattooed on that body, it’d be a crime against nature. Anger flared within me at the sight of her. I might not remember the night we’d spent together, but I sure as hell remembered the morning after when I’d interrupted her escape from my bedroom. We’d thrown words like grenades, and it was a miracle we’d both walked away without bloodshed. Even with that memory vividly replaying in my head, I still had to tell my dick to calm the fuck down.

Vanessa Fucking Frost was still out of my league. Hell, out of my fucking universe. She’d been too good for me in high school, she’d been too good for me two years ago, and as sure as she was standing in my shop today, she was still too damn good for me. And I bet she’d be the first person to say it. I still couldn’t figure out how she’d ended up in my bed that night. Not because my bed didn’t see action with rich chicks—it saw plenty—but not like her. Classic elegance like Grace Kelly. Joy Leahy used to make me watch To Catch a Thief with her, and that’s exactly who Vanessa reminded me of.

Her platinum blond hair was twisted up into some fancy-ass bun, and her tan skirt suit clung to her curves in all the right places. One perfectly manicured hand toyed with the gold bracelet on her wrist. My jeans tightened uncomfortably at the peek of a lacy pink bra from beneath her pink silk blouse.

My reaction to her pissed me off.

Do you know what it’s like to finally get something you’ve always wanted, but not remember a single fucking detail?

It ate away at me. The not knowing. Part of me wanted to tell her to get the hell out of my shop, but the other part of me wanted to drag her upstairs, strip her naked, and tie her to my bed so this time she couldn’t leave until I was damn good and ready. Which might be never. And that thought—that weakness—infuriated me.

“Never thought I’d see you darken my doorway again. What can I do for you, princess?” A mocking edge colored my words.

Her nervous twirling of her bracelet halted, and her blue eyes, several shades lighter and more vibrant than my own, met mine. Her pink tongue darted out over her perfectly plump bottom lip slicked with gloss. This nervous, off-balance look of hers raised all my red flags. I was used to the quiet, sexy-as-all-hell confidence that had always drawn me in. At least until she’d opened her mouth that infamous morning and told me what she’d really thought of me.

“I need a few moments of your time.”

I raised an eyebrow. Now that was a new development. She’d never sought me out.

“Is that so?”

“Yes, if you could spare me five minutes.”

Some of her words from that morning, which I might as well have tattooed on my skin, came back to me: Do this again? Are you crazy? I must have been insane to do this the first time. This can never happen again. And no one can ever know. No one.

And now she wanted a favor?

“In this shop, the only way a woman gets my time is if she’s getting a tattoo, or is on her knees or her back.” I knew my answer was crude, but that was what she undoubtedly expected from me. And I hated to disappoint.

A flush of color hit her cheekbones, and I wondered for a brief second whether she was remembering what it had been like to be on her knees in front of me. Fuck. I wish I remembered. Then I could just fucking move on.

I waited for the clipped go to hell and an abrupt exit. But instead of turning and walking out, she surprised me.

“A tattoo it is, then.”

My eyebrows hit my hairline.

“Really? Of what?” The disbelief was evident in my tone.

She hesitated a moment before answering, “A fleur de lis.” She held up her fingers to indicate the size. “Right here.” She pointed to her hipbone.

“No shit?”

“No shit.” A grin tugged at the corner of my mouth when she echoed me, but I beat it back. She was here because she wanted something from me. Badly enough that she was willing to let me get her partially naked and under my tattoo gun to accomplish it.

Interesting.

“Then follow me, sweetheart.” I led her back to my room and pulled the door shut.

She moved to sit, but I stopped her. I wanted to see just how committed she was to whatever the hell had brought her here. “Drop your skirt first.”

Her head jerked up. Yeah, I figured that’d get your attention, princess. “Are you serious?”

“You expect me to give you a tat through your clothes? Even I’m not that good.”

Those vivid blue eyes turned to ice. “Fine. But you have to listen to what I have to say.”

“Fair enough. You lose the skirt, I’ll listen.” Didn’t mean she’d get what she came for, but I could at least listen if it got her clothes off. Jesus, I’m pathetic. Bargaining for her to get naked? With most other women, all I had to say was strip, and the clothes hit the floor right before the female in question hit her knees. I wasn’t vain, but even I knew that being six-four, covered in tats, and built like a brawler had an effect on the ladies.

I forced myself to turn away and grab my gear. The rest of the blood in my head went south with the delicate hiss of her zipper. Fractured images of her naked and bent over my bed, ass blushing red from where I hadn’t been able to stop myself from smacking it, rushed through me. I just didn’t know if they were memories or fantasies.