This is a fun little story to write. And little is what it is. Hot. Short. Sexy. Not long. You get the idea, right? 😉
However, we do have tattoos, loving, smexing, and a small piercing.
Love and Tattoos is on the calendar to be finished by the end of next week, if not sooner, but there are edits due on Slide Down On Me, and revisions to make on The Cupcake Cowboy.
This little gem though, I’m loving it. (And please remember it is rough and unedited)
Brax shrugged. He turned toward the board by the wall which held pictures of all the tattoos Joe had ever done. “You’ve been training her, right? Teaching her?”
“Yeah man, but —”
“Then let her have a client. Let her have me. I heard enough of your conversations before you knew I was standing here. There’s no harm. I won’t sue you if she completely fucks up.”
Oh yes, please. Let me have him.
Annie tried to be offended, that even Brax would doubt her ability, but she really couldn’t be. He didn’t know her and while she’d been itching to have an actual client for her own, she wasn’t sure she wanted it to be him. He was, his tattoos were flawless. She would hate to do anything to mar the canvas.
At the same time… “Joe? Please?” She glanced at Brax, then back to her brother. “He’s willing.” She was willing as well. She was oh so willing. She heard the hopefulness in her voice and prayed it didn’t sound quite like begging the way she suspected it did.
“Dammit, Brax.” Joe shoved his hands on hips. He heaved a sigh and turned to his friend. “You have to sign the same waiver as every other client and you don’t pay a dime, do you understand?”
“I’ll sign whatever you want me to sign but price and payment will be between your sister and I.”
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Joe remarked.
He might not, Annie thought, but she sure did. She was going to get to touch Brax, be close to him, smell him. Would he smell of city or sand? They weren’t too far from the beach but they were right in the heart of the city. The late Summer heat hadn’t changed anything on the west coast of Florida. It was hot three months ago and it was hot now.
Annie mentally shook thoughts of the weather out of her head. Though, the weather was probably a safer subject than her thoughts of Brax’s skin under her hands. Nervousness took immediate hold on her at the possibility of adding to his collection of tattoos.
Joe wagged a finger in Brax’s face. “If she screws up on you —”
“She won’t.” He hurriedly added. “Have a little faith, Joe. If you taught her, I know I have nothing to worry about.” Brax shifted his head and winked at her. “Now,” he said to Joe, “why don’t you run along and leave Annie and I work out the details.”
“I really don’t like the sound of that,” Joe muttered, but he relented and walked away without sparing her a glance. Annie watched until he disappeared around the corner. She stared until there was nothing else she could do to stall and keep from looking at her… Client.
“Do I scare you?”
Dumb question. Of course he did. “No,” she quipped.
“Damn.” He shook his head, pursed his lips, and sighed out an exaggerated breath. “I must be losing my touch.”
Annie grinned. Was he flirting with her? The light in his eyes seemed brighter, but that could be wishful thinking on her part. She hadn’t been flirted with, genuinely at least when someone didn’t want anything from her, since she was laid off last year. “Do you normally scare unsuspecting women?”
“Suspecting ones too,” he teased.
“A shame I don’t scare easily then,” Annie said dismissively. She presented him with the medical and liability waiver they presented to all their clients. Brax scrawled his name across the line at the bottom of both forms without reading them. “So, what are you looking for?”
“Loaded question, don’t you think? Assuming though, that you’re talking about the tattoo, my name, on my fingers. Here.” He indicated ‘here’ by pointing to the area of his fingers behind the second knuckle.
“Uh huh.” Annie needed to hold his hand in hers for a moment but she couldn’t make herself reach for him. Touching his skin, the feel of it where he wanted the ink, would help her visualize how to go about marking him, however, she was immobile. The messages from her brain to her hands weren’t getting through.
He must have realized she wasn’t going to be taking the initiative because he laid his palm across the back of her hand. “Annie?” His tone was all business and broke through her haze. “Don’t show hesitancy with your clients. If you do, they won’t have the confidence or trust in you they need to have. They’ll leave.”
She knew that. Really, she did. With most people she wouldn’t be this way and had rarely been nervous or hesitant in her advertising job. At the same time, she’d never reacted to her clients or potential ones in quite this way. Uncertainty filled her with dread. Maybe she couldn’t do this.
Only, she’d practically begged Joe to let her.
She nodded, took a steadying breath and turned her palm over to cradle his. He had rough hands with long fingers which weren’t too slender nor too thick. With the right font, she could make his name look incredible. “What color?”
Art. She was comfortable with art. She knew it, lived it, understood it. It’s what she had to focus on.
“The usual black.”
“Block, swirls, straight edge font?”
“Straight. No use putting my name on my hand if no one can read it, right?”
She couldn’t argue with his logic. “Right.”
“When would you like to schedule it?”
Annie’s gaze jumped to his. And there went her all business composure. “N-now?”
“I’ve got time and I think you probably do too. No sense in putting it off.”
“I guess that’s true.”
“Shall we discuss payment?”
“Y-you aren’t required to pay. Joe said so.”
“Who said payment had to be made in money, and who said I was one who would be paying?”
Annie didn’t know if he was still teasing her or not. He’d wrapped his fingers around her hand, holding it tight, palm to palm. His heat seeped into her, traveled up her arm, and the look in his eyes, with green shards around the pupils, made her shiver. There was no longer any lightness. There was now only dark lust.
She had no idea what he wanted of her besides a tattoo, but she did know that no matter what it was, she was willing to give it. “Go on.”
“You want the terms up front. Good girl. Never take on anyone without knowing what you’re in for. For this particular tattoo, with every hesitation mark, every little mistake, one article of clothing comes off.”
She couldn’t have been more surprised had he stripped himself naked in front of her right there and then. She quirked a brow. “Strip tattooing?”
Brax winked. “Yes.”
“Definitely don’t think Joe will agree to that during business hours.”
“Not here in his shop he wouldn’t.”
Annie giggled. “Honestly, he wouldn’t approve no matter the time or location.”
“Too true. Which is why it will remain between us.”
“Good idea, except, I haven’t agreed to this. You’ve signed the forms and I agreed to a tattoo. I did just meet you and you want me to strip for you?”
His shrug was just a casual lifting and lowering of his shoulders. Shoulders she’d like to cling to during a kiss, sex against the wall, or have her legs draped over.
“Only if you make a mistake. If you don’t make one, you remain fully clothed and I walk away with a very nice bit of ink and disappointment in my… Well, you know.”
“And if I make enough mistakes to render me completely naked,” she started, dropping her voice to a whisper with the word naked, “what then?”
Now, I must get back to work on writing and you need to figure out where and in what corner you’re going to read this when it comes out. Along with, if you plan on taking a fan or a bucket of ice with you…
I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes I just need to listen to something different to get myself into a whole new headspace. I’m not very good with a lot of the popular music today cause it just…well, sucks. Of course, that’s my opinion and mine alone. You may love it and that’s awesome for you.
When I’m in need for that different feel or mood or headspace, I’ll revert a lot of times to old songs or classical. I’m a trained musician and fall back to that a lot. For many years I inhaled and exhaled music and anything to do with it. I might be playing the Stamitz Flute Concerto in G Major (which has always been one of my favorites and I was never as good as this girl) by day and by night I was headbanging my best friend at a Motley Crue concert.
Music in various forms is healing, therapeutic, and powerful, which is most times why I will be listening to it when I’m writing, cooking, or just doing whatever. It’s been such a huge part of my life that I can’t imagine it not influencing me in profound ways…
I’ve needed a change in mindset for several months now. I desperately need a change in scenery too (mountains, please), but one thing at a time, usually. Music right at my fingertips is the easiest way to fuel creative juices and it’s been classical lately, mostly Bond and Sarah Brightman (she is so ethereal and she makes it look so effortless). There’s passion and flair and a depth, a range that inspires me…
If music in any way inspires you or moves you… play it loud and play it proud. I’m off to write now…
Smooth operators.We’ve all known them, right? They deliver smooth lines, quick with compliments, and in general give you the willies. They make your spine feel as though a snake is slithering and you can’t wait to get away.
The Sade song, Smooth Operator, comes to mind when you see the words. At least for me it did.
But, maybe there’s another kind. The one who means the lines, who means the compliments, who doesn’t give you the willies, but instead works his way under your skin before you even know what’s hit you. He can be the good one, the fun one, the right one…
Of course, what about the smooth friend? The one who tricks you without you even realizing what he’s up to and all for your own good…
“He drove all the way into the city, and he left just like that?” Edward questioned. He drained the rest of his latte and carefully wiped his mouth. Jane wanted to slug him for always being neat and tidy and so put together when half the time, she was less than all that.
“Yep.” What the hell was up with that? All because she told him to go? He didn’t have to give up so easily.
She really was better off that he did go, she knew that. There were just too many complications that came with being involved with a man like him. Life would be simpler without the want, the lust, the sheer hunger to crawl naked all over him.
If he had stayed, would she have given in? Of course she would have. She huffed out a frustrated sigh. She needed to shed the leftover shit from her relationship with Phillip. More than anything, reminders lingering in the house weren’t helping her move on. What was that thing about writing a letter and then burning it being somehow cathartic? Would the same hold true if she burned all the stuff he’d left at her door? Most of it was what she’d given him as gifts, so perhaps that would count as sort of her “letter.”
Indecision gnawed at her. Might be worth a shot. She didn’t want to hold on to someone that had walked away without a backward glance. She didn’t want to hold on to someone she had proved to herself she could live without, even if she had done so while consuming untold pounds of chocolate.
“Hey.” Edward snapped his fingers in front of her face. She blinked and focused on him.
“Where’d you go? I was talking to you and you zoned out on me.”
“I’m tired,” she lied. “You know I don’t get up until the sun is high overhead.”
“Time to get over that. C’mon, finish up.”
“It’s illegal to be this perky this early.” Jane lowered her head to the table. “I don’t want to go shopping.”
“Am not,” she whined. “You said we were going out for breakfast and coffee.”
“And we did. Now, I want to go shopping and don’t want to go alone, so you’re going with me.”
“What about your date from last night. Why not call him to go with you?”
“Because he’s the reason I’m going shopping.”
Edward usually didn’t need a reason to add to his wardrobe, but this was kind of interesting. “Are you ever going to tell me about this guy?”
“Are you ever going to stop moping around the apartment?”
Oh that was low. He was right, but still a low blow. “I’m not moping at the apartment right now.”
“No, you’re moping in this lovely little café.”
“I wouldn’t have to if you hadn’t promised me espresso drinks and pastries I don’t have to make.”
“I’m a sneaky bitch.” Edward winked at her and Jane couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up but she did her best to cover it up with a sip of espresso. Straight, unsweetened, smooth, rich espresso. If that didn’t wake her up, nothing would.
“That you are.” She took a big gulp of air and let it out in a huff. “Two stores. No more and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, tough.”
“Four stores and I’ll buy you lunch.”
“Three stores and you buy me lunch anyway.”
“Deal. And you have to try on this hot little black dress I saw yesterday.”
“No deal on that. I don’t need a little black dress, hot or not. I don’t want any new clothes. You can’t tempt me with them.”
“Again with the lies.” Edward shook his head. “Jane honey, you do need that dress and you do need new clothes.”
“Can we just go and get this over with? I want to get back to my sweat suit before it thinks I don’t love it anymore.”
“I’m going to burn it when we get back.”
Jane got up and set the pretty cup and dessert sized plate on the counter. “You’ll do no such thing.
“You’re right. I won’t. At least not the gray one. That one I tossed it in with the trash this morning when we left,” Edward said in his sing-song voice as he pushed the door open and walked outside. Jane was speechless. Momentarily so before she went chasing after him.
“You did what?” she asked, out of breath from jogging to catch up.
“I stuffed it in the trash bag while you were in the shower.” Edward paused outside his favorite kitchen store. “Do you want to go in? We could use a few more silicone spatulas.”
“Don’t change the subject. Why would you throw out my sweat suit?” Edward pushed open the door to the store and disappeared inside. He kept walking away. Did he think she wouldn’t kick him in the shin if they were in a crowded place? “And stop trying to get away from me,” she hissed.
“I’m not trying to get away from you. We need spatulas.”
“Oh you are so full of it. We have a whole drawer full of spatulas.”
“But I like these.” He pulled a wood handled silicone spoon out of a canister sitting on a small mosaic garden table. It was white with orange dots and Jane had to admit they were fun and that she would love to have a few of them in a variety of dot colors, but right at that moment…
She ground her jaw together and forced words through barely moving lips. “What are you up to, Edward?”
“I’m up to seeing you come out of hiding, Jane. I’m up to seeing you get over this depression.”
“I’m not depressed and I’m not hiding.”
“Oh?” He looked at her. “Then what would you call it?”
What did she call it? “Minding my own business,” she offered. “Something you should maybe think about.”
“Nice try.” Edward pulled three more spoons from the canister. One with green dots, one with blue dots, and one with yellow dots. “Do you want the red one, as well? We could have a complete set.” Jane flipped her hair and turned her back. She didn’t want to talk to him anymore. “Pouting won’t get you anywhere, but fine, I’ll get the red one, too.”
“While you’re being generous, I need a new cookie scoop too.” She walked around the end of the row to the next row over. In another canister, this time on the shelf of a book case, Jane picked up two different sized cookie scoops. One with a purple squeeze handle and one with a pink squeeze handle. She really didn’t need new cookie scoops for the truffles, but she and Edward were a lot alike when it came to kitchen stores. She found it impossible to resist them. Before candy making, she’d never really cared for cooking or baking, but she’d learned a lot by devoting and dedicating herself to her craft. The success of their boutique business, dreamed up over a box of candy and a good bottle of wine, was proof of that.
Which, now that she thought about it, Phillip–
“Do you want to look for anything else?” Edward nudged.
Jane shook herself from the puzzle pieces that still didn’t fit from her break-up with Phillip and turned her gaze to Edward. “No, I’m good.” She handed the scoops over and Edward fairly skipped to the counter and the sweet man manning the register. To see the two men flirting, she had to smile. Edward was really the sweetest, most adorable man she could have ever hoped to fall into lifelong friendship with.
She was still pissed at him though.
Do you have friends like Edward? I think we all should have at least one…
I’m headed off to work on edits, and you can head off to read more Smooth Operator snippets from the following authors:
One of my favorite people in this business is author Chandra Ryan. I met her at Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together a couple of years ago. She’s one of the most genuine, kind, gracious, and delightful women I know. (Her husband, he’s pretty amazing and awesome too). If you’ve never checked her out, you should do so… You won’t be sorry.
Or so the saying goes. But, as tons of niche dating sites pop up on the Internet, it makes a person wonder if the age-old maxim is true. Can a person who lives in the country fall in love with someone from a big city? And if so, where would they live? Or are they better off just avoiding the whole situation and going with a site that weeds out all of the city dwellers?
I’ll be the first to say that I don’t know anything about the modern dating game. What I know about the old dating game (see someone attractive across the room, bat your eyelashes, hope they buy you a drink, get their number) probably wouldn’t even fill a thimble. I’ve been married long enough that the entire field has changed around me. But, being married to someone I would probably never bump into on the dating sites, it makes me wonder if niche is right when it comes to love.
My husband is from a different race, religion, and socioeconomic background than I. He loves coffee. I’d never really drank the stuff until we married and even now I drink more tea than coffee. He listened to alternative music. I listened to…well…whatever was on the radio. He was a bona fide geek and I was a flirt. He likes his food very spicy and I like not being in pain when I eat. We were about as opposite as opposite gets. So what niche site would we have met on?
And then I got to thinking about my newest release. Or would it be my newest re-release? Regardless, I don’t think there’s a site out there where Izzy and Jacob would’ve crossed paths. He’d be on the human sites and she’d be on the Community ones. He’d be on the law enforcement sites and she’d be on the ones for recovering addicts. He’d be on the justice ones and she’d be on the revenge sites. So where would a human and a shape shifter meet? Thankfully they didn’t decide to go niche.
Don’t get me wrong; I have several friends who’ve had lots of success on dating sites. Dating sites are wonderful, especially for busy people who don’t have the time to stand around and bat their eyelashes all night hoping for a drink. But if you’re registered on the site for coffee lovers, every once in awhile give a girl who loves tea a chance. She might know other, un-caffeinated, ways to wake you up in the morning.
Prequel to Bond Betrayed
Izzy has lived between two worlds her entire life—one filled with magic and darkness, the other populated by mundane humans. She was born into the magical world of the Community. But sexy, forbidden DEA agent Jacob belongs to the other.
He has no idea her world even exists.But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t noticed her. They’ve worked together for the past six months, attempting to bring down her drug-dealing half brother while driving each other crazy with pent-up desire. But now that it’s time to say goodbye, they both find it impossible to let go.
After one passionate night together Izzy realizes her mistake. She can’t bring him into her world. She has to end things before she gets too attached. When he refuses to leave, she must find a way to guide him through the darkness.
Inside Scoop: In this scorching urban fantasy, ink is thicker than blood.
A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published elsewhere and has been revised for Ellora’s Cave.
She ran her fingertips over her lips as she thought of the kiss. It’d been in that second that she’d finally seen what she’d been hiding from herself all these months. She wanted him and not in a momentary kind of way. If he were to share her bed, that’s where she’d want him to stay. But a relationship built on lies would never work and she couldn’t tell him the truth.
So it’s best for it to end like this. But the words were hollow. And even after repeating them a hundred times, they still didn’t help.
Tucked securely into her cozy apartment, she changed into her favorite black silk nightgown and started brewing a cup of tea while the melodic angst of her favorite singer filled the room. She should be in bed, but she was still too worked up from her brief exchange with Jacob to give in to her exhaustion.
She was just about to take a sip of her tea when the ringing of her cell phone stopped her. At first she was irritated by the intrusion. But when Restricted Number flashed across the screen, her stomach began to twist nervously. There was only one restricted number that ever called her. After answering the call, she brought the phone to her ear. “Agent Phinney.”
“I hope I’m not waking you.” Even over the phone, his deep voice had a rough edge to it that made her breath catch.
“No, I wasn’t in bed.”
“Good. I wanted to talk to you.”
“I don’t think—” She needed to make a clean break but her heart ached at the words she was about to say. She never got the chance to say them though.
“I’m standing in front of your door. Please, Izzy…”
She looked up at the door as the line went dead. Her heart raced at the thought of him being so close. Crossing the room, she practiced her well-rehearsed speech in her head. But her carefully memorized words disappeared as she opened the door. Her eyes swept over him hungrily, taking in everything from his tousled hair to the black t- shirt and tight jeans he’d been wearing earlier at the bust. He was easily the sexiest man she’d ever met.
His gaze slid over her before he picked her up by the waist and, kissing her passionately, then walked into the apartment. He closed the door with a quick kick once they were safely inside and then gently lowered her until she was standing on her own once more.
If you want to know more about Ink in the Blood there’s an excerpt on the Ellora’s Cave site: http://www.ellorascave.com/ink-in-the-blood.html
Or on my author website: www.ChandraRyan.com
Or you can download a sample off of Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ink-in-the-Blood-ebook/dp/B00EAV3RIC/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376355243&sr=1-3
Today’s Music Monday post is not going to be very inspirational. Cute, maybe. Downright roll your eyes 80’s pop, definitely.
This week is Authors After Dark in Savannah and I’m not going to be there. I’m going to be down and depressed so y’all should just brace yourselves now.
If you’re going to AAD, I hope you have a wonderful time. It’s a great conference and there are so many incredible people and events to attend.
If you’re not going, you can wallow in misery with me… 😉