It’s been a while, yeah? I simply needed a break, but for the next few months I’m back. This snippet is about celebration. I’ll have to pull out Ink Spots for this I think… It’s the closest I have to a celebration of any kind at this time.
Mandi glanced around when Jaz pulled into the Katz parking lot. “What are we doing here? I don’t work tonight.” The lot was fairly empty save for a few cars she recognized, a few trucks she didn’t and a few bikes she’d like to get to know really well.
“No, you don’t, but… I sorta do.”
She turned surprised eyes on him. “You do? Since when did Jackie hire you back on?”
He shrugged. “It’s a special event. I won’t be working long, and when I’m done, we can go if you want.”
Uh-huh. “So let me get this straight. Jackie gives me the awesome birthday present of you and the weekend off, but then she asks you to work a special event?”
“Yeah.” He pulled into a spot in front of the building and put the Charger in park. “Feel free to take it up with her.”
“I will be happy to.”
Jaz grinned across at her and got out of the car. He was acting a little weird, and truth be told, it was making her a little uneasy. He walked around and opened her door, helping her out, and kept hold of her hand.
His palm was a little clammy and there was a slight tremble in his fingers, but when she chanced a glance up to his face, it betrayed nothing. Yeah, something was going on. That uneasy feeling was churning in her belly and she didn’t like it.
Jaz opened the door to Katz for her and followed her inside. It was dark, there was no sound, there were no people, no—
Okay, there were people. Lots of them. And lights and noise and… Her hands flew to her mouth and she took an unconscious step back and found the solid body of Jaz behind her. He wrapped an arm around the front of her shoulders and held her tight against him. “Oh god.”
Mandi’s heart skittered to a stop then picked up speed. A surprise party. For her.
Jackie and her megawatt smile had come to hug her, and Mandi wrapped her arms tight around her friend. “I can’t believe you did this.”
“I don’t know why not. You’ve never had a surprise party and, well, now you have.”
It was true. She’d never had one, and while a small part of her had always secretly hoped for one, she’d truly never expected one. Ever. “How long have you been planning this?”
“Since you said you’d come work for me for a while.”
“You couldn’t have known I’d fall for him.”
“No, I had no idea you’d rather have a badass than a buttoned-up suit, but I should have. He was just the icing on the cake, so to speak, once I realized the attraction ran both ways.”
Mandi looked in the direction Jaz had gone. As soon as Jackie had come forward, he’d squeezed Mandi and kissed the top of her head, telling her he’d be back shortly. He went off to talk to his friends and they were… She turned her attention back to Jackie. “What are they doing?”
“It’s part of your surprise. You didn’t know they had a band?”
A band? “No. I didn’t know.”
“Oh yeah. Jaz is their drummer. He’s pretty damn good too. Hell, he’s pretty damn good at everything he’s ever tried. Creative little shit. No matter what it is, he can turn it into gold. He’s got so much talent. He couldn’t sit still when he got out of jail. Between working for me and tattooing at the shop, there were still hours left in the day. Usually the middle of the night or the crack of dawn. I don’t think he slept more than a couple hours at a time.
“He came to me a few months after he got out and said he would like to learn to play the drums. I bought him his first set, which we had to have custom designed because of his size, and I guess you could say the rest is history. He started taking lessons early mornings from the local high school music teacher and after awhile, he was on his own with it. The teacher said he didn’t have anything else to teach him. Jaz had the technique. He also has an ear that can hear any beat, any cadence, and play it after only a few bars of listening to it. About a year or so ago, he and Vinter and Dallon came up with the band idea. They’re not bad for a garage band.”
“I had no idea.” He was a musician, a drummer no less. That explained a few things, she thought with an inner smile. It especially explained his coordination when he played with her body using both hands. How he could touch her with such finesse, with such precision. Just thinking about it, the way he could manipulate her responses…
Jackie was right. Jaz was a creative little shit.
“He’s been fucking nervous too.”
Jackie’s comment drew Mandi’s undivided attention. “Why?”
“Girl, he’s got it so bad for you.”
“Well, that’s no reason to be nervous.”
“I think for him it is. He might look gruff and mean, but he’s a marshmallow inside.”
A damn lusty-hot-as-fucking-hell-she-was-surprised-he-hadn’t-melted-from-the-inside-out marshmallow. “I’m not sure he’d appreciate you saying that.”
Jackie laughed. “No, probably not, but so long as only you and I know I said it, it’s all good.” She took Mandi by the hand and started walking. “Let’s introduce you to a few people.”
“Might be a good idea.”
She was summarily introduced to Elise who was Vinter’s girlfriend and Carrie who was Dallon’s. Mandi had met both Vinter and Dallon over the past few months, but hadn’t met the women in their lives. Turned out, Elise had just moved closer to the small town after meeting Vinter in his bar, or was it Dallon’s bar?
“They all own it. Just like they all own the tattoo parlor. They split it three ways.”
“Oh. Well, what does Vinter do if Jaz runs the tattoo place and Dallon runs the bar?”
The blush that covered Elise from the opening in the low-cut blouse to her sweet, heart-shaped face was priceless. And telling. Mandi couldn’t help but blush herself, feeling the heat creep up. She couldn’t stop herself from glancing around for Jaz. Her eyes locked onto his from across the room and how the hell she read what his look said, she’d never know.
He was in front of her before she caught her breath, and he didn’t even give her the chance to excuse herself from the conversation she’d been having. He had her down the back hallway and his mouth on hers, his tongue between her lips, her body hiked up the wall and her legs wrapped around him…
Damn, but he took her breath away.
“You can’t look at me like that,” he growled at her.
“Like you can’t get enough.”
“Well, I can’t, but I didn’t think that’s what that look said.”
“Trust me, that’s exactly what that look said.”
“Okay, so does that mean I can’t look at you at all then? ’Cause I’m pretty sure I always look at you like I can’t get enough.”
Jaz laughed and thrust upward slightly. Damn they both had way too many clothes on.
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