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?”

“Now.”

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…

~lissa