This one isn’t an old book, but it’s one of my favorite stories. I was reading through some passages the other night and was reminded of how much I loved it. It’s not your typical friends to lovers romance, but then, I’m not always one for typical, either…If you haven’t tried it, and you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free for you to read until April 9th. If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited, it’s only $2.99
Once Brax traded in his suit and law degree for part ownership in Love and Tattoos, his best friend’s tattoo parlor, he never looked back. Inked from head to toe, full of business smarts, and an affinity for classical music and hard sex, he’s got life right where he wants it.
Back home in North Carolina, Annie is trying to find her spark again after being laid off. Her career is changing direction, her sex life is nearly dead, and the one thing worth having in the midst of it all is off limits.
Brax is cocky as sin and dares Annie to believe he might know her better than she thinks. And when he promises that he can help her find what’s missing, she agrees to his little after-hours game.
But the challenge he lays before her comes with a few strings: the suggestion of stripping, tempting confessions, and the lure of ink. Annie can handle that. After all, they’ve never been that close, so how could she possibly lose?
Annie stood outside her current place of employment, her brother’s business. Brax’s too. Love and Tattoos. It was so far removed from the company she’d spent the last several years working for. It was small, casual, fun. She was free to be as creative as she dared, free to dress however she liked, just…free. And that unnerved her.
The light in the back of the shop was on, but those up front and in the studio were off. Brax was in there, somewhere, waiting for her to show up.
Just the idea that he was waiting for her made her stomach flutter and her palms sweat, despite the temperatures dropping outside
He said he wanted her. Could that be true?
Brax with his tattoos, his piercings, his smile, his laugh… He also said she avoided him, treated him differently and that really was true. Seeing him every day, when everything about her future and the recent control over it that she’d taken, seemed uncertain, Brax felt like home.
She hadn’t realized that about him until she’d spent years away.
A breeze blew and made her shiver slightly. She had a key and could walk in any time she was ready. For the moment though, she was content where she was.
She drew a corner of her bottom lip between her teeth. Okay, so maybe content wasn’t the right word. She hated to admit it, even to herself, that she hadn’t been content for far too many months. Looking, watching, standing off to the side, letting everything happen around her.
But that wasn’t the definition of content. That was the definition of wallflower. And Annie had never been accused of that.
The lock slipped free when she turned the key, and she pushed the door open. She heard Brax before she saw him, but when he came into view, she couldn’t move. She could only stare.
He was the epitome of free, the picture of content. He was happy where he was in life and she was so in love with him and all he represented that it was hard to breathe sometimes.
He hadn’t seen her standing in the shadows yet. She took those undiscovered moments to look her fill, the way she’d been unable to earlier outside the deli. Small tables and chairs, benches too, had been arranged along the wide expanse of walkways in front of downtown shops. She’d spent a lot of time just breathing in the fresh air, taking in the vibrancy of the area, willing herself back into it being herself.
Brax joining her as she doodled had caught her off guard and she’d shown it by acting like an idiot. Truth was she’d been over the moon having him all to herself for a bit.
And while she wasn’t sure this visit tonight was such a good idea, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend a little more time with him.
He stood in the doorway of the office folding towels. Classical music floated from the sound system. Looking at him and hearing the music he loved… The two didn’t mesh, yet worked together somehow.
He had fiery red scruff and his hair was cut incredibly short. He wore an ear gauge in one lobe and a black pearl and diamond stud in the other. His piercing green eyes that she imagined were the same shade as the Irish hills in summer, never missed anything.
Then, of course, there was his ink.
Down his arms, and down his legs. He wore gray camo cargo pants that hid the bright tattoos covering his left leg from thigh to ankle, but she could still make out the ink on the top of his right foot from under the hem. He rarely wore shoes other than flip flops unless it was too cold to do otherwise and one in the morning was no different.
The dark blue t-shirt fit snug but not tight across his chest and she could still see the definition of his abs under it. Inked sleeves drew her gaze. One arm was covered in skulls, some black and white, some brightly shaded. His other arm, down to his fingers were swirls and abstract shapes, with crosses dotted throughout.
There were many other tattoos as well and at last count between him and her brother, Brax had more.
He was the rough edge, street kind of gorgeous. He wasn’t like anyone she’d dated during her stint in the corporate world, but he was definitely the man she’d been thinking of when buying vibrators and batteries over the years.
I hope if you haven’t already, that you’ll give Brax and Annie a try…