Authors: Elaine Radley
Tags: #Erotic Romance
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Elaine Radley
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewilderroses.com
First Scarlet Rose Edition, June 2013
Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-954-4
Published in the United States of America
To my family with whom I share our own special brand of craziness.
“You’d never do it.” Dominic leaned back into the worn, crinkled leather of his office chair, threaded his fingers atop his head and smirked. He knew he was baiting Katherine, but enjoyed every second of it as always.
“You can’t know that for sure!” She lifted her chin and folded her arms beneath her breasts.
He narrowed his eyes. “Okay then. Prove it.”
She blinked several times as a slow blush spread from under her silk blouse, coating her neck and flaring across her cheeks. “
“You heard me.”
Katherine met his gaze and pushed her full lips into a single line for a moment before grinning. Her smile was a tiny bit cocky. “You’re on!”
The steely glint in her eyes indicated she was dead serious and Dom swallowed, the noise very loud in his ears. “Look, you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with.” She’d come by for an end-of-the-day drink offer and this conversation, without a doubt, had not been on the agenda. He had a lifelong tendency of running with the ball and now he had her running right alongside him. Not that that was
a bad thing.
“How about this? I’ll do it if you do it.” She shoved a pile of student papers aside to perch on the corner of his desk. Her skirt rose when she crossed toned legs and warmth surged up his rod in appreciation of the view. He shifted in his chair and frowned.
“I already have several.”
“Then it shouldn’t be a big deal.” Kat palmed his paperweight and caressed the thick acrylic as clownfish dipped and frolicked. She eyed him from under her lashes and waited.
He tilted his head, the inside of his cheek locked between his teeth in debate. Leaning forward after a moment, he relaxed his jaw. “Fine, but if you chicken out, you owe me dinner.”
“Not going to chicken.” A tiny quiver threaded through her voice and he fought a broader smile.
“We’ll see about that.” He reached over to tap a few keys to power down his computer. “No time like the present.”
“Now?” She squeaked.
“That’s usually what ‘the present’ means.”
She slipped off his desk and shifted her weight from one leg to another. “Um, you know where…?”
God she was cute
. “Course.” He offered her his elbow and tried to keep the corner of his mouth from twitching upward. “Coming?”
She reluctantly replaced the paperweight before clasping onto his arm. Her fingers pressed warm against his skin. With a gentle hand, he propelled her from the cluttered little office and out into the sultry evening.
The place was surprisingly bright and professional. Too many movies and television shows had led her to visualize such establishments as dark and seedy with flickering neon emphasizing grime-covered windows. It was nice to be wrong. The tension in her shoulders ebbed ever so slightly.
“You can get one in almost any size, but keep in mind, sensations vary depending where you place them on your body.” Dom’s voice whispered against her ear and she suppressed a shudder.
“And please don’t pick something safe. You’re too much of an individual to get what everyone else gets.”
She swung toward him. “How the
know what everyone else gets?”
Dominic shrugged. “You just need to go with something unique, something that fits
.” He waggled his brows, a smirk stretching his lips. “Maybe a design that’s wild…or dangerous.”
Wild or dangerous? Her? She gulped.
“Hey there!” A friendly voice boomed and Kat started. The desire to make a break for the door flared, but she’d be damned if she’d prove Dominic right. He’d
let her live it down.
A young man slid from behind the long glass case separating the lobby from the business area and held out a hand. “Dom! How ya been?”
“Can’t complain.” Dom warmly clasped the other man’s hand before pulling away and smacking him on the bicep. “Thinking about some new ink.”
“And so is the lady.”
The man’s shining eyes met hers. Tattoos crawled up his arms onto his neck and his ear lobes were elongated with thick plugs. Kat squinted at the elaborate scars swirling over his cheekbones.
Or is it the light?
A heavy nose ring completed the tattoo artist image. “Awesome!”
“By the way.” Dominic bumped her with his shoulder. “This punk-ass is Nathan. May not look like much but he’s one hell of an artist!”
Kat’s smile was wooden, thoughts still returning to the exit and how many seconds it would take her to run through it. Her eyes dropped to the show case before her. It housed earrings, plugs, navel rings and other bits of unrecognizable jewelry she didn’t want to even ponder. Perhaps she could deal with dinner and a lifetime of teasing after all. Her gaze reverted back to the young man.
Nathan didn’t respond to the playful jab, his eyes still on her. “Did you check out the portfolios?” He nodded to a high desk in the corner under several vintage horror movie posters. “If you like what you see, let me know and I’ll get you in ASAP. Just finishing up. Maybe another 15 minutes or so.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder to where a young woman was stretched out on her side in one of the leather recliners, eyes closed. An elaborate Phoenix tattoo had almost come to life from the top of her hip, up past her ribcage.
“Sure. Just taking a break. We’re in the homestretch.” Nathan smiled again, his brown eyes amiable. “First time?”
She nodded and started to chew on her bottom lip before stopping herself.
“Cool. Well, take a look at some of my designs and we’ll talk in a few.” He returned to his client.
Dominic had already crossed to the desk and was thumbing through one of the books. She sauntered up behind him and, with each step, grew more confident. When he glanced up at her approach, she put a little more swing into her hips, smirking when his jaw sagged.
His tongue slid out to moisten his lips. “Okay there, babe?”
“Mmm-hmm.” She lifted her chin and brushed past him to page through the loose-leaf binder. Hearing his quick inhalation, she hid her smile.
Oh, he’s so going to regret his challenge.
Pretending to focus intently, she studied him from her periphery, loins twitching at the darkening of his eyes. The heat of his gaze made her almost forget what she was doing when a piece of Nathan’s art jumped out at her.
Oh my God! That would be so perfect!
Kat whirled and caught Dom’s shoulders, excitement rushing through her. “How about ankhs?”
“Ankhs,” he repeated softly and shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
“You guys ready?” Nathan appeared behind them. “Anything catch your eye?”
“Yup.” Dominic jerked his head toward the portfolio. “Lady likes the work you’ve done with ankhs.”
“Sweet. Popular, but there’s a lot of room for interpretation with those.” He glanced between the two of them. “Did you have a specific style in mind?”
“Basic black for me. You know, tribal.”
“How 90’s, man!”
“Shut it, junior.”
The artist grinned, excitement in his brown eyes as they shifted to Kat. “How about you?”
“Umm…” She racked her lower lip with her teeth to keep it from trembling. “Something soft, in pastel maybe.”
“You sure about this?” Dom whispered, giving her a final out but probably still expecting dinner.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Kind of.
“Alrighty then. I think I know just the thing and it’s gonna be amazing! Come on back and we’ll get you set up!” The artist trotted to his workstation, his enthusiasm adding extra bounce.
Dominic waved her ahead with flourish and a bow. “Ladies first!”
“Nuh, uh!” Eyes bugging, she swung her head back and forth a little too quickly. There was no damned way she was going first.
A smile threatened as he gazed down at her, his hand brushing the small of her back, inciting a few goose bumps. He then propelled them toward Nathan. “Okay, honey, I’ll go first.”
“No problem.” Dominic whipped his shirt off and tossed it to Kat, a smirk twitching at the corner of his mouth when he plopped his large frame into the leather recliner.
“Whatever happened to ladies first?” Nathan teasingly reprimanded on approach, stencil in hand.
A smile lit the artist’s face.
“Hey! I’m right here, you know!” Kat’s protest was a little strangled, her hands twisting the thin material of his t-shirt. Cologne rose from the soft cotton and wafted into her senses. When she glanced at Dominic, her mouth dried out, attention drawn to his lean, powerful chest and the narrow trail of silky hair running down the center. In response to the warm evening, a thin layer of perspiration accentuated every muscle chiseled into his flesh. She could also see the cut of his hip just above the low-riding waistband of his jeans, making her want to jump him right then and there. Dom was forty-one, but could easily pass for ten years younger. The dryness shifted into salivation and she swallowed.
“See anything you like?” His voice was very low, very sensual and always teasing.
She narrowed her eyes and bared her teeth in a growl.
Okay, okay, so you caught me staring
He may be her best friend, but it wasn’t like she was dead or anything.
Shaking her head, she sighed and his eyes grew wide with innocence.
Nathan prepared his equipment and poured the ink. He swiveled on his stool to face them. “Not allergic to latex is he?” The young man bit back a smile, his eyes shifting from Kat to Dom and back again.
Dominic’s eyes darkened and burned into Katherine’s as he answered for her. “Nope.”
Tendrils of heat rose from beneath her collar and the far wall suddenly became interesting. There was funky art
This was their usual game. Flirt and fly back. They’d been friends a long time, but something intangible had started to shift since her divorce last year, yet both still managed to dance around it.
“You’ve been through this before so you know the drill.” Nathan pulled on a pair of gloves, stretching out his fingers for a good fit.
Her attention diverted back to the young artist when he began the outline over Dominic’s heart, working carefully, pausing only to refill the gun.
Dom’s face remained relaxed and although she was aware of his high tolerance for pain, his reaction fostered courage. Maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad. His eyes dipped shut but peeked open to give her a wink.
The piece took little time and Nathan was soon affixing a patch of gauze over the new tattoo, securing it in place with medical tape. “Just to get you home. Wouldn’t want it to leak all over your shirt.” He regarded Kat. “Let me get cleaned up real quick and we can get yours going.”
Kat swallowed nervously.
Nathan opted to take Kat into a smaller room for privacy. Dominic was dying to follow her. He really was but, at the same time, he couldn’t make that assumption. It was best to keep his fantasies in the waiting room.
A few moments later, the tattoo artist appeared before him. “Your friend would prefer you come on back. She’s pretty nervous.”
Dominic blinked, replaced the magazine he’d been thumbing through and followed the kid behind the counter and down a short hallway. They entered a room on the left. The sterile scent of alcohol invaded his sinuses but the décor pushed away thoughts of medical facilities. Framed art and posters adorned the walls, while statues consisting mostly of
Dia de los Muertos
skeletons and voodoo-inspired sculptures stared down from high shelving.
“Hi, sweetheart. How’re you…doing?” He coughed into his fist to keep from choking at the sight of perfect flesh now exposed to him, all thoughts of freaky little art pieces wafting away like smoke. Nathan had already placed the ankh template on the back of her shoulder and swiveled away to prepare his inks.