There was just enough room in the tattooing room for the cushioned table, bench with all of her tools and a stool for her to sit or kneel on while she worked, which meant pacing off her annoyance wasn’t an option. Instead, she was forced to wait inside the curtained-off room as he walked into the tiny space, made even smaller by his overwhelming presence.
The metal rings holding up the front curtain clanged as she whipped it closed.
“What in the hell was that about?” she asked, keeping her voice as low as her anger would let her.
The curtains on all sides gave the illusion of privacy, especially with the near constant buzzing of the tattoo guns on each side, but anyone who spent more than an afternoon at Daring Ink had learned to tune out the buzzing and focus their hearing on the words being said.
“I know I shouldn’t have said anything, honey.” He stepped closer, cupped the back of her head and dipped his head lower.
His gaze dropped to her mouth and her breath caught. The world went on whipping around at light speed, but inside their curtained-off room, everything slowed down to half-speed. She wet the center of her bottom lip with the tip of her tongue, trying to hold onto the urge to kick him in the shins when what she’d rather do was push him back onto the massage table and fuck him like he was her boyfriend.
That single word was all it took to pull her back from the edge, let their little cocooned off area catch up with the rest of the world. She’d been an idiot to ask for his help. She knew better than to trust someone like Sawyer—someone who as an vice cop probably lied as easy as he breathed.
Turning her head, she moved to pull away, but he pulled her closer, his lips going to her ear.
“If I approached your employees to feel them out, it would put this on the defensive,” he whispered, his breath warm against her skin. “This gives them a reason to seek me out instead. If they think they’re pumping me for information, they’ll never realize that I’m doing the same thing.”
Why did his explanation have to make sense? And why did his fingers tangled in her hair make her think about how good it would feel to have him yank it hard while he pounded hard into her? Hell. She needed to get laid…and not by her sleeps-with-everything-in-a-tight-skirt neighbor.
“I don’t like being kept in the dark—ever.” Copper teased her about being a control freak. Her twin wasn’t wrong, but she had her reasons. She twisted out of Sawyer’s grasp and pointed to the table. “Shirt off and on the bed.”
He tugged off his T-shirt, exposing the mouthwatering broad swath of his muscled chest. “Now this sounds fun.”
“Finally, we agree.” She snapped on her latex gloves and picked up her tattoo gun.
Two hours later, Penny turned off her tattoo gun, her hand still vibrating a little even after she put the gun on the bench. Stretching out her fingers and rotating her wrist to relieve some of the stiffness from holding the gun for so long, she stared the tattoo coming together on Sawyer’s back. Lady justice along the line of his spine, stopping mid back, as she held the scales over each of his shoulder blades. The basics were done, but she needed to add in the details, shading and color highlights.
Anyone who said getting a tattoo didn’t hurt was lying, but the only time Sawyer reacted was when Penny first smoothed her palm across his shoulders and upper back so she could get a feel for his skin and the curve of his muscle. He hadn’t flinched under her touch so much as he hardened under it as if he had to steel himself against responding to her. But now he lay perfectly still, his breathing slow and steady almost as if—
“Are you asleep?” It wouldn’t be the first time a client had snoozed while getting a tattoo, but it still wasn’t the every day. Sometimes people got to a certain pain level and surrendered to it, lessening its hold on them until they could block it out.
Sawyer stirred. “Is it safe to sit up?” he asked, his deep voice muffled slightly by the thick cushioning around the opening at the head of the table that allowed a client to rest comfortably on their stomach and breath.
“Yep, it’s break time.” She disposed of the needle from the tattoo gun into the biohazard box hanging on the wall and then stripped off her latex gloves and dropped them into the trashcan under the bench.
Sawyer sat up slowly as if he was testing how bad the ache would be. He rolled his neck from side to side before stretching his arms and twisting at the waist. The moves he used to work out whatever kinks he had in his muscles turned Penny’s tongue to dust. For the past few hours she’d lost herself into the vibrating buzz of the tattoo gun as she turned his back into her canvas, but now—seeing him like this—she remembers her canvas was a man and attraction slammed against her.
Naked from the waist up with his face wrinkled with sleep and his dark blond hair mussed, he looked like he’d just rolled out of bed after a long and thorough fuck session. The kind that left you drained, sweaty and begging for more.
He ran his long fingers through his hair, looked up and his gaze dropped to her mouth. He didn’t move, didn’t even blink, but the hot intensity of his focus was as potent as any touch. Penny’s fingers flew to her sensitive lips and held her breath in anticipation. She wanted this—wanted him.
Sawyer stood, bringing him practically right up against him in the tight spot. Heat radiated from his body, caressing her and tempting her to see how hot they could burn together. Face of the sun hot was her guess and judging by the size of the bulge pressing against his jeans, it would be worth getting burnt to a crisp.
“Not break time.” Still facing her, he reached up and grabbed a corner of the curtain separating the from the rest of the studio. “Work time.”
He pulled the curtain open and at the same time dropped his mouth to hers, his strong lips promising exactly what she shouldn’t be wanting but still needed. Then almost as soon as it began it was over. Sawyer pulled back, a self-satisfied grin on his face.
“You bet we can take a break, honey,” he said loud enough for the entire studio to hear. “You go take care of what you need. I’ll just hang out in the break room until you’re ready to finish up.”
He smacked her on the ass and strutted out of the curtained-off room toward the employee only door.
He’d managed to mark her as his, insult her ability to do her job by saying she needed a break and go all macho man with the slap on her butt. It took everything she had not to wing something solid at the back of his head as he sauntered off. The women in her family must be cursed. It was the only explanation for how they were always drawn to the biggest prick in the room. Mr. Anaconda Cock, indeed.
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