Hot Ink – Chapter Three, Part Three

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There was no way in hell kissing Sawyer was a good idea but Penny couldn’t stop herself. Being around him turned her world into a rainforest where peeling off her clothes and running around naked all the time seemed perfectly normal. His lips were firm against hers and his tongue teasing, the combination was lethal. She slid her tongue against his, taking the kiss deeper, as she scooted closer. His hand dropped to her waist and he tugged the waist of her shirt higher. 

The cool blast of air against her stomach brought her back from the brink. She flattened her palms against  his chest and nudged him back. 

“That isn’t going to happen.” She sounded as winded as if she’d just run the Miami marathon in six-inch heels and a g-string bikini. “Look, thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll handle this on my own.”

Getting up from the couch and away from his testosterone Bermuda triangle should have been her next move, but she wasn’t sure her jelly knees would hold her up. So instead she sat as straight as she could and clasped her hands in her lap.

Sawyer wiped the pad of his thumb across the corner of his mouth as he gave her a considering look. It was’t predatory in a creepy-stalker way, but that didn’t make her feel any less like she wasn’t being pursued—and turned on, God help her.

“I’m hooked on this mystery,” he said. “You can’t kick me off the case now.”

She could and she would. She had to. Being around him was as bad of an idea as someone getting a lover’s name tattooed on their forehead.

“Thanks for trying to help, but it’s not—”

“So if a pretend boyfriend is out,” he interrupted. “Then you can give me a tattoo.”

Penny blinked as she tried to process his declaration. No one got a permanent tattoo on a whim to help someone who was practically a stranger. That plan made the fake boyfriend scheme look reasonable. 

“Think about it,” he continued, his blue eyes gleaming with excitement. “That would give me a believable excuse to be at your studio and get a feel for the who and the what. It would need to be a big one, a custom design. We could work up something and see if the thief takes the bait.”

The plan was unhinged. There’s no way she could say yes. “I’m not inking you up permanently on a spur-of-the-moment, kinda-good idea you had. Tattoos are forever.”

He shrugged his broad shoulders. “I’ve been wanting to get another one, so really it’s a win-win here. Anyway, I trust you.”

Her heart thudded against her ribs as she flinched away from him. Trust. After finding out her mother had lied to her for her entire life about her father’s identity, that wasn’t something she believed in any more, which is why she kept everyone but her best friend, Staci, at a distance. “You don’t even know me.”

“Cop instinct,” he said.

Sawyer seems so confident in his belief that it made her squirm. Weren’t police officers supposed to be the ultimate cynics? “I could put Hello Kitty in rainbow Spandex all over your back.”

He pushed her sketch pad across the coffee table until it was in front of her. “You won’t because we’re going to condense your two visit pre-tattoo ritual to a single visit that takes place right now.”

The idea made her palms clammy. “That’s not how it’s done.” The process was in place for a reason. Second thoughts and impulsive tattoos went together like Nutella and pretzel sticks. 

“Break the rules for once.” He rolled a pencil her way. “Don’t you think it’s for a worthy cause?”

It was crazy and it just might work. Plus, she didn’t have a better plan since using water torture on your employees was frowned upon. With any luck, they’d ferret out the thief and her life would get back to normal, filled with long sleepless nights listening to her hot cop neighbor bang club chicks. If possible, that idea had even less appeal than it had before he’d come pounding on her door in the wee hours of the morning. She folded that thought up and stuffed it in a dark place. That wasn’t something she had time to dwell on right now. 

She picked up the pencil and flipped open her sketch pad. “Okay, so what do you want?”

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