“Where’s your stuff?” I assessed her stiff shoulders pushing out her perfect tits with spunk I hadn’t seen before. I thought Red was gonna be even more attractive pissed off.
“I uh…don’t have any. Why are you here? I’ve had a long day.” Every ounce of her body gave me attitude.
“You. I wanted you, but now I want answers.” I swallowed the smile from the way she ruffled up, ready for a fight.
“That’s not going to—”
She wasn’t avoiding me on this.
“—happen.” It came out as a squeak. “You need…to go.”
“You are going to answer my questions.” I crowded her until she was pressed against the door, where I closed her in with one arm on each side of her.
She stared up at me, then a mulish line formed across her mouth right before she ducked under my arm and headed to the kitchen.
“Red, what the hell?” I followed her.
“Did you need something?” Her voice quavered even though she fisted her hands tight at her sides.
“Yeah, where’s the furniture? What are you hiding?”
Time passed and she stayed silent, sipping her water. The girl had moxie, not many guys could hold out when I demanded answers. But there she stood, water bottle in hand, taking turns glaring at me and studying her feet.
I saw the moment when she gave in, her face softened, like the holding out had been what was out of character. It could be, for all I knew.
“I don’t have furniture. I stuffed what fit in the back of my SUV before I headed out of Texarkana and away from my ex.”
“I’ve got a truck. We can—”
“No, we can’t. A few pieces of furniture aren’t worth the hassle.” She turned away, running her hands through her hair.
The way she stood alone bothered me, so I circled my arms around her middle and drew her close. Her body stayed tense for a beat then she relaxed into me. Now this was the way it should be. A strawberry scent drifted up from her hair—of course it’d be strawberries, a happy scent.
Arms crossed, she turned to me. “Happy now?”
“Hell no. I’m not happy.” I struggled against the anger rising since I didn’t want her to stop talking. “You know we’d help you without a second thought.”
“I can take care of myself.” She bristled and walked to the door. “See you in the morning, boss.”
Now she was pissed. What had I said to bring out the anger? I was trying to help.
With her green eyes blazing with heat, she was sexier than ever. I just wanted to sweep her up and carry her to bed. We could work out the other shit tomorrow. But she was more than some random chick, she was my employee. My responsibility.
I crossed to the door, reached over her head and swung the damn door shut. It made a satisfying boom.
“No, not even close to done with you.” The time for games was over.
The minx pushed me, not that I moved. “What do you—”
That was it, the spit-fire had tempted me one too many times. I restrained both her wrists above her head and claimed her mouth. She went lax in my hold, letting me control this kiss. No, I was wrong about that. She leaned forward and pushed into my mouth, taking as much as she gave. My cock hard, the punch of need hit me full center; if I didn’t back down now, we’d be fucking in seconds. With self-control I reached deep for, I stepped away from her hot lips.
“You and me—got something between us.” I strode across the room trying to control my breathing. “But I will sort this shit first.”
She stayed where I’d left her, wide-eyed and fuckable. I wanted to take her up on that offer. Hopefully she’d still be wanting me after we were done here.
“You got a man chasing you?”
“The loser lay hands on you? He hurt you? Why you running?” I fired questions at her. Her face drew tight.
“You got a woman? What do you want from me? Why won’t you go?”
I could see she thought I wouldn’t answer, but I’m an open book, at least in those areas. “No woman. To have sex with you, over and over.” I gave her the truth. “Give me answers and I’ll leave.” That should get her to spill. She kept insisting I go, not that I wanted to go, but I did want answers most, right now.
Her thoughts played quickly across her face. “I always run.” She met my gaze with defiance bright in her expression. “Yeah, Tony hurt me some but needed to control me more. When Jericho hired me, I packed my things while the jerk worked, and hauled ass before he hurt me worse. But I’m not something he’d track down.”
“Dammit.” I hated the cold way she talked about some man using her, hurting her. This Tony needed a lesson in manners.
“Do you need to hurt me?” She shook with emotion. “Control me?”
Rage shot through me. How could she think I’d do that? With a deep breath, I searched for some calm. “I want you. I want to do all sorts of wicked things to you in bed, but I never want, or need, to hurt you, or any woman. And control is overrated—I like my women wild.”
Her chest heaved and lips were parted, ready and willing, but I’d made a promise. I stood staring at her, just to pound home the point we wanted each other. I meant to just walk out the door, but my thumb traced her full bottom lip before I walked out. The next time I kissed her, I’d be buried deep inside her.
I walked around her and out the door, like I promised. That sucked.
* * *
I woke up the next day with a pounding headache, but then drinking with Jericho always resulted in a hangover. Even full of whiskey, neither my cock nor I could forget the green-eyed redhead who had refused to back down from me. She probably had no idea how rare that was, but even my MC brothers backed down when I wanted something. Not Red. Either she was crazy brave or plain crazy, didn’t much matter to me. Tonight, she’d be under me in bed—that wasn’t optional.
I left the clubhouse about noon to head out to my trailer and get changed for the day. I had a client at four and a woman to settle.
I rolled into Marked Man about three with an hour before the customer arrived. Anticipating Red’s reaction, I strolled in ready for whatever came. No doubt, I’d left her pissed last night and she’d still be fired up.
“Dare. You got two today, one at four and one at six, then you’re out.” She spoke to my boots, not a bit of fire anywhere in sight. Before I could say anything, she fled into the office.
My tiger had turned back into a pussy cat, at least that’d make it easier to close the deal.
Red’s tattoos were sexy as fuck. I’d wanted to lay her out on the table and fuck her from behind, staring down at her back. My cock hardened just thinking of the art that had been hidden by the waist of her jeans. How far did it go? Goddam, I’m not some kid with blue balls who chases after women. We have sex, or not, and I moved on. But I’d never felt, no…I’d never wanted a woman like I did her.
After my client left, I sent the boys home. Tonight, right now, she’d tell me what she wanted with those sweet lips of hers. But when I joined her up front, she had an edge of panic about her. I went over to change the station from Zayn’s alternative favorite to the heavy-hitting rock music I listened to. Ten, then twenty minutes passed, and she didn’t settle, so I gave up that idea.
She’d be happier once we’d cleared the air. “Are we going to do this?”
“What?” She jumped and whirled away from me.
I stared her down, letting her know the time to hide had run out. “Fuck? We going to fuck?” I needed to take our intense connection to the most intimate level.
Her body stilled and I could almost smell the sweet scent of her arousal. Her breathing sped up.
“This isn’t about work, so I’m asking straight up.” I leaned back against the counter, needing her to understand I wasn’t like the stupid dick she’d been with before.
“It’s not a good idea.” She almost whispered the words.
I barked out a laugh. “Of course it isn’t. Nothing fun ever is.”
I wanted to kiss her when she bit her lip, that sexy little tell drove me wild. I closed in and lifted her chin so I could see the expression hidden by her hair, another turn-on. I had endless fantasies when it came to Red.
“This is just physical,” I warned her. “I don’t do relationships. And nothing changes here.”
“Right.” She snorted. “I just left a hot mess that started with sexy words like these. Not two weeks free of him and you want me to repeat one of my worst mistakes?”
“Don’t piss me off by comparing me to that douche or any other man from your past.” I tried to stay calm but even I heard the pissed-off edge in my voice. “We got some powerful needs brewing between us and I want to see where that goes. I know you do too.” I caressed her bottom lip and she shuddered.
Her nipples poked out, already on board for some fun. She had to feel it same as me, and fear was never a reason to say no. She stepped away from me closing her eyes. When she opened them, her face was set with determination. “I’m not ready to fall into anyone’s bed, no matter how much I might want to taste you.”
Her honesty stole my breath a moment, but I growled, determined she’d see it my way. “This is about the job, isn’t it?”
She didn’t say anything.
“Yeah, fine. I like the job, the place, the town, and I don’t wanna relocate again.” She threw the words like a punch in the face.
It stung, but finally, I saw some of the spirit from last night.
“We fuck, we don’t, you fuck someone else, you don’t—none of that impacts the job. You do your job, and what you do besides that is personal.” I ran fingers through my hair, she wasn’t getting this. “If we quit working with any girl we went to bed with—”
“Don’t finish that thought if you value your balls,” she spat at me.
I threw my head back and laughed because she did care after all.
“Fear of repeating mistakes is part of it, but you know, mostly I’m just starting over, trying not to make the same mistakes I always make, like jumping into bed with the first guy who smiles my way.” She stalked past me and down the hall.
I didn’t follow. A thousand reasons I could defeat with a smile and another of those addicting kisses, but not that one. She deserved the new start, and I had no right to bull through her resistance because my cock itched for her.
I headed down the hall a couple of minutes after her. She stood with her head on the door to the supply closet. Defeat had settled into her shoulders, and that pissed me off so much I wanted to hit something. I sucked in a breath and let it out, bringing that anger back inside me. “I get it.”
She cringed when I spoke.
“I’ll back off. You want this, just say so. Otherwise, we’re cool.”
She whipped around and studied me. “Really? That easy?”
I cocked my head. “I wasn’t easy on you.”
“You’ll just back off?”
Four weeks had passed in a blur of activity. I’d met most of the regulars and understood the business enough to start making small improvements to how the shop was run. I’d gotten permission from Dare to enlarge a few of the illustrations they’d drawn for tattoos and hang them up front. I didn’t want the cheap look of tat art and photos pinned everywhere, but a few quality pieces made an impression. The books worked better for customers who were not sure what they wanted. But most of the time, the guys drew custom pieces for clients. The books were just a way to get started.
I’ve never been more confused in my life. After that night in the shop, he’d backed off in most ways. While he left no doubt he wanted me, he didn’t kiss me when I bit my lip, I’d tested that one more than once. He didn’t touch me at every opportunity, but the potential hung between us. While I was proud of myself for sticking to my guns, my lonely bed was a terrible consolation prize.
Both Zayn and Dare had appointments at six. Rock had left about twenty minutes earlier, promising to be back at seven when his next customer arrived. I’d decided to finish straightening up and head upstairs for a break since we had a two-hour gap before the next clients came.
Before I’d finished cleaning up, Dare and Zayn showed up in reception.
“We’re bored,” Zayn grumbled. “Dare gave me some new ink, but now we need more volunteers.”
He didn’t point at me, but he just as well should have. “Um, I’d like some new ink too, but I’m working. And I never did hear the discount.”
The two broke out in laughter.
“What’s so funny?” I frowned with hands on hips. I hated being the butt of a joke when I didn’t understand the joke.
“Red, there’s no cost for artwork for employees, just schedule it, or do it when we’re slow, like now.” Dare’s face was blank, impossible to read.
Did he want to ink me?
I’d fantasied about him inking me, but those sessions had ended in erotic ways—each more inventive than the last. I either needed to invite Dare home or find someone to relieve this massive horny need I’d developed for dirty sex.
“Well?” Zayn tapped his foot. “Can we draw on you?”
Dare flashed that sexy grin. “I want to ink up here below your neck, noticed it was bare the other night. And Zayn wants to work low moving onto your side.” He paused while he wet his lips with a darting flick of his talented tongue. “You ever had two at once?”
Holy hell, which was one of my fantasies—two guys at once on Dare’s table. Heat flooded through me just thinking about my fantasy.
“Uh, tattoos, he means tattoos.” Zayn grinned. “Right, Dare?”
He lifted one side of his mouth in that lazy lopsided grin of his. “If you say so. Up for the challenge?”
“Yeah, hell yeah. I’ve missed the iron and the bite of the needle.” I hadn’t even thought through the consequences, or if there would be any, because I wanted what they’d described.
“You have ideas about what kind of art you want?” Dare asked. “Or is it all the same?”
I frowned at him. All the same? “Yes, it matters what art is on my body. Each piece has a story, whether inspiration or lesson.”
“No need to get huffy,” he teased.
I wasn’t in the mood for teasing. “You use the pre-fab stencils?”
His glower answered that question.
“Right, you don’t want insulted, stop insulting me.”
Zayn laughed. “Your temper always surprises me.”
I worked to keep my cliché of a temper under control, but Dare knew exactly what buttons to push.
“I need something for the move to Barden and for working at the shop. Ideas?”
“Do you trust us?” Dare rumbled.
What a loaded question. Did I trust him? When I searched for the answer, I was surprised when I found I did, both of them. How had that happened?
“Yeah, I do.” I’d wanted it to sound flip, but instead emotion snuck in to my voice.
The guys turned somber and I winced internally.
“Why do you ask?”
“I’ll take Barden,” Zayn said.
“And I’ll do Marked Man. You lay down and let us work, not seeing it until the end.”
I laughed aloud, a perfect idea. I loved surprises, and any art they did, well it’d be better than what I’d think of.
“Deal.” I stripped off my shirt and tossed it to a chair, lying face down on Dare’s table. “Unhook the bra if it’s in the way.”
“What if the pants are in the way?” Zayn teased, the laughter barely under control.
“Move higher.” My answer was muffled because of the head rest. I sat in my bra in a tat shop, nothing new for me, and I hadn’t thought twice about shedding the shirt, but my ass bare or undie clad, not so much.
Dare swept my hair up off my neck before they prepped the two areas.
I shuddered because Dare’s touch created an intense shock of sexual need. My panties dampened and I wondered if Zayn could smell my arousal. That was embarrassing, kind of.
Zayn’s needle bit my skin first, right where my back, or waist, narrowed. But I sought the float, the spot in my head where the pain was a distant pinch. When Dare started his iron, I had to force myself not to react, the added pain tested my endurance. But I breathed deep, in and out, and finally, I floated in the space I’d created to keep my calm, even during the most painful art.
Dare caressed my ass with his hand. “Done with the knot. Now, I’m tying you up with that very knot, until you can’t move. You’ll be at my mercy.” I nodded and flipped over on the table. My ass cheek hurt where he’d tattooed the knot, but it added to the spice of the moment. Alone in the workroom, he reached down and brought up a long red strand of rope. Hands to my sides, he had me stand so he could wrap the rope around me then he lifted me up and placed me on the table, flipping me so I faced down again. His lips tugged at my ear and he whispered sweet words while he slid his hard cock between my cheeks until it glided between the lips of my pussy. My body reacted, wanting to push into him, but the ropes made it impossible. I moaned for him to fuck me, but he laughed and bit my shoulder. Over and over the tip of him rubbed across my clit, working me up until I begged for release. Just when I was sure I’d come, he pulled back and then pushed into me in the perfect way.
“You sleepin’?” Dare’s voice penetrated my fantasy.
Shit, had I moaned, moved? Or something worse?
“Never seen anyone so still.” His words held a rough tone.
Had touching me turned him on, too?
“You both finished?”
“Yeah,” Zayn said right before I heard a picture snap and saw the reflection of a flash. The purr of the motor spitting out the picture came next. Despite all the technology in the world, a good quality Polaroid was still the way Marked Man cataloged finished work and showed it to clients, especially if the location wasn’t easy to see in the mirror.
“Sit up, and I’ll bandage them.” Zayn handed me the two pictures.
I heard Dare behind me collecting tools and then moving to the supply room. The pictures were still mostly gray blobs, so I turned them facedown and waved them in the air. I don’t know if it increased the speed of development or if it just made the time pass faster. Dare returned and leaned on the table right next to where I sat. Zayn was the second bookend, leaning with the same pose on the opposite side.
Did they train bikers in attitude?
The first one to come clear was Dare’s. An abstract man marked with light lines, tattoos, held a woman who also displayed outlines of art. Somehow he’d captured the anticipation of sex between them in the lines of their bodies, or the closeness.
“Wow, you are all kinds of talented. I love it.” I grinned up at him but he ducked his face away.
Zayn had placed the old recliner in my apartment on my back and then created a halo effect around it. In that misty area words were barely there. I spotted home, friends, welcome. But I was sure there were more.
“I do have a table now,” I muttered with a chuckle I couldn’t suppress. “Priceless. That chair was my first friend in Barden, my new life. You got to tell me all the words you hid in there.”
He smiled wide enough to show both dimples. “Never. You’ll have to find someone to inspect it up close and tell you.” He winked and headed up front.
I slipped on my top and checked the time. Damn, they’d worked on me for two hours. I was surprised I’d lost track of time, but then I’d lost track of everything reliving my fantasy from two nights ago.
The longer I held out against Dare, the more taboo my dreams became. I should give in soon. It didn’t have to be the full relationship deal, just some raunchy, casual sex that purged my brain of these explicit dreams. I’d reasoned out that two weeks was the longest I could remember not having sex, and I was beyond my limit, bound to explode soon.