One touch of his needle sends electricity rocketing between them, and by the time he’s finished leaving his brand on her, he’s doing the unthinkable and offering her a job—and possibly losing his sense of sanity.
Finding forever is the last thing on River’s mind, but one taste of her sweet innocence has him consumed with claiming her.
She’s too innocent, too sweet, too untouchable, and far too good for him. But she has a darkness that claws at her, a crack fracturing her heart that only makes him crave her more.
Warning: From the moment his tattoo gun touches her skin, River is utterly obsessed with his girl. If over-the-top, insta-love goodness with a moody, tattooed alpha is your cup of steam, look no further! River has a talent for pushing all the right buttons. 😉
“So, my hands are in her hair, and I’m fucking close, man. I don’t know what I did to the bitch to make her pull the teeth out, but no shit, I think I almost lost my dick last night.”
The sound of a feminine someone clearing her voice turned both of our heads. Jericho shot up, hand outstretched and that weird half smile he only did for chicks he wanted to bang curling his face.
The guy was a fucking whore, and if I had to live through another one of his one-night stands rehashed, I’d throw my fist through his teeth. I’d already thought about breaking a finger, but fucker needed them if he was going to permanently lay artwork on someone’s body, and the guy had talent.
I’d hired him when he got to page three of his portfolio—a portrait of a someone’s grandpa in a war uniform inked on the client’s bicep. The fucking most beautiful tattoo I’d ever seen in my life, and I knew I had to have Jericho in my shop.
Just a goddamn shame I had to put up with him every day.
“She’s a sweet one.” Jericho turned and winked. “And she’s looking for you. Told her I had more talented fingers, but she wasn’t buying it.”
I arched an eyebrow, irritation pulsing through my gut before I stood, plastering on a blank face for my new client.
I lived for tattooing and creating art. What I didn’t love was dealing with customers. Constantly. It was hard being an artist and not being able to control exactly how you would create on a canvas, since the canvas tended to belong to another human.
I’d learned to put on a reserved face over the years—I wasn’t one of those guys who chatted your goddamned ear off. I didn’t give two fucks about your life story or why this tattoo finally meant so much. In fact, half the struggle I’d had in the two years since I’d opened Aspen Ink was tuning out the dimwits so I could focus long enough to give them what they came for—a permanent piece of art on their skin.
Jericho and Dev busted my balls about my shitty chairside personality in the beginning, but it turns out customers don’t give a shit about manners when you leave them with something they can’t get anywhere else on their arm. I had plenty of repeat customers and was usually booked out months in advance. As a result, most of the clients I already knew, so the fact that I didn’t recognize the name on my schedule today had been a little odd, though not unheard of.
I pulled out a set of clean tools, giving a last glance over my sterile work area before heading to the front counter.
A small little thing, with golden blond hair cascading down to a tiny nipped-in waist, was waiting for me at the front desk. I frowned.
“Hi, I’m River Madden.” I came around the counter, touching her elbow.
She spun, that silky mass of waves brushing across my forearm and sending zaps of fire through my skin.
“I’m Sienna.” Indigo blue eyes nailed mine.
I shifted on my feet, throat already dry before I hooked a finger over my shoulder. “Follow me.”
Red lips pursed for a second, eyes narrowing before she nodded swiftly.
I gnashed down on my teeth, figuring I knew exactly what I was in for with this one. “Let me guess, cute little elephant tattoo on your ankle?”
I held a hand out, gesturing for her to sit in my tattoo chair.
“Not quite.” She plopped down, eyes connecting with mine again.
Fuck, what was it about those eyes? Like she couldn’t keep herself from looking at me, staring into my soul or some shit. Weird as fuck and I hated every minute of it.
“Quote under your tit? That what the girls are getting these days, right?”
“I’m not a girl.” She crossed her arms. She certainly wasn’t. She might be small, but that fire burning in those ocean irises told me she wouldn’t hesitate to give a man hell. Fuck, why did that kinda make me smile?
“Well, safe to assume this is your first tattoo?” My eyes landed on her short denim cutoffs then crawled up her body to the long sleeves that covered her arms. This girl was A-1 vanilla, no doubt about it. I was good at reading people, and this one was just too sweet to have seen anything resembling a hard life.
“You know what they say about people who assume, right?” Her grin crooked to the side. “You make an ass—” she rolled up one sleeve, revealing dark slashes of purple and black ink “—out of mostly…you.”
“Impressive.” I moved closer. “I pegged you for a virgin.” I felt a shiver race through her when I cupped her arm in my palm, inspecting the work. “Where’d you go for this?”
“A few towns over. Got it a few months ago.” She pulled up her other sleeve, inked vines wrapping up her forearms to her elbow. “And this was my first, the day I turned eighteen.”
“Fair to say I am an ass, then.” I was unable to help the small smile pulling at my lips. “So, what’s the plan for today?”
She pulled the hem of her shirt above her head, luscious flesh revealed to my greedy fucking eyes.
Christ, she was beautiful. Creamy, soft, unmarred flesh. My vision swam with thoughts of inking her body, watching her squirm under my hands, sinking balls deep into the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen…
“I want to cover this.” She pulled her shirt up past her ribs, a thick white slash, about two inches long, covering her side.
The rough pads of my fingers dragged across the raised flesh, and a soft sigh pushed past her lips before our eyes met again. “What you got in mind for it?”
“A heart,” she said simply. “Shattered.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this request, but something about the way she put those two words together sliced me open. I was wrong about her. This girl had darkness behind her pretty blue eyes.
“Got a picture?”
“Do you one better.” She slipped a folded scrap of paper from the back pocket of her shorts. “I want this.”
I unfolded the sheet, surprised to find a bloodied red heart inked faintly with the outlines of a skull. “This is pretty badass.”
“I thought so too.” She shrugged, smiling proudly before lying back on my chair. She stretched her arms above her head, the shirt riding up higher and revealing a hint of neon green bra against her creamy skin.
“Hate to ask, but I need to see an ID.”
She arched one sassy eyebrow before her lips curled up. “Does that mean you don’t think I look eighteen?”
The way she said it made my cock fucking pound behind my zipper. Whatever in the hell had brought this woman into my studio today, I owed a huge debt of gratitude. I’d been inking people in this very chair for over two years now and never gave any fucks about my canvas. Until her. Until now.
I frowned, confused by the way she sucked me in, before I grunted. “I’ll get this sketched for you. Need to see an ID when I get back.”
I shot out of the chair and stalked to the light station as far away from her as I could get.
I didn’t have time for a saucy little girl running through my shop, making my dick hard, and causing me to think all kinds of nasty thoughts. Like what it would be like to bend her over my table. Or fuck her in the piercing room.
Shit. Did she have any piercings?
I’d be a fucking dead man if she did.
Just the idea of little metal barbells piercing her nipples had a ripple of pain coursing through my balls.
I hunched over the drawing table, adjusting my cock, as I started the outline for her tattoo. I caught glimpses of her watching me work, her eyes crawling around my shop and over me as I took my time designing her tattoo.
She didn’t flip through her phone once, which surprised the fuck out of me because girls her age had it fucking glued to their palm.
That shit wasn’t good for your mind, and if I didn’t have to own a cell to stay in touch for the sake of my business, I wouldn’t own one. Worst goddamn invention on the planet, that little mini-computer sitting in everyone’s pocket.
“That looks incredible.” She breathed against my neck.
Fuck. She was too close for comfort.
“Wait, what if we add a few stitches across the crack? Just black slashes, like someone did a rushed job fixing it.”
I frowned as I thought, imagining the final piece in my head before coming around to the idea. “I think that would highlight the skeleton shaded into the background. Good call.” I added a few random stitches to the center of the heart, across the skull of the skeleton.
“I love it,” she whispered, her palms sliding down my forearms and squeezing tightly.
Her touch was like razor blades against my skin.
I wasn’t sure if I loved it or wanted to wrench my arm away.
It’d been so fucking long since I’d let anyone touch me like this. And now this girl was not only all up in my personal space, but in my head too.
“Great. Lie down on the table, and we’ll get you prepped.” I tried to keep my voice clipped and to the point, my only focus on being professional despite the raging hard dick tenting my pants.
I helped her up onto the table, avoiding the gorgeous view of her ass as she turned around. Her shorts were so fucking short I was sure I could catch a glimpse of her pussy if I looked hard enough. Why the fuck was she out in public wearing that shit? Didn’t she know what disgusting men like me thought of her?
“Got that ID?” I grinned down at her.
“Here you go, Daddy-o.” She flipped me her driver’s license, confirming she was of age. Nineteen. So, barely.
“Told you it would,” she sassed back. Goose bumps rippled across her skin when I applied the cool sanitizer to her rib cage. Then I placed the stencil I’d drawn into place, the crack in the heart matching the jagged edges of the scar slashed permanently into her flesh.
I had a mind to trace my tongue along the rough edges, listening to her shudder and come around me as I milked all the pleasure from her body.
I slipped my fingers along the edges of the transfer paper, making sure the ink outline deposited onto her skin. She shuddered when my fingertip drifted across her wrist.
Fuck, she was so sensitive.
I had visions of her spread out beneath me, my hands in her hair, my tongue licking up her silky skin. The thought of burying my head between her legs had blood rushing through my cock.
What the hell was that scent? And sweet fucking lord, did she taste that good too?
I shifted in my chair, and her eyes averted to me before the shadow of her eyelashes fell onto her cheeks. The air vacated my lungs, blood raging through my veins and making my heart pound a tattoo against my ribs. My cock throbbed, aching to push inside her, fuck her until she was breathless and begging.
Christ, what the hell was wrong with me?
Jericho had given me hell about living like a damn monk, but I’d never reacted to a woman this way. But this wasn’t just any woman; this was Sienna fucking Taylor, too young, too innocent, too good. Way too good.
“It’s bigger than I thought it would be.” She spoke up, and I nearly choked.
Her eyes flickered up to me, a smirk turning up those succulent lips. “The tattoo, it’s big.”
“Ah, right.” I cleared my throat, peeling off the transfer paper and focusing on her eyes for the first time since she’d sat down. “I don’t think I could make it much smaller. You’d start to lose detail on the skeleton.”
“Oh, I like it. I just didn’t envision it that big, but I’m ready. I want it.” Her big, round eyes peered up at me, sweet, untouched. Heartbreakingly fucking beautiful.
I turned, opening the black ink and placing it at the table beside me. “Think you can handle the pain? This is gonna take me a while.”
Her eyes sparkled. “Bet I can handle more than you think.”
Who was this girl?