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I drop her hand, even though it’s the last thing I want to do. “So do you want the tattoo or not?” I ask her, a lot gruffer than I should.

My abruptness doesn’t faze her. The smile stays on her face, and if anything, it gets wider, and her eyes get even darker until they’re almost a midnight black. Finally, she nods, and I turn on my foot and go toward the back where my tattooing booth is. Everything is already set up, and I pat the chair. “Here you go. Sit here.”

She hangs her purse on the hook by the door and hops up in the chair. I act as if I’m busy, prepping my tools, but really I’m trying to take a breather from looking at her. I’ve never tattooed anyone that I’ve had an attraction to like this, and I don’t know how it’s going to work with the bulge in my pants that seems to be getting bigger by the minute. Just thinking of putting my hands on her is going to do me in.

When I finally look up, she’s staring straight into my eyes. I jerk to the side as if her gaze is scalding me and take a deep breath. I can do this, I tell myself over and over. I inhale deeply. “Okay, so did you decide what you want... for a tattoo?”

She nods with a smirk on her face and holds out her hand. “I want a Q with a red heart over it.” She’s pointing to the side of her finger.

I almost fall back in my seat. “That’s different. Why’d you choose that?” I ask her, stalling from putting my hands on her.

She shrugs her shoulders. “Because I want to be someone’s queen one day.”

My arms flex, thinking of her with another man, but before I can get too deep in thought, I shake my head as if pushing the thoughts away. She and I are not going to happen.

Without commenting on her choice of a tattoo, I instruct her to sit back. “There’s a table there. Put your hand on it.”

She scoots back, and as she does her shorts ride up her thighs, showing even more of her tanned legs.

“Perfect.” I roll my chair over and hold on to her hand. I look at the size of her fingers and work out the size in my mind. Already I can picture what it’s going to look like. “You want a crown too?” Because in my mind, I think she needs a crown.

“I trust you,” she answers, and I feel that all the way to my gut. I’m the last person she should put trust in, showing just how gullible and inexperienced she really is.

I prep her hand and make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned. I usually have my clients clean their own hands, but for her, I wanted to do it myself. She’ll never know.

I turn on the gun, and the vibrating starts. “Ready?”

She nods and bites onto her lower lip. In a daze, I stare at her lip, and the need to run my finger across it and smooth it out is intense.

I jerk my gaze away and try to keep it on the matter at hand.

I get close to her hand with the tool, and her leg starts to jiggle. I smile at her and reach over, putting my palm on her knee. “You have to sit still.”

I move my gaze from her knee to her face. She’s still biting her lip, staring at my big hand on her leg. Whether she realizes it or not, I can feel her inch her leg open—and fuck me, but the urge to slide my fingers up the inside of her shorts has me about to come in my pants.

I swat her leg softly. “None of that. Let’s get this tattoo done and get you out of here.”

Her eyes come to mine, but she doesn’t agree, just stares at me.

I go back to looking at her hand, and just as the gun is about to touch her skin, her soft voice interrupts me. “You feel it too, right? It’s not just me... you know we’re going to have to talk about this.”

I grit my teeth and close my eyes tightly and count back from ten. When I open them, I can’t look at her. I’m looking at the instrument in my hand like it’s some foreign object. Fuck, I’m distracted. I put the gun down and mutter, “I’ll be right back.”

I leave the booth and walk back to the front of the shop. I pace back and forth trying to calm myself. She probably thinks I’m a fool or some kind of crazy person for walking out on her, but I knew I couldn’t tattoo her, not when she’s basically asking me if I’m going to make a move or not. With my hands on my hips, I decide right then and there that I need to tell her. I’ll tell her about my past, and that will be that. I don’t know any woman that would want to get mixed up with a convicted felon. At least not one they just met.

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