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The faint whir of the machine signals this is happening, and I squeeze my eyes shut as he gently pulls my skin taut. Okay, time to go to my happy place, which just so happens to feature none other than my sexy-as-hell tattoo artist.

My mind drifts into eroticland—as I like to call it—as I picture Connor sliding his hand up my bare thigh. He hooks a finger under the side of my panties, and with his wicked eyes on me he slips a finger in—

“I like the quote,” he says, pulling me from my fantasy.

“Do you know what it means?” I ask, opening my eyes and then quickly looking away. I’m a doctor, so you’d think the sight of blood wouldn’t bother me. And it doesn’t, as long as it isn’t my blood.

“I’ve put it on a few other people. Looked it up one time. It’s deep.”

“Yeah”—I take a big breath, holding it in for a few beats before letting it out—“well…” My words trail off because I don’t really know what else to say, and I sure as hell don’t want to talk about why this particular tattoo means so much to me.

Connor goes quiet, but I can feel his eyes burning a hole through my head. When I glance up, his eyes catch mine for a brief second before he looks back down. It was just enough time to tell me that he had my number.

“So it’s personal, huh?”

“What?” I scoff. “A girl can’t get a tattoo just to get a tattoo?”

“Of course she can, but you’re different. This is personal.” He cocks his head to the side, his hair falling in front of his face. I have to fist my hands together to keep from brushing it away so that I can see his face more clearly.

“Okay, fine, you’re right. It’s personal.”

“I’m always right,” he says, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. “It would be prudent of you to remember that.” I tilt my head to the side just as the machine turns off and Connor looks up. He has one hand settled at the base of my waist, the other holding the tattoo gun off to the side. His eyes are smoldering, pinning me in my seat.

My tongue darts out, running a slow path along my lower lip, and I watch as his eyes follow along. Oh yeah, this is happening. Not one to beat around the bush, I decide to go for it. It’s obvious we’re attracted to each other, so there’s no reason for this not to happen.

“What are you doing when you get off work?”

Connor’s eyebrows push into his hairline. “Are you asking me out on a date?” he asks.

My heart clenches inside my chest and I take a deep breath, because as much as I’d like to say yes, that just isn’t who I am anymore. “Nope,” I state impassively. “I gave up dating.”

“You don’t date?” he asks incredulously.

“I fuck.”

Lips parted, he nods slowly several times as though he’s processing what I just said—and deciding what he’s going to do about it.

“Well, that’s too bad, because I gave up fucking.”

His cheeks flush, probably because he realized what he just admitted to, and I can’t help but laugh. “So you don’t have sex?”

Connor rolls his eyes, and even though I’m not a fan of the gesture, he makes it look sexy. My guess is that he makes most things look sexy. “Of course I have sex, I just stopped fucking. I gave up the meaningless one-night stands.” He shrugs. “I want more.”

“Ahhh.” I nod. “Well, good luck with that.” Connor doesn’t say another word. He puts the tattoo gun down and then holds up a mirror so I can check out my new ink. “It’s perfect,” I state, my eyes roaming over the beautiful script.

“I’m glad you like it.” Connor puts the mirror down and slathers some Vaseline on my tattoo. He follows it up with a bandage, all the while rattling off the aftercare instructions.

“Are we done?” I ask, secretly hoping he’ll tell me no. At least then I’d have a reason to stay.

“We’re done.” I push up from the chair. Connor nods his head toward the front desk and I follow him up there to pay. We seem to have fallen into a comfortable silence, and his presence alone is calming in a way I can’t explain. I wish like hell that he would’ve taken me up on my offer, because I have no doubt that it would’ve been fucking fantastic.

Without a word, Connor swipes my card, then I sign the receipt and shove my wallet back in my purse. When I look up, Connor is watching me intently. “Thank you,” I murmur.

His blue eyes are two swirling pools of liquid heat, and what I wouldn’t give to dive in and beg him to change his rules for just one night. “Don’t thank me,” he says, shaking his head. “It was my pleasure.”

We stand there for several more seconds, the air crackling around us as I search for something to say. “I’m Brittany, by the way,” I say, somewhat awkwardly.

Connor grins. “I know.” I furrow my brow and he points to the desk. “You made an appointment.”

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