Page 4 of Marked With Love

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“You look familiar,” says the blonde from the front seat. I guess this must be the girl Matty’s been chatting up. “Are you in the bond business too?”

Matty’s a day trader.

“No. I’m a work from home guy.” I don’t tell strangers that I’m Eros B, art savant. It’s too tiring to explain, and I’d have to field a ton of weird questions.

“This is quite the home you have. Real estate in this area is very coveted,” Blake remarks.

“Family home,” I answer.

“This is Blake, and no, Flynn inherited it from his grandparents,” Matty explains. “Crap. I think we’re going to be late.” He reaches for his phone to call the restaurant.

“Don’t worry about it,” I say. Louis Bodycomb wouldn’t refuse me a table. He likes my art too much.

“You sure?” Matty eyes me in the rearview mirror.

“Yeah.” Through this whole discussion, the woman—my date—has remained silent. Covertly, I take in her black pants with a million strategically placed cuts in them and her button-down shirt that hasdead insideembroidered in red over the left breast. It’s a fire outfit. The woman is a mix of fire and sweetness. She is trying to hide the sweet part, but it’s there.

I feel extra shitty that I didn’t put in more effort for my own appearance. I drag a hand over my jaw and feel the stubble. I should’ve taken this more seriously, but who would’ve expected Matty to find such a treasure? He’s kind of superficial although a super nice guy. I figured anyone he would set me up with would be plastic and cold instead of this amazing woman with the pink hair and the sexy as fuck black pants.

I decide to try again, looking slightly over her left shoulder to be respectful. I can’t be staring at her fine tits. “So, Morgan, what is it that you do?”

“I’m a tattoo artist.” She says it with a challenge in her voice like there’s something wrong with that.


“And you?”

If I say I’m an artist, will she think I’m trying to one up her or that I’m a douchebag braggart?

“Can’t you tell by his jeans?” jokes Matty.

“You’re a designer then?” she guesses.

“Something like that,” I hedge.

Matty pulls up in front of the restaurant and brakes. I hop down and hold out my hand for Morgan, who avoids touching me and instead uses the side pillar of the Rover to steady herself as she steps down. I let my untouched hand drop to my side. She joins the blond woman, and they move toward the restaurant, arm in arm.

“You better not be shitting us about the restaurant reservation. They’re strict here, and it’s Valentine’s Day,” Matty whispers under his breath.

“Uh huh.” I wonder what the girls are talking about. The two of them are really night and day.

When we get inside, the maître d’ gives us the nastiest look while Morgan and Blake hang back, whispering something to one another. “You’re fifteen minutes late. The reservation has expired.”

Matty glares at me and then switches on his trader smile. “Carl, can I call you Carl? The traffic was a bitch.” He holds out his hand to offer the maître d’ some cash. “I see a four-top in the corner there that would be perfect.”


“Is Louis here?” I intervene before Matty’s head blows off.

“Chef Louis is—” The maître d’ cuts himself off. His eyes widen. “Eros, I mean, Mr. Flynn. It has been quite a while since you’ve been here. I think the last time was when we installed—I mean, yes, of course we have a table for you. You should have reserved it under your name. We would’ve put you in the chef’s room where your work—”

“It’s fine. Whatever table you have is great.” The rule is when you buy one of my works, you can’t mention me. I don’t like the fame, the notoriety. I don’t paint for that reason. I paint because if I don’t, it’ll kill me.

Carl leads us over to the four-top that Matty had pointed out earlier. I pull out the chair for Morgan, who ignores it and sits in the chair that Carl pulls out. I’ve never had a woman hate me in an instant. I must be a masochist because it only makes me want her more.



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