A few minutes later, Brandon came out and took the last waiting client back after saying hi to Ian, so when T.J. emerged from his studio room, he looked around to double check that he wasn’t missing anyone waiting still and then jerked his head for me to follow him as he greeted Ian, as well.

Ian and I followed him down the hall, but Ian peeled off to go wash up a bit. I settled into the chair in the middle of T.J.’s studio room as he asked if I knew what I wanted.

“I want just a line of script across the front of my upper thigh. Easy peasy.”

“You have any particular font you’re wanting?” he asked me.

“Can you just write it out for me, see what you can do?”

“Sure. Here, write it down for me and I’ll work on it for a minute, see what you think.”

I took the scrap of paper and pen from him and wrote what I wanted before handing it back to him.

He glanced over it and then nodded at me. “I like that. What’s it from? It sounds kind of familiar.”

“It’s from an e.e. cummings poem, my father moved through dooms of love.”


With that, he turned away from me and began writing, but it didn’t take him long. And as soon as he turned and handed me the paper where he’d scripted the quote, I handed it right back and said, “Perfect.”

“You sure? You don’t want me to try a couple different ways, or-”

“Nope. That’s perfect, T.J. Thanks,” I told him with a smile.

Not long after that, I was the proud owner of new ink, scrawled flawlessly in simplistically beautiful script across my thigh…

‘love is the whole and more than all.’

And I loved it.

Chapter 17

“Remind me again why I told Chloe about our engagement?” I groaned to Ian as I face planted into his chest as he walked into the house.

I burrowed against him and then paused, taking a good long sniff at his shirt. I pulled back, my face scrunching up. “Why do you smell like you took a bath in perfume?”

It was early afternoon on Saturday and Ian had had to go down to his office to finish up some paperwork. I stayed home to do a couple things that I had to finish before Monday.

He grimaced and pulled away from me, which immediately raised my hackles because I knew right then what had happened. “She was there, again, wasn’t she.”

He let out a breath and nodded.

“Jesus criminey, what the fuck did she do this time? And why can’t she get shit through her fucking head, that she is not welcome anywhere near us?”

“I know, baby. I was working in the office when she came in, said she saw my truck and wanted to say hi and apologize for everything. Tried to get me to agree to lunch as part of it, but she left when I told her no. She didn’t act crazy or anything, surprisingly.”

I crossed my arms and shot him a skeptical look.

“I’m being serious. She was her normal self…well, as normal as she was before all this shit escalated. Gave me a hug before she left, and even asked me to apologize to you for her, because she knows that you probably never want to see her again.”

“Are you kidding me? Fuck no, I don’t want to see her face! Nor do I want her plastering herself all over you, even if it is an apology hug. She gets no hugs, do you hear me? Why were you so nice to her?” I asked, plaintively.

“Leah,” he pleaded. “I wasn’t really nice to her. I just wasn’t really mean. I didn’t want to chance setting her off again, especially when you were home alone. You know I wouldn’t do anything to encourage her…”

I sighed. “I know. I just…I just don’t trust her Ian. I have a feeling that the minute you show her some kindness, no matter how small it may be, she’s gonna run with it in ways that will probably end up with me in jail. And I’m just saying, orange is not my color.”

Ian chuckled and leaned in, kissing me chastely on my forehead. “I’m gonna go take a shower. Wanna come keep me company?”

“I’ll come watch,” I told him, winking saucily and then slapping his ass when he turned to walk away.

He was in the shower and I was sitting on the counter, painting my toenails when he asked, “So, why are you regretting telling Chloe?”

“Eh. I’m not really. She’s just in the wedding planning mode and now that her wedding is all set, she’s focused on ours.”

I finished one foot and started on the other. “Not that I mind…but honestly, I don’t know if I want a big huge wedding, and you and I haven’t even gotten to talk about it, yet. You know?”

A grunted ‘hmm’ came from the shower.

I looked up from my toes. “Hmm? That’s all you have to say?” I rolled my eyes, muttering, ‘men’ under my breath.

Ian sighed and responded with a placating, “Whatever you want, Leah. I just want you to be happy.”

I snorted. “Uh huh…sure.”

I finished my toes and had just slid off the counter when Ian shut the water off and stepped out, grabbing his towel.

“Hey, Brandon called me earlier while I was at the office and asked if we were still on for tonight. Your mom and dad are gonna keep the kids, I guess, so Allie and Jacks are coming, too. He also told me to tell you that Emma’s making liquid cocaine again.”

“Mmmm…” I moaned. “That stuff is so yummy, but damn, it’s potent! Yeah, we’re still on, if you still want to go.”

Ian left the bathroom to dress and I followed, doing the crazy toes-up duck walk that all women do when their toes are freshly polished and still susceptible to smears, dings, and imprints.

Ian’s voice was muffled from the closet when he answered me. “Yeah, that’s fine. But just so you know, we’ve all agreed that you’re not dancing on the bar this time.”

“Uh, what do you mean, this time? I’ve never even been to this club before. Don’t try to punish me and Chloe for something that my sister and Allie did a long time ago.”

He moved out of the closet, pulling a t-shirt over his head. “I’m just relaying the message. Your sister and Allie cooked this whole thing up to go dancing, and the last time they did, they ended up dancing on the bar and almost causing a riot. According to your brother-in-law, anyway. I wasn’t there.”

He leveled me with a dark look. “And I’ll be damned if my woman will be up there shaking her ass where anyone but me could see.”

“What are you gonna do? Bash me over the head with your club and drag me home?”

“If that’s what it takes,” he said, smirking.

“Ugh. Neanderthal.”

He grinned. “You love me.”

“You’re lucky,” I quipped, then changed the subject. “I’m hungry,” I whined, sticking my lip out in a pout.

Ian banged on his chest with his fist and grunted. “Me caveman, get you meat. Feed woman.”

“Ha, ha, ha…cute,” I said sarcastically, then shook my head, muttering, “Asshole.”

He just laughed and tackled me backwards onto the bed, kissing my neck and jaw before claiming my lips in a hot, wet kiss.

“Mmm,” I moaned, opening to him, but it was over just as quickly as it began.

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