Page 36 of The District

He turned a dark green gaze on her, hot enough to melt her little gold earrings. “Only if I can pick the precise spot on your body.”

Prickles of heat needled several precise spots on her body. “Umm, just kidding.”

He opened the door for her and as she brushed past him, his whispered words followed her into the tattoo parlor. “I wasn’t.”

She turned sharply, but he was studying the tattoo designs on the walls with an impassive face. Had she imagined those words?

A young woman, a sleeve of colorful art creeping down one arm, stepped from behind the counter. “Can I help you?”

Christina swallowed, looking at the woman’s impressive ink and hoped her request wouldn’t get her laughed out of the shop.

She cleared her throat. “I’d like to get a temporary tattoo. Do you even do those here?”

“Absolutely. Saves you from getting it removed later when,” she whispered, her eyes flicked to Eric as her pierced nostrils flared, “you dump the dude.”

“Oh, it’s not for, uh, a dude. There’s a symbol I’d like you to re-create for me.”

Eric pulled the dog-eared piece of paper from his pocket and shook it out. “Can you duplicate this?”

The woman shrugged a pair of skinny shoulders. “Piece of cake. Just tell us where you want it.”

“And the color?” Suarez’s tattoo had been black and red.

“We use a henna tattoo, so it’ll be a reddish-brown color.” She wrinkled her nose. “We don’t use the black henna. That stuff’s vile.”

“I’ll take your word for it, and I want the design on the inside of my wrist.” Christina rotated her arm to reveal her inner forearm.

“Let me have the pattern, and I’ll give it to J.C. He does most of our henna temp tats since he has a light touch.”

After several minutes, J.C. emerged from the back, heavily inked, like all the tattoo artists in the place. He led her to a reclining chair and cleaned her skin and his hands. “This is an interesting design. What is it?”

“It’s a Wiccan symbol.” She watched J.C.’s face closely for any kind of reaction, but he didn’t blink an eye.

“Are you a Wiccan? I know a couple of Wiccan, but between you and me I think they’re BS-ing me.”

“It’s all in fun, really.” She settled against the chair and closed her eyes while J.C. started working on her arm.

Eric chatted with J.C. about the tattoo artist’s process and some of his weirder requests.

In less time than she thought possible, J.C. was putting the finishing touches on her temporary tattoo. “Let me know if you want any changes.”

She inspected her new ink. “Looks just like Victor’s, doesn’t it?”

“Except the colors.” Eric lightly clasped her wrist and held her arm up to the light.

“Lilith explained about the henna, right? Can’t do different colors.”

“Oh, yeah. She told us. No problem.”

“If you like it, you can come back for the real thing and you can have any color you like.” J.C. gathered his tools and went off to his next canvas of flesh.

“I like it. What do you think?”

“If it helps us get into the meeting tonight, I’m all for it.” Eric pulled out some cash to pay for the tattoo and ducked his head to place his lips close to her ear. “Somehow I don’t think the Bureau would appreciate reimbursing us for a tattoo.”

“I don’t know why not. It’s a work-related expense.”

“I’ll let you explain that to Rich.”

As they strolled back onto the street, Christina held up her arm to admire her new ink. “I kind of like it.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t flash that around.” Eric took a step in front of her as if to shield her from unwelcome attention.

She poked him in the back. “That’s the point, isn’t it?”

“For tonight, but you don’t have to bring any weirdos out of the woodwork before the meeting.”

“Maybe you’re right.” She pressed her arm against her side. “I’d like to get back to the hotel and give that case file another go. Now that we’ve definitely linked Juarez to the other two victims, I’m positive we’ll find something on the very first victim to tie her to all of this.”

“Maybe Olivia kept a lower profile—no tattoos, no jewelry, no working in occult bookstores.”

“Her killer identified her somehow. There must’ve been something she did or had that marked her as a member of this coven.” She fished some bills out of her pocket as the bus squealed to a stop at the curb. “I’ll get your bus fare.”