Page 3 of Dirty Promise

He’s cleaning off the excess ink from a tattoo he just finished on a man’s forearm. He looks up at me with startling blue eyes and I’m taken aback by the sudden attention. His icy gaze roams from my head to my feet and back up to my face. It’s impossible to tell what he’s thinking by his expressionless face.

“Sorry, we’re not taking walk-ins right now. We’re booked up for a month,” he says to me. Even his low, gravelly voice is hot. I imagine a voice like that using naughty pillow-talk in bed would be a fun time.

“I’m just looking, thank you,” I say. My own voice sounds as rigid as I feel. My heart is pounding into my ribs. I can’t remember ever being this nervous about confronting a guy before. Then again, I’ve never approached anyone simply with the intention of having sex with them either.

There is a couch and a stack of portfolios of the different artists’ work on a coffee table. I take a seat and sort through them. I find the one with his photo and name on the front: Max Savage. He must be the owner. The name suits him perfectly. He finishes up with his client. I try not to look at him as he walks toward me. From the corner of my eye he’s like a tower. He stands there, imposing, taking up all the air around me, until I look up at him. I swallow, finding it suddenly hard to breathe.

“Looking for anything in particular?” he asks in a deep, playful tone that’s masculine without hitting me over the head with testosterone.

“I don’t know,” I say dumbly. I can’t think straight with him so close to me.

His eyebrows rise. He looks me over. I’m pretty sure he’s judging me right now. “Let me guess … a tramp stamp.”

My disappointment must show on my face. I would never get a tramp stamp—not that there’s anything wrong with them. On the right girl, I’m sure they look great. But I’m not that girl. He smiles like he’s accomplished what he’s set out to do. He’s trying to get a rise out of me. He keeps going. “A butterfly, fairy … no wait, an infinity symbol.”

He’s making fun of me. I’m guessing those kinds of tattoos are typically what girls who look like me get. I guess based on looks alone I’m a typical prissy girl. I’m a cosmetologist so my hair, makeup, and nails are always done, and I buy my clothes at the local mall. So, I guess looks-wise, I’m your all-American girl. It’s probably a running joke in the shop among the snobbish elite in the tattoo world. I guess it’s kind of the same for women who come into the salon where I work who wear their makeup all wrong or who cut their own hair. I don’t make fun of those people, but other girls I work with do. It feels pretty horrible being on the other side of the insults.

Despite his stellar looks, this guy is such an ass. He shows me that annoyingly beautiful smile and I frown.

“In other words, you’re saying I’m basic,” I say.

I really don’t like him. He’s hot as fuck, but what a judgmental jackass. It doesn’t matter. Like Kia said, she’s not asking me to fall in love with him—thank God, because it would never happen. It’s just a hook-up. I’m all for wild, passionate hate sex. Ask any of my ex-boyfriends who I’ve slept with after we broke up.

He shrugs and gives me the most obnoxiously sexy smile I’ve ever seen, his pearly whites revealed behind full lips.

“Is this how you treat all your potential clients?” I ask.

“No, but I have a feeling you’re not here for a tattoo.”

I furrow my brow. “Why do you say that?”

“Because you’ve been watching me the entire time and haven’t looked at a single photo in my portfolio. That’s not very typical of someone trying to figure out what they want as a tattoo.”

He talks loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear. Machines mysteriously go quiet, and I have a feeling we have an audience. Looking around I affirm it when the other artists and their clients turn their heads.

“You’re right,” I say, talking quietly and hoping he takes the hint to do the same. “I’m actually here to talk to you. Is there somewhere we can speak in private?”

Tags: Penny Wylder Billionaire Romance