Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8) - J.R. Ward


Another fucking butterfly.

As R.I.P. looked at what was coming through the door of his tat shop, he knew he was going to end up doing another fucking butterfly. Or two. Yup. Given the pair of long, blond, and bubbly that was jiggling their giggly way up to his receptionist, he was so not going to be rocking any skull-and-bones shit into their skin.

These Paris Hiltons and their we're-so-bad excitement had him looking at the clock . . . and wishing he closed now, instead of one a.m. Man . . . the shit he did for money. Most of the time he could be all yeah, whatever about the lightweights who came in to get marked up, but tonight the bright ideas of cutie-pies annoyed him. Hard to get enthused about the Hello Kitty set when he'd just spent three hours doing a memorial portrait for a biker who'd lost his best friend on the road. One was real life, the other a cartoon.

Mar, his receptionist, came over to him. "You got time to do a quickie?" Her pierced eyebrows went up as her eyes rolled. "Shouldn't take long."

"Yeah." He nodded to his padded chair. "Get the first one over here."

"They want to be done together."

Of course they did. "Fine. Grab the stool from the back." As Mar disappeared behind a curtain and he got set up, the two by the cash register held each other's hands and twittered over the consent forms they had to sign. From time to time, both of them shot him wide looks, like with all his tats and his metal, he was an exotic tiger they'd come to admire at a zoo . . . and totally approved of.

Uh-huh. Right. He would cut his own balls off before he threw them as much as a pity fuck.

After Mar took their money, she brought them over and introduced them as Keri and Sarah. Which was more than he'd expected. He'd been bracing himself for Tiffany and Brittney.

"I want a rainbow carp," Keri said as she got into his chair with what she clearly intended to be an enticing arch. "Right here." 20

She pulled up her tight little shirt, undid the zipper on her jeans, and pushed down the top of her pink thong. Her belly button had a hoop with a pink rhinestone heart dangling off of it and it was clear she was into electrolysis.

"Fine," R.I.P. said. "How big."

Keri the Seductress seemed to deflate a little--as if her no doubt one hundred percent success rate with college football players had led her to assume he would pant all over the real estate she was showing him.

"Um . . . not too big. My parents would kill me if they knew I was doing this . . . so it can't show over a bikini bottom." Of course not. "Two inches?" He held up his tatted hand and gave her a sense of dimension.

"Maybe . . . a little smaller."

With a black pen, he made a sketch on her, and after she asked him to stay on the inside of the lines, he snapped on his black gloves, got out a fresh needle, and tuned up his gun.

It took Keri about a second and a half to sport tears and hang onto Sarah's hand as if she were giving birth without an epidural. And that was the difference, wasn't it. There was a huge divide between the hard-core and the wannabe. Butterflies and carps and pretty little hearts were not-The shop's door opened wide . . . and R.I.P. sat up a little straighter on his rolling stool.

The three men who walked in were not in military uniforms, but they were definitely not civilians. Dressed in black leather from their jackets to their pants to their shitkickers, they were huge men who sucked the walls of the shop in closer and shrank the ceiling down tight. Lot of bulges hidden underneath those coats. The kinds made by guns and maybe knives. With a subtle shift, R.I.P. moved in the direction of his counter, where the emergency alarm button was.

The one on the left had mismatched eyes and gunmetal piercings and a killer's cool stare. The one on the right seemed a little closer to mainstream, with his pretty-boy puss and the red hair--except for the fact that he carried himself like someone who'd been to war and back. The one in the middle, however, was trouble. Slightly larger than his buddies, he had dark brown hair