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Ross 02 Rock Me(8)

By:Cherrie Lynn

All his own fault…there was no one to blame for his bad behavior but himself. And it had been half his lifetime ago, but he still felt the echoes of those actions today, in the way his family dealt with him, in his reactions to that treatment. It was a vicious cycle, and no one made any effort to break it. Certainly not him, even though he knew that as the orchestrator of all that pain and grief, the responsibility should fall on his shoulders.

What they didn’t realize, as they sometimes looked at him in horror, was that the very things they detested about his appearance were the very things that had saved him. If he’d never walked into Marco’s parlor in Dallas for that first tattoo at eighteen, he might be in prison right now. That night he’d found a purpose. He’d found what he wanted to do with his life; he just hadn’t wanted to do it for anyone else. Now that his dream of having his own parlor was finally realized, he’d be damned if he was going to do anything to fuck it up.

Evan talked for a few more minutes and finally headed inside. Brian shut himself in his truck and watched his brother disappear into the bright cheerfulness of the house. Back to a wife he adored, a baby he was crazy about, a family who loved him.

It would be so, so easy to feel resentful for his older brother’s good fortune, but Evan deserved everything he had and then some. He’d worked hard for it, and he still did. Brian might give him a lot of shit, but the truth was…he was damn lucky to have him as his brother. Because there was no way in hell a guy like that would give him the time of day if they didn’t happen to share parents. As he cranked his truck, he told himself he would do well to remember it. Sighing, he sifted through the CDs littered across the bench seat and popped in Pantera, something brutal to fit his mood. The growling guitars hammered his eardrums and, as habit dictated, he plunged his hand into his pocket to pull out a desperately needed…stick of gum.

“Fuck me.”


Chapter Four

“It’s been a week. Call him already.”

“Don’t you dare.”

Candace had to laugh. Her two best friends, each currently situated on either side of her, were like a gleeful devil perched on one shoulder and a disapproving, morally outraged angel on the other. There were moments when she wanted to strangle both of them—and vice versa, she was sure—but she loved them dearly.

Samantha, the devil, was investigating Brian’s business card and his scribbled number on the back, turning it over with her graceful French-tipped fingers. “His handwriting is sexy.”

Macy rolled her eyes. Candace swallowed her gulp of iced cappuccino and laughed. “His handwriting?”

“Sure. Look. It’s confident. Decisive. Dark. Strong slant. No timid, flimsy marks from him, oh no. He wants that number ingrained in your memory. Burned into your brain.”

“Since when have you taken up handwriting analysis?” Macy asked. Sam handed the card to Candace, her brown eyes lit up with amusement. “What can I say? I’ve always had a thing about guys’ handwriting. Michael writes as if he’s trying to murder the page or something. It’s so hot.”

Candace stared at Brian’s number, seeing what the other girl meant. What Sam hadn’t mentioned was that there was also an unexpected elegance to it. Sighing, she pulled her wallet out of her purse to tuck it safely away. She’d already programmed the number into her phone, even though she was sure it would never be used, no matter how much Sam begged.

Macy stirred her shake with a straw, pulled it out and licked off the ice cream. “Forget the writing. I’m more interested in their hands.”

“I bet Brian has great hands,” Samantha said enthusiastically. “Artists usually do. So what are his hands like, Daisy?” Sam sometimes called her “Daisy” as a play on the last syllable of her name. She knew Candace hated “Candy” with a passion. It was what her mother called her. What the hell was up with her nicknames anyway? Sunshine. Daisy. Candy. All bright, sweet things. She should insist on being called Spider or something. Darken her image a bit. Sam snapped her fingers in front of her face. “Hey, over here. Are they that good?”

“His hands? They’re—” Beautiful. “Heck, I don’t know. They’re hands.”

Cherrie Lynn

Sam wiggled her eyebrows. “Big?”

Candace felt a flush beginning to creep up her neck. “Yes.”

“Stop it already,” Macy said. “You’re going to drive the girl crazy, and she needs to forget all about that guy.”

“But why?” Sam asked, sounding like a petulant three-year-old.

“Because he isn’t right for her!”

“For her, or for you?”

“What have I got to do with it?”

“You seem to be the only one who has a problem with him.”

“Her parents would have a hell of a problem with him.”

“Oh, to hell with her parents.”

Candace sighed and sat back as her friends went at it as if she wasn’t even sitting there. “Stop, stop,”

she said wearily, making the time out gesture with her hands when it appeared either girl was preparing to draw blood. “I’m afraid Macy wins, Sam. I can’t just call him. I mean… I can’t. He gave me his number in case I had any trouble. I’ll be bugging him.”

“When a guy slips you his cell number, honey, he wants you to call it. Trust me. Do you think he does that to all of his clientele?”

“Probably not, but we know each other already. He did it being friendly.”

“Then call him being friendly. Be friendly as you mention that it was great seeing him and you’d like to hang out with him more.”

“We’re not that friendly. It would be totally weird if I did that.”

Sam looked at Macy and sighed. “We’ve got to teach this girl how to land a man. She’s hopeless.”

“Hopeless is good right now.”

“No, it’s not.”

“The guy allows a picture of his junk to be on display in his tattoo parlor. Hopeless is damn good in this case.”

Sam burst out laughing as Candace gave Macy’s shoulder a shove. “He was messing with you, Mace. I’m telling you.”

“And lighten up. Jesus,” Sam interjected. “I think it’s hot that he’s pierced downstairs. I’ve always wondered what it would be like.”

“To get pierced down there?” Macy asked.

“No. Well, yeah, that too. But mainly to have sex with someone who is. I’ve heard it’s amazing. You know Candace is wondering too.” Sam winked at her.


Rock Me

“She’s wondering what it’s like to have sex at all.” The two of them burst into another fit of giggles as Candace’s mouth dropped open and she swept a glance around the coffee shop, wanting to melt through the floor.

“Could you maybe, um, not announce it to the whole room?”

“Aw, she’s blushing. Stop it, Sam, you’re embarrassing her.”

“Me? You’re the one who trumpeted it. Poor girl is going to give it up just so we’ll stop harassing her about it.”

It had occurred to her once or twice. But their ribbing was good-natured, so she tolerated it fairly well, even if she thought her friends—Macy especially, although Sam had her moments—were a little too overprotective of her whenever a guy came sniffing around. As if her hymen was a handicap. She was actually surprised that Sam was so gung-ho for her to initiate anything with Brian.

“So why are you so happy about this?” she asked her friend, when curiosity got the better of her.

“Honey, I just think it’s time.”

“And she should pick someone off the street because it’s time?” Macy asked in horror.

“No, you idiot, she should pick someone she likes. And she likes him a lot. You can tell from that dopey look she’s had on her face ever since we started talking about him. She stares at that card as if she wants to frame it.”

Candace tossed her straw wrapper at Sam. “Leave me alone. I might have always liked him, but I doubt I’ll hear from him again. As far as sleeping with him…” She trailed off, unable to complete the sentence. Oh well, it didn’t matter. It was so impossible it didn’t even bear thinking about. But then why was she nearly breathless?

“There’s no telling what kind of freaky stuff he’s into,” Macy said seriously, all joking aside. “Really. You don’t want your first time to be with someone who scares the hell out of you.”

Candace dropped her gaze and took a long pull on her drink, uncomfortable under her friends’

scrutiny. If Macy only knew some of the fantasies she’d entertained about him, she might roll out of her chair in a dead faint.

“I’m sure he’ll forgo the freaking ball gag her first time out, Macy,” Sam said sardonically.

“He might. He might even be considerate of where he stabs her as he sacrifices her virgin body to his demon gods.”

Okay, Candace had to laugh out loud at that.

“Do you have a mental disorder?” Sam asked. “I mean seriously. You’ve gone completely off the reservation.”

“Will you stop encouraging her!”

“Will you stop dis couraging her? You’re the one trying to scare her.”