REBEL INK is a new standalone novella in the Lords of Carnage MC universe. It will appear for a limited time in WANTED: AN OUTLAW ANTHOLOGY.
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Pre-order your limited edition copy of Wanted: An Outlaw Anthology here for only 99 cents: books2read.com/wantedanthology
“Is it the number of times you’ve broken a man’s heart?” he teases. “Because if so, you’re about to make it number Seven.”
I laugh in spite of myself. “No, that’s not it either. Face it, you’re never going to get it.”
“Would you tell me if I did?” Bullet asks. “I bet I already guessed, weeks ago.”
“No, you honestly haven’t,” I tell him.
Although he is right.
I wouldn’t tell him, even if he guessed.
The name I go by, Six, is a frequent source of interest and amusement here at Rebel Ink, where I work as a receptionist and aspiring tattoo artist. Though, if you wanted to find a place where a weird first name would blend in, a tattoo parlor is probably one of your best bets. I fit right in among Chance, Sumner, Hannah and Dez. Most of my customers hardly even blink when I tell them my name. Hell, a lot of them go by handles even stranger than mine.
Like Bullet, for example.
So far, Bullet’s the only one of our customers who’s been this insistent on trying to find out what my name means. The first time he came into the shop and introduced himself, I tried to deflect his question by pointing out that his name was odd, too.
But then he immediately told me his real first name is Wyatt, and that Bullet is his “road name,” which is what motorcycle clubs call the nicknames their members go by. Apparently, Bullet has an actual bullet lodged in his body. Hence the choice of monikers.
And hence, the fact that ever since he’s been telling me that since he told me all this, I need to reciprocate and tell him why I go by Six.
Bullet leans closer, one elbow propped up on the counter of the reception desk. He’s close enough now that I can see the flecks in his golden-brown eyes. Beneath the short, dark beard, a corner of his mouth twitches with mischief.
“I think I know what Six stands for.” He murmurs the words deep and low, like they’re just for me.
My heart does a little flop in my chest as I swallow and try to look unaffected. “Yeah?” I challenge, hearing that my voice is a little less steady than I want it to sound.
“Yeah,” he rumbles. “It’s the number of times I’m gonna make you come.”
Jesus. His words are so unexpected that I pull back in surprise, knocking a cup of pens and pencils off the counter and onto the floor. The clatter is so loud that I jump.
“Sorry to startle you, darlin’.” Bullet gives me a lazy smirk. “You need some help with that?”
“No, no,” I mumble as I bend down behind the counter to gather up the pens. I feel my cheeks flush with heat. Bullet loves to flirt with me when he comes into the shop, but he’s never said anything remotely that… direct before. If it was any other guy, I’d give him a piece of my mind, and probably even tell the owner, Chance, that one of his customers was sexually harassing me.
But as I pick up the cup with shaking hands, I realize the reason I won’t say anything to Chance isn’t just because Bullet is a member of the Lords of Carnage MC — the motorcycle club that gives our shop all of their business. It’s not even because I’m afraid of getting on the wrong side of a guy who is probably not very used to being refused anything, by anyone.
The real reason I won’t say anything?
It’s because I’ve fantasized about exactly what Bullet just said.
Way more than six times.
While I’m still down on the ground, I take advantage of the two or three seconds where I’m hidden from him to try to come up with a response that won’t show Bullet how rattled I am. But thankfully, just as I’m picking up the last pen, my boss, Chance Armstrong, comes striding down the hall.
“Bullet. My man,” his booming voice calls out in greeting. “Shit, you’ve been in here a lot lately. You here for some more ink?”
I stand up awkwardly just in time to see Bullet turn and lift his chin at Chance. “Hey, man. Yeah,” he grins. “What can I say? I got some time on my hands, and some space to fill.”
“This is the third tattoo in two weeks,” I point out, breathing a little sigh of relief that the subject has been changed. “I don’t know how you have any space on your body left.”
For some reason, even saying the word body in reference to Bullet makes me shiver a little, but I try hard to ignore it.
Bullet glances at me, looking slightly feral. “Don’t worry, I still got some room left.”
“I don’t have any appointments until this afternoon,” Chance frowns. “I can fit you in though, if you want to come on back.”
“Actually,” Bullet replies, “I was thinking Six could do the tat.”
“Me?” I ask in surprise. I glance uncertainly from Bullet to Chance. “But I’m still in training.”
“I trust you,” Bullet murmurs. “Chance wouldn’t have taken you on if he didn’t have confidence in you.”
Actually, Chance took me on as a favor to Hannah, who started out as a receptionist here, too. Chance didn’t know me from Adam (or Eve) when I first walked in the door to Rebel Ink with her. I’ve worked my ass off to pay him back for taking a chance on me, learning everything I could and taking all the grunt jobs just to show him how thankful I am. Thankfully, he’s never had any cause to complain about my work. He’s even said once or twice that I’m a quick learner and I have a good eye.
Still, it’s one thing to do a rose on some twenty year-old girl’s ankle. It’s entirely another to ink a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. One that could ruin the shop’s reputation with the club if I fuck up.
I look toward Chance, hoping he’ll help me out of this situation. But instead, he just gives us a brief nod and shrugs. “I’ll have Dez come out and man the phones,” he says. “Come on back, Bullet. I can comein and supervise in between my appointments.”
Desperately, I cast around in my head for some excuse. But Chance and Bullet are already walking down the hall toward one of the free rooms. With a helpless sigh, I stand up and follow them. Chance stops by Dez’s room and tells him to go out front.
Then, almost before I know what’s happening, I’m sitting on a stool, with Bullet on the table in front of me.
Looks like this is happening.
Well, shit. Here goes nothing, right?