The low buzzing of the tattoo pen pauses and Lucas Abbott the owner of the shop I’m currently sitting in pushes back on his stool.
“Sorry, I have to take this,” he’s referring to the phone call he was just told he had. “I’ll just be a minute.”
Lucas apologizes again with a grimace as he steps away.
I breath out heavily, relived to have a slight reprieve. This is my first tattoo. It hurts.
“How you holding up?” Ash asks me.
“I’m good. Thanks for sitting with me.”
“Of course! It’s actually been really cool even if I didn’t have any idea about this place.”
“Lucas is nice,” I offer, studying her reaction.
Her cheeks turn a light pink and I dance a little gig inside.
She agrees, “He is.”
“You should invite him to come join us after this.”
I roll my eyes at her deliberate blindness. “You are so clueless. He can hardly take his eyes off you. If my tattoo is messed up because the tattoo artist was making googly eyes at you the whole time, I’m going to be totally pissed, bitch.”
I continue, “You deserve to have some hot stranger sex. And with a celebrity! That’s even hotter. You should totally invite him. I bet he’s a really good dirty talker. He seems like he’d be really vocal.”
Honestly, I have no idea what I’m talking about other than the fact that Lucas Abbott is insanely hot and my best friend deserve to have some fun. They’re both single, consenting adults and the way he’s been looking at her the last hour seems to indicate he’d be open to spending some time alone with her. Naked time.
“Gabriella! How could you possibly know that?” Ash laughs.
“You don’t think so?” I bluff.
I giggle as her blush deepens. “I have no idea,” she informs me.
“I’m not going to invite him to join your Bachelorette party!”
“Then I will.” I will. It’s my party after all. And watching Ash squirm will be super entertaining. She hates being the center of attention and considering the amount of attention he’s given her while still working on my tattoo I can only imagine how intense he’d be without the distraction.
“No, you won’t!”
“If you don’t I totally will. You need to get laid. And not in a boring way like you usually do.” As her oldest friend I feel I can speak to this with some authority. Ash has always dated boring men. In my experience boring men, means a boring relationship, which means boring sex. Ash is gorgeous and brilliant and kind and deserves some mind-blowing orgasms. In my opinion.
“I’ve had good sex,” she protests. “I mean, it’s not always boring.”
“Ashland Grace, I have known you since we were thirteen and for every one of your boyfriends. You have not had good sex. Lucas would definitely be gooooood sex.” I draw out the word and wiggle my eyebrows suggestively.
“I’m good, Gabby. Really.”
“Just because Will ended up being a dud doesn’t mean you’re doomed for mediocrity for the rest of your life, you know. Lucas Abbott would know what to do with a naked Ash.”
“Gabby!” she hisses, totally mortified. “Be quiet!”
“Well he would,” I grumble, backing off.
Maybe it’s true that people in love just want everyone else to pair off because now I’ve totally latched on to this idea and practically have Ash and Lucas getting engaged at my wedding next month.
Lucas returns and pulls a fresh pair of gloves on while sliding onto the stool next to me. “Okay. Sorry about that, ladies. Ready to finish this?”
“Let’s do it,” I agree.
He returns his attention to my hip. I meet Ash’s eyes over his bent head. Ask him, I mouth dramatically.
Stubbornly, she shakes her head.
Ask him, I silently repeat.
“So what else do you all have planned for the night?” Luke asks. I suspect he’s just making small talk but I narrow my eyes at Ash all the same. This would be the perfect opportunity for her to make a move.
Before she can respond, or not, Camilla pokes her head into our room. “Hey Gabs! The others are all finished so we’re going to head over to the hotel and make sure everything is ready for the evenings entertainment.” She grins at me.
“You need anything? Want any of us to wait for you?”
“No, we’re good. You guys go ahead. I don’t think we’ll be much longer. Luke?”
“Twenty minutes. Unless Ash changes her mind.”
I catch him grinning flirtatiously at Ash and barely contain my own grin.
“Perfect! That’ll give us plenty of time to set up the games.” She winks and then ducks back out.
I turn to Ash, raising my eyebrows expectantly. “Games?”
Shaking her head, Ash admits, “They didn’t trust me not to tell you.”
“So you don’t know either?” My sisters are going to delight in embarrassing me. I’m the first one to get engaged and they’ve been plotting for months. Surprisingly they’ve managed to keep the weekend’s agenda pretty hush hush, other than the specific things I requested like my tattoo at Vanished.
Luckily they also love my boyfriend, Tim so I’m not expecting anything too raunchy.
No, my fiance, I correct myself. I sigh happily glancing at the design taking shape on my hip.
“No. Although I did veto the private showing of an all male revue. You know how obsessed Jessi is with Magic Mike.”
I hear Lucas make a sound that sounds suspiciously like a snort although he stays focused on his work.
“Well. Thanks for that anyway.” The last thing I need is a stripper’s ass in my face. Or anyone’s ass for that matter. Except maybe Tim’s.
Jax enters a few minutes later, studying my tattoo over Luke’s shoulder. “Beautiful,” he smiles at me. “I think your man will love it.”
“Yeah?” I ask, grinning.
“Hell yeah. It’s hot when a woman is that sure of you, you know?”
I think I know what he means. It makes me happy that Tim is that sure of me too. That we’re in this together, no reservations.
“Macey and Logan packed up and headed home. I’m going to take the trash out back and start to lock up. You good?” he asks Lucas.
“Just finishing up. Go for it.”
Lucas rubs some gel over my finished tattoo. “What do you think?”
“It’s perfect! I love it. Thank you.” I’d sent over images of our wedding rings earlier in the week, they’re sterling silver with elaborate Celtic designs. Lucas managed to capture the designs and entwine our initials with different floral elements to soften the overall look.
He smiles at me and bandages the area. “Glad you like it.”
Luke helps me up and then turns away while I pull my jeans gently up and fasten them.
“Let me clean up a couple things and then I’ll meet you guys up front.”
We, Ash and I, head back to the lobby. I nudge her with my elbow. “Last chance. Are you sure you want to spend the rest of the night playing games and answering quizzes about what Tim and I fight about, or what was our first date, or who’s the better cook, when you could be spending some quality time with Lucas Abbott?”
She bites her lip trying to suppress a smile and I realize she’s seriously considering it.
Yes! This is awesome.
Before I can encourage this along I feel a tight grip on my arm and I stumble as I’m pulled forward. A hand covers my mouth and I stiffen trying to pull it away. I stop struggling when I feel a gun dig into my ribs. Ash’s eyes are wide as she looks beyond me and I realize whoever grabbed me isn’t alone. I see her lips moving as she holds her hands out slightly to her sides but the blood pumping through my brain is the only thing I really hear. I see a hand snatch her wrist and pull her forward out of my line of sight. This only increases my terror. The gun jabs sharply into my side as the arm over my chest tightens. Distantly I realize he’s demanding to know how many other people are still in the building.
I struggle to take a breath in through my nose and get a grip on myself.
I so wish I was playing stupid party games right now.
Read more about this from Ash’s perspective.