Loving him couldn’t be worse than losing him. Could it?
Candace Andrews has had enough of pleasing others. In an act of birthday rebellion, she sets out to please herself—by walking into the tattoo parlor owned by her cousin’s ex-boyfriend. All she wants is a little ink, and Brian’s just the guy to give it to her. As soon as she submits to his masterful hands, though, the forbidden attraction she’s always felt for him resurfaces…and she realizes the devilishly sexy artist could give her so much more. Sweet, innocent Candace is the last person Brian expected to see again. She’s everything he’s not, and her family despises him. He doesn’t need the hassle, but he needs her, and this time no one is taking her away. Not even those who threaten to make his life a living hell. Backed into a corner, Candace faces the worst kind of choice. Cave in to those who think Brian is a living nightmare…or hold her ground and risk it all for the one man who rocks her world.
Warning: This book contains explicit sex, naughty language, tattoos aplenty, family drama, a hot rock concert…and a bad boy hero who’s pierced in all the right places.
eBooks are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work. This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental. Samhain Publishing, Ltd. 577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520 Macon GA 31201 Rock Me Copyright © 2010 by Cherrie Lynn ISBN: 978-1-60504-955-7 Edited by Linda Ingmanson Cover by Natalie Winters All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. First Samhain Publishing, Ltd. electronic publication: May 2010 www.samhainpublishing.com
Rock Me Cherrie Lynn
To my own bad boy hero and our awesome offspring. You guys rock! Special thanks to the Romance Divas for all the support during JulNoWriMo.
It was only a tattoo. A cute, colorful little design that would be on her skin, oh, forever, and no one would see it unless she wanted them to. Yet Candace Andrews sat in her car staring up at the neon sign of the tattoo parlor as if it were some harbinger of doom. It’s not that big a deal, she told herself. Everyone I know has at least one. “I think you’re insane.” Well, almost everyone. Candace’s best friend sat beside her, her features washed in the orangey hues of early twilight. Even that didn’t soften Macy’s disdainful expression. “Why?” “You’ve absolutely gone mental.” Candace waved her to silence and popped open her car door. Macy’s anxiety always seemed to give her a firmer sense of control. “You’re the one who said I need to celebrate.” “Yeah, celebrate, not take complete leave of your senses. Your parents will kill you. Hell, your parents will kill me.” “They won’t see it.” Macy grabbed her arm before Candace could make a move to exit her car into the mild, late April evening air. “Where do you plan on getting it? Don’t tattoo your butt, Candace.” “I won’t! And it’s not as if I’m going to run off and join a biker gang because of one patch of ink on my skin. I swear, sometimes I think you’re on Daddy’s payroll.” Wrenching her arm from her friend’s grasp, she got out and bent down to peer at Macy’s stricken face. “Now, are you coming, or are you going to sit out here and pout?” Trying to suppress her trembling as Macy grumbled her way out of the car, Candace let her gaze crawl over the ultra-modern exterior of Dermamania. She’d never been here before, even though she knew the owner. He was her cousin’s ex-boyfriend, and he was working tonight. His truck was parked in the shadows around the side of the building, its color a blue so dark it was a shade away from black. If he hadn’t been here, then her birthday wish would’ve been put off for another day. Brian was the guy to go to in town if you wanted ink. God, she couldn’t stop shaking. But she was here and she couldn’t back out now. She wasn’t a huge fan of needles, especially if they were going anywhere near her skin. Whether it was the thought of pain that had her pulse fluttering or the thought of seeing Brian, she didn’t know. When he was dating Michelle,
Candace’s heart had hit the pit of her stomach on more than one occasion under the cool appraisal of those dark blue eyes. He was the very definition of off-limits, but that didn’t dampen the effect he had on her. “I’m not watching,” Macy informed her as they approached the entrance. “I’m not asking you to.” “You have one half of a wine cooler on your birthday and this is what happens?” “Oh, shut up. That was hours ago.” Inside, it seemed someone had cranked the air conditioning up to levels more appropriate for the dead of summer rather than mid-spring. Three tattooists glanced up from the clients they were working on without interrupting their stream of chatter. Candace naturally zoned in on the one girl who appeared to be in a bit of distress while getting a butterfly colored on her inner ankle. Her face looked pained, her teeth gnawing her bottom lip. Candace swallowed thickly, trying to buoy her flagging courage. She’d been prepared to run straight to Brian’s side, but he wasn’t anywhere in sight. “What can I do for you ladies?” the guy tattooing the butterfly asked, barely looking up from his work. He was bald with a pointy goatee and a large plug in the earlobe Candace could see from her angle. “Is Brian here?” “He is, but he’s not, know what I’m sayin’?” “Um, no?” The guy still didn’t look up from filling in the butterfly wing with hot pink. It was going to be really pretty when he was done, and she felt a jolt of excitement despite her jitters. “He’s not seeing clients tonight.” And just like that, her heart sank. It had taken every ounce of courage she’d mustered to walk in here, and there wouldn’t be any left to work with later on. This was a one-shot deal. “Oh. Well, I know him, I mean, do you think I could talk to him for a second?” Mr. Goatee shrugged and turned his head toward the rear of the building. “Hey, B! Some people here to see you.” He went back to coloring without giving Candace or Macy—who had stood frozen during their exchange, her eyes darting around fearfully—any further notice. She could say one thing for Brian’s employees: they were intent upon their work. As she took a seat in the waiting area near the door with Macy following her every move, she was impressed with the neat, shiny appearance of the place. The walls weren’t papered with flash like in some of the places she’d seen, but with abstract art and posters of rock bands and Kat Von D. A music video played on a couple of plasma screens, one at each end of the room. Because some of Brian’s taste for the darker stuff had rubbed off on her while he was dating Michelle, she recognized it as Nine Inch Nails’ “Deep”. “This is…different,” Macy muttered, her gaze on one of the screens. She was more accustomed to Toby Keith.
“Yeah, this is a good one.” “Didn’t realize you were into them.” “I got into a lot of different bands because of Brian. He would let me borrow CDs.” “Well. Learn something new every day.” Candace shrugged. “If I broadcast the fact that I like rock music, even some heavy metal, you and my family would be convinced I was worshiping the devil or something.” “Oh, I would not.” Macy’s voice pitched lower. “Michelle dated the guy. No one said anything about her.” “Are you kidding?” Candace whispered as loud as she dared. She was pretty sure the sultry beat of the music, the buzzing needles and the jokes flying fast and furious drowned out their conversation. “It drove her parents insane. And mine, even. She liked Brian a lot, but she never really got into his scene.” All the parental units would have been ecstatic over Michelle dating someone from Brian’s family if she’d only chosen the right brother. Candace had always thought it a cruel trick of fate on all of them that Brian had been stuck in the middle of an affluent family who expected the children to become doctors or lawyers. Among his siblings—his brother Evan the lawyer and his sister Gabby, who would soon start med school—he stuck out like a zebra among sheep, and by all accounts, he seemed to like it that way. “Somebody better be dead or dying…” She’d been so caught up in her thoughts that she missed his emergence from the door behind the counter, but that deep voice slid down her spine like caressing hands. Whether it was gentle or teasing or harsh, it always seemed to flow over her skin, manifesting itself in skitters of gooseflesh. He froze mid-step when he saw her. It might have been wishful thinking, but she could’ve sworn his face lit up. “Or just sitting there looking pretty,” he finished with a heart-stopping grin. She lost her breath. It had been months. Six, to be exact. Much too long to go without feasting her eyes on the only real object of desire she’d ever had. But she wasn’t here for that. At least, that’s what she had to keep telling herself. Given that smile, she could sympathize with Michelle’s heartbreak over losing him soon after their trip to Hawaii for Evan’s wedding. The details of their demise were fuzzy, but it didn’t matter. Candace would weep oceans to lose a guy with a smile like that. It was infectious, and she was on her feet and crossing the room toward him almost before she realized it. Brian folded his arms on the countertop as she approached. “Hey, sunshine. What brings you out?” Whatever the reason he often called her that, it made her giggly as a teenager. “Guess.” Brian’s gaze flickered over to Macy, who had somehow mustered the courage to follow her to t...