By: Jade Chandler

After doing the bookwork, I bagged deposits for each day separately and stored them in the safe. A guy, Stork, would be by every day or two to collect invoices, credit card receipts, and the cash and check deposits, which was another odd bit because no one accepted checks anymore. But the Brotherhood did, along with other questionable practices.

I’d volunteered to do the deposit drops, but Jericho swept away the suggestion, saying the bank was in Ardmore and no need for me to make the extra trip. Most bosses were all about others doing the grunt work, but then they didn’t have an unknown numbers of bikers at their beck and call.

When I’d asked about how to get more cash for the registers, he’d told me to call the number taped to the desk, and Stork or one of his guys would bring it to me. I’d nodded and planned to ask more questions, when Jericho distracted me with the salary and free apartment that was part of the position.

The need to escape my previous life had trumped my vague unease about the Brotherhood’s operations. Now my gut twisted like it had during the interview. What had I agreed to do? Did it matter if everything I did was legal if I worked for a dirty business? Despite my inner apprehension, I had no sense the business was a cover for anything else. In fact, the shop had lots more appointments scheduled than the last place, and the quality of the operation, from ink to artists, was the best I’d ever seen. Despite the extra overhead of quality product, the shop turned a very respectable profit, according to the ledger I’d flipped through.

“Lila, come see this,” Zayn yelled from the back.

Happy for the distraction, I hurried to the workroom. Dare focused on Mark’s shoulder, inking the outline of the piece with a steady hand. A man with an ink iron always caught my attention, and I almost tasted his sexiness—spicy with a touch of sweet.

Zayn showed me the tribal pattern Dare had drawn. A complicated set of markings like the tats on The Rock’s arms—he’d made tribal artwork crazy-hot.

I flipped through the art book Zayn handed me. A Chinese-inspired dragon impressed me. Wow. The dragons chased each other in a circle, destined to be frustrated for eternity. The center held a yin and yang on backgrounds of fire and ice.

“Beautiful.” The word escaped and I clamped my mouth shut.

“Dare’s a fuckin’ artist.” Zayn smirked. “He can draw anything.”

I’d noticed the Z and D in the corners of some drawings. Dare’s art had a fantasy flair while Zayn’s was darker, sort of gothic. They were two of the most talented artists I’d met.

When the buzz of the needle stopped, Dare gestured me over with a nod of his jutting chin.

“Hey.” He cocked his head. “What do you think about some deep red accents?”

Did Dare want me to comment? I grinned at Mark, a guy about my age, who assessed his work in the mirror.

“Show me where,” Mark said.

Dare grabbed my hand, using my finger to trace Mark’s skin in the area Dare proposed adding the crimson accent. A zing of electricity shot from where his hand touched mine and ricocheted through my body in a distracting, haphazard path, but it managed to hit all my important bits.

Both guys gazed toward me.

“What do you think?” Mark’s boyish smile gave him just the right combination of sexy, not that my bits responded to him, at all.

Nope, my body lit up like a winning pinball machine for Dare. Not going there, I reminded myself.

“It’d feel more like a fighting piece with the red, so it depends on the vibe you want.” I struggled to keep my words steady despite Dare’s distracting touch.

He still hadn’t released the finger he’d hijacked.

“Badass—that’s the vibe I need.” Mark traced the same place I had a moment before.

I attempted to shake off the spell Dare created. “I would go for the red, then. You’ll be a total badass.”

Dare’s mouth twitched in a hint of a grin, and I imagined kissing his seductive lips. Sucking in another breath, I moved away before I lost my impulse control.

It wasn’t a problem he appeared to share. He finished the outline with a quick precision I respected. Mark waved away the offer of a break, so Dare started filling in the design. Intense concentration lined his brow and tightened his lips. He rarely spoke, working faster than any other artist I’d seen. The front door jingled and woke me from my trance.

“That’ll be Mary.” Zayn waggled his eyebrows. “She’s wanting a boob piece, you can come watch me.”

“She might want privacy.” I rolled my eyes at him. “And your undivided attention.”

“Well, that’s true.” He followed me to the front and welcomed his client.

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