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Worship me, p.14

Worship Me, page 14

 part  #7 of  Men of Inked Series

 

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  Izzy

  Kat was early and was waiting outside Inked when I arrived. She had an oversized Betsey Johnson purse slung over her shoulder and was texting on her phone as she paced in front of the doorway, wearing a pair of ripped denim capris, wedge heels, and a classic eighties rocker tank top.

  “Good morning,” I said as I walked toward the door, fumbling with my keys to find the right one to unlock the shop. I was still dragging ass, even after ingesting two cups of Mrs. Caldo’s Cuban coffee.

  She turned to me, jamming her phone in her pocket. “Morning, Izzy.”

  “Are you ready for today?”

  “I’ve been training for this my entire life.”

  I giggled softly as I unlocked the front door. “The guys are excited for you to join us, but not more than I am. It’s nice that we’ll have another girl in the shop because it’s been hell on me being the only chick.”

  She followed me inside, looking around the shop like she’d never been here before. “I don’t know how you did it. I couldn’t work with my brothers.”

  “I love them and have learned how to handle them,” I told her as we walked into the back area to start our prep. “They aren’t so bad once you get to know them, but they can be a bit…” I trailed off.

  “Bossy?” she answered.

  “Yep.”

  “I’m honored to help bring up the chick count around here.”

  “I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. Here’s your station.” I pointed to the empty one next to mine because there was no way I was putting her closer to anyone else.

  “Mind if I put a few personal things out to make it feel more like home?”

  “Knock yourself out,” I told her before bringing my purse and a box of donuts I’d brought into the back room. I started the coffeepot and turned on the music because, although I loved silence at times, I couldn’t stand it at the shop.

  By the time I walked back into the work area, Kat had set out a few decorations and pinned a couple pictures to the wall.

  “I hope this is okay,” she said as she looked at her setup and smiled. “I like to have my good luck charms around me.”

  I walked over to her station and took in her display of two troll dolls, a backstage pass, a tiny inspirational plaque, and two photographs. “Who’s in the pictures?”

  She pointed to the one that was clearly her family and rattled off their names. Her brothers were handsome devils, and her sister looked like a miniature version of hers. “These are my parents, Sam and Nancy. They own a small bar on the beach in Clearwater.”

  She looked to be the only tattooed rocker chick in the family. Everyone else looked like buttoned-up professionals. “And your brothers?”

  “Park is a lawyer for a fancy law firm in Tampa, and Jasper is finishing his residency at USF and will soon be a full-fledged doctor.” She glanced toward the ceiling. “Lord help us. His ego is already too big.”

  “And your sister?”

  “Juniper owns a small boutique in St. Petersburg that sells the trendiest clothes and trinkets and makes a killing off the tourists.”

  “They all look so…”

  She turned to me with a smile, the cat eyes she painted on this morning becoming more pronounced. “Normal?”

  I nodded because she took the words right out of my mouth.

  “Yeah. I’m the one who always tended to be a little outside the norm.”

  “All the Gallos are freaks, so I can’t imagine what that was like for you.”

  “Eh, it was no big deal. We love each other for our differences. Most of the time, at least.”

  I touched the last photo, which was of a band playing on stage and had one of the hottest men I’d ever seen holding a microphone. I couldn’t mistake the face. Cypress McDermot was the lead singer for the most popular rock band in the country. They’d been burning up the charts for the last six months, and I saw their faces plastered everywhere. “You’re a fan, I assume?”

  Her smile turned into a smirk. “He’s my boyfriend.”

  My body rocked backward, and my mouth dropped open. “You’re dating him?” I pointed at the photo, shocked.

  “Uh, yeah. Fucking him too.” She giggled.

  “Well, damn, girl. Get on with your bad self.”

  I started to laugh and couldn’t stop. “I’m sorry.” I waved my hands, wondering if my sisters-in-law would back the fuck up once they heard that little nugget of goodness. If she was getting a piece of ass like Cypress, there was no way she’d be trying to steal a fortysomething tattoo artist from the middle-of-nowhere Florida.

  Her smile faded. “Is it that hard to believe?”

  “No,” I said quickly. “You two make a killer couple. It’s just that…” I didn’t know how to put it without sounding like a complete cunt, so I just said it. “My sisters-in-law were…” I couldn’t even finish the sentence because it was so ridiculous at that point.

  She started to laugh, realizing what the hell I was talking about. “I do not want your brothers. Not that older men aren’t attractive, but come on, I’m twenty years younger than them, and I’m not a homewrecker.”

  “They’re just afraid of the unknown.”

  “I get it. I worry every day when Cypress is on the road. Pussy is being hurled at him from every direction.” She leaned back in her chair and turned it from side to side, gripping the leather seat. “I trust him, though. Maybe I’m stupid, but I can’t worry about what he’s going to do. Either he loves me, or he doesn’t.”

  “When did you two meet?” Suddenly, I was fangirling and wanted a sneak peek into the world of Cypress McDermot.

  “We went to school together and were high school sweethearts.”

  “Ahh, you’ll be the one he marries,” I told her because that’s how it always worked out when someone found fame and people were trying to be with them for reasons other than love.

  “You think?”

  I nodded with a big smirk. “Trust me. I know these things. You loved him when he was a nobody. Now, everyone wants him, but they don’t know the real him. But you know him. You love him. You’ll be hitched in no time.”

  The front door chimed as the guys arrived. “We’re here.” Mike’s voice echoed through the shop, loud enough that we could clearly hear him over the music.

  “We’re in the back,” I yelled back. I turned to her. “Don’t let anything they say get to you.”

  She nodded at me before the three men strolled into the work area. “I got this.”

  “I’m sure you do.”

  “Kat.” Joe gave her a quick chin lift and went immediately to his station to start setting up.

  Mike had the appointment book in hand, prepping for his tiny powwow that was supposed to get us pumped on a Monday morning. Anthony, for once, didn’t have his phone out and his face buried in it.

  “Good morning,” Mike said, tucking the appointment book under his arm. “I see you’re all set up.”

  Kat smiled at him. “I’m ready to kick some ass.”

  “We have a team meeting at least once a week before the clients start to arrive. I always try to keep it short and to the point.”

  Anthony muttered “Bullshit” under his breath.

  Joe rolled his eyes and whispered something none of us could hear, while I laughed my ass off.

  “Make it quick, Mike. None of your rambling shit today.”

  Ten minutes later, the meeting was over, and Mike clapped his hands, giving us some mumbo jumbo to pump us up. All four of us just stared at him as he gave us his best Tony Little impression, telling us how we could “do it.”

  “Kat, you already have two clients booked today. Great start.”

  “Thank you.” She smiled at him. “I just want to say how honored I am to be here and be a member at Inked. It’s been my dream since I was a kid.”

  I almost spat out my coffee when the guys’ faces dropped. I didn’t think they realized we were all getting older. Now the kids had us as role models. We
weren’t the cool kids. We were middle-aged but still killing it.

  “Since you were a kid?” Anthony asked with a look of horror on his face.

  “Yeah, I was like ten when I came in here with my uncle. I was so in love with the vibe and you guys that I knew I had to come back someday.”

  “Ten?” Mike ran his hand through his hair and blew out a puff of air.

  “Yep.” She smirked.

  I wanted to clap, give her my approval for knocking them down a peg or two because that shit was funny as fuck.

  “Well, I…”

  “Dudes, we’re old. Get the fuck over yourself,” Joe barked because he was the only one who didn’t have his head up his own ass most of the time.

  “One last order of business.” Mike cleared his throat, flexing his muscles a few times, but it didn’t work on Kat. “We’re having our annual celebration on Saturday evening. Max will be stopping in this week to go over the details, but she’s planning the entire thing. Just make sure to tell everyone who comes in this week about it and post that shit on your social media.”

  “Yes, sir,” I said, being a smartass because, duh, we knew what to do.

  “Now, let’s get to work.” He stalked off toward the front counter.

  “That was intense,” Kat said with a big smile.

  “He’s just getting started, kid,” Joe told her. “Just wait.”

  “Do you listen to everything he says? Like do you follow it to a T?”

  “Fuck no. The man was hit one too many times. He babbles sometimes and thinks he’s the boss. Just follow our lead,” I told her and she nodded.

  This was going to work out just perfectly. Not only was Kat a kick-ass tattoo artist, she was dating one of the sexiest rockers on the planet, and she was going to be my new work bestie. Girls had to stick together, especially when we were outnumbered.

  Saturday, when the girls found out Kat was dating Cypress, they were going to shit a brick and hopefully feel like a giant bag of dicks for all their bullshit. I knew they thought their husbands were the sexiest man ever to roam the earth, but Kat had snagged a real prize, and there was no way any of the Gallos were going to make her toss it all aside for a little cock.

  “Hey,” Kat said as she started prepping her station for her first client. “Can I bring a guest Saturday?”

  “Sure,” Anthony told her as he finally pulled out his phone, going back into isolation mode. “Who?”

  “My boyfriend.”

  “Cool,” Joe said, but none of them had any idea who that boyfriend was except me.

  Max, Suzy, and Mia were going to pass out when Kat showed up with Cypress on her arm. I couldn’t wait to see the looks on their faces.

  Sometimes those cunty bitches needed a reality check. I couldn’t wait for the cold, hard truth—or the sexy hot body of Cypress—to slap them back into reality.

  Saturday couldn’t come fast enough.

  James

  “I can’t believe you talked me into this dumb shit.” I pulled my fishing pole out of the water and tossed it behind me.

  “You gotta learn to relax,” Mike said before taking a sip of his lukewarm beer.

  We’d been ten miles off the coast of Florida, sitting in the middle of goddamn nowhere, bouncing on the waves of the Gulf of Mexico for three hours and hadn’t caught one fish. Not one. Not even a minnow nipped at our lines. All we’d accomplished was blowing through a shit-ton of beer and almost getting sunburned.

  “This is better than working,” Thomas said, pulling on his line as if there might be something on the other end.

  Joe kicked his feet up on the edge, leaning back in one of the captain’s chairs that lined the side of the boat. “I needed a day away from the women. They’re acting weird this week.”

  “Just this week?” I laughed. Izzy wasn’t acting weird, not after finding out her mother was cancer-free.

  But I knew exactly what Joe was referencing. Izzy had told me about the shitstorm hiring Kat had created with the other women in the family.

  “Anyone know what’s going on?” Anthony asked. “I can’t figure it out.”

  The man, God I loved him, but sometimes he was clueless. Usually because he was too busy or self-absorbed to realize what was happening in plain sight, but it still boggled my mind.

  “Who knows. I don’t even let it bother me. All I know is that Mia dropped to her knees and sucked me off the other day as soon as I walked in the door from work.” Mike grunted and thrust his hips. “Shit was hot too.”

  “I wish Max would do that. All I get is the damn stink-eye.”

  “Angel isn’t acting weird at all. Is Izzy?”

  I shook my head, but I kept my mouth shut.

  “You two are fucking lucky. It’s been like PMS Central at my place,” Anthony added.

  I stretched out across the leather bench at the front of the boat, soaking up the sunshine and listening to the steady waves lapping against the side of the boat. “What’s changed in the last week or so?”

  I felt like I should at least throw them a bone out of loyalty and being brotherly and shit. I knew I’d want to figure the shit out sooner rather than later if I were in their shoes.

  Mike let out a loud sigh before raking his hands through his hair. “Nothing.”

  “You sure?” Thomas finally reeled in his line and gave up just like I had.

  Joe scratched his head. “Kat?”

  Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner. At least one of the brothers had some sense left in his head to figure it out.

  “You think they’re upset about her?” Anthony asked Joe.

  Joe shrugged. “I don’t understand why they would be.”

  “Nah, that can’t be it.” Mike pursed his lips. “They’re not jealous.”

  Thomas walked behind Mike and smacked him on the back of the head. “Don’t be a dumbass. They feel threatened.”

  “So I got sucked off because Mia was threatened by Kat being near?” He looked even more confused than before.

  “Bingo,” I said, throwing my arm over my face to block out the sunlight.

  “Fuck. I don’t want her to feel that way, but I also want another surprise blowy.”

  “Did you really just call it a blowy? Are you fucking five?” Anthony barked and started to laugh hysterically.

  “Shut up, asshole,” Mike growled. “How are we going to fix this?”

  “We’d better start paying more attention to our ladies,” Joe told them.

  “Um,” Anthony mumbled. “If I pay any more attention to Max, I might as well crawl up her ass.”

  “Still not getting any anal from her, huh?” Joe teased and made a tsk-tsk noise.

  “Fucker, that shit is locked up tighter than Fort Knox.”

  “You lost your game, my man.” Joe laughed.

  “Why did we ever come out here?”

  “To fish,” Thomas reminded Anthony.

  “I came out to get away from the insanity and drink.”

  “We’ve accomplished that, but it looks like a storm’s rolling in soon, and I feel the need to remind my woman who owns her,” Joe said, tossing his fishing pole aside. “Who’s with me?”

  “Maybe I’ll get a blowy tonight too,” Anthony teased.

  “Fuck that. I’m going straight for the ass. No better time to play the anal card than right now.” Mike collapsed next to me. “You with me, man?”

  “Always, brother,” I muttered under my arm. “You’re a beast.”

  “Take us home, Thomas,” Joe said from across the boat. “I have a woman to please.”

  At least one of them had some sense. While Mike and Anthony wanted to use the situation to their advantage, my other brother-in-law had his head on straight. He knew the way to make his woman feel better about the entire Kat situation was to shower her with attention and remind her how much she meant to him. The other guys…they were greedy fuckers, but they did love their wives too.

  By the time we made it to shore, a storm had indeed rolle
d in, and tethering the boat to the dock wasn’t so easy. But I had a feeling the hard work for the men around me was just beginning. They talked a big game, but the women in their lives were the bosses, leading them around by their dicks.

  Epilogue

  “Where’s Kat?” Max asked within one minute of stepping into Inked on Saturday.

  “She’s off today,” I told her, secretly jumping for joy on the inside because Max was chomping at the bit to see her.

  “Damn it. How do I miss her every time? She’d better have her ass at the party.”

  When Max had stopped in earlier in the week, she’d texted me that she was on her way. Kat didn’t have any clients, so I told her to take off early and do some errands to pick up some supplies for the shop. Really, I just wanted to piss Max off, and it worked like a charm.

  “She’ll be here.”

  “Fine,” she grumbled and placed her hands on her hips. “If she doesn’t show…”

  “Shut up. She’ll be here.”

  “Mmm-hmm. Well, anyway, the tent is going up now, and the caterers will be here any minute. We only have two hours until the party starts.”

  Max should’ve hooked up with Mike. They would’ve been a powerhouse couple of anxiety and bossiness. I giggled at the thought because I didn’t know who would’ve come out unscathed in that marriage.

  The entire Gallo clan came walking in the shop like a small army, ready to put Max’s plans into action. They lined up like a troop as Max started to rattle off job duties to make this party happen.

  Within hours, the inside of Inked was transformed into a spectacular party space, and the tent was filled with tables and chairs along with a DJ.

  “You went all out this year,” I told Max, impressed with her skills on such short notice.

  “It has to be bigger and badder than last year, girl.” Max smiled, looking around at everything we’d accomplished in a short time under her watchful eye.

  “I guess so. You did it.”

  Anthony strolled up next to Max and put his arm around her shoulder. “Everything looks amazing, baby.”

  She snuggled into his side and wrapped her arm around his back. “Thanks. I’d do anything for you.”

 
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