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Worship me, p.7

Worship Me, page 7

 part  #7 of  Men of Inked Series


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  her. “All I know is that I’m coming with you.”

  “Fine, but just stay behind me.”

  “I will, but I’ll keep an eye out.”

  “For what?”

  “Bad guys.” She shrugged.

  I shook my head and laughed. “You do that.” I figured if she kept a lookout, then she wasn’t getting into other trouble, so let her have at it.

  She followed me up the rusted-out staircase in front of the building, her high-priced heels clicking against the metal with every step. It was a good thing we weren’t trying to sneak up on anyone because they would’ve heard us coming from a mile away.

  “Try the handle,” Izzy said after I knocked twice with no answer.

  I jiggled the handle, but it was locked. I grabbed my phone and dialed Thomas, who answered on the third ring. “Hey, bro. We’re about to head back, but I need you to start lookin’ into a possible missing person tied to Matías.” I rattled off the details, keeping an eye on Izzy as she popped her gum and watched a drug deal happening on the sidewalk by the street.

  “How can a single woman live in this shithole?” she asked as soon as I hung up with Thomas.

  “I’ve been in worse places.”

  “Well, fuck, me too, but I’d never live in a place like this.”

  “You could always sell your shoe collection if we’re down on our luck. We could probably buy a mansion with the money.”

  I was partially to blame for her monster shoe collection. I’d added more pairs to her closet than I cared to admit. But our agreement was I got to see them on her first, and she wasn’t allowed to wear anything else at the time.

  She slapped my shoulder as we started down the staircase. “I would never part with my shoes. They’re too important.”

  “So is survival,” I reminded her.

  “Shoes are my lifeblood.”

  I rolled my eyes as I opened the car door for her and pushed her up against the frame. “I love them wrapped around my waist when I’m fuckin’ ya, but they aren’t that important, doll.”

  “That’s like saying blow jobs aren’t important.” She leaned forward, bringing her lips near mine. “Could you do without?”

  “There’s nothing sweeter than your mouth.”

  “That’s how I feel about my shoes.” She smirked.

  “You’re supposed to feel that way about my cock, Izzy.”

  She slipped under my arms, sliding into the seat of the car. “I’ll always feel that way about your cock, but you’ve never said…” She pursed her lips and tilted her head. “‘Izzy, you’ve had too much cock. You may want to stop enjoying it so much.’”

  She had me there. I didn’t have a good comeback when she put it that way. “Point taken,” I said, closing her inside before rounding the hood.

  We had a five-hour drive back home, and if I was lucky, she’d lean across the console and take my cock in her mouth while wearing her sexy, overpriced shoes. Soon we’d be back to reality with our boys and their ultimate cockblocking skills.


  Inked ran like a well-oiled machine after fifteen years in business. What started out as fun became one of the most popular places to get a tattoo in the Tampa Bay area. No longer did we sit around waiting for people to walk through the door. Now we were booked over a month out and had a waiting list of clients wanting to be tattooed.

  Mike still handled the books and was the same anal-retentive asshole he’d always been about it. His newest thing was a team meeting every Thursday before the clients poured through the doors.

  “So, in closing…” Mike paced around the room as everyone played on their phones and ignored him like always. “We should think about bringing on two new artists and another piercer to handle walk-ins.”

  There was a collective groan, but he finally had our attention.

  “I vote nay,” Anthony said with his feet kicked up and his face buried in whatever nonsense he was playing on his cell.

  Mike stared up at the ceiling and took a deep breath. “Why?”

  He had to expect us not to agree with bringing in a stranger. He’d brought up adding more people to the shop before, and we’d always said no. We liked our dynamic and didn’t want some young, overeager twentysomething coming in and trying to change everything.

  “Just nope,” Anthony said, probably to set Mike off.

  “I’m good with whatever.” I stayed impartial because, at this point, I could use a few more days off here and there, and help sounded kind of nice.

  “What?” Anthony finally looked up, giving me an icy glare.

  Sometimes, I wanted to take his phone and jam it up his ass. He was so busy chatting with Max or playing games that half the time he was mute when he was around.

  “We could use some help around the shop. Maybe we could actually take more time off since we’re getting older, and we wouldn’t have to be short-handed on those days.” I climbed out of the chair and started to prep my station for the first client of the morning. “Plus, more artists means more clients, which means more money.”

  “We don’t need the money,” Anthony replied.

  “We don’t, and we don’t need to work either. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a day off and not feel like we’re shafting the others?” Joe answered for me, knowing exactly how I felt.

  “I don’t want to be working every day when I’m sixty, man. Inked eventually needs to have fresh blood, or we’ll end up closing the doors someday.”

  I hadn’t thought about that. I assumed someday our children would take it over, but maybe that wouldn’t happen. We needed a backup plan just in case they wanted to branch out on their own and not follow in the footsteps of their parents.

  “I see I’m outvoted. Just don’t bring in some asshole,” Anthony said.

  “I think we need to hire another female.” I smiled.

  “I think you’re right,” Joe said.

  The cock/pussy ratio was way off at Inked. Most tattoo shops had a disproportionate number of female employees, and we weren’t any different. I could use a little more estrogen around this place to help keep the guys in check.

  Mike tossed his notepad on his work station and collapsed in the chair. “It’s settled. I’ll put out the word and see what happens, but I do have some portfolios already in the office.”

  “We all have to be in agreement on this person,” Anthony chimed in, still being a stick in the mud.

  “Shut up, man.” Joe turned his back to Anthony and started his prep for the first client of the day.

  Anthony shrugged it off, going back to his phone because he’d prepped when Mike started the meeting because he hated Mike’s weekly chats as much as the rest of us.

  “I’ll take a look at them today, Mikey. Just put them out, and we’ll all start. Right, Anthony?” I quirked an eyebrow, waiting for him to get mouthy with me, but he didn’t.

  “Yeah, whatever,” he grumbled into the screen of his phone.

  Within minutes of Mike flipping the open sign on the door, our morning appointment arrived, and it was time to dig in and get to work. My first client was the easiest of the day. A small little wrist tattoo that said “I am enough” with a thin cross at the right side. It was beautifully delicate and turned out perfect. The client left satisfied and over the moon excited about her first tattoo. It went so smoothly that I had an hour before my next appointment. I wandered into the office after cleaning my station and started to power through a stack of portfolios that Mike must’ve been compiling for years.

  I opened Facebook and Instagram, figuring it was the best way to see their newest work and a great way to get a feel for the person before they stepped foot inside Inked. I sorted the pile into two stacks—cock and tits.

  I opened the first portfolio which belonged to Telula Mabel Bell. The name was a bit wonky, but hey, who was I to slight a person for their name and fucked-up parents. Her line work was decent, but her saturation left a little something to be desired. I clicked through her Facebook
profile, and she looked more like a church mouse than a tattoo artist.

  We needed to find someone who could put up with the bullshit of not only the clients, but my brothers. The task wouldn’t be easy because they were…them.

  I tossed Telula to the side and grabbed the next portfolio. Kat West. I liked the name. It was totally made-up, but it was one that sounded like a tatted-up, ballbustin’ girl. I flipped through the pages, studying her line work, saturation, and style. Everything looked spot-on and creative. She included some drawings that she’d created specifically for us to show us her range and creativity.

  The one thing I didn’t want was someone who could only follow a pattern that’d already been created. This shit wasn’t paint by number. We needed another artist who was going to bring her unique skill and style to Inked along with an established clientele.

  Kat’s Facebook and Instagram told me everything I needed to know about her. Not only was it filled with her work, but also her family. She had two older brothers and a sister, which put one extra point in her column. If her brothers were anything like mine, I was sure she could handle the Gallo boys without an issue.

  Kat had the look too. Long black hair, overdone eye makeup that made her large brown eyes stand out, and the complete rocker chick look that would have the men falling over themselves to get a tattoo from her. As far as I could tell, she was perfect for Inked.

  “Izzy. Martin’s here,” Anthony yelled just as I was about to pick up another portfolio.

  Martin was going to be my longest and final appointment of the day. We’d been working on a massive back piece for what seemed like months now. We were in the homestretch, filling it with colors out the ying-yang. I was stoked to see the final product, but we still had another session after this one before we could call it done.

  I walked back into the shop to find Martin already lying down with his shirt off and ready. “Hey, Martin. Miss me?”

  Martin looked over his shoulder as I sat down, giving me the brightest smile. “I always miss your kind of torture, Iz.”

  I giggled and patted his back softly. “You love it. You’re a pain slut even if you’ll never admit it. How many hours do you want to go?”

  He tucked his hands under his chin and readied himself. “Do it until I say stop.”

  Martin Santorini lived about an hour away from Inked, but he said I was worth the drive. He was married with two kids and lived the American dream. He was a Pasco County Sherriff’s deputy and looked every bit the part with his flattop haircut and the badass ink that covered his arms. I knew if he pulled me over, I wouldn’t argue because he looked too mean to fuck with, even for me.

  “I have all day.”

  “Do your damage, babe.”

  I loved clients like Martin. He never bitched or whined about the pain and never complained about a damn thing. He lay there with his eyes closed and sometimes chimed in on our conversation with some witty, smartass comment. He’d been a client for years, and he wore at least a half dozen pieces that I’d created specifically for him.

  An hour later, Anthony came strolling out the office. “Who is this chick?”

  I glanced up and noticed he was holding Kat’s portfolio. “I pulled her file. I think she’d be a great fit.”

  “Her work is amazing.”

  “I know,” I told him, dipping my needle into the blood red as I filled in the drops of blood that were running down the dragon’s mouth on Martin’s back. “She has older brothers too, so she’ll be able to put up with your bullshit.”

  “Lemme see that.” Joe grabbed the portfolio from Anthony’s hands and flipped through the pages. “I say bring her in for an interview.”

  “I’ll call her when I’m done,” Mike said, pointing to his workstation because somehow, he’d been elected keeper of the business. “I don’t want any of you shitheads scaring her off.”

  Joey tossed it onto Mike’s workstation and stalked back toward his area. “If she scares that easily, she’s not right.”

  No truer words. Whoever filled a seat at Inked needed to be ready to give as good as they got. Working with Anthony, Joe, and Mike sure as fuck wasn’t easy and I was their sister. I wondered how a newcomer would be able to handle their bullshit. It would be nice to see them choke on their male chauvinist attitudes every now and then.

  By the time Martin walked out the door, bloodied and sore, my back ached and I was in need of some serious alcohol therapy and a little girl time. I had texted Suzy, Mia, Max, and Angel when I took a break from Martin’s backbreaking tattoo to plan a little something for tonight, and it was the only thing that got me through the day without popping my lid at my brothers.

  “Peace out, bitches,” I said over my shoulder as I pushed open the door and walked outside.

  They weren’t too happy to hear about the kid-watching duties each of them would be doing tonight since the mommies were going out without them. Since the kids were older, it was easier for the men to handle them and get them to bed without too much of a fight.

  By the time I walked into Caliente, the newest and swankiest Mexican place in Spring Hill, the girls already had a table and had downed almost an entire pitcher of margaritas.

  “Well, don’t you look like shit today,” Max said before I even had a chance to put my ass on the chair.

  “Fuck off, Max. You try leaning over for seven hours and look as wonderful as you do after playing with clothes all day.”

  Suzy started to choke, covering her mouth, and looked at me with wide eyes. I said it. I had no problem going there with my sister-in-law. Yes, she always looked flawless, but hell…if I played dress-up Barbie all day, I would too.

  “That shit is hard work, Iz. You try making a meaty man look more like a million bucks than an overstuffed sausage.”

  I didn’t know why, but an image of a guy wearing a sausage costume flashed through my mind, and I started to laugh uncontrollably. Max pushed an already filled glass of margarita in front of me and smiled. “We’re celebrating.”

  “What?” I asked, still laughing and trying to get the drink to my lips without spilling a drop.

  “Mia’s been nominated for a prestigious award from the state. Something about helping the needy.” Max rolled her eyes.

  “We’re so proud of you, Mia.” Suzy grabbed the pitcher and refilled her glass. Thank God she’d grown into a drinker instead of just the fruity umbrella drinks she used to enjoy. I’d always felt like I was going out with a kid instead of a sister.

  I set the glass against my lips, taking a small sip instead of chugging it. Tequila and I had never been friends, but there was something about a margarita that made it more copacetic to my system. “Congrats.”

  “Thanks, ladies. I’m excited our little clinic is finally being recognized. Plus,” she said and took a sip of the salty yet sweet drink and winced. “The large grant we’ll receive as part of the award will help tremendously.”

  The entire family was proud of Mia. She’d accomplished something important and made a real difference in our community. Her clinic gave families an alternative to going to the emergency room and having to mortgage their houses if they were sick. Every single person in our family had volunteered there, especially in the beginning.

  “Another round,” Angel told the waitress as she passed by our table. “We’re not leaving here until we’re shit-faced.”

  “I have Uber on standby,” Suzy added with a devilish grin.

  I turned to face her with my chin practically on the floor. “You getting drunk, Suz?”

  “Tipsy.” She laughed. “I don’t do drunk well.”

  I didn’t want to be the one to tell her that she didn’t do tipsy well either, so I kept that to myself. Suzy’s been part of my life for almost fifteen years, and she slowly came over to the dark side, but it wasn’t easy. She couldn’t pretend to be a good girl after marrying my brother. We knew she was as dirty as the rest of us, hidden behind her sweet smile and wholesome beauty. Over the years, the gir
ls—the ones who sat beside me now—had worn away at her shiny exterior and finally pulled her out of her shell, and her badassery had skyrocketed.

  My brothers did well when they picked their wives. Not one of them was a cunty asshole I couldn’t stand being around. Each one of them was my friend, probably my best friends, and I was lucky to call them sisters.

  “So…” Angel leaned back in her chair. “Izzy, want to tell us about your weekend?”

  I placed my drink on the table and smirked. “What did you hear?”

  “Not too much. James doesn’t like to discuss your sex life, but I know you went to Taboo.”

  Max sat up straighter and rested her head on her hand. “What’s Taboo?”

  “Kink club in Miami,” Angel answered instead of letting me field the question.

  I leaned back, fingering the base of my margarita glass. “It’s the club James used to be a member of a long time ago. We were following a lead in one of his cases. No big deal.” I shrugged it off, but I could tell they wanted more, and I hadn’t said anything to deter their interest.

  “Ooh. Do tell,” Suzy said, turning toward me. “Did you meet some of James’s old friends?”

  “I met some interesting people.” I didn’t want to talk about it. The ladies always had a million questions, and for some odd reason, I figured they were always picturing me naked with James pulling on a leash. “We’re going to hire a new girl at Inked,” I said to change the subject.

  The table grew silent, and every set of eyes landed on me.

  “Excuse me?” Max said, jolting backward.

  “I’m sick of being the old chick. We need new employees, and we’re starting with a woman.”

  I crossed my arms over my chest and stared at them as they gawked at me. By the looks on their faces, I could tell they weren’t happy.

  “How can we trust someone else around our husbands all day?” Max asked with a little bit of a snarl.

  “Yeah,” Suzy joined in, usually the quietest of the bunch.

  I held up my hands before the lynch mob started. “Have you all gone mental?”

  Never had I know any of them to be the jealous type, but I could see the flashes of insecurity behind their eyes as they thought about a woman starting at Inked that wasn’t a member of the family.

  I needed to quash this before they had a chance to whisper in their husband’s ears and we ended up with yet another dick at Inked. “Ladies.” I leaned forward, clasping my hands and keeping a straight face. “Calm your tits, please. Your men love you, so there’s nothing to worry about. Plus, do you think I’m going to hire someone more beautiful than me?” They didn’t look convinced as they glanced at each other and brought their eyes back to mine. “I’ll make sure she’s married, okay?”

  “Married women cheat all the time,” Max added with a smug look.

  “Oh, please.” I slapped my hands on the table. “I’ll never make everyone happy, but know this, my brothers love you for some odd reasons, and I’ll rip their dicks off if they even flirt with the woman.”

  Angel grabbed her drink and lifted it to her lips. “She’s right,” she said before taking a sip.

  “Yeah,” Suzy said on a sigh. “We trust you, Izzy.”

  “I got you girls, but I can’t deal with another man at Inked. Those three meatheads are enough, and I need a little girl power to even shit up.” The table was entirely too quiet still, and I knew I hadn’t fully convinced them, so I changed back to the topic I knew they wanted to talk about. “I met the Master that trained James.”

  They were filled with questions, and all thoughts and insecurities over hiring another female at Inked were forgotten, and we drank until Suzy fell off her chair and it was time to Uber our asses back home.


  “Finally tracked Victoria down,” Flash said as he breezed into my office just after three in the afternoon.

  I peered up from my computer as he slid into the seat across from me. “And?”

  “She’s safe. She went to visit her mother in Detroit.”

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