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The familiar redness burned its way up my neck and my ears grew hot.

The clock read 4:45am, and although I should have been tired due to the time, I was more alert than ever. The caffeine and sugar from the four Red Bulls I’d drunk felt like it could keep me awake for days, but I needed to get away from King because I felt myself starting to forget all the reasons why letting him strip me down and have his way with me would be a bad idea.

“What does that mean, exactly?”

“It means that I’m done with clients. But it also means that I’m not done with you.” King grabbed my wrist and dragged me onto his lap, the very place I’d just fantasized about being.

I gasped.

The hard muscles of his thighs rippled under mine. His smell—a light mixture of soap and sweat—was intoxicating. He fisted a handful of my hair and yanked my head sideways, exposing my neck to him. He breathed me in, running his nose along my neck, followed by a long leisurely lick from my collarbone to the sensitive spot on the back of my ear. I moaned, and he chuckled. I could feel it vibrate through his body and into mine. “Oh, pup. How much fun this is going to be.”

Just like that, he released my hair and pushed me off his lap. My shaky knees almost gave way, and I had to hold onto the counter to avoid falling forward onto the floor.

“We’ve got one more,” King said.

“I thought you just said no more clients tonight,” I said, breathlessly.

King proceeded to set up three small containers of black ink. “Here.” He handed me a thin-tipped black marker.

“What do you want me to do with this?” I asked.

“I want you to draw your sketch again. The same one. Hold it up for reference.”

“Draw it on what?”

“On the back of my hand, it’s a much smaller canvas then your sketch so you’ll have to downsize a bit, but it’s one of the few spaces of blank canvas I have left.

“Why?”

“Why do you always ask so many fucking questions?”

“Don’t you have a machine that does this? You can copy this picture and just stick it on there if that’s what you really want.”

King sighed with frustration. “Yes, I do. But it’s not the point. I want you to draw it on me. I want you to put that pen to my skin and recreate your sketch. I don’t care if it’s crooked. I don’t care if it’s not perfect, just fucking draw it!” he shouted, standing up. He took a few steps toward me until I was backed up against the counter, clutching the sketch book to my chest. “Please?”

A ‘please’ from the man who didn’t say ‘please’.

“Okay,” I agreed. “But why?”

“Because I looked over at you while you were drawing this, and you looked all cute, biting your lip, your face flushed, the back of the pencil pressed against those pink lips. Then, when you showed me what you drew, I saw it right away.”

“Saw what?”

“Me. The bird. You drew me.” I opened my mouth to argue that it was just a bird, but I couldn’t. He was right.

Dark and dangerous.

Hard but beautiful, taking what he wanted from the world.

It was him.

King propped the sketchbook on the table so I could reference my drawing. I did the best I could to create a smaller version of it onto the back of his hand. I worked even harder trying to ignore the electricity humming between us. King never took his eyes off of me.

It took me twice as long to complete than the sketch, but when I was finally done, I put the marker down and sat back.

“Okay?” I asked.

King held his hand up and examined my work. “It will work,” he confirmed. “Now, go get me a coffee.”

“No Red Bull?” I asked, standing up from the table.

“It’s after 5am. After 5am calls for coffee.”

“Okay, coffee then,” I said, making my way down to the kitchen. By the time I figured out the single cup coffee machine thing they had—the only modern appliance in the kitchen—and got back to the studio, King was hunched over his hand with his tattoo gun buzzing.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Silence.

“So what? You’re ignoring me now?”

He lifted the gun from his skin. “Yes, because if I talk to you, I’ll be giving this bird a dick in his mouth instead of a snake,” King said.

“I will get back to the fact that you sort of made a joke later, something which I didn’t think you were capable of doing, but right now, the only thing I can concentrate on is that you are tattooing my sketch onto your hand!” I shouted.

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