The New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with this sizzling, sexy story of love, heartbreak, fate, and second chances.After the only girl he ever loved told him that he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and set out to live up to his nickname. A good ol’ boy looking for good times and good friends, Rowdy refuses to take anything too seriously, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Burned by love once, he isn’t going to let himself trust a woman again. But that’s before his new co-worker arrives, a ghost from the past who’s suddenly making him question every lesson he ever learned.Salem Cruz grew up in house with too many rules and too little fun—a world of unhappiness she couldn’t wait to forget. But one nice thing from childhood has stayed with her; the memory of the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who’d been head over heels in love with her little sister.Now, fate and an old friend have brought her and Rowdy together, and Salem is determined to show him that once upon a time he picked the wrong sister. A mission that is working perfectly—until the one person that ties them together appears, threatening to tear them apart for good.
~ Saint interviews Nash ~
The tattoo she asked him to draw up for her and put on her side has been going on for about five hours now and Saint is ready to be done. They’ve been talking the entire time and he’s doing his best to distract her but she’s barely hanging on at this point. Tattoos hurt and whoever says they don’t is full of crap.
Saint has her arms crossed and her head buried in her arms. The sound of the machine is hypnotic and so is the low thrum of Nash’s voice as he talks to her.
Saint: What do you miss the most about Phil? You’ve done so much since he’s been gone, have you taken time to appreciate how proud he would be of all you’ve accomplished?
Nash is quiet for a minute, the first time he has been since he started working on her: I miss the way he always held us up. We did a lot of dumb shit throughout the years but Phil never gave up on us, never once tried to kick any of us when we were down. I miss that he wanted all of us to be a family and that he knew blood didn’t matter. I miss his art and his skill. Whenever I couldn’t get a design right, or couldn’t figure out what was off on a sketch he was always able to help me figure it out. I just miss him in general but I feel him here in this shop and in the new one. I feel him in every piece I get to leave on someone and I feel him every time I wake up to you in the morning. I wouldn’t be a man you could love if it wasn’t for him.
Saint on a hum of pain: Speaking of giving up…was there a time when you were done, when you just had had enough of me? You were dealing with so much and definitely didn’t need my drama on top of it.
Nash: It wasn’t drama. I fucked up when I was younger. I was an absolute dick and I hurt you. No one gets to decide how that affects you or how you dealt with that but you. I needed to earn your trust and your love and I totally got that. I was hurt you immediately thought the worst when you came over that day and walked in on me and Royal, but I was never done…hell, I don’t think we even really started so there was no way I could be finished. You were and always have been worth every bit of effort asked of me to put in, Saint. Now and then and for always, I will do the work.
Saint: You sure do have all the right answers to these questions, Nashville.
Nash with a silent laugh as he suddenly sits up and turns off the machine: I’m super good at this game. I think we’re done.
Saint groans and doesn’t move: You are super good at everything you do, obviously. You’re the only guy who has ever worked for me, how does that make you feel?
He snaps his gloves off and reaches out to rub her lower spine with the heel of his hand: You mean how does the fact that I’m the only guy to ever get you off make me feel? Like a goddamn king. I won’t ever get to be your first, but I’ll always be your best and I think that might be better. I need to clean this up and wrap it up so I can take you home.
Saint mutters a dirty word at him and lets him pull her up to a seated position: I can’t feel my legs.
Nash: That happens.
Saint: How does it look?
Nash: Since I’m anxious to get you home I’m counting that as one of your questions. I’m only human and you’ve been sprawled out half naked in front of me all afternoon. Take a look at tell me what you think.
He has to help her to her feet after cleaning her up as best as he can and since it’s just them in the shop she doesn’t bother to cover herself as he guides her to the mirror. She wanted a Japanese “Good Luck” cat for prosperity and good fortune and also to match the massive dragon that covers half his body. She got it but she also got an entire scene that started at her hip and ended right below her breast.
The cat is there, so is a much smaller, much more delicate dragon that wraps its way all the way around it.
Nash: It needs some highlights and shading still but…
She lifts up her head to look at him in the mirror: It’s us isn’t it?
His voice is thick and his eyes get dark when he dips his head in acknowledgment: You are all my good fortune and I will always be there to keep you safe and love you.
She leans back into him: What if I hated it?
He puts his arms around her and pulls her back into his chest. She is topless and they are alone. Getting home might not be as much of a priority as it was a minute ago.
Nash: That’s your last question by the way. It’s me. You love me so there was no way you could do anything but love it.
He drops he head and nuzzles her neck.
Saint: I love it and you.
Nash: Good because I’m about to be all over just like that dragon is all over that cat.
I Know What I Am by Band of Skulls
She’s Automatic by Rancid
She’s Automatic by Rancid
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She also introduced the dark and sexy world of The Point in a new series this last summer starting with BETTER WHEN HE's BAD. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.