Wicked Design

By: Tina Donahue

“Fuck, this stings.”

“It’ll get better. See you next time.”

Alone at last, Van Gogh closed his door and hauled out his sketchpad. After flipping through previous drawings of Clover, he started anew to get her features right. Almond eyes, high cheekbones, long throat, dark hair. Not brown as he’d thought but black enough to have blue highlights. Her skin white as snow.

He trembled and blew out several breaths to calm down. Acting like an idiot wasn’t going to get him anywhere. Doing this sketch wouldn’t, either, since she’d never see it, same as the oil he’d done. Maybe he’d hang both in his apartment. Jack off to her images like a perv. Or a lovesick fan.

He worked feverishly, establishing the outline first. Details would come later. How the sun shone on her outside the parlor, perspiration dotting her temples and throat, her tank top hugging her sweet breasts.

His intercom crackled. “Van Gogh?” Lauren. “Are you in there?”

Odd question, given the security monitor showed everything in the room, including him. Not that watching him was the purpose of having the monitors. Surveillance gave clients, especially females, total security even if they’d be alone with a male tattoo artist while getting an intimate area inked. No one who worked here had ever been accused of anything weird or inappropriate, and Lauren intended to keep it that way.

He stated the obvious. “Yeah, I’m here.”

“Are you busy?”

Second time this week she’d asked that. Two days ago, she had errands to run and wanted him to watch Molly. The kid was cute for someone that small and limited, but entertaining her wasn’t his thing. He didn’t know how to interact with adults that well; babies were totally foreign to him. Staring. Drooling. Crying. And those were the good parts. If this involved a diaper change…he’d rather face unemployment. He could hawk his work on the street. “I am busy. Swamped in fact.”

“Doing what?”

He held up his pad to the camera but hid the sketch from her. “Design work for a client.”

“Sorry, but it’ll have to wait a few hours. Tor and the others are with their own customers. We have a walk-in. Don’t want to lose the sale. I’m bringing the client back now. Thanks for doing this.”

He should have stopped working but didn’t want to and sketched in the lips. Plump and pouty for the bottom one, the top perfectly formed, the corners lifted slightly in an aroused smile. Heat rolled through him.

A fist rapped the door.

He started.

Lauren breezed inside. “Hey, I’d like you to meet Clover Dasleigh. We’re selling her jewelry designs up front. She’s finally decided to try our services. Clover, this is Van Gogh. He’ll take good care of you.”

Clover smiled even better than in his many drawings. None captured her friendly and sweet essence. He liked her hair, cut short like a guy’s, the blue highlights staggering. Her dark eyes, rosy mouth, and pale skin radiated so much femininity it hurt to look at her without touching.

He squeezed the pad.

She slipped inside and offered her hand. “Hi.”

His mouth wouldn’t work. Every muscle tensed, denying him speech and movement. Drawing her likeness had already stiffened his cock. Seeing her in the flesh, so to speak, made his stupid rod rigid enough to hurt. If his balls plumped even a fraction more, they’d burst. Exactly how he’d reacted in the window when he’d caught her gawking then grinning. Not at him though…at his work.

To women, he was the invisible man.

She stared, waiting for his response.

His face warmed. Not another damn blush. Fuck, he didn’t need that adding to his humiliation. “Ah…” He straightened in his chair, his legs too watery to support him, took her hand, and couldn’t pull in a breath to stop his increasing dizziness. Suede wasn’t as soft as her skin. She smelled fresh and flowery, better than anyone he’d known. “Hi.”

She caressed his fingers.

His scalp tingled. He leaned closer. His pad dropped onto the floor. At the slap, he jerked and wanted to die. Her likeness stared at them, or at least her outline and mouth did. He grabbed the paper and put it facedown on his desk. “You want to get inked?”

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