“Woo! You look hot!”
I spun in a circle to show Bree her creation, “I love it! It’s perfect for me.”
“I knew it would be.” She winked as Konrad came up behind her with drinks and they sat at one of the poker tables.
I stood behind her chair and tried not to look like I was searching for Chase. All of a sudden the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I looked to my right to find him staring at me and unconsciously biting his lip. My face flamed and I tried to pay attention to Bree losing Konrad’s money instead of those lips. As Chase walked by, he grabbed my right hand and rubbed his thumb over the ring he gave me before dropping it and sitting at the other end of the table. I watched two games and reveled in Chase’s booming laugh as everyone at the table ragged each other for losing money. Konrad stood up after the second game and gave me strict orders to sit in for him and to not lose his money while he went to the restroom. Guess he forgot that I was so horrible people wanted me to play with them because it was a guarantee they would get my money.
“You better just hand over all his chips now Princess, they won’t be here by the time he gets back anyway.” Chase teased and flashed his signature smirk.
“It’s about time.” Bree whispered leaning into me.
“He must’ve finally got some. This is the happiest he’s been in two weeks.”
Not that I had any right to be, but I was instantly jealous of whoever he had been with. My heart clenched just thinking about Chase in that way. I felt like I was cheating on Brandon with my thoughts alone, and I hated it. Thankfully Konrad came back before I could do any damage, because not only did I not have any idea what kind of hand I had, but I could feel Chase’s eyes on me every few seconds and it was seriously distracting. The tension between us was palpable, even in this room full of people and I needed to get away from him. I walked around until I found Mom and Dad sitting at another table and wrapped my arms around her neck.
“How are you guys doing over here?”
“I’m winning! Can you believe it Harper?” Mom’s smile was contagious.
“No, have you been cheating?” Bree’s family taught me to play, and if anyone was as bad as me, it was definitely Claire.
“Course not! But I’m pretty sure Robert is.” She mock whispered.
I laughed and grabbed her empty beer bottle, “Need another?”
“Oh yes please, sweetie!”
Three other people I didn’t know said yes so I headed for the kitchen and grabbed five.
“Nu uh. If I’m not drinking, you’re not drinking.”
I shot a sideways glance at Chase, “Well then why don’t you have one?”
“Because I don’t drink anymore.” He shrugged and looked around the kitchen for a moment.
“Since when?” I hadn’t seen him drink in months, but I didn’t know he’d actually stopped.
Chase stopped looking around and pierced me with his blue eyes, “Since I was a jackass and hurt my Princess.”
He said my Princess. My. I had goose bumps covering my body. “Huh…I didn’t realize.”
“You’re the one that told me I should stop.” He said it matter-of-factly.
“But I didn’t mean you had to Chase. You’re grown, you can do whatever you want.”
“I know. Nothing good ever came from drinking though.”
Who was this guy, and what did he do with Chase? “Do you want to split one? Nothing will happen from half a beer, right?”
He slapped his stomach and raised his voice an octave, “I guess my little body can handle half a beer.”
“You’re so dumb. Help me with these, I’m hanging out at your mom’s table.” I never could call them Mom and Dad in front of Chase. Thinking about them as my parents when I had these feelings for him was beyond awkward.
We watched Claire win two hundred dollars, without cheating, and even though I kept my beer in between us, Chase never touched it. With five minutes left of the year, everyone bunched around the massive TVs all over the house waiting for the countdown to begin. I found Bree and Konrad and joined them, though I doubt they knew I was there. They weren’t waiting for midnight, they already had their tongues down the each other’s throats.
The countdown started and when we hit ‘six’, I was yanked back to the darkened hall and found the deepest blue eyes staring into my own. His hands cupped my face and the pad of his thumbs brushed back and forth over my cheekbones. I vaguely heard the party chant the final numbers before erupting into cheers and Chase’s lips softly pressed into mine. I stood stunned for a few seconds before wrapping my arms around his neck and moving my mouth against his. When he traced my bottom lip with his tongue, I opened my mouth in invitation and he didn’t disappoint. My stomach heated and I ached to press my body to his. He stumbled back to the wall opposite where we’d been and grabbed my hips, bringing me to rest between his legs. One hand went back to my hair while the other found its way to the small of my back, bringing me even closer to him and I moaned into his mouth. We poured four and a half months of longing and ignoring our chemistry into that one kiss…when it was over, I knew I’d never be the same. He rested his forehead against mine, and I had to press a hand to my chest, I swear my heart was about to explode.
“Harper.” His voice was rough and passionate, “I will think about that kiss for the rest of my life.” He held me back, stepped away and watched me for a moment, then turned to leave the house.
I stood there watching where he’d just been and tried to convince myself that had just happened. Next thing I knew I was back in Bree’s room with my back pressed against the door, I didn’t even remember walking up the stairs. I was still trying to calm my heart when my phone beeped and I ran for my purse, disappointment coursed through me when I saw it wasn’t from Chase.
Brandon – ‘Happy New Year baby. I love you’
Worst girlfriend of the year award should definitely go to me.
Five days went by without seeing or hearing from Chase. I hated that that bothered me. I hated that I dreamed about him. I hated that I cared at all. I’m madly in love with Brandon, so why do I have to love Chase too? I was relaxing on Bree’s couch, still trying to excuse our kiss when my phone chimed. My heart kicked up a notch when I looked at it.
Chase – ‘So…you ever going to come get that tattoo?’
The day we’d decided on our friendship, I’d come home from lunch with Mom and Bree to find him sketching on the couch. When he saw me he’d flipped the book closed and said he was working on a tattoo for me. Only problem? I wasn’t allowed to see it unless I actually got it as a tattoo, and it was finished. Of course I wanted a tattoo, but at that point I’d had a hard enough time just being around him. Having his hands on me for hours would have been torture I wouldn’t survive.
Me – ‘When are you free?’
Chase – ‘Seriously?’
Me – ‘:) Make me an appointment. I’ll be there’
Chase – ‘We open at four today come in then’
Me – ‘Do I get to know what it is first?’
Chase – ‘You can see it when it’s done. I’m warning you now, it’s going to take hours.’
Me – ‘Chase I swear if you put something I hate on my body…I’ll kill you’
Chase – ‘I promise you’ll love it’
Me – ‘Don’t make me regret this’
Chase – ‘See you in a couple hours Princess’
This is exactly what I was avoiding. I didn’t think I could handle him touching my body before, but now after that kiss? Aw hell, I am going to regret this. I ran upstairs to take a shower and dressed in loose enough clothing that I would be comfortable during and after. I called Brandon to let him know and he was excited for me, so I decided not to mention who would be the one doing it. He would have thrown a fit. I hated even omitting things from him, I knew what I was doing was wrong, and yet I couldn’t talk myself out of it. Thankfully Bree was gone with her man until tomorrow, I knew she would be mad when she found out I went without her, but I needed to do this alone. Okay not really, but I wanted to be alone with Chase. I arrived just after four and followed Chase to his section.
“I can’t believe you actually came.”
“I know, I’m kind of freaking out.”
His smile fell and he leaned in close, “Then I’m not going to do it Princess. I’ll do it whenever you’re ready.”
“No, no. I want it today, but I’m afraid it’s going to hurt and it’s really hard not knowing what it is. Can you please just let me see it?”
“I’m not going to lie to you and say it won’t hurt, but it’s different for everyone. Some people hate outlines, some hate shading. Some people don’t feel a thing, and some hate the entire process. I told you, you’ll love what it is. But it’s a surprise, I can’t tell you.”
“I’m trusting you with this Chase.”
He cupped a hand around my neck and pulled me close, “I know Harper, thank you.” Kissing me softly on my forehead, he dropped his hand and leaned against the counter. I already missed his touch. “Where do you want it?”
“Um…you said it was big, right?”
“Can I know how big? Because the location depends on the size.”
He smiled and turned my body away. “Because I already have the outline ready to go and I’m about to grab it to get the farthest points, I don’t want you to see it.” I heard papers shuffling for a minute before he turned me back around. “This big.”
My eyes widened for a second and I took a deep breath. “Okay, I want it here.” I grabbed the wax paper and put it down on my hip. “I want it to start on the far left side of my stomach and wrap around my left hip.”
His eyes flashed with heat as he took the paper from my hands and rolled up my shirt just past my waist, “Lay down on your side.” I sucked in a breath when he tugged the left side of my pants down a bit, “I’ll keep everything covered, I promise. I just need this side further down.”
“You said it’s going to take hours?”
“Yeah, probably three. As you can see it’s big and the shading is really detailed. That part will take the longest.” He set everything up before turning back to face me, “This is where you need to trust me. I’m about to put the outline on, please don’t look.” I shut my eyes and he laughed, “If you ever need me to stop, just tell me, okay?”
“Kay.” I took two deep breaths in and out, “I’m ready, let’s do this.”
After the outline was on and he got the tattoo gun ready, he gave my hand a squeeze before putting his hand on my hip. “You picked the perfect spot, this is gonna look awesome.”
“It better.” I warned.
I froze when the needle first touched my skin, but relaxed after the first minute. It wasn’t painful like I thought it would be, it was just uncomfortable. I really think the worst part is the sound of the gun.
“Yep, just pay attention to what you’re doing.”
He laughed and continued his work. The outline was done and he was on to the shading in no time, and that’s where everything went downhill for me. I’d been so focused on trying to figure out what it was from lines he was making, that I didn’t even have time to think about his big hands touching me. And now it was all I could think about. I was trying to do breathing exercises so I wouldn’t hyperventilate, but Chase said I was moving too much. His hands gripped and pulled my waist, hip, stomach and butt as he shaded and it took everything in me to stop the shivers that wanted to make their way through me. I ached for his hands to go lower, to feel his long fingers caress me. God this was wrong. Think about Brandon, think about Brandon…I was going through songs in my head when the gun stopped and Chase tilted his head towards me.