Authors: Tina Donahue
Book Two, Wicked Delights series.
She’s survived abuse…he’ll teach her to trust passion and
Marnie’s getting her life together after escaping a violent relationship,
a repeat of her parents’ past. Bearing scars on her arm and leg, she comes to
Wicked Brand, hoping tattoos will cover the damage and allow her to feel
Tor can work magic with his stunning, 3-D designs and wants
nothing more than to see Marnie smile. She’s a rare combination of sweet yet
wickedly sensual. The kind of woman a man can’t easily resist. And Tor doesn’t
Their sessions at the parlor turn into evenings of steamy
delight as they feed their carnal hunger and growing intimacy, playing
shameless games that leave them breathless and wanting more.
Paradise for Marnie—Tor cherishes and excites rather than
harms, unlike her ex-boyfriend.
When her abuser catches up with her, he’s ready to do his
worst. But he better think again, because this time, Marnie’s not alone.
Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and
scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!
adult contemporary romance
from Ellora’s Cave
To men who know how to be gentle as well as strong.
In my romances, I’ve often touched upon subjects of interest
to women. One of my earlier novels,
In His Arms,
slavery. Readers are still commenting. I’m grateful my story touched so many.
One of the themes in
was parental abuse. Again, readers
responded to the subject matter. In
I chose a backdrop
of domestic violence. Marnie and Tor’s story is dear to me and serves as a
reminder that women can escape a cycle of abuse to enjoy lives of happiness and
peace with good men.
Talk about feeling like a rock star. Hector Avana—affectionately
known as “Tor” to family, friends and now his fans—smiled at the women gathered
outside Wicked Brand. Thanks to stories in the local press, the tattoo parlor
was one of the most popular stops in Northwood Village, a historic and touristy
part of West Palm Beach, Florida.
As he inked a biker in front of the window of the shop, some
of the older ladies standing out on the sidewalk took pictures of the scene on
their smartphones. Two of the twentysomethings had turned their backs to Tor,
posing for selfies, presumably with him in the background.
He tried not to stare at the young women’s sweet asses,
plump with youth, their cheeks barely covered by the cutoffs they wore. Okay,
he gaped a little. What sane man wouldn’t? Denim strings dangled over the backs
of their silky thighs, their skin bronzed from days in the sun.
Before he became too distracted, Tor turned away, not
wanting to see a picture of himself with a goofy expression plastered all over
Facebook and the ‘net.
“Hey, Tor,” a blonde shouted through the glass. She held up
her phone, obviously ready to take another shot. “Blow us a kiss.”
A brunette to the side waved her hand dismissively. “Forget
the kiss,” she said to him. “Lose the tank top, baby.”
“Hell, yeah,” someone else in the group said.
Suddenly, there was a chorus of, “Take it off, take it off,”
rolling toward him. The women bounced on their heels, swinging their raised
arms back and forth as if they were at a concert.
His face warmed in embarrassment.
“Ladies,” he shouted above Marc Anthony’s
Vivir Mi Vida
pouring from the sound
system. “I’m trying to work here.”
The biker kept twisting around to see what was happening
behind him. “You call this work? Where do I sign up for—
the rack on the redhead.”
Tor had already seen the young woman’s boobs spilling out of
her microscopic bikini top. Large bandages would have provided better coverage.
With his hands on the biker’s shoulders, Tor turned the man back around, the
guy’s meaty arms resting on the back of the leather chair he straddled.
“Keep squirming,” Tor said, “and your ink’s not gonna be
The man tried to see over his shoulder. “How’s my tat
Slowly, given the distractions and the intricacy of the
Across the full width of the biker’s back was the upper face
of a Spartan, the warrior’s eyes startling blue and world-weary, deep lines
creasing the area above his cheeks. The man’s iron helmet, like the rest of the
artwork, seemed to cast shadows, providing a 3-D effect. Even with the image
only half finished, the result was breathtakingly real and fucking hard to pull
“Not good if you move,” Tor answered in response to how the
tat was coming. He added a bit of white to the left eye to give the illusion of
the iris reflecting light. Finished, he wiped the area with a cloth.
Someone rapped on the front window.
He and the biker flinched at the noise.
Lauren crossed the front of the shop, a stack of advertising
handouts cradled in her arm. “No knocking on the window, please,” she called to
the group and pointed at the sign clearly stating the prohibition.
The blonde who’d been knocking held her fists to her throat.
“Know you are. Thanks.” Lauren turned to Tor. “We should
start selling refreshments outside. Maybe set up a juice bar, a few tables with
umbrellas and chairs. What do you think?”
He was way past opinion, knowing she was a whiz at
marketing. With Lauren’s idea to have him and the other artists inking
customers in the window, the parlor’s walk-ins had increased fifty percent and
were still climbing.
From what Tor had heard, things hadn’t always been so rosy
Lauren had inherited Wicked Brand from her dad, who’d
abandoned her and her mom when she was five. She’d come here with no illusions
about a man she hadn’t seen in twenty-two years, wanting his parlor as much as
she would an IRS audit. She’d meant to dump the place fast on the first
unsuspecting buyer. Falling in love with Tor’s older brother, Dante, had
changed everything. Dante used to ink the clients here but had since returned
to his career as a product liability attorney. This time, unlike the last, he
litigated for real victims rather than greedy corporations. He and Lauren
planned to get married in the winter when his workload slowed.
“You should sell booze,” the biker said. “Brings in more
Lauren shook her head. “Too much trouble with the liquor
license and everything else involved.” She leaned toward Tor. “If your fans
start to get rowdy again, give me a holler.”
“What about Jasmina?” He’d spoken as softly as Lauren had.
In her early twenties, Jasmina was the manager now, nearly finished with her
business degree. Rather than taking care of things in here and outside, she
stood at the front counter, staring into space, her inventory forgotten. “Is
she having another bad day?”
“Hey.” Lauren frowned, her eyes almost as steely blue as the
Spartan’s. “The jerk hurt her bad. She needs to heal.”
Tor wasn’t about to argue. The jerk in question was Brad,
Jasmina’s ex-boyfriend. They’d once planned to own ten McDonald’s franchises so
they could live large. Unfortunately for Jasmina, Brad had already begun to
have his own good time, cheating on her with several other young women. She’d
found out six weeks ago and had dumped him fast. Since then, she’d lost her
drive and sunny disposition.
“Maybe I should offer her another tat,” Tor said.
He’d inked her left ankle with a cute, 3-D design of a red
ribbon tied in a bow, the ends trailing over the top of her foot.
“A hit on Brad would probably work better,” Lauren said.
The biker turned to her. “I know people who can rough him
up, if that’s what you’re talking about.”
Tor clamped his hands on the guy’s shoulders again. “She was
kidding. I’m not. Don’t move unless you want your Spartan to look like Winnie
“Sorry, man.” He froze in place, even keeping his breaths to
Settled, Tor got in the zone as he worked, vaguely aware of
clients arriving and departing, Van Gogh—one of the other artists—discussing
designs with customers in his usual gloomy manner, muted conversations outside
on the walk.
Thankfully, no one banged on the window or asked Tor to
strip. He liked being popular but still… Tor had been a serious artist before
coming here, the same as Van Gogh, though neither of them had been able to
support their passion without a day job. Tor’s sketches and Van Gogh’s
paintings hung in the parlor in between photos of tats, T-shirts and other
touristy stuff for sale. Little by little, their real art was selling, which
was pretty damn sweet.
As he switched to the other side of the biker, Tor caught a
glimpse of the outside crowd, many of the women fanning themselves with the
handouts Lauren had carried. Others had rolled the advertising piece into a
tube shape and had slipped the paper into a front pocket. The ladies with the
pasty complexions were undoubtedly tourists. The locals were usually as tan as
he was and sporting far less clothing. He saw an expanse of naked legs and
torsos, some of the young women wearing sports bras or bikini tops with their
brief cutoffs. Small wonder. The August afternoon couldn’t have been steamier,
the sky iron gray with a thick layer of clouds. A heavy metallic scent
predicted rain, a common occurrence this time of year.
Maybe Lauren should get an awning installed over the window
to protect the fans from getting wet.
Smiling at the thought, Tor finished wiping away the black
ink he’d used on the Spartan’s helmet and looked up again.
Numerous women lifted their smartphones to take his picture
as if he was better than an A-list celeb.
and somewhat amused at the attention, he grinned.
A platinum blonde continued to take shots as she shifted to
the left. Her move opened a space, allowing Tor to see a young woman on the
periphery of the crowd.
Their eyes met.
Hers were a soft brown, lushly lashed, expressive, yearning.
Waves of warmth coursed through him, settling in Tor’s
crotch. His cock stiffened instantly, balls plumping fast, his sac pulling up
into his body.
He guessed her to be in her mid-to-late twenties, her thick,
wavy, chestnut hair parted on the side and falling past her shoulders. The ends
curled slightly above her breasts. Tor wanted to look lower but her face
captured his attention. Her features were naturally sultry even without
makeup—she wore none he could see—her skin tawny, heritage most likely Cuban,
the same as him.
Without thinking, he stepped closer to the window, taking in
her long-sleeved peasant blouse and white jeans. Despite her clothes—and damn
she had a lot on, given the ungodly temperature—the fabric didn’t hide her
ample curves. His chest and throat went hot with desire at her luscious breasts
and hips. The kind of figure a man could hold on to during a wild ride, his
cock buried in her snug depths, body comforted by her warm, giving flesh.
Who was she?
Tor guessed she wasn’t a tourist. She didn’t have a phone
lifted to take his picture as though she might be leaving town and needed
something to remember him by. Hell, she didn’t even have a purse with her. Had
to be a local and probably lived or worked close by.
The thought of getting to know her made him smile.
Just as he did, the redhead with the great rack got in his
line of sight.
Tor moved to the other side of the biker, craning his neck
to see past the redhead to the outstanding brunette who’d caught his eye.
A few of the ladies in front glanced in the same direction
The young woman didn’t appear to notice other people looking
her way. Her gaze remained on him, the longing still there though fading
finally, beneath what appeared to be disquiet.
Why? He’d only smiled.
Killing his grin, Tor was ready to lift his hand and gesture
for her to come inside so they could meet and talk, when she turned and moved
“Hey,” the biker said. “Where are you going?”
Tor stopped at the front door, suddenly remembering his
customer. Torn between taking care of his client, as he should, or going
outside to ask the young woman to come back, he finally returned to the biker
and called across the space. “Jasmina, got a sec?”
She stopped taking inventory of the items in the front case.
“What do you need?”
Good question. Tor had never chased after women, at least in
the literal sense. He’d always had his pick of girlfriends, with them coming on
to him strong. The majority had worn loads of makeup and dressed as though they
were auditioning for a Playboy spread—showing lots of skin with as little
fabric covering them as possible and only to avoid getting hauled in by the
cops for public indecency.
The young woman he’d seen wasn’t his usual type yet there
was something about her that stirred him even now, making Tor edgy and wanting.
Crazy, he knew, but the feeling persisted. “I saw a woman outside.”
Jasmina stared at him blankly before looking past him at the
crowd of females on the other side of the glass. Her expression said he was
Could be he was. “She left. Can you run out and see if you
can catch up with her? She’s wearing a long-sleeved blouse and white jeans. Has
brown hair as long as yours. Maybe a bit longer.”
“Did she lose something?”
“No. She just took off.”
Jasmina made a face. Before her breakup with Brad, she would
have reacted to his comment with unwavering optimism and good humor.
How Brad could have cheated on her and killed Jasmina’s
trust in guys was a mystery to Tor. Not only had Jasmina been loyal to a fault,
she was fucking gorgeous. Also of Cuban descent, she had long, auburn hair,
which she normally wore in a ponytail, a rich complexion, outstanding breasts,
and legs longer than the law should have allowed. Today, she wore what she
usually did—a tank top, cut-offs and sneakers.
Those babies remained planted on the floor as she turned
back to her work. “She’s allowed to go if she wants.”
Tor rolled his eyes. “Do we want to lose customers? You
could go out there and show her your tat. She couldn’t have gotten too far—she
wasn’t walking that fast. Maybe she’d want a bow on her ankle like you have.”
Lame, he knew, but Jasmina wasn’t making this easy. “Come on, you’re not doing
She arched one eyebrow.
Tor raised his gloved hands in surrender. “I meant anything
you can’t do later.”
Jasmina regarded him as though she could read his mind and
Tor forced himself not to step back from her scrutiny.
“If I do catch up and stop her, what if she’s not interested
in my tat?”
Tor hadn’t thought beyond stopping her. “Tell her we have
lots of other ones.” He gestured to the biker’s back.
Jasmina gave him a sad smile. “Better to let people go who
don’t want you.”
The young woman had though. For an instant, the connection
between them had been so strong, Tor felt her need deep inside. He couldn’t
recall another female having affected him in the same way. Sure, there was lust
in his reaction but also something else he couldn’t quite identify. A rare
quality, like the sensation people have when meeting someone for the first time
yet feeling as if they’d known the individual forever.
Jasmina clearly didn’t share his wonder. Already, she’d
returned to her work.
With no other choice, Tor went back to his too, weighing
whether he’d see the young woman again, imagining what her smile would be like,
the sound of her voice, her scent, the feel of her breath on his skin, her
hands gliding over his body, making him hungry for whatever she had to give.