The Christmas Tattoo was my December release last year – and I still have a soft spot for this sweet Christmas romance. When I say ‘sweet’, of course, I also mean red hot! After all, who could resist a bad-boy blond with a needle in his hand, ready to mark your skin with a Kafka quote…? If it’s a cold night, curl up with a hot toddy and The Christmas Tattoo – it’s guaranteed to warm you up in a hurry!
When sexy red-head Bradie Clements comes home from Washington to nurse a broken heart and build bridges with her estranged father, she’s certainly not on the lookout for romance. After catching her boyfriend Kris in bed with her best friend and boss, all she wants to do is run and hide. But a chance encounter with local tattoo artist Colton Bassett leads to an unexpected appointment with his needle. Even though it’s cold outside, the temperature rises to boiling point as the two discover an irresistible attraction. But then Kris arrives on the scene to claim her back in time for his family Christmas and Bradie starts to remember what she saw in him. Tormented by jealousy and suspicion over Colton’s pregnant business partner, Bradie starts to wonder if her new romance is over before it’s begun…
He pulled a stool round to the right side of the table and sat down on it. Before he turned on the machine, he cleaned the area he would tattoo with an antiseptic wipe. The sudden sensation of cold caused Bradie to gasp and she wondered how she would cope with a high-speed needle piercing her skin repeatedly.
When he switched on his iron and the soft whirring filled her ears, Bradie wondered if she would faint. Goosebumps broke out all over her and she put one fist to her mouth so she could bite on the knuckle.
‘Hey,’ said Colt.
He switched the iron off.
‘Open your eyes.’
Bradie did as she was told and looked up at him, gingerly letting go her knuckle with her teeth.
‘There’s nothing to be scared of. It’s going to take about ten minutes and the worst bit will be as I go over the jut of your hipbone. I’m going to position “leap” on the highest point, OK?’
‘Are you ready?’
She nodded again and then Colt grinned.
‘I’ve got something which might help.’ He put down the iron and got up from his stool.
Bradie propped herself up on one elbow to watch him, but he disappeared through the door up to his apartment and she could hear only his footfall going up and, seconds later, coming back down the stairs.
‘Here, drink this.’
He held out a tumbler of water to her. She grabbed it from him and took a gulp, spluttering and coughing as she realised it wasn’t water after all but neat vodka.
‘Dutch courage,’ he said, leaning in for a kiss and to lick a splash of vodka off her chin.
She offered him the glass.
‘You want a spelling mistake?’
‘OK, I’ll finish it and then we’ll be good to go.’
She knocked back the rest of the vodka, pulling a face as she did. Colt took the empty glass from her.
‘Lie back and hold absolutely still,’ he said.
She did as he instructed, and closed her eyes. The whirring started up again and then one of Colt’s hands pressed firmly on her hip to hold the skin taut. The first touch of the needle stung; Bradie hissed and her legs flinched, though Colt held her pelvis steady. She felt a sharp, burning sensation and after her initial whimper she had to bite down hard on her bottom lip to keep quiet. But at the same time it turned her on to be held down while her lover inflicted pain on her, certain that if she endured it, there would be pleasure to follow. She quickly understood how getting tattooed could become an addiction in itself, especially with a tattooist as attractive as Colt.
‘How you doing?’
She opened her eyes to smile at Colt.
‘Just getting to the bony bit.’
As the needle skittered up over her jutting hipbone, Bradie felt its bite intensify and let out an involuntary cry. Then the burn moved on and receded, and she felt Colt’s other hand stroke her soothingly.
‘Almost there, babe,’ said Colt.
From that moment, the experience became almost entirely erotic and not painful at all. Bradie lay back on the table, her eyes shut, and if Colt felt her muscles relaxing he didn’t say anything. She wanted it to go on and on, while at the same time she wanted it to stop, so she could reach up and touch Colt’s skin and feel his hands touching her. She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue and all she could think about was what would happen next.
The whirring stopped and Bradie felt both relieved and disappointed.
‘All done,’ said Colt. ‘Now some ointment and a bandage to keep it clean.’
‘Let me see first,’ said Bradie, sitting up.
She glanced down at her hip and there, standing a little proud from a strip of bright red skin, were her words in solid black.
A deliberate leap in the opposite direction.
No spelling mistakes, no wobbles: perfect cursive script even though Colt had done the tattoo freehand. A couple of small globules of blood had bubbled up and Colt wiped them away with a tissue. Then he gently smeared the whole area with ointment before taping a dressing across it.
‘Wow, that was different,’ said Bradie, when he was done.
‘Not so scary?’
‘Kind of sexy.’
Bradie could hardly believe she’d just admitted that. She sat up and swung her legs over the side of the table. Colt stood in front of her and wrapped his arms around her.
‘I’d love to do more on you,’ he said, ‘but your skin’s so perfect it doesn’t need decoration.’
‘Let me see yours again,’ she said.
She knew she could stare at the beautiful, intricate tattoos adorning Colt’s body for hours.
Colt pulled his T-shirt off over his head and moved back a little so she could see them. A Japanese Hokusai wave crashed across one side of his chest and Bradie traced its outline with a fingertip. The pale crest of the wave broke into innumerable small rivulets, followed by a wall of water in the darkest blues and greens. The sense of motion had been captured brilliantly; even when he was completely still the wave seemed to move and the small boat which slid into its trough looked as if it would shatter at any moment.
As her fingers explored the water’s sinuous curves, Colt’s chest started to rise and fall faster, until a stifled groan brought Bradie’s attention back to his face.
She let her hand slide from his chest down his torso to his flat stomach. Below his navel a dark twist of hair traced a path which disappeared into the top of his jeans. Her hand followed the line, pushing her fingers into the tight space behind the waistband. Colt slumped forward against her as her fingers brushed the top of his erection. His cock strained against the constriction of his pants and the arrival of her hand made the bulge bigger and the space tighter. Bradie needed room to manoeuvre in there; so, with her other hand, she flipped the button on his waistband and dragged down his fly. Colt’s cock pushed outwards and she had to scramble to get him unhooked from his shorts. Finally she had both garments sliding down his thighs and Colt stood up straight to finish the job and kick them off.
Then his hands went to the buttons of her blouse, deftly undoing them and pushing the shirt back over her shoulders. Her bra followed it to the floor and there they were, contemplating each other’s naked bodies in the harsh glare of the studio light.
‘Not here,’ said Colt, his voice husky with desire.
He stepped forward and picked her up with a sweep of his arms. His warm body pressed against Bradie’s as he carried her up the stairs to the apartment, warding off the chill of being suddenly naked. Bradie nestled her head into his shoulder, kissing the base of his neck and breathing in his male smell. His fingers gripped her tight at the top of one arm and around one of her hips, pressing her into him, trapping her so she couldn’t move; it turned her on like nothing before and she desperately wanted his weight on top of her, pinning her to the bed as he drove himself into her.
A sigh of need escaped her lips as Colt pushed open the bedroom door and then he laid her on the covers. Still standing at the end of the bed, he loomed above her. He bent forward and placed his hands on her knees, spreading her legs wide. Bradie became a rag doll at his touch, her hips starting to roll in anticipation of what would come next.
‘Now, Colt,’ she whimpered. ‘I need you inside me now.’
But Colt ignored her pleading. He knelt between her legs, his bright eyes fixed on what he could see.
‘So beautiful, angel,’ he said.
He reached out a finger to stroke her softly and then abruptly pushed it hard between the hot, swollen folds of her vagina. Bradie gasped and bucked under his touch, then became aware of his mouth on her clit. An explosion of sensation ripped through her; the burning pain of the tattoo on her hip receded as endorphins flooded her, while in contrast her engorged nipples buzzed with the need to be touched. She pinched one between each of her fingers and thumbs, rolling them, squeezing them hard and pulling them taut, as her back arched and she moaned for more.
Colt’s tongue worked around her clit and his teeth applied pressure. His stubble burnt her tender skin and his fingers pushed harder and deeper into the core of her. Bradie lost sense of her surroundings as her orgasm built. Even as she tried to keep it in check, tried to make the exquisite pleasure last, she knew it had gone beyond her control. As her whimpers grew louder, Colt’s lips worked their way up her body to take control of one of her breasts. She held it up to his mouth to suckle on, then slipped her other hand down between their bodies.
His cock was fully erect, the skin hot and the head wet with precome as she guided it to where she needed it, but then he teased her by pulling it back and gently nudging without going in.
She opened her eyes to look up at him. His face had flushed dark with desire, his eyes bright and his mouth slack.
‘Let me get a condom …’
He reached across to the bedside table. In no time, he had unwrapped and unfurled the rubber down the length of his cock.
Then he plunged home, setting off another torrent shimmering through her. Her legs went up around his waist and her muscles gripped and pulsed in time with his ever-deepening thrusts. The orgasm she’d tried to delay came storming in and took possession of every nerve in her body; and she knew from his deep-throated moan he’d reached his climax at the same moment. He arched back and pushed deeper as her hips pressed up harder against his. He stopped thrusting and simply held her hips. She could feel his cock pulsing inside her and the responsive thrumming of her own coming, and the sheer heat like a fireball of friction where their bodies were conjoined.
Finally Colt’s orgasm diminished and his muscles relaxed. He lowered her hips back to the bed and slowly withdrew himself. He pulled off the condom, knotted it, and dropped it over the side of the bed; then he pulled her into a cradled position on his lap. She curled up with her head resting on his chest, still panting from the exertion, her body humming with pleasure.
‘Do you know what turns me on the most about you?’ Colt whispered in her ear.
Bradie shook her head.
‘How much you need me inside you.’