Holden loves his twin sister, tattoos, wild hair colors, and love. The first three are easy -- his sister loves him, he's training as a tattoo artist, and hair dye is a store away. But love is another matter. Scoring an evening of fun takes no effort, but getting someone to stay? Impossible.
Then a hot werewolf cop shows up for a tattoo appointment, and Holden's interest seems mutual. But just as things seem to be going well, his sister collapses at a club and Holden's world falls apart.
Contains the follow-up story, Paw Prints on My Skin: Werewolf Zack is a tattoo artist at an exclusive tattoo parlour designed to cater to the needs of shapshifters. He works with lots of interesting people, but no one quite takes his interest like new customer Tobias. Tobias is many things: a playful Labrador, a tattoo virgin and a wildlife photographer. He's all these things, but will he also be Zack's? There is an instant spark between the two men that heats up quickly and could maybe, just maybe, lead to something more.
"I want another tattoo," Holden says, leaning back in his chair. He's behind the front desk with Dawn, like he is every Saturday morning. Without a hangover, surprisingly. He'd had his first of many outings for his twenty-first birthday the night before.
"Do you even have any room?" Dawn asks. She hasn't fared as well and is hiding behind a large pair of dark sunglasses. Hiding light grey eyes, just like Holden's own. It's one of their most similar features.
"Of course, I have room." Not a lot, but he has some spare skin. Holden's a little addicted to tattoos. He has them everywhere, except his face. He doesn't like face tattoos, personally.
"What are you thinking of getting? Do you have an actual idea? Or do you just have the urge for a new one?" Dawn asks. She has plenty of tattoos herself, just fewer than him. But she has enough to understand the addiction.
"I was thinking of a paw print near my ankle. Like a coyote print. I don't have anything to represent my animal side, and I'd like that. I don't think it needs to be fancy. Simple gets my point across," Holden says, picking up his coffee and taking a sip. It tastes great, but he has no idea what it is. Dawn always orders it for them. It has some impossibly long name, like caramel-mocha-froca-fomachino. It might have a stupid name, but it tastes great.
"I like that idea." Dawn would tell him if she thought his tattoo idea was stupid. She wouldn't let him make a permanent mistake like that.
Shifters need to use a different kind of ink than humans when they get tattooed. If they use regular ink, the tattoo will heal, taking the ink with it. So they have special ink and needles on the tattoo machine, laced with silver and other chemicals. They make the tattoos stay on a shifter. But whatever makes them stay, also makes it impossible to have them removed.
"Think Zack can do it soon?" Holden asks.
"He has some free time soon. I have an idea though," Dawn says, putting down her cell phone.
"What?" Holden tends to like his sister's ideas, even the ones that get him into trouble.
"We could both get paw prints. We've always said we'll get something matching." Dawn smiles.
"That'd be cool. We should do that. It can be our matching tattoo, our shifter tattoo, and our birthday present to each other," Holden suggests excitedly.
"Perfect. I'll go through the appointment book and pencil us into Zack's next free slot." Dawn reaches under the desk and pulls out the appointment book and starts flicking through it.
"Zack's next appointment is due," Dawn comments, nose buried in the book. And like they've been summoned by Dawn's words, the door to the shop opens.
Holden breathes in, and his breath catches slightly as his whole body responds to the man's scent. Holden tries not to be obvious as he checks the man out. He's tall, at least six foot, with broad shoulders and thick thighs. He clearly has a strong body, but not like steroid-big. He's handsome too, with dark blue eyes and short golden-blond hair. His chiseled jaw is covered in a few days' worth of stubble, and his clothes look a little dirty. But he smells clean. He looks rough around the edges, but Holden doesn't get a bad vibe from him, and Holden is used to trusting his instincts.
The man looks a little familiar, but Holden can't place him. Maybe it's the beard throwing him off. Holden knows he doesn't know the customer well or intimately. He'd remember, from scent alone. He knows this werewolf somehow.
"You must be Zack's next appointment, Mister ...?" Holden looks to Dawn.
"Grant," Dawn fills in.
"Call me Seth," the man offers, and his voice-it's like whiskey and honey, rough and smooth all at once. Holden has to tell himself firmly not to imagine that voice whispering dirty things to him. Their boss, Jeremy, has said it's fine for him and Dawn to flirt with the customers, but to keep it harmless. Flirting with this butch, manly man ... Well, that could cause trouble, the kind Jeremy doesn't want in his shop.
"Hello, Seth. Zack should be with you in a second. If he's not, Holden will go get him to move his ass," Dawn says with a smile. Sometimes she has it easier than him. No one seems to get offended if a hot girl flirts with them, even if they aren't interested. But Holden knows -- with guys, anyway -- he's taking a chance.
But at the same time, he knows Dawn has to deal with other problems. Like, she can smile, just being friendly, and a guy will take it to mean more, and she'll get hassled. They each have their own dating problems, and Holden knows neither of them would swap them.
"Why will Holden get him? Why won't you get him?" Holden asks.
"It's your turn," Dawn says simply.
"You kept count?" Holden snorts.
"Siblings?" Seth Grant asks.
"Twins," Holden and Dawn say in unison.
"I thought so." Seth looks amused.
"Let me guess, big family?" Dawn asks.
"No, I can just tell," Seth says. He looks distant as he says it. Holden wonders why.