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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(4) by Samantha Young|
“Well, I don’t mean anything bad by it, lass.” Stu strode into the room, passing me to take the big leather seat behind his cluttered desk. He waved a hand at the chair in front of me, so I quickly took it. “It’s just with that hair and those eyes and the fact that you are in fact ‘wee,’ you remind me of a wee fairy.”
Despite myself, I found I was fighting a smile. This big bruiser of a man seemed perturbed and worried that he might have upset me. “It’s okay. I’m just a bit nervous about the interview.”
“Och, don’t be nervous.” He shook his head. “We’re just going to go over your work experience and then I’ll introduce you to Rae and Simon. If you get the job you’ll be working mostly with them, so I like to get their feel for a person.”
From there we chatted for about fifteen minutes or so about my previous work in the administrative world. He was mostly interested in my experience as a receptionist for a tattoo studio in Glasgow. I’d worked there until I was twenty. I’d been dating a local biker at the time who was almost ten years my senior (yeah, my family had loved him), and his best mate owned a studio. The job lasted as long as the relationship, which was roughly eighteen months. It was charming really—he cheated on me with a skanky biker babe and I was the one that got fired. “Downsizing,” my boss had called it. Yeah, more like his mate found it too awkward to have me around after I walked in on him screwing another woman.
I’d soon discover that was just one of the many joys of dating an honest-to-goodness bad boy.
“That all sounds great.” Stu gave me a huge endearing grin that made me smile despite myself. He’d really made me feel at ease during the interview, and I’d begun to think that working at INKarnate might not be such a bad thing after all. “Let’s go meet Rae and Simon.”
Simon’s room was empty, but we found him hovering in the doorway of Rae’s, watching her work as she talked with the young man who was there for what appeared to be his first session for a tattoo removal. The young guy blinked up at the doorway in alarm when Stu and I appeared.
Rae frowned at his abrupt change in demeanor before following his gaze. She smirked. “Don’t worry. They’re not all here to watch. Right, Stu?”
Rae’s purple-and-black hair was cut choppy and short around her long, narrow face. She had a sharp nose and a thin mouth. A tiny jet stud sparkled on her nose, and a small silver hoop pierced the left side of her lower lip. Huge dark eyes and enviously long black lashes saved her face from being too severe. The more I gazed at her, the more I realized she was striking even without the hair and the piercings and the sleeve of black rose tattoos down her right arm. A skinny Harley-Davidson tank top and black jeans showcased her long-limbed figure.
“Who’s Red?” She nodded her chin at me.
“This is Shannon. Shannon, these are my artists, Rae and Simon.” Stu gestured to the tall, bald artist.
Simon grinned at me and I felt my warning flag start to fly. He had dimples, very, very charming dimples, glittering hazel eyes, and nicely developed muscles underneath his gray Biffy Clyro shirt. Tattoos covered every inch of both his arms. Black tunnels pierced his ears.
He was a problem.
Perhaps a job at INKarnate wasn’t going to work out after all.
“You should hire her,” Simon said to Stu without taking those pretty eyes off me. “She’s hot. She’ll attract interest.”
Nope. Definitely not going to work out.
A snort erupted from Rae as she perceptively read the expression on my face. “Don’t worry, Red. He prefers dicks. Like, actual dicks.”
I blinked in surprise not just at her crassness, and in front of a customer no less, but at the implication. Simon was gay? He caught my look of surprise and laughed. “Yes, I’m gay.”
I hated to admit it to myself, but the revelation made me relax instantly, the disappointment I’d felt only moments before disappearing. I grinned at Simon now. “If you’re single I’ll pass out with disbelief.”
He laughed at that, seeming pleased. “I’m not. My boyfriend is called Tony. He’s Italian.”
“Oh, don’t get him started on Tony,” Rae groaned, rolling her eyes. “I love the guy, but if I have to hear one more tale of Tony’s talented mouth and generous heart I’m going to vomit all over myself.”
My eyes betrayed my shock and Simon patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry. It’s just Rae’s way. She loves me really.”
She harrumphed at that and turned purposefully back to her client, who’d been watching us with something akin to boredom on his face. “Hire her, Stu. You know I love shocking the fuck out of people, and Red here looks like she’ll make that fun for me.”
“I take that as a challenge,” I said, feeling indignant at the accusation that I was somehow thin-skinned. “I’ve been around and heard a lot worse, I promise you.”
Her mouth quirked up at the corner. “I’ll take that as a challenge.”
“You’ve done it now.” Simon sighed.
“You’re hired,” Stu announced.
I looked up at him, feeling an overwhelming rush of relief. “Seriously?”
He smiled. “Aye, I like you.”
That didn’t sound very professional. “You’re hiring me because you like me?”
“People have no idea how important that is to a successfully run business. If everyone gets along, if the atmosphere in here is great, people will recommend us.”
“Oh yes, because my affable fucking nature, not my immense ability with a tattoo needle, is what brings in all the recommendations,” Rae drawled.
Stu grunted. “It’s not your affable fucking nature or your ability with a tattoo needle that brings in the recommendations. It’s—”
“Cole,” she finished for him, throwing him a grin. “But I’m not bad either.”
Stu couldn’t help smiling at that. “Aye, you’re not bad either.”
“Right.” Simon turned toward us and shooed us with his hands. “Let Rae work.” He smiled at me as we walked out into the hallway. “So, are you accepting?”
I thought about it as I wandered after Stu into the main room. A customer waited at the counter and Simon hurried over to greet him while Stu stared at me expectantly.