Last Chance Tattoo

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Last Chance Tattoo, Loose Id, August 12, 2014

ISBN 978-1-62300-471-2

NOTE: This book is related to I Should Tell You, released by Loose Id March 2014.

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MM Good Book Reviews gives Last Chance Tattoo 5 hearts and says, “The author, quite beautifully, tells Rad and Dorsey’s story and allows it to unfold at its own pace.”

The Novel Approach gives Last Chance Tattoo 4 stars and says, “This was a wonderful story and I just adored both MC’s.”

After “failing” to make a life and a drag career in Boston, Rad Morris has returned home to Ludington, Michigan, where his primary goal is to avoid his disapproving family. Only his grandmother accepts him, and Rad feels guilty for taking her support and money.<br
Tattoo artist Dorsey Bellamy moved to Ludington three years ago after the death of his lover in a gay-bashing gone too far. Until Dorsey meets Rad, he keeps to himself, but something about Rad catches Dorsey’s attention. They form a friendship, which soon turns sexual, and then emotions enter the picture. But after confrontations with family members, Rad wants to leave town again, and Dorsey can only try to persuade him to stay.

EXCERPT:

Without thinking, Dorsey hurried out of the shop. Behind him, Kelly called a question, but he didn’t pay attention. He crossed the fortunately empty street. “Rad!”

Rad jumped and whirled around, then relaxed. “Hey.”

Dorsey closed the few yards between them. The drizzle was turning into full-on rain, but he didn’t care. If Rad could stand it, so could he. “Hey. How’s it going?”

Rad shrugged. “Been better, been worse. I was going down to the lighthouse, except I’m not sure walking out there is a good idea in the rain.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” The lighthouse stood at the end of a half-mile or so causeway, accessible only by foot. In three years, Dorsey had never taken the walk. The lighthouse was nice to look at from the shore. He saw no reason to go all the way out to it.

“Probably not.” Rad sighed. “When I was a kid, I used to go out there all the time. Even in the summer, it was a quiet place. I could think. Not to mention getting away from my brothers and everyone. Even though I wasn’t far away, I could pretend I was alone in the middle of the lake. I liked it.”

Dorsey’s heart went out to the guy. From everything Rad had told him, Rad’s childhood had been pretty damn lonely. No one should have to be alone, especially with family around, but it sounded as if Rad truly had been.

That was one of the things Dorsey wanted to make better. Both of them had been alone too long.

“You’re looking for time alone now?” He deliberately made it a question.

“Kind of.” Rad shrugged. “I didn’t feel like hanging around Gram’s house. Last night was, let’s say, interesting. And this morning, the drama continues. I needed a break for a while, and I thought the lighthouse would be a good place to go.” He shook his head. “It’s raining too hard. Where were you? I didn’t see you until you caught up with me.”

“I was having some coffee. Come on over and I’ll buy you a cup.” The rain was falling even harder than moments before. Dorsey was pretty much done with standing in it. He just hoped Rad would go with him.

To his relief, Rad nodded. “Thanks. I’m freezing, so coffee will be good.”

“Yeah.” Dorsey considered offering Rad his jacket until they were inside. It would have seemed too intimate, though. A gesture a boyfriend would make. They weren’t boyfriends.

They crossed the street and went into the coffee shop. A second cup was on the counter beside Dorsey’s, and Kelly stood at the other end of the counter talking to a customer.

Dorsey took a drink of his coffee and gestured at the other cup. Rad shook his head. “I don’t think that’s mine.”

“It is.” Kelly looked over her shoulder. “You go out walking in this weather with no jacket, I’m going to give you coffee. Drink it and be grateful.”

Rad chuckled and picked up the cup. He tilted his head toward the empty tables, and Dorsey nodded.

Once they were seated, Rad fidgeted with his cup and stared at the table. Dorsey wished the guy would tell him what was going on. Clearly something had upset Rad, and Dorsey wanted to help. Something he couldn’t do if he didn’t know the problem. Usually Rad seemed all too willing to talk, but today he was quiet, and Dorsey didn’t know how to open the conversation.

“I have today off,” he said finally.

“Cool. I wondered.” Rad took the first drink of his coffee. “I thought about seeing if you were at work, but then I realized it was probably too early for the shop to be open anyway.”

“We aren’t open on Sundays.” Dorsey took a long breath. This was the most awkward conversation he’d had with Rad yet, and he didn’t know how to make it better. He only knew he wanted Rad to be comfortable with him and to talk to him, but this morning it felt more like they were strangers than the first day Rad had entered the tattoo shop.

“I’m sorry I’m not great company today,” Rad said. “Family stuff. You probably don’t want to hear about it, and I’m not sure how much I should say.” His expression brightened. “But one good thing. I stood up to my parents and brothers. Gram had them over for dinner last night, and I told them how crappy they were for kicking me out. And you know something?”

“I know lots of things.” Dorsey had to make the wisecrack to lighten the mood. “What specifically are you asking about?”

Rad chuckled. “Yeah, you are very wise. Ass. Anyway, I realized something last night. All the time I believed I’d failed was complete crap. I didn’t accomplish what I hoped to, but that doesn’t make me a failure. I was only eighteen when I moved to Boston, and I survived there for five years by myself. Gram helped me out with money, but I earned my own too. I had a home, food, jobs.”

“I know plenty of people my age and older who can’t say that much.” Dorsey smiled. It was good to hear Rad say something so positive.

“Yeah.” Rad took another drink. “I guess I got used to being the mistake of the family. I mean, my parents planned on stopping with two kids, and then I came along. I never fit in at school. I wasn’t good at math like my father and brothers. And hell, I’m gay and decided to become a drag queen. By Morris or Ames standards, that’s failure.”

“You aren’t a mistake,” Dorsey said through gritted teeth. If Rad’s family had anything to do with him thinking that way, Dorsey would have a few choice words for them.

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