Cruz (Dark and Dirty Sinners' MC #5) - Serena Akeroyd



It was late, but I was wired.

One of the downsides of not only working at, but owning a tattoo parlor, were the hours. They were long, arduous, but more than that, they were whacko too.

I’d finished working on my last client’s back an hour ago, and that was at three AM. What could I say? I worked when my peeps needed me, saying screw it if it messed with my circadian rhythms.

Hey, nature was born to be fucked with.

But, the trouble was, when I’d tried to clamber upstairs, head to my own quarters, I’d just been too buzzed.

Steeler’s back piece was legendary.

Shit, I’d done enough career-making tattoos to recognize one.

From the top of his shoulders, along to his hips, over the plump mounds of his muscular ass, then to his thighs and calves, when I said it was a back piece, I meant it. Every inch of his back half was covered.

By my work.

Talk about a fucking honor.

Flames licked at his heels, and along to his lower thighs where a body soared out from the fire. A woman stood there, a heart in her hands, her face lowered to the organ that dripped blood down her form.

It was, in a word, breathtaking.

The only color came from the blood and the heart, everything else was black and white, and it was beautiful.

If I could have adorned my own back with it, I would have, but no way in fuck would I trust just anyone with my body. Not anymore. I had the pieces that mattered to me now, and the rest would come with time, when I trusted another artist. When my mentor, Jimmy Laruso, had passed on, my time under the needle had come to an end. But tonight gave me as much of a high as Steeler had from the endorphins.

Sure, my shoulders ached, my spine felt like it had a permanent crick in it, my eyes were tired, and the skin beside them felt crinkled and in need of ironing out from fatigue and squinting, but aside from all that, this was about as ‘on top of the world’ as I ever got.

Which was why I was rolling up the driveway to the Satan’s Sinners’ clubhouse.

I wanted to be left alone and I didn’t want to see or speak with anyone for at least eight hours.

If I did, I’d have headed into the city to go and sit with Stone, my best bud, who was in the hospital. So, avoiding David, my assistant, who’d been trailing my ass until the turn off to the compound, and seeing the Prospect who was manning the gates, were both bad enough, because I just wanted to be left alone while I cleaned.

Stone was coming home soon, and Rex had hauled in a bunch of brothers to get working on the bunkhouse where she’d be staying to recuperate. All the bunkhouses were stuck in another era and badly in need of an update—Rex had taken one, turned it into a home where Stone could heal without wanting to leave from just how gross the place was, and now I wanted to clean it.

She might be the doctor, but I was the one who was obsessed with keeping my environment clean. And when it boiled down to the people I gave a damn about, or in Stone’s instance, loved, well, I’d go the extra length and bleach any motherfucking thing to within an inch of its life.

The night air was just starting to turn damp with the onset of early morning dew, and it was that time where, no matter the season, there was that little chill in the air. The one that got into your bones and made you shudder just that teeny bit.

I shrugged it off, grabbed the bucket I’d packed with cleaning products from the footwell of the passenger seat of my Camaro, and shifted into gear.

All my stuff was eco-friendly, but not the bleach. That was one thing I couldn’t live without. It was actually kind of an addiction. My nails were wrecked because of it, had little lines running down the lengths so I always had them painted.

If the shrinks my family had seen in the aftermath of Carly’s death had known what I’d done with bleach, they’d probably have held another intervention.

When I thought about how I’d scrubbed myself clean with it, I still shuddered in horror at just how badly it could have gone wrong. I mean, I had the scars, only they were buried under a