Perfect Harmony (Harmony Falls #2) - Elizabeth Kelly
Seven years ago
“You about to pussy out on me?”
Gideon shifted on the chair he was straddling before laying his arms across the back of the seat and resting his forehead on them. “Keep going.”
He could almost feel Preacher’s gaze burrowing into his throbbing back. A few seconds later, the buzz of the tattoo gun started again, and Gideon forced himself not to flinch.
Why the hell had he let the tattoo artist talk him into such a detailed tattoo?
The owner of the tattoo shop, a man inexplicably named Greaser, ambled over, bringing the scent of stale cigarettes and body odour with him. “That lion’s looking pretty good.”
Preacher grunted out a thanks, barely heard above the sound of the tattoo gun.
“You gonna add some shading to that side?”
The tattoo gun clicked off, and Gideon flinched when Preacher swiped across his abraded skin with a cloth. “You gonna let me do my fucking job?”
“All right, all right.” Greaser held his hands up. “What the fuck crawled up your ass and died this morning?”
“Fuck off, Greaser,” Preacher snarled.
“Watch your mouth,” Greaser said, but there was no heat in his words.
Gideon didn’t blame him. Preacher was the only guy Gideon knew who was bigger than him. Considering Gideon was just shy of 6’4” and Preacher had at least an inch on him, it officially put Preacher in the ‘do not fuck with me’ category for most people who met him. The tattoo artist was built lean like Gideon was, but Gideon figured he was still at least two thirty-five, maybe two forty.
The gun buzzed to life again and this time when he couldn’t help but flinch, Preacher snorted behind him. “You need me to hold your hand for a bit, maybe call your mommy for you?”
Gideon grimaced as the needle danced over his skin. “Tell me why I give you my money for this kind of pain again?”
“Because I’m the best artist in this whole fucking city,” Preacher said. “And chicks dig tattoos.”
“I thought it was scars they dug,” Greaser said.
Gideon couldn’t see it, but from the way Greaser walked away, he figured Preacher was giving him the look. He’d been on the receiving end of it himself, but after four years of friendship with the tattoo artist, he was mostly immune to it. Mostly.
“God, I hate that fucking asshole,” Preacher said under his breath. “He fucking sucks as a boss and half the time he’s so fucking jacked on coke he can’t tattoo worth shit. He keeps fucking up the clients the way he is, and this place is gonna go under. He’s barely keeping it afloat now.”
“Give you a reason to finally open up your own shop,” Gideon said.
Preacher didn’t reply, and Gideon craned his neck to stare at him over his shoulder. “You talk to Vic about that business loan yet?”
Preacher continued tattooing, filling in stroke after stroke of the lion’s mane across the back of Gideon’s right shoulder. If Gideon didn’t know him better, he’d think Preacher’s concentration was so focused he hadn’t heard him.
He knew him better.
“I gave you Vic’s number for a reason,” Gideon said. “He said he might be able to help. Call him.”
Preacher shut off the tattoo gun and wiped across the tattoo. “No bank manager is gonna give an ex-con a fucking loan.”
“You won’t know until you ask,” Gideon said. “At least call him and make an appointment.”
“I met with him this morning.” Preacher’s jaw was tense, and a muscle ticked at his temple.
“Like I said, no bank manager is gonna give an ex-con a loan.”
Gideon muttered a curse. “Sorry, man.”
Preacher just shrugged before he tilted his neck back and forth, working out the kinks. Gideon shook out the tension in his shoulders and arms, hating the thick disappointment that radiated from Preacher in waves.
“If you can sit another couple hours, I’ll finish this today,” Preacher said.
His back already felt like mincemeat, but Gideon nodded. Preacher would never come right out and say it, but he needed a friend right now. “Sounds good.”
He grabbed the bottle of water sitting on the floor next to his chair and took a long drink before leaning forward and resting his arms on the back of the chair again.
Preacher started tattooing and Gideon raised his voice above the buzzing. “You wanna get a beer after this?”
“Thought you had a game tonight with your cop friends,” Preacher said.
“I can miss it.”
Preacher huffed out a laugh. “Bullshit. You never miss baseball.”
“You should join the league,” Gideon said.
“Sports aren’t my thing,” Preacher said.