Colours coiled and writhed up the smooth curves of her sides, red black amber green. A flash of gold at the eye, teeth bared, scaled flashing, rippling with her every movement.
Dragons curled around plumes of smoke in vibrant swirls over her bare, tanned skin as she reached a rubber-gloved hand towards the man in the chair. His eyes misted with pain and desire as she brought the needle down into his tender, bleeding flesh.
Craig and the other men in the waiting room stared, bewitched.
She straightened and flashed that smile, blood red lips against snow white teeth, all the sweetness and wickedness of fairytale brought to life before them.
“Done,” she said. “Take the covering off tomorrow, but keep it clean and moist - use vaseline or another lubricant - an unscented moisturiser maybe.”
Her lips curved around the word ‘lubricant’. Craig heard the guy beside him moan.
“Right then guys, who’s next?” She turned the spotlight of her gaze on them and Craig resumed looking through the catalogue on his lap. The guy at the head of the queue hiccuped in alarm as she led him gently away to the leather chair.
Craig had come every Saturday for months. Every time she looked in his direction he would flip through the books frowning in what he assumed was a pondering, thoughtful way.
The truth was he had never had any intention of getting a tattoo. Since he’d seen this black-haired enchantress when he came with Kyle to get his Celtic band done, Craig had thought of little else but the way her black vest tops were cropped short to reveal the artwork on her skin, the way her…
“Ok, who’s next?” The words cut into Craig’s thoughts like a knife. To his horror he realised that he, in fact, was next.
He’d usually circle to the back of the queue periodically to avoid this eventuality, but he’d become so lost in his daydream that he’d forgotten and now he was following her and he was lying down and she was standing over him, impossibly close, smiling, waiting for an answer.
“I’ve seen you here before, haven’t I?”
She had noticed him! Craig’s heart sped up. Perhaps he wasn’t just some invisible slacker after all.
His eyes followed the curve of her body. Her mouth was moving and Craig was nodding, he didn’t care what he was agreeing to as long as he could keep saying yes to her.
And then she was touching him. The cool of her gloved hands turned him to face away from her and he barely felt the sting of the needle as the metal penetrated him. He felt the trickle of his blood and the press of her hands and the heat of her smile.
He left the shop in a daze, floating on air. She had noticed him, she had touched him. She had burned her artwork onto his body forever. He wondered what it would be, a dragon, perhaps, like her own, uniting them in ink. He raced home, eager to see what she had bestowed on him.
He needed two mirrors to be able to see the back of his own neck. But there it was, stamped on him forever in deep black for all to see: