Title: Leave a Mark
Author: Stephanie Fournet
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
She’s pierced, and dyed, and covered in tattoos—and she’s everything Dr. Lee Hawthorne wants.
His residency is almost finished. With the perfect job, the beautiful house, and the polished girlfriend, he knows he should be happy, yet he isn’t.
But once Wren lands in his ER with her sharp tongue and artist’s soul, she leaves a mark on him that just won’t fade.
Wren knows the good doctor is way out of her league. To people like him, she’s a circus freak. Besides, she’s not the type to get hung up on guys, especially ones with midnight blue eyes—ones who know all about antiques, crack bad jokes, and love Joss Whedon.
No. She doesn’t need that.
After all, she has friends, a psychotic cat, and a promising career as one of the best tattoo artists in town. And it’s enough.
Really, it is.
Or it would be if Lee weren’t there every time she turned around.
One kiss seals their fate.
Their attraction is undeniable–but Wren’s past is full of ghosts. Is their bond strong enough for a solid future? Or will their new relationship crumble beneath the weight of all she carries?
A part of her had been secretly elated to see him again after their morning encounter. This wasn’t an accident. He’d come to her.
But the other part told her she’d be a fool to trust him. He might, indeed, have ended things with Marcelle, but once a cheater, always a cheater. And even if it had just been one kiss, Lee Hawthorne was bad for her. It had been so hard to walk away from him just a few hours ago. And she barely knew him. What would happen if she let him in?
“Well? What do you want?” she snapped, glad that her resentment sounded convincing.
Lee blinked, and Wren held her breath, hoping that the question would be enough to call his bluff. Nobody as buttoned-up as Lee came in and got tattooed on a whim. She crossed her arms and waited, giving him a look of supreme impatience. He’d call it off. She knew he’d call it off.
If he goes through with it, I’ll give him my number.
The moment she placed this bet with herself, Lee reached into his back pocket and drew out his wallet.
“I know what I want.” He opened the brown leather wallet and pulled out an antique brass skeleton key.
“What’s that for?” Wren asked, completely surprised.
One side of Lee’s mouth turned up, but the corners of his eyes angled down just a little. “It was my mother’s.”
She stopped her line of questions right there. The look in his eyes had the power to melt her defenses. It was so far from the cocksure grin he’d worn when he’d declared she’d kissed him back or the amused smile that sat on his lips whenever he was laughing at her. This look was innocent. This was the look of a boy.
Without a word, she held out her hand for the key, and Lee placed it on her palm. It was short, perhaps three inches long with a decorative head and a bit that was notched in the shape of a cross. The head bore three perfect circles just above the shaft with kidney-shaped loops on either side. She could only guess at its age, but it was beautiful, and she knew inherently that the piece it opened had to be beautiful, too.
Wren steeled herself. She could do this. She could let him make his play and be the professional she always was. The key was cool, and it would make a kickass tattoo. And that would give her confidence.
“You want it life-sized?” She glanced back up at him, all business.
He considered the key a moment. “Yes. Just like that.”
“Color or true black?”
Lee’s eyebrows drew together. “What do you think?”
Wren turned the key over in her hand. It was tarnished in places and buffed into a high shine in others.
“If you want it to look just like this, I could do mustard for the brass and platinum for the shadows. And a thin outline in black, of course.”
The left side of Lee’s mouth curled in a grin again, and his eyes danced. “Yeah, that’ll work.”
Wren pulled her eyes away. “Lemme make a copy of this to use as a stencil.” She turned and ducked into Rocky’s office without another word and took her time centering the key on the thermal copier’s glass and loading the feed tray with a sheet of transfer paper. Wren wasn’t about to take any chances with the perfect lines of the key’s shaft and bit. The overhead light in the office was off, and the space was a little cooler, so she drew in a slow breath to calm herself.
When she returned with key and stencil in hand, Lee had sat himself on the end of her table, and Rocky was finishing up with Dallas.
“Okay, doc, where do you want it?” she asked, sounding as detached as she could.
Lee’s eyes narrowed slightly on hers, and he drew a finger up to his chest. “Right here.” His fingertip brushed across his left pec, and Wren had to shift the weight on her feet and concentrate on keeping her expression even. She moved past him and raised the head of her table just a little.
“Okay,” she breathed. “Shirt and tie off. Lie back on the table.”
She turned away to her ink cart and felt her face heat when she heard the whir of silk on silk as he pulled open his tie. She busied herself setting up a fresh razor, her green soap, her alcohol wipes, and gauze. With her sterile scissors, she cut around the stencil and set it aside. Wren laid out two sterile grips, her liner and shader tips, and got her colors ready.
Knowing he’d be shirtless, Wren schooled a bored look on her features before she turned. She met his eyes first, and it would have helped if he’d looked back at her with that smug grin. Feeling pissy was a good defense, and his grin pissed her the hell off.
But the look he gave her was far from it. He lay back, watching her with a mix of wonder and… What was it? Hope? Whatever it was, it made her cheeks burn again.
Okay, so this may be the most unusual playlist ever assembled. This is largely due to the fact that Dr. Lee Hawthorne has both a jukebox and a sense of humor, so why can’t we mix Simon and Garfunkel with a little Pitbull? The Wurlitzer, naturally, only holds 45s, so most of the songs that come up in the novel are much older than Lee and Wren, but I can see Wren punching “Under Pressure” and Lee following with the confidence of Sam and Dave and whimsy of The Police. Lee and Wren both love antiques, after all, so why wouldn’t they share a love of old music? And with as many self-doubts as Wren carries, who else but Hozier would she have on her playlist? The list ends with Diana Krall’s version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” for obvious reasons. (Make sure you read the Epilogue.)