Beth sank into the burgundy velvet seat, thankful for the change in subject. "I lease a suite in the medical offices building."
"You're a doctor?"
"No, but I work with them occasionally. I specialize in derma pigmentation."
"Pigmentation," Beth said with a small smile. "More commonly known as tattooing." She saw his startled look from the corner of her eye. Then she saw the car stopped directly in front of them, the car they were approaching much too fast, and her heart leaped into her throat.
Tyler jerked and slammed on the brakes. Tires squalled and the big car stopped mere inches from a collision. Tyler muttered something vehement and colorful under his breath, then asked, "Are you all right?"
Her pulse was pounding at twice its normal speed and she thought she might have left imprints of her fingernails in the armrest, but yes, she was okay. She could even find the humor and gave a shaky laugh.
"At least I was wearing my seatbelt this time."
He didn't share her humor. "It's nothing to joke about, Beth. As long as you're in this car, you're my responsibility. You could have been hurt."
He had a point, but Beth felt he was over-reacting. "I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine."
She met his gaze, briefly, and saw the unguarded truth in his silver-gray eyes. It was more than simple concern for a passenger that had him reacting so strongly. Her stomach clenched. Don't do this to me. Don't care so much.
Traffic began moving again and Tyler kept his attention on the road. He braked at the next red light and met her gaze full force. "I'm sorry, Beth. It's just that you're not what I expected a tattoo artist to look like."
Beth pretended surprise. "And what should I look like?"
"You know," his mouth tipped lopsidedly, "big, burly, a beard to your waist and M-O-M across your chest." When she didn't immediately deny his stereotypical description, his cocky smile wavered. "You don't have...you know..." He pressed his palm to his chest.
Beth laughed, more amused than offended. "Of course not. The light's green."
He faced forward and set the car in motion. "You do have a tattoo though?"
"Yes. Do you?"
They crossed the Willamette River, leaving the bright city center skyline behind.
"You're welcome to visit my studio sometime." Beth pulled a business card from her purse and tucked it into his lapel pocket. "I'll give you a tour."
"Where is it?"
"The address is on the card. Third floor, suite 301."
"I meant your tattoo."
Beth smiled at him. "Which one?"
"How many do you have?" he asked.
As though surprised there could be more than one, but didn't want it to show. She'd encountered that reaction before, as well. Again, she laughed. "I think I'll let you worry about that for awhile."
He would, too, damn it. Although he had to admit that looking for them held a certain undeniable appeal.
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