Home > Inked (The Driven World)

Inked (The Driven World)
Author: Tracy Lorraine

 


Chapter One

 

 

Harlow

 

 

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Bailey, my best friend and roommate, asks the second she finds me sitting on the couch with a blanket over my lap, a tub of ice cream in hand and a rum and Coke on the coffee table.

“Err… Friday night in?” I say, my brows drawing together, trying to figure out if I’ve forgotten something. The look on her face and the way she’s standing impatiently with her hands on her hips sure points to that.

She’s just finished a twenty-four-hour shift at The House, caring for her boys, so I was expecting her to take up residence on the other couch with her wine while we caught up with The Bachelor.

“It’s Austin’s birthday,” she says with a roll of her eyes.

“Right.”

“We’re going out. We’re meeting everyone at Rush in…” she pulls her cell from her back pocket and looks at the time, “in like… an hour, so we need to get our shit together.”

Before I have a chance to argue, she’s standing before me and pulling the ice cream from my hand.

“Come on, H. Move that sexy ass and go and find a hot little dress to wear.”

After depositing the tub on the coffee table, she rips the blanket from my lap and attempts to pull me from the couch.

“Really?” I sulk. “Austin won’t care if I’m there or not, I barely know the guy.” We might work for the same company, but it’s not like we spend any actual time together, other than the odd night out.

“I told him you’ll be there.”

“But you didn’t think to tell me,” I mutter, eventually going easy on her and standing.

“I could have sworn I’d mentioned it.”

“When could you? You’ve hardly been home this week.”

She shrugs. “Well, you know now. It’s going to be a great night.”

She ushers me out of the living room—thankfully after I grab my drink. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

When we get to my room, she allows me to get ready alone, which is a relief. The last thing I need is a Bailey makeover for tonight.

 

 

Smoothing down my silk top, I add a layer of gloss to my lips and slip my feet into my shoes.

Bailey’s still sitting in front of her mirror when I join her in her room thirty minutes later.

“How are you ready al—no, no, no. You can’t wear that,” she says looking at me over her shoulder in the mirror. I look down at my skinny jeans and black blouse.

“Why not? It’s perfectly fine.”

“Yeah, for an afternoon with your aunt.”

Minus the height of my heels, I can’t argue with her.

She spins on her chair, and I get a look at her dress—if it can even be described as such. It’s fire-engine red; I swear I’ve got underwear that covers more skin.

I run my eyes over her, suspicion beginning to stir in my stomach. “I feel like I’m missing something. This isn’t just a night out for Austin’s birthday, is it?”

“His cousin’s coming.”

And now, it all starts to make sense.

“The British one?”

“Yes! I can’t wait to hear him say my name,” she swoons, getting this far-off look in her eye.

I shouldn’t be surprised—she’s been telling me about him for quite a few weeks now and trying to convince Austin to introduce them.

“You mean moan your name,” I mutter.

“Harlow, I’m not some easy piece of ass, you know.”

“Really?” I ask, my brows lifting, my lips curling in amusement.

“Okay, so maybe I am, but only for the right guy.”

“Riiight.”

I watch as she gets up from her seat and walks toward her wardrobe, thankfully pulling her ridiculously short dress down in the process so I don’t have to see her easy ass.

“Now, let’s see what I’ve got.”

“Oh no, B. You’re not getting me in one of your dresses. They barely fit you, they’ll never cover my ass and tits.”

“Have faith, girl. Have faith.”

Sadly, I have very little. I love Bailey, but at times she has questionable taste. Our styles are opposite in every way, not just with how much skin we deem acceptable to expose.

“Yessss…” she squeals, and my stomach drops into my heels. “This will look killer on you.”

She pulls out a scrap of navy fabric and holds it up in front of me with a wide smile on her face.

“B, you won’t catch me dead wearing that.”

“Just try it on. It’s a little big for me.” I don’t see how that’s possible, seeing as it looks like it’s a size zero from this distance, but I keep my mouth shut. “It’ll be perfect. And,” she adds, an idea hitting her, “it might help with that little situation you’re in the middle of.”

“I’m not in the middle of anything,” I say, swiping the hanger from her because I already know that fighting with her on this is pointless. I may as well just try it on, prove it doesn’t fit, and then hope she’ll allow me to revisit my wardrobe for a dress that will cover what God gave me.

“It’s been what? A year since a guy so much as touched you.”

It’s been almost a year and a half since my last failed attempt at a date, but I refrain from correcting her.

I shimmy my jeans down my legs and carefully pull my blouse off before laying them out over Bailey’s bed. “What?” I ask when she shakes her head at me.

“You know it is okay to sometimes leave clothes in a pile on the floor, right?”

“I’m a neat freak. You could have to deal with a hell of a lot worse than me following you around and tidying up after your messy ass.”

She rolls her eyes and hands me the dress once I’m in only my underwear. Deciding that pulling it up might be the easiest option, I step into the fabric and attempt to drag it over my hips. The material has more stretch than I gave it credit for, because it skims happily over my curves. I pull the straps up my arms and put them into place over my shoulders before looking down.

“Okay, you are so wearing that. Have you seen your ass?”

“Weirdly, no,” I sass, looking over my shoulder at the mirror behind me. I nod, because I can’t deny that the fabric hugs it pretty nicely.

“You gotta lose the bra though.”

“Nope. Not happening.”

Bailey’s hip juts out and she rests her hand on it as she stares at me in a ‘go on, try and argue’ stance.

“There’s enough support in the dress.”

“I’m sure it’ll hold them up just fine, I’m more worried about flashing someone.”

“Making your mission a sure success.”

“I’m not on a mission. I’m perfectly happy as—”

“Nope. You need a man-induced orgasm. End of.”

I know I’ve been a little uptight recently, but it’s not my lack of male attention that’s causing it, and I doubt a night with one will solve the issue.

Bailey must see my shoulders drop, because she walks over and takes my hands in hers. “I know you’re worried about her. I am too. But sitting around the house feeling guilty about not being able to do more isn’t going to help in any way. No matter the results, you still have a life. You may as well at least attempt to enjoy yourself.”

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