‘Listen, dude, either pick a design or piss off. I’ve got other people I could book in.’ Christen said, tiredly, leaning across the counter and glaring at the man who was lazily flipping through the design book without even leaning towards any particular pattern.
Christen had seen this type before. Balding, sweaty businessmen who’d just realized that they were invisible to the pretty, young ladies and were now desperately trying to make themselves feel young and hot and wanted again. Some bought cars, some had affairs, and some like this asshole, got tattoos. But Christen had already had a long day and could no longer be bothered with pussyfooting around with him.
‘Hang on, hang on!’ The man snapped. ‘I’m trying to find -’
The bells on the door chimed and Christen stood up straight, expecting to see Kelley’s four o’clock stepping in for her tattoo, but… seeing Tobin, instead. Surprised, but not disappointed, Christen stepped away from the man who couldn’t make up his fucking mind and over to the door, where Tobin was.
Tobin’s face broke into a beaming smile, just as blinding as she remembered. ‘You remember me?’
Christen blinked at the odd question. Of course, she remembers her. Why wouldn’t she? They worked just across the street from each other; she could see Tobin working in her shop when she looked over, every once in a while. Not that, uh, she looked a lot. Or anything.
‘Uh, ‘course I fucking remember you. You brought me flowers.’ Christen said, out loud. ‘You’re not doing that again, are you? The last ones died and got so gross I had to toss the whole jar out.’ She grumbled with a sigh.
‘Well, did you change their water?’
‘...No. Why the hell would I?’
‘Well, to make them last longer.’
Tobin’s tone was surprisingly patient. She spoke softly, and not like she thought Christen was an idiot, something that anyone else would have done by this point. Most people did think she was a fucking idiot, assumed she had stumbled into the wrong profession because she was built like a yoga instructer yet clearly covered in tattoos. She had been on the receiving end of many judgemental looks her whole life but she didn’t owe anyone an explanation. If they didn’t like how she looked or what she chose to do for a living then they could fuck off. She wasn’t out here to please anybody. The only person who truly mattered was her damn self.
‘...So, you just got me a high-maintenance present?’ Christen asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
Tobin’s eyes followed the movement, watching her inked forearm muscles ripple as they tightened across her chest. She wanted to stare for a little longer, really take in the tattoo sleeves, commit the detailed lines to her memory so she could think about them later. She wanted to get closer, trace her fingertips over the undoubtedly soft skin, watch as goosebumps rise to prickle at the tanned skin.
Tobin shook her head and subtly cleared her throat as she darted her eyes to look away, a blush rising on her high cheekbones.
‘Medium-maintenance.’ Tobin murmured, wetting her dry lips.
She seemed guilty. And that was when Christen realized that curled in one hand, she had another mason jar, this time filled with Stargazer Lilies.
‘No.’ Was the immediate response out of Christen’s mouth.
‘C’mon, please?’ Tobin asked, tilting her head to one side, immediately making Christen think that she looked just like a puppy, big brown eyes and all. ‘I had so many extras… and I thought of you when I saw them because they’re so nice and so are you.’
Christen’s protest died, mid-sentence, her mouth stuttering to a close and her brows burrowing for a second. Nice? No one’s ever called her nice…
And apparently she wasn’t the only one who had that thought. The man at the counter, who was still aimlessly flipping through the book, let out a snort that he tried - and failed - to turn into a cough. Christen turned her head and glared daggers at him.
‘You almost fucking finished?’ She growled out, her face forming a snarl.
The man nearly dropped the book under the weight of Christen’s glare, the smug smile sliding off of his smarmy face. Christen huffed with satisfaction and turned to look back at Tobin.
‘Lilies don’t match the decor.’ She said, shaking her head at the offer as her eyes darted back down to the mason jar with disdain.
‘It’ll brighten the place up!’ Tobin said, not at all put-off by it. She set the jar on the counter, where the last one had been.
‘The place doesn’t NEED brightening.’ Christen groaned, rolling her eyes.
But, Tobin only grinned sweetly and hurried back out the door. Christen briefly thought about launching the jar after her… but, just clucked her tongue and turned back to the dopey piece of shit that was still just standing there.
‘Pick a fucking PATTERN, already. Jesus Christ!’
(Those flowers weren’t moved, either. And they lasted longer, when Christen changed their water.)