Blue Sargent did not consider herself an artist.
Unlike her mother, or most of the women she’d grown up around, Blue had always been more comfortable with a pair of scissors and a pack of construction paper than she was with watercolors or acrylic paints. She was not like Gansey, with his sprawling surrealist canvases, or Adam, with his rough, earnest charcoal drawings that littered the floor of their apartment.
Blue Sargent was not that kind of artist. That was why she handled the business aspects of Cabeswater Ink and left the tattoos to them. (She handled the piercings because getting paid to stab people was a lifelong dream that she couldn’t let go unrealized.)
It was also why she was so stunned by the fact that Adam Parrish was giving her permission to permanently doodle on his stupid, freckled back. “You know,” she said, staring down at the outline Gansey had drawn for her, “when I said that you needed to trust me more, that wasn’t supposed to be taken as an episode description for Jackass: Virginia.”
Adam looked over his shoulder at her, looking far less confident than he had twenty minutes ago. His lips were twisted into an impatient frown, and the muscles in his shoulders were tight, but there was a fondness around his eyes when he looked at her that didn’t leave. “If you don’t think you can do it, don’t,” he said, and the challenge was real, even if his tone was light.
She squinted at him and, without looking away, pressed down on the pedal at her foot, causing the tattoo gun to whir. The flinch was minuscule, but it was there. She sat the gun down on the table and leaned forward. “If you really trusted me,” she said, “you’d let me pierce your ear.” She flicked his ear lightly, ignoring his exaggerated look of annoyance. “You’d look good with gauges. They have cool ones that double as hearing aids, too.”
He gave her a flat look. Blue smirked, triumphant. It hadn’t been a competition, but he’d still backed down first. “Maybe you can talk Gansey into that one.”
“Talk me into what?” Blue and Adam both looked up at Gansey, who leaned in the doorway between the front lobby and the more private tattoo room. He looked as effortlessly handsome as always, even if his thick-framed glasses were crooked and his hair was mussed. Perhaps because his glasses were crooked and his hair was mussed.
“Letting me pierce your ears,” Blue said, smiling sweetly. Gansey and Adam shared a look that said dear God, no. “You know, for someone who does tattoos for a living, you really have a thing about needles,” she said, amusement clear in her tone.
Gansey shuddered. “It’s the sensation, Jane. We did not evolve to enjoy being struck with needles at a rate of two thousand times per second.” Blue considered asking Mr. Republican Legacy if the Good Old Party had changed their stance on evolution lately, but Adam cut in first.
“Minute,” he corrected. “Two thousand times per minute.” He held up a fist to Blue, who bumped it without hesitation.
Gansey pointed at him, eyebrows raised, and looked back to Blue. “Isn’t he supposed to be undergoing that particular torture right now?”
Blue threw her hands up. “You both see the doodles that I leave on the fridge-board, right? You’ve seen them?”
Adam raised an eyebrow at her. Technically, he raised both eyebrows—he never could seem to get just one, no matter how many times Blue had put a finger to one to hold it down while he struggled to raise the other—but the intention was there. Blue huffed a sigh and leaned down, pressing a quick kiss to his shoulder blade.
“I appreciate the thought,” she mumbled into his shoulder before nipping at it. She sat back. “But come on. Let’s forget this and go do something more fun with your back.”
He laughed, and Blue couldn’t help but grin. Adam’s laugh was a rare and beautiful thing, the sound always startled and joyful when Blue or Gansey could pull it out of him. He rolled over and sat up, pulling Blue in for a kiss and leaving his hand against her face. “I reckon that was the least sexy thing I’ve ever heard, Blue.”
Blue struggled to turn her grin into a pout, but a glance at Gansey’s fond expression made it impossible. “It wasn’t that bad,” she said, leaning into the touch as Adam traced her mouth with his thumb. He made a soft noise of disagreement.
“Gansey,” Blue said, a breath away from him, “probably thought that was sexy.”
“Gansey,” Adam said, tapping her bottom lip with his thumb, “can’t handle it when your ankles are exposed.” Blue wrapped her arms around his neck, grinning impishly.
Both of them turned, foreheads resting against each other’s, to look at Gansey, who was going pink around the ears. “Do you think he has a fetish?” Blue asked in a dramatic stage whisper.
The bell above the door of the shop went off, and Gansey raised a finger to point at them. “I’m going to go get that. And you two are going to stop tormenting me.”
“Unlikely,” said Adam, nipping at Blue’s neck as Gansey took a few steps backward into the lobby before sighing dramatically and turning away from them.
Blue erupted into laughter as soon as he was gone, and Adam tugged her in again.