Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: BRAND (01/12/17)
TITLE: Forever Mine
By Ashley Rowland
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Her thumbs flew over the keys then she hopped off the bed and slipped her phone in her pants. She smoothed frizz from her hair then bounced to the window. She held the curtain back with her shoulder and pulled up the window. She glanced back at the bedroom door then ducked out and ran to the corner.
"You ready?" Preston stood with a crooked grin.
Shannon smiled up at him. "I've got some ideas."
He swung onto the Ducati and handed her the spare helmet. "I have something in mind."
Shannon slid on the helmet. "What is it?" She climbed onto the motorcycle and hugged his muscular waist.
"It's a surprise."
"On my body."
"You'll have to wait and see."
Shannon listened to the sound of the bike as they made their way into the city, but she wished she could move.
Preston finally stopped, and Shannon hopped off. She removed the helmet and scrunched her hair. "Tell me now."
Preston's lips tightened. Turning to the shop, he pulled the door open.
Framed graphics of all sizes fit like puzzle pieces on brick walls. A nudge to her lower back propelled her to the desk and a brunette whose nametag read Kat. "Where're your tattoos?"
Kat shrugged. "Not covered because I'm a tattoo artist. What can I do for you?"
Preston put his arm around Shannon's shoulders. "She wants a tattoo." He dropped a sketch on the counter. "This."
Shannon lay a hand on the counter and leaned over. "The infinity symbol? That's it?"
Preston looked down at his feet. "It's perfect. Means 'forever.' My initial in the center makes it." He shifted his weight.
She studied Preston and glanced back at the sketch. It was pretty sweet. "Okay."
Preston rewarded her with a crooked grin.
Shannon sat down, watching and asking questions as Kat set up what she needed. When prompted, she lay her hand on the table palm-up, allowing Kat to prep the area and apply a small stencil to her wrist. She rubbed her free hand on her pants.
"Here we go."
She sucked in a breath as the needle passed through her skin. Her stomach rolled. Looking up at the blurry prints on the walls, she took a breath.
Shannon trembled with relief when Kat declared the work done. Her wrist stung as Kat gave after-care instructions; Kat's mouth moved but the words didn't register. At least there was a sheet.
"Now the picture." Kat reached for a digital camera.
"No picture." Preston pulled Shannon up by the elbow.
She pulled away as she walked to the door. "What was that about?"
"I don't want it copied."
Shannon held on, watching the buildings whiz by her. Why were they going a different way home? "Where we goin'?" She yelled to be heard.
Preston held up a hand.
A brick building greeted them with peeling paint when they stopped. She pulled her helmet off and gazed up. "Where are we?"
Shannon crossed her arms. "Tell me now or I'm not goin' in."
He blew out a breath. "You want to be a singer…" He motioned toward the building.
"Really?" She squeaked the word out. A dirty flight of stairs awaited her on the other side of the door, but she hardly noticed. She bounded up the steps, bursting into the room advertising auditions.
She paused two steps into the room. Several girls sat on a stained couch, each one wearing less than the next; not one looked up at her. A burly man crossed his arms and raked his gaze from her neck down. She took a step back.
Preston's voice sounded hard behind her. "Where you going?"
"Uh…I think we're in the wrong place."
"This is the place." He stepped beside her and lifted her hand. The bandage on her wrist moved as he rubbed it. "You belong here now." He clenched an arm around her shoulders.
She stiffly walked with him toward the couch, and he shoved her next to one of the trembling girls. Shannon looked from the girl to Preston. What was he doing? Her gaze snapped back to the girl - to her hands lying palm-up. An infinity symbol with the letter P glared at her. She looked down at her own bandaged wrist.
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