My shoulders fell. I didn’t expect him to agree.

“Let me pierce your nose,” Hazel said, her eyes bright.

“One of these days,” I said.

“Baby doll, don’t let them talk you into anything you don’t want to do. There’s no shame in being scared of needles,” Trenton said.

“Then let me ink you,” he said.

“You’re a bartender for Christ’s sake,” Hazel said. “You should have at least one tat.”

I glared at each of them. “Is this peer pressure? Because that’s lame.”

“How am I pressuring you? I just said not to let anyone talk you into anything,” Trenton said.

“And then you told me to let you give me a tat.”

He shrugged. “I admit it would be kickass to know I inked you first. It’s kind of like taking your virginity.”

“Well, that would require going back in time, and that’s not going to happen,” I said with a smirk.

“Exactly. This is the next best thing. Trust me,” he said, his voice low and smooth.

Hazel cackled. “Oh, God. I’m ashamed to admit that line totally worked on me.”

She burst out laughing again. “I wish!” She closed her eyes and cringed. “Bobby Prince. Smooth talker. Tiny penis.” She spoke the last sentence in falsetto, and held up her index finger and thumb, not even an inch apart.

We all shook with laughter. Hazel was dabbing the wet skin beneath her eyes. Once we regained our composure, I caught Trenton staring at me. Something in the way he was looking at me made me forget all about being responsible, and reason. For once, I just wanted to be young, and not think too hard or too much. “Okay, Trent. Pop my cherry.”

“Are we doing this or what?” I asked.

“What do you want?” He walked over to the computer and popped a pen in his mouth, holding it lengthwise in his teeth.

I thought for a moment, and then smiled. “Baby Doll. Across my fingers.”

“You’re shittin’ me,” Trenton said around the pen, stunned.

He chuckled and took the pen out of his mouth. “No, I like it . . . a lot . . . but that’s a helluva tattoo for a virgin.” He popped the pen back in, freeing up his hand to move the mouse.

I smirked. “If I’m going to lose it, I want to be broken in right.”

The pen fell from Trenton’s mouth to the floor, and he bent down to pick it up. “Uh . . . any, uh . . . any special font?” he said, glancing back at me once before drawing it up on the computer.

“I want it to look a little girly so I don’t look like I came straight from prison.”

“Like Smurf blue?” he teased. When I didn’t answer, he continued. “How about a gradient look. Blue at the bottom and then as I get higher on the letters it slowly fades out?”

“Radtastic,” I said, nudging him with my shoulder.

Once I decided on font and color, Trenton printed out the transfers, and I followed him back to his room.

I sat on the chair, and Trenton got his equipment ready.

“This is going to be badass,” Hazel said, sitting in a chair not far from me.

Trenton slipped on some latex gloves. “I’m just going to use a single needle. It’s still going to hurt like a bitch, though. Going to be right on the bone. You don’t have any fat on your fingers.”

Trenton laughed once as he cleaned each of my fingers with a green soap, wiped that off, and then put alcohol on a cotton square and rubbed each of the fingers he planned to tattoo. “It might not take the first time. You might have to get it done again.” He used one finger to wipe a tiny bit of Vaseline where he cleaned with alcohol.

Trenton situated the transfers. “What do you think? Do they look straight? Is that how you want them?”

“Just make sure it’s spelled right. I don’t want to be one of those jackasses with a misspelled tattoo.”

Trenton chuckled. “It’s spelled right. I’d be a complete jerk-off if I couldn’t spell two four-letter words correctly.”

“You said it, not me,” I teased.

Hazel shook her head. “Don’t insult him before he permanently draws on your skin, girl!”

Trenton turned on the machine, and then looked at me with a soft expression. “You’re already beautiful.”

I could feel my cheeks flush. When Trenton was sure the transfers were dry and he touched the needle to my skin, it was more of a nice distraction than excruciating pain. Trenton drew, then wiped, and repeated the process, concentrating hard. I knew he would make sure it was perfect. Even though the pain wasn’t as bad at first, as the minutes ticked by, the annoying burning I felt on my fingers each time he began to mark my skin made it very tempting to pull away.

“Done!” he said, barely fifteen minutes later. He cleaned off the smeared ink, revealing the letters on my fingers. The blue was so vivid. It was gorgeous. I faced the mirror, made fists, and held them together.

Trenton handed me a few packages of Aquaphor. “Keep this on it. Good shit. Especially for color.”

For just a moment, he stared at me as if he really had just taken my virginity. Butterflies swarmed in my stomach, and my chest felt warm. I took a few steps backward, and turned toward the vestibule. The phone rang, but Hazel answered for me.

Trenton leaned his elbows on the counter, smiling at me with the most ridiculous simper.

“Stop it,” I said, trying not to smile back.

“I didn’t say anything,” he said, still grinning like an idiot.

My cell phone buzzed, and then buzzed again. “Hey, Chase,” I said, already knowing why he was calling.

“Mom’s cooking tonight. See you at five.”

“I have to work. She knows I work weekends.”

“Which is why it’s family dinner instead of family lunch.”

I sighed. “I don’t get off until seven.”

“From where? You’re not working at the Red?”

“Yes . . .” I said, silently cussing myself for slipping. “I’m still bartending. I got a second job.”

“A second job? Why?” he asked, his voice full of disdain. Chase was a pacemaker rep and thought he was hot shit. He made good money, but he liked to pretend he was a doctor when, in fact, he just fetched coffee to suck up to the staff.

Chase was quiet for a long time, and then finally spoke. “Coby’s using again, isn’t he?”

I closed my eyes tight, not knowing what to say.

“Get your ass to Mom’s at five, or I’m coming to get you.”