BACK PIECE (Book #1: Skin Deep Inc.) by L.A. Witt
E-Original published by Swerve
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy sailor approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons. Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting. As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?
Outside, some of the guys from the gym were milling around in the parking lot, so Colin took Daniel around the back of the building where they’d have some privacy. There he stopped and faced him, fighting the urge to fidget nervously. “So, how’s the tattoo healing?”
“Good. Good.” Daniel shifted his weight. “It’s still kinda itchy, but it’s getting better.”
Colin grimaced sympathetically. “That’s the worst part. The pain I can deal with, but the itching sucks. You’re not scratching it, are you?”
“No, of course not.”
Their eyes met, and they both smiled, but quickly looked away. Awkwardness didn’t even have to set in—it was already present and accounted for.
After a moment, Colin raked a hand through his hair. “Look, things went really fast the other night, and I’m sorry. I mean, maybe—”
“No. No.” Daniel shook his head. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I just kind of freaked out.”
“But . . . why?” Colin struggled to hold his gaze. “Did I make you nervous?”
“No, you didn’t. But what we were doing . . . yeah. It did. Kinda.” He paused. “Okay, a lot.”
“So, how is that not me making you nervous?”
Color bloomed in Daniel’s cheeks, but blushing wasn’t as cute this time. He seemed genuinely uncomfortable and embarrassed, and Colin’s stomach turned with guilt over putting him in this position.
Daniel took a breath and met his gaze again. “The thing is, that was . . .” He scratched the back of his neck and added a barely audible, “My first time.”
“Your . . .” Colin blinked. “Are you serious?”
Daniel was bright red now, and nodded. “Yeah. I mean, I made out with a guy while I was on cruise, but otherwise . . .” He laughed uneasily. “I’m a virgin.”
Colin stared at him. “Really?”
“Wasn’t it obvious?”
“Not from the way you kissed, no.”
Daniel gave a soft, self-conscious laugh. “Beginner’s luck, I guess.”
“Something like that.”
Daniel moistened his lips. “So it wasn’t that I didn’t want to do anything the other night. I did. And it was . . .” He laughed again and looked at Colin. “It was amazing. I know I took off and all, but it was fucking . . .” He whistled, shaking his head.
Colin smiled. “Good. I was worried I’d maybe gone too fast. Pushed you too far.”
“No. It wasn’t your fault. I mean, I liked it. A lot. And I definitely want it. More. More of it. I just . . . I . . .” He pinched the bridge of his nose, pausing as if trying to collect his thoughts. “Okay, the reason I freaked out is afterward, I thought you’d want me to reciprocate. And I . . .” He dropped his hand and stared at the ground between them. “Man, I don’t have a fucking clue what I’m doing. I guess I was scared you’d be disappointed.”
“Disappointed?” Colin shook his head. “No, not at all.”
“Yeah.” Daniel laughed humorlessly. “That’s because I left before I had a chance to make an ass of myself.”
“My God. Did you think . . .” Colin cautiously stepped closer. “You wouldn’t have made an ass of yourself.”
Daniel said nothing.
Colin advanced again, and now he had to be well within Daniel’s comfort zone. He halted, giving Daniel a chance to pull back if he wasn’t comfortable, and when Daniel didn’t move, Colin reached for him. He paused, glancing around to make absolutely sure they were still alone out here, and then slid a hand around Daniel’s waist, his own skin prickling with goose bumps even before Daniel’s breath hitched. “So you’re afraid you won’t be good at it, right?”
Daniel nodded, still avoiding Colin’s eyes.
“Is that the only thing stopping you?”
“Definitely.” Daniel hesitated, but finally made eye contact. “Because I really, really wanted to keep going last time.”
Colin grinned. “Is that right?”
“Well, my house is just over there.” He nodded past Daniel. “Five minute walk, and my brother works nights, so we’ll have it to ourselves.” He lifted his eyebrows. “You want to?”
Daniel gulped. Then he whispered, “Yes, please.”