Welcome, and join us as we count down the final 10 days before Beyond Ruin by revisiting some of our favorite Mad, Dylan, Scarlet & Jade moments from the past six books! We’ll be posting an image each day on social media, but here on the blog we’ll be doing a longer excerpt and maybe even a few notes about the scene. 🙂 And today is…
Day 10 – Jade Getting her O’Kane Ink
Jade’s introduction to the series was pretty dramatic back in Beyond Control (and we’ll get to that later!) and it took until book #4 before she was recovered enough to commit to membership. This scene is from Ace’s POV, and shows one of my favorite things–Ace’s process for deciding how he’s going to customize each person’s wrist cuffs. (Obviously they don’t get any say in the matter–Ace is an artist, damn it.)
Ace can be perceptive about people. In this scene, he’s damn near prescient.
* * *
Jade didn’t like the needles.
Not that she gave any sign—she endured being tattooed with a quiet stoicism practiced enough to be depressing—but Ace knew women. He knew their bodies and all the ways they could tense and tremble, especially when pain was involved.
Jade didn’t like the needles, and he didn’t like putting the hurt on a woman who already seemed terrifyingly fragile. “You still with me, honey? Last thing I want is a gorgeous lady bursting into tears in my chair.”
The corners of her mouth twitched in a whisper of a smile. “You’re right, Trix. He’s a flirt.”
“Told you.” The redhead leaned over, bracing her elbows on the table. “It looks good, Jade. Real good.”
Usually Trix leaning over anything made for a banner day. The redhead had a killer rack and a wardrobe meant to show it off, and Ace had always enjoyed ogling her tits.
Today, he was too hung over to summon more than a sad echo of his usual grin. “So, you two like to talk about me, huh?”
“Don’t start,” Trix advised. “You were drunk as shit last night. Even if we wanted to bask in your attentions today, you’d be no good to either of us.”
“Baby, I’m an O’Kane. My drunk attentions would still rock your world.”
“So I hear.”
It was Trix at her sultriest, flashing a knowing gaze and a teasing pout, and he supposed he was lucky she was still talking to him at all. The O’Kane women were harder to get between than an Eden virgin’s thighs, which meant he’d been getting a lot of cold shoulders since he’d pissed off Rachel.
Last night sure as hell wasn’t gonna fix that.
Swiping the spot he’d just been working on, Ace spent a moment admiring the clean lines swirling across Jade’s brown skin. The O’Kane emblem was always the centerpiece of a member’s cuffs, but the framing had to fit the person. Trix’s were among his favorite—lace and swooping curves, just like her—but something sassy and flirty wouldn’t work with Jade.
She was elegant, and she was tough. Lex had hauled the woman out of Sector Five, drugged out of her skull and so past addicted that even Doc hadn’t thought she’d pull through. Her fragility was skin-deep at best, an illusion that would fade as her health came back.
No lace for her. Nothing delicate. Strong roots twining around the emblem and twisting down, forming an unshakable base. Strong branches rising above, dotted by tiny leaves. He’d spent most of a sleepless night sketching it, and a good part of the morning refining it.
Yeah, he’d been drunk off his ass, but he was still a fucking genius.
Jade tensed as he started the next line, her stoicism wavering, and Ace filled the silence quickly. “So, there must be a party in the offing. Noah and Six haven’t had their big O’Kane welcome yet, and now you’ll be needing one, too.” He shot Trix a meaningful look—Help me distract her—before resuming his work.
Trix winked and stroked Jade’s hair back from her forehead. “You and Ace should help me convince Scarlet to get her band out here for it. Her bass player’s delicious.”
“She’s delicious,” Ace replied, flashing Trix a teasing grin. “Better watch out, Trixie-girl. I bet you’re just her type. I heard she likes her girls all pretty and curvy.”
Trix blushed. “She’s too into power games for me, thanks.”
“Everything’s a power game,” Jade murmured. “Sometimes we don’t realize we’re playing, and sometimes we’re not playing the game we thought…but if there’s trust, there’s power. And if there’s no trust, it’s just a more dangerous version of the game.”
Trix propped her chin on one hand. “Do you really believe that?”
“Mmm. That’s all my training was, at the heart of it. Learning to recognize what game a person wanted to play, even if he didn’t know it himself.”
An elegant way to put it, but Sector Two trained their courtesans to be refined and clever. Ace’s mentor had tailored his lessons to his student, and Ace had learned the blunt version. Almost nobody knows what they really want. Figure it out before they do, and you own them.
Great advice, if you could follow it. The two people he’d trained with had. Jared and Gia could spend five minutes with anyone, man or woman, and know a half-dozen paths straight to their soul. Ace had always preferred games where the rules were set in advance—games where they had to be set in advance, because you couldn’t play them if everyone wasn’t on board.
Maybe if he’d studied better, he’d know what games Rachel wanted to play.
“What if you love someone?”
Jade hesitated, and Ace glanced up in time to catch a flicker of sadness before she schooled her features again. “I imagine it’s a much scarier game with far higher stakes.”
He had blunt words for that concept, too—too fucking much to lose.
* * *
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