'See now he's good and won't cost me the earth to keep on staff, but that's all he is; good. Look at his stuff. And then there's her, she's fucking unreal but she'll cost me. But the other upside is that she'll bring a hell of a lot of work to the shop, so technically I could afford her in the long run' said Shannon as he and Kerry, one of the guys employed by him at Gas Chamber Ink looked over resumes, trying to decide on who should get the last position to fill.
'You know what I'm gonna say, sorry man but I'm biased! Get Chloe, believe me she's worth her weight in gold, she's down to earth, she'd fit right in here' said Kerry, who had worked with the uber talented Chloe Daniels over at her current location Mad Ink three year ago. Since then she'd done a tour of guest spotting at studios across the US and two in England for some big names such as Kat Von D (even featuring on a few episodes of LA Ink) and Mr Cartoon in the states and Jason Butcher and Jo Harrison in the UK. She specialised in Japanese, biomechanical and portrait work, and after her recent tour other studios had decided to come home and work for Mad Ink so she could be close to her family and friends.
'Fuck it, she's hired' said Shannon after looking at a few more photographs of her work, and then at a picture of the lady herself.
'You ain't even gunna interview her?' asked Kerry, looking over his shoulder at the picture he held, a giant back piece of skulls and bones with such detail it looked like a photograph.
'Her work speaks for itself, and by the way you sing her praises she sounds like she's got the right attitude too. And she ain't hard on the eye either' he replied.
'Shame she's married huh?' chuckled Kerry as he watched Shannon eyeing her photograph.
'Not like I'd do anything about it even if she wasn't' he replied, in reference to his eight month relationship with his girlfriend Lauren.
'Yeah, okay boss' said Kerry in a tone of disbelief.
'I'm hiring her because she does work like this, even if she does so happen to look like that' said Shannon, holding up a picture of her work and then one of her. She looked kind of how Jessica Simpson would look if you mixed her with a biker girl. She had the top half of her hair blonde with the underside dyed dark red and then bright purple beneath that, and was covered in a canvass of tattoos. Hands, fingers, arms, chest, neck and a fair few more under her clothes too he wagered. And also she had gorgeous deep brown eyes, making her a lethal combination to him. Blonde, brown eyes, tattooed. He'd always considered heavily tattooed women to be very beautiful, but never encountered many in his home of Cameron.
'So can I call her and tell her she's in or do you wanna do it?' asked Kerry, hand hovering by the phone.
'Go for it bro, tell her she can start as soon as' replied Shannon, still looking at the picture. And so Kerry flipped out his phone and looked through for Chloe's number, feeling pleased his boss had chosen the right person for the job; even if he was biased.
'Honey I got it!! ARRRRRGH I'M SO FREAKIN' EXCITED!' shouted Chloe as she ran in from the kitchen where she'd been on the phone to Kerry. Her husband looked over the top of his book, smile fleetingly and then returned to it.
'Great, I'm pleased for you' he said meekly.
'Well gee, don't give yourself a stroke or anything' she muttered, feeling her heckles start to rise at what was no doubt about to come.
'Does it surprise you that much that I'm not exactly overjoyed at who you'll be spending every day with? I'm honestly pleased you got the job, but you know that while you're around him I'm not going to be ecstatic' replied Mike.
'You won't burn if you say his name you know' she said, sitting in the armchair opposite her husband.
'Okay, so I'm not going to be happy about you and Kerry spending so much time together. You know I've never liked him' he said, his voice sounding strained when he said Kerry's name.
'And in turn you aren't his favourite person either Michael, but a least he manages to be civil on the rare occasions you two are in the same room' replied Chloe. Her friend and husband had never got on, with Mike being extremely intimidated by the bald, heavily inked tattoo artist. Kerry just didn't like his attitude full stop. He thought he looked down his nose at Chloe, something which pissed him off no end.
'I don't want to discuss this any longer. You got the job, well done, there we go' he said, holding his hand up. She went to speak again and thought better of it, deciding silence would be the best thing she could bring to the conversation. And as she sat there, wishing her husband could get over himself for long enough to be genuinely pleased for her, she didn't know that her start at Gas Chamber Ink would spark a change of events to change her life drastically.
It started as soon as she met and got to know her new boss. Now she couldn't deny that occasionally she'd see a man who turned her head, but her new boss was something else. And with the current state of her home life, that wasn't hard right then.
Chloe didn't look away once from the tattoo she was doing as he sat and spoke to her, not even when she paused to wipe ink away and re load her needle. It made her feel slightly nervous; she hated it when a man had that effect on her.
'Why'd I have to get a boss who's pure eye candy? Oh well, good money and something nice to look at, a girl can't complain' she thought, finally tearing her eyes away from the Samoan mask she was etching onto the man in front of her and looking at her boss to answer the question he'd just asked her.
'Sixty hours, and yes the armpit was the worst! I'll take elbow bone any day over armpit!' She said, holding her arm up and showing him the underside of her sleeve.
'Ain't many women out there brave enough to go in for the painful places, so where was your worst then?' he then asked.
'Inside of my lip, that was a bitch' she said, going back to face and shading the eye sockets.
'Yeah I hear that' he said, pulling down his lip to show her the 'Extinct' tattoo there.
'I'll show you mine when I ain't all gloved up' she said, and once she had finished tattooing she did, along with a few more of her large collection.
'You a Pantera fan then?' he asked as he read 'Far Beyond Driven' tattooed across her inner lip.
'Yeah, and I like what it means to me. That's how I'd describe the way I am in everything I do, far beyond driven' she replied, opening the bottle of juice in her hand and taking a sip.
'You gotta lot of words and statements tattooed here and there haven't you?' he said, noticing the 'I've seen my fate' tattoo on her neck, 'Baby Doll' across her fingers, 'Elizabeth' on the back of her hand surrounding a scared heart, and 'SUCCEED' in big letters across her stomach, similar to his but all in black and shaded grey tones.
'I like to put words on myself that mean something to me, I dunno, it's like they enforce what I believe, like if I have them tattooed on me no one can take them from me' she said.
'I understand that, it's like making something you have inside a part of you on the outside huh' he said, watching Chloe nod.
'Oh yeah totally, and if you'll excuse me boss but a certain someone I ain't seen in ages just walked in and I gotta say hi!' she said, running down the shop and jumping on Kerry as soon as he arrived.
'I missed you asshole' she said affectionately, scratching his beard as he carried her back along the shop.
'I missed you too skank' he said, kissing her cheek and putting her down again.
'Very affectionate little pet names you got for each other there' laughed Shannon, just before Kerry started to quiz his old buddy on what she'd been up to since they last saw each other properly.
'So how did your little travel around work out for you then?' he asked, sitting down next to her as Shannon sat cross legged on the table in front of them.
'It was a good learning curve, good to get my name out there a little bit too. The UK was a trip; I swear I love it out there. No one gives a shit, they just get on with what they gotta do and that's it, real straight up people, damn good artists too. The girl I worked with in Birmingham, shit she was amazing! And I lived in this little village called Moseley with a houseful of punks, I almost didn't come home!' she said, eyes lighting up as she remembered her time there.
'I'm sure Mike would have had something to say about that' said Kerry, raising his eyebrows and laughing.
'Ahhhhh I'd have to take him with me I suppose, with the little thing of being married to the dude and all' she said, moving out of the way for Shannon to climb down from the table to answer his cell.
'So then young lady, did anyone finish off the geisha I started on your side?' he then asked.
'And sign my own death warrant? Hardly big dude, she's all yours' Chloe replied, pulling up her top and showing him the unfinished Japanese girl done in horror style. She knew Kerry would have killed her for getting someone else to finish the job he'd started. She then looked over to where Shannon was standing momentarily and watched his head snap back in the other direction. 'Was he just checking me out?' she wondered, lowering her top again and listening to what her old friend had to say.
'Well now you're working here I can get round to finishing it. If you can handle the pain of course' he said, beginning to laugh as she hit him.
'Shut the fuck up, as I was saying to the big boss man, I got armpit tattoos. You know that makes me hardcore' she said, flexing her arm muscles and laughing back.
'You know, if I didn't know him better I'd say the big boss man was wishing you weren't a taken lady about now' said Kerry, nodding towards where Shannon was standing, still on the phone but staring at Chloe.
'Okay so you really need to shut the fuck up about now, okay?' She said, pointing her finger into his cheek as she got up.
'I'm only doing it to make his life hell sweetie' he laughed, getting up and heading to the back of the shop to throw his jacket down. And little did Chloe know or could ever guess at that moment, in just six weeks time because of her new boss she would wish she wasn't taken.