This was written for the lovely Miss RhythmJunkie's birthday. She is an amazing author and a wonderful girl to know. Please treat yourself and check out her stories here ( http : /www . fanfiction . net/u/2088557/rhythm_junkie ). "Valley of your Heart" is my personal favorite.
Happy Birthday, gorgeous!
It was also written very, very quickly and therefore not beta'd. My apologies for any errors.
"Jesus," Edward hissed, "you whine more than the college girls do."
"Well you're going over bone, bro," Jasper explained.
"Aww, sorry, princess. You on your period? You want to get a milkshake and go home?"
"I'm going to kick your ass fifteen ways from Sunday when this tattoo is done, you know that, don't you?"
Edward laughed. "No, you won't. You love my work. You'll never let anyone else ink you."
Jasper scoffed, barely noticing the chime of the bell as another customer entered the tattoo parlor.
"I beg to differ, jackass. I let Emmett start this very piece."
"Outline. You let Emmett start the outline. A chimpanzee could do an outline. You need me for the shading. Unless you want this flaming phoenix to come out looking like spaghetti lying on a sunflower."
Jasper laughed. "You got me there, man. You're cocky but your results always blow me away."
Edward stopped the buzzing of the electric needle to give his client a confident grin.
Jasper craned his neck to look at the flames taking on brilliant sunset hues of red, orange and yellow, the soft, skillful blending making the colors almost seem to shimmer underneath the dots of blood that were oozing through his irritated skin.
Edward wiped the intricate design with a clean white cloth. "Mind if we take a break?" he asked. "I could use a smoke."
"No problem," Jasper replied, standing to better view the work-in-progress that was climbing up his back and over his left shoulder.
And it was then, staring into the mirror, that he finally noticed the new customer.
Slowly leafing through the photobooks that displayed the shop's artists' best work, she looked like a perfect, soft little cupcake to Jasper. No ink peeped out from beneath her plain white t-shirt, no piercings to glint from her face and ears. She looked young, but not too young, curvy but not too curvy. Her hair was a glossy but natural-looking brown – he was taken aback to see a completely unmodified woman in this out-of-the-way tattoo parlor. She must be a gutsy little thing, sitting here by herself, contemplating her first ink. When she bit her lip looking through the photographs, Jasper was surprised by the desire to bite it as well. He couldn't resist touching her, even if it was just with words.
He cleared his throat, prompting her to look up.
One eyebrow lifted, and he put on his most charming smile.
"I'm in that book, you know."
The girl looked amused at his forward charm, returning the smile before turning her eyes back to the book, feigning disinterest.
"Are you really? This one?"
She turned the book around to show him a photo of a very colorful and beautifully detailed unicorn rearing up in front of a rainbow.
Jasper brought his hand to his heart.
"Darlin'," he choked, "I'm offended at how deeply you misjudge me. In case this," he gestured to the fiery bird on his shoulder, "didn't tip you off, I ain't the unicorns and rainbows type of guy."
She chuckled at him, feeling bold enough to provoke just a little more.
"What am I looking for, then? Pin-up girls? Flaming skulls and dice?"
He shook his head as he walked towards her, shirtless but with the blood-spotted white towel laid gently across his newest body art.
Leaning so close to her that she could smell him, he began flipping pages and she could not resist treating herself to a secret lungful.
"Something slightly more … personal," he murmured as he searched the photographs.
Her eyes closed softly as she delighted in his scent; a heady breath of masculinity, dark musk punctuated by a hint of something sweet and foreign … coconut? Sugar cane?
Before she could take a deeper breath, a ball of caffeinated energy bounced in from the back room.
"There you are, Bella!" she sang, darting between Jasper and the girl, almost knocking him over in her flight towards her friend. "I didn't hear you come in!"
The little green haired pixie planted herself on the leather couch next to the mystery girl, kissing her cheek and wrapping her up in a tight hug. The book that had been in Bella's hands fell to the floor with a pop.
"I'm so glad you came! I was afraid you'd change your mind! I have the stuff we talked about back at my workstation. Were you waiting out here long? Has this fool been bothering you?"
It was a running joke that Alice talked faster than an auctioneer. She was up off the couch, pulling her friend by the hand before Bella could explain that, no, the sexy blond guy was not bothering her, he was about to show her something and he actually had a scent quite similar to what she imagined sex smelled like in heaven.
But Alice was a force of nature, and before she could so much as look backwards, Bella was being dragged towards the back room like a towed vehicle.
Crinkling his brow, Jasper sighed and picked up the book, placing it back on the table carefully, open to the picture of his own tattoo: an anatomical heart, with ragged-looking dragonfly wings in beautiful, subtle shades of blue and green. A thorny-stemmed rose pierced the heart through, its beautifully rendered petals blushing with a soft pink glow.
So much for the bold little brunette.
Before he could mourn his prospects too long, the jingle of the door and Edward's cloud of nicotine brought him back into the moment.
"Ready to finish up, Jas?"
Jasper nodded and climbed back into the padded seat as Edward washed his hands and lifted the electrified needle, tapping it into the tiny cap of saffron-colored ink and touching the sting gently into his friend's skin.
With a deep breath, Jasper settled back into himself. The buzzing of the needle, the rough kiss of pain moving along his skin, they calmed him. It was why he had become addicted to ink in the first place after getting a military themed tattoo the week he left the Marines. Life was full of noise and demands and account numbers and things to be figured out and decided. But here, perched comfortably in the seat, the warm sizzling scratch of the tattoo needle was a comfort, an escape. There was nothing to be done but lay back, eyes closed, and trust in Edward's capable hands.
Jasper imagined for a moment that the tattoo parlor, for him, was a place much like a spa is for some women.
And as the word 'women' began to roll faster in his mind, as if on cue, twin giggles sounded from behind the privacy curtain.
Edward was a new artist, and though his original designs and skillful colorwork were gaining him a good reputation, the business was still largely undiscovered. Jasper had never had to share the place with another client before. He had been here on many occasions, and had never even noticed there was another workstation behind the dark burgundy crushed velvet curtain. He assumed that the unseen part of the shop just held supplies, and perhaps some of the ladylike decorum that Alice lacked.
"Hey, who's the noob?" Jasper asked while Edward dipped back into the ink.
"The 'noob' can hear you." Bella's amused voice sounded from behind the curtain. "This fabric isn't soundproof."
The dark folds of cloth lifted and Alice's irritated face scowled at him on his side of the divider.
"And for your information, soldier boy, she's not a noob. This is her seventh piece." She stuck her tongue out at him before disappearing back under the curtain.
Seventh? Jasper was surprised to find she had nearly as many tattoos as he did. This phoenix taking flight on his shoulder was his eighth.
"Where? I didn't see any ink on you, sweetheart."
Even without seeing her, he could hear Bella's smile in her voice as she responded. "Wouldn't you love to know?"
Edward was nudging Jasper to sit back and stop squirming, but in the interest of maintaining contact, he couldn't help but jab at her one more time.
"Let me guess, little pink butterflies? A daisy? Or cartoon characters? How about a heart with your boyfriend's name on it?"
Bella scoffed. "What boyfriend?"
Ding ding ding. She's single.
Alice huffed. "Just ignore him," she told Bella. Edward picked up a remote control in his free hand and the iPod deck on the counter started to play Grizzly Bear's "While You Wait For The Others." Jasper frowned at Edward, the music now effectively blocking him from flirting with the girl on the other side of the divider.
"You can chat her up all you want later, bro," he whispered just loud enough for his client to hear. "I need you to be still or I'll fuck this up."
Jasper heard the whirr of another tattoo gun on the other side of the privacy curtain, and closed his eyes, exhaling a hum of satisfaction as the endorphin buzz lapped over him. His heart twisted in his chest to think that Bella, just a few feet away, was experiencing this exact same feeling. The crisp sting, the sweet pain that accompanied this visual confirmation of love. The coolness of the spray as the artist wiped fresh blood away from newly-colored skin. The excitement and taboo euphoria of committing yourself to a design, as it was committed to you. His mind drifted to the thought of her skin … where was she hiding her first six pieces? Was she half-naked over there under Alice's fingers? What color ink was being tap tap tapped into that creamy, snowpale skin? How close to her breasts? How close to her …
If Edward hadn't chosen that moment to shift, his cool, calloused, masculine hands adjusting their angle against Jasper's shoulder, he would have been hard.
That would be difficult to explain.
So, for the next hour, Jasper limited his amorous imagination to above-the-neck action, picturing his hands swimming through her auburn hair, the heat of her breath on his face as be brought his mouth slowly, so slowly, to her bitten-pink lips. He thought of how she would taste when he pressed his tongue into her mouth, the delight of feeling her warm mouth open to him, inviting him, needing him. He imagined the hum of pleasure vibrating from her throat as he moved his kisses lower, sucking softly at her collarbone, leaving wet trails of desire up her neck and behind her ear.
"And there you have it," Edward announced with pride. He stood, stepping back to admire his work.
Blinking himself out of his reverie, Jasper rose and looked in the mirror, feeling slightly woozy from the long session but breathlessly thrilled at the perfection of the shading in the fire surrounding the dark phoenix.
"You're a genius," Jasper laughed. "It looks amazing. Better than I'd hoped."
Edward smiled and clapped him on the back. "It's a gorgeous design. It was a pleasure to work on."
He stood to get the A&D ointment for Jasper, smoothing a thick layer on the irritated skin before laying gauze over the design and taping it down gently.
He hadn't even finished covering up the piece before Alice peeked her head under the burgundy curtain.
"Can I borrow your A&D? I'm all out on this side."
Edward passed it to her and she disappeared again.
"Hey, you mind if I take some pictures for the lookbook again? I'll give you a discount," Edward asked.
"Yeah, man," Jasper agreed. "I'd be happy to."
Edward grabbed a digital camera and shot a few photographs from several different angles to show off the careful shading and bold style of the completed phoenix. As he stood there, bare-chested, Alice slid back the divider and Jasper was just able to catch a glimpse of Bella pulling her shirt back on.
Edward thanked his client and handed him his shirt. As he buttoned it up the front, he couldn't help but notice Bella sneak a shy smile at him as she crossed the shop to retrieve her bag from the couch.
They both walked to the counter, where Alice unnecessarily repeated their aftercare instructions while they paid for their new body art, Jasper's heart thumping hard as he dared to brush Bella's bare arm with his own. While the two artists turned back to clean up their workstations, he seized his opportunity.
"So what did you get?" he asked Bella.
"Let me see yours first, now that it's finished," she nodded to his chest with a playful smile.
Without a hint of shyness, Jasper kept his eyes on hers as he unbuttoned his shirt and slid it from his shoulders. Pulling a little of the medical tape back, he lifted the gauze to reveal the phoenix, glossy with ointment but dramatic and beautiful.
She hummed in approval as she drank in the careful detail, her fingers darting out to touch but stopping short of contact on the raw, sensitive skin.
"It's gorgeous," she hummed, her eyes tracking its curve over his shoulder. She moved to follow the design to where it spread onto his upper back.
And that's when he heard her breath catch in her throat as she took in his other ink.
He couldn't restrain the smile at the thought that his body had impressed her that much.
"See something you like?" he teased, flexing his back muscles.
"Neruda," she whispered.
"What?" he asked, before remembering the lines of poetry on the back of his shoulderblade. "Oh, right. I got that about two years ago."
"If I touch near the fire, the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you," she read in breathless wonder.
Suddenly she pulled her t-shirt roughly over her head, revealing a plum-colored bra hugging her creamy, modest breasts, and a bandage that curled up her hip and around her left side like a thin vine. Pulling the tape and gauze away, she revealed her new tattoo.
Jasper read the words slowly, his heart pounding and his voice husky with amazement as he realized they were the next lines of the very same poem embedded in his own skin.
"As if everything that exists, aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail to those isles of yours that wait for me."
Thanks for reading! Happy Birthday, RhythmJunkie!