I just kept staring, not sure what to say. “Uh...it’s, um...”
“You didn’t get anything girly, like a heart, or rose, or butterfly, did you?”
“No...” I blinked at the tattoo. “It’s...actually a word.”
“Well, what does it say?”
“Nothing,” I was quick to answer. Too quick.
“Nothing?” she repeated. “As in, it literally says the word nothing? N-O-T-H-I-N-G?”
“Yep. It says nothing.”
“Why would you get a tattoo that said nothing?”
“Probably because I was stupid drunk. I don’t know. Why do we ever do anything? Why is the world round and rotates in a circle? Why does the sun come up in the morning and the moon out at night?”
“Okay, now you sound weird.” Caroline pulled open the shower door and opened her mouth, only to stop cold when I turned to her and she saw my tattoo for herself. Her eyes widened. “That’s my name.”
“Yeah...” I said slowly. I had her name embedded into my skin...with permanent ink.
I constantly ragged on Pick for tattooing his woman’s name onto his skin. I told him it was bad ju-ju. He’d end up losing her somehow—she’d leave, she’d die, she’d get dragged away by flying monkeys—and then he’d just be stuck with a bittersweet reminder of what he no longer had. And yet, here I was, copying the son of a bitch. He’d never let me live this down.
I cracked my eyes open and caught Caroline studying it quietly.
“What?” I asked.
She shook her head before she smiled. “It could be worse. You could’ve gotten falling-down drunk and slept with some other girl, but instead, you thought of me, and got my name branded on you.”
I sighed. Yeah, I guess it could’ve been worse. But I still felt sick with worry, because seriously, it was never good luck when I got a drunk tattoo. Though I was a little thrilled by seeing her name stamped in my skin, and even more thrilled to see how much it pleased her, I also remained as uneasy as hell, because fuck, what if this piece of bad luck ended up making me lose her?
I still wasn’t too pleased by the time we finished cleaning up and limped our way down to breakfast. Wearing a dark set of shades and leaning a little against Caroline to keep me upright—while she leaned back for the very same reason—I pointed as soon as I spotted Ham.
“You, you motherfucker. What the hell happened last night?” I lifted my hands as I stood over him. He glanced up from his breakfast, and I arched my eyebrows. “You let me get a fucking tattoo?”
I knew he had to have been sober the entire night. Not only was he not much of a drinker to begin with, but since his woman couldn’t drink a lot after her kidney donation, he’d follow the same path for her.
He just smiled and shook his head. “If you knew everything I kept you from doing last night, you’d realize the tattoo was actually very minor.”
“Oh God.” I slumped into a chair and cradled my head in my hands. “What else did I do?”
If he told me I tried to pick up some other chick, I’d puke. It wouldn’t be so hard—I already felt like I might. When Caroline sat next to me and touched my back, I set my hand on her leg, bracing for the worst.
Hamilton and Blondie glanced at each other before they shook their heads and smiled. “Man, you two definitely know how to have a good time,” was all he said.
But I needed a little more information than that. “What?” I demanded. “What did we do that could possibly be worse than a tattoo?”
“Where should we start?” Hamilton chuckled. “First I had to keep you from beating the tar out of some guy who was looking at Caroline. I guess you learned that he’d offered to buy her a drink earlier in the day, and...” He whistled under his breath and shook his head. “After I pulled you away from him, you made a big spectacle of telling everyone we passed that she was your woman. I swear, people in Nevada, and Oregon and Arizona heard the announcement that Caroline was with you.”
“Okay,” I said slowly. I could handle telling a bunch of drunk strangers that Caroline was mine. “Is that all?”
“Not even close.” Zwinn exchanged another amused glance amongst themselves. “There was a point in there you decided you were going to tell Noel about...” He motioned between Caroline and me. “You know.”
I glanced at Caroline. She was wearing sunglasses too, so I couldn’t see her eyes, but she did cover her mouth with her hand, obviously horrified.