Spotlight: ‘By Her Touch’ by Adriana Anders (Excerpt + #Giveaway)
By Her Touch
(Blank Canvas #2)
Author: Adriana Anders
Publishing Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Undercover cop Clay Navarro left the Sultans biker gang a changed man. Its ringleaders may be awaiting trial, but he wears the memory of every brutal act he was forced to commit tattooed across his skin. He doesn’t have space in his messed-up life for anything gentle—not now, maybe not ever.
Dr. Georgette Hadley is drawn to the damaged stranger’s pain, intimidated but intrigued by the warmth that lies beneath Clay’s frightening exterior. But when the Sultans return looking for revenge, she finds herself drawn into the dirty underbelly of a life forged in violence…that not even her touch may be able to heal.
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The man who stood in her reception area didn’t look like he needed help. But then he removed the glasses, baring eyelids marred by ink, and George squinted over the desk at him. Taking off those lenses transformed him from a hard wall of masculinity into something more appealing, if just as intimidating.
“The eyelid tattoos?” she asked, moving around the desk.
“Yeah. Others too.”
Up close, she felt the difference in their sizes more keenly. He was huge. “Lean down, please. Let me get a look.” Lord, what had the man done to himself? “Ouch.”
“Yeah.” The word emerged on a half laugh, as if she’d surprised it out of him.
“You haven’t had this long, have you?”
He shook his head, and George’s brain filled with questions—some appropriate, some not. She went with the former.
“Any idea what was used?”
“What kind of ink?”
“No.” He cleared his throat before going on. “Tattoo ink, I guess.”
“They protect your eyes while they did this?” she asked, and he snorted in response.
“Did you consent to having your eyelids tattooed?” she asked, knowing this wasn’t the sort of question you asked a man this big, this badass.
His eyes shot open, and George fought not to step back.
Oh dear God, his face.
“Have we met before?” she asked, wondering where she’d seen those eyes; the high, flat cheekbones; the perfectly shaped mouth outlined by dark stubble that made her fingers itch disconcertingly.
“Don’t think so, Doc. I’d remember if we had.”
George blushed at what she thought might be a compliment even as she continued to study him.
Those wide cheekbones, a sharp nose, and an obstinate-looking jaw made her think this wasn’t a man who’d easily ask for help. Layered over his striking features were the ravages of life: those lids marred by black ink, a scar bisecting a cheek and disappearing into short, dark hair.
But most intimidating—and appealing—of all, were the darkest eyes she’d ever seen, perfectly in keeping with those dark looks. They were wide and hard.
Just like the rest of him, she thought, with a hiccup of something sharp and hot and previously dormant in her abdomen.
“You have others?” she asked, ignoring the unwanted twinge with a quick step back.
She wouldn’t allow herself even a glance as he unbuttoned his shirt and shrugged out of it. She saw the ink on his arms only peripherally, barely looked at how it contrasted so dramatically with the bright-white cotton of his T-shirt.
He reached to take that off too, and she stopped him with a hand on his arm, immediately removed.
His golden skin was covered in tattoos, starting at his hands and crawling over solid shoulders to seep through his tee, dark enough to look like a design on the surface of the white cotton. He was wide, his arms long and strong-looking.
She didn’t say anything for a time, caught up in ink and muscles and the crisp-looking hair of his forearms.
He finally broke the silence. “You get it now?”
He fisted his hands, knuckles up. “Kinda urgent. Ma’am.”
Ma’am. She hadn’t been called that in ages. It made her feel like she’d been bad, chastened—the way she’d felt the one and only time she’d gotten pulled over for speeding.
“Can we get started today? I’m on a bit of a deadline.”
She considered it, her feelings divided. On the one hand, she had the perfectly normal urge to make him better, to help. But on the other hand was this overwhelming whoosh of something…uncomfortable, disconcerting.
Attraction? Was that it? It had been so long since George had felt anything even remotely physical toward a man that she wouldn’t recognize it if it came in and bopped her on the head. Or punched her in the gut, more likely. She shouldn’t bring this man into the back with her. Shouldn’t be able to picture him splayed across an examination table, shouldn’t feel the need to get a closer look, inviting intimacies with just the two of them here—all alone in the clinic with this beast of a man.
Not only that, but once most patients found out how much it cost to get their ink removed, as opposed to put on, they got angry.
Would this man get angry? She narrowed her eyes at him, trying hard to picture that.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Mr.—”
“Blane. Andrew Blane.”
“Mr. Blane, I’m alone here as you can see and—”
“Doctor. It’s Dr. Hadley.”
“Right. Doctor. I’ll pay you. I’ll pay whatever it takes. I’ve just got to get these taken off. The sooner the better.”
“I understand it’s urgent, Mr. Blane, but tattoo removal is a long process. It’s never instantaneous. And, even so, I can’t guarantee that you’ll—”
“Please. Please, Doctor.” The words, even in that low, coffee-rich voice, reeked of desperation.
And George Hadley was a sucker for desperation.
When I'm not reading and reviewing, you can find me at my day job during the week and on the weekend taking care of our little farm.
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