AUTHOR: Laura Taylor Namey


GENRE: Contemporary

WORD COUNT: 82,000 words


Art prodigy, Kenan, trades his paintbrush for a tattoo needle and falls for an anxiety-ridden girl. But overcoming the needle and repainting her fears doesn’t mean she’ll ever love him back.


Here, the needles mean forever, engraving ink into both flesh and time. The gray-black tint will last decades after I lift the tattoo machine from the practice skin, eyeing my design. I’m the only one inking. The other tattoo artists are gone, leaving only faded scents of the vinegar solution we douse over counters and tattoo beds and equipment trays.

My dad dangles my car keys in front of my face. “An hour, Kenan. It’s a––”

“School night. Yeah, I know.”

His prized Micky Sharpz liner sits in my hand, the custom script engraving of his nickname visible on the curved steel frame. Doc. Fitting, because everyone calls my father that. Even me, for as long as I can remember.

Tonight, my hand still shakes, like it has ever since he finally let me try the tattoo machine four years ago. Doc’s liner shouldn’t have been such a big deal back then. I’d swept and polished every inch of our tattoo shop for years. I’d cleaned every screw and coil and spring a thousand times. I knew the width and weight of the steel tube grip like other boys knew their first Rawlings glove. But at thirteen years old, I’d held the grip for the first time as an artist. A heavier weight had pressed into my palm, of what it really was––a tool with the power to draw both artwork and blood.

Doc shrugs into a black jacket. “Lock up the back, too. Sixty minutes.”


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