Wicked Design

Wicked Design

by Tina Donahue

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640635517
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 06/18/2018
Series: Wicked Brand , #4
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 211,262
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Tina Donahue is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary, and historical romance for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, Romantic Times, and numerous online sites have praised her work. She's won Readers' Choice Awards, RWA awards - Holt Medallion and NEC, and won a Book of the Year award. She's featured in the Novel&Short Story Writer's Market. Before penning romances, she worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Clover Dasleigh slogged through Northwood Village toward Wicked Brand, her energy sapped by punishing heat, humidity, and the depressing possibility of Van Gogh ignoring her as usual.

No, screw that defeatist junk. She had to change things with him, today, refusing to wait any longer. He was the hottest guy she'd ever seen, and there were simply too many babes in West Palm Beach who surely wanted him as badly as she did and would make their move. Once that happened ...

Uh-uh. She couldn't accept anyone keeping him from her, including herself. As a rule, she wasn't a glutton for punishment, lusting after guys who never gave her a passing glance. Wanting to get to know Van Gogh had increased her tolerance for rejection. Not that she was certain how to break the ice with him considering she was usually too direct and honest with people, including men. With him especially, she wanted their first conversation to go beyond silly flirting so she could simply be herself. She'd always figured guys would appreciate not having to play games, given that she didn't like being coy or pretending she was someone she wasn't, and would then enjoy her for who she was: a woman with a good mind, fun personality, creative talent, and a giving heart. Everything a man should need to make him desire her.

Yet here she was, still yearning and unable to get him to even look her way.

She slumped. Since her regular disposition hadn't worked, she'd have to revert to what guys did want, whatever the hell that might be. However, if it killed her, she'd wow Van Gogh, as soon as she reached the parlor in this artsy-touristy area.

She tramped past ethnic restaurants in every variety and boutiques selling overpriced items. An elderly couple looked over and stared at the vintage parasol she carried, definitely not a typical umbrella. She'd recently designed and created the piece to shield her pale skin from the unrelenting sun. Marcasite beadwork graced the flounced edges, and watery rays glinted off the black stones.

The old guy lifted his bushy eyebrows at her "unique" look.

As an artist, she strove for the unusual as a way to express herself and get noticed. Sometimes her work sparked conversations with strangers, giving her a chance to hawk her wares.

Unfortunately, this man didn't look interested or impressed, so she pushed aside disappointment and smiled as sweetly as she could.

He twisted around and eyed the young women jogging past, their sleek bodies deeply tanned, ample boobs and asses barely covered and bouncing merrily. He grinned.

Men never seemed to grow up.

His wife frowned at his attention to the younger women.

Understanding her response, Clover nodded in solidarity then edged past them to the tattoo parlor.

Van Gogh inked his client in the window chair, giving passersby a show.

Clover's breath caught at seeing him, a knee-jerk reaction she couldn't help. She tensed her legs to keep standing.

Spectators jockeyed closer. The late-afternoon audience included several bikers and pasty older folks holding regular cameras rather than smartphones.

As usual, Van Gogh pretended they didn't exist.

Clover wanted them out of her way. "Excuse me." She pushed past the sightseers and stopped close enough to slobber on the glass. At twenty-six or so, Van Gogh was all man. Today, his hair hung loose. The soft brown waves complemented his bronze complexion and grazed his broad shoulders. Last week he'd worn his locks tied back as a pirate would. Both looks made her drool, the same as his low-slung jeans and dark-blue tank top.

Her pussy got wet.

Make that wetter.

He fiddled with his tattoo machine. His powerful biceps bunched and his tats danced.

She would have given a year of her life to lick those 3-D bullet holes, smell him, drown in his heat, and surrender to his strength. His muscular build and rough features proved testosterone ruled.

His brow furrowed. He concentrated on his work.

That excited her, too, his talent un-freaking-believable.

He'd inked a three-dimensional cobra on his client's back. The reptile appeared to snake into and out of the guy's spine, its fully expanded hood matching the evil in its eyes. Saliva dripped from elongated fangs, its forked tongue prepared to flick. Surrounding the creature a slogan read Don't tread on me. The words seemed carved into stone, the depth an amazing illusion.

Van Gogh wiped away ink, straightened, and faced her.

Clover curled her fingers on the glass. A definite no-no according to the taped sign that warned spectators not to bother the tattoo artists.

Dammit, she wanted to disturb and arouse Van Gogh beyond belief.

She had to.

Rather than look at her, he glanced at her parasol then up at the increasingly cloudy sky.

She burned easily. So sue her. At least she'd snagged his attention as she'd hoped.

He met her gaze and held it.

Stunned, she grinned hard enough to hurt her cheeks and neck. Despite the pain, she couldn't stop. His hazel eyes were beautiful, his blush unexpected.

Red crept up his throat, coloring his bristly chin and cheeks and then his nose.

Three things seemed possible. He was embarrassed, turned on, or worried she was a stalker — the last scenario possibly the most likely given the countless times she'd watched him through the window.

Wanting to look less threatening, she tried to relax and even stepped back.

His hard swallow sent his prominent Adam's apple bobbing. An emotion she couldn't read flickered in his eyes, but his expression softened slightly.

Good enough for her. She edged closer.

He turned away, his back to her, his attention on his work.

She deflated, hope seeping away. If she couldn't even get him to look at her for long, how was she supposed to engage in dumb flirting, much less a prolonged conversation?

Past him, Jasmina and Lauren leaned against the front counter, gesturing Clover inside. Wasn't going to happen. They knew about her futile quest for Van Gogh and didn't pretend otherwise. Lauren, who owned Wicked Brand, wore a sympathetic look. The kind reserved for a loser. Jasmina, the manager, shook her head in understanding or disapproval. Easy for her to do. She lived with two guys, both hotties and cops. Talk about lucky. Lauren wasn't a slouch, either, when it came to men. Her attorney husband was drop-dead gorgeous. No surprise. She and Jasmina were great looking, busty, and knew how to relate easily to men, their banter natural and fun. What guys preferred rather than a woman who bared her soul and scared them spitless.

The last thing Clover needed from Lauren and Jasmina today was a dose of reality or a lecture on how to snag a guy who wasn't looking to be caught. Regretting having come, she pivoted.

"Hey, wait. Stop!"

Lauren's barked order did the trick. Sort of.

Clover shifted her weight, prepared to flee.

Lauren clutched the door and panted, possibly breathless from having sprinted across the parlor. Cool air wafted out, along with a peppy Latin tune, laughter, and the waiting patrons' conversations.

"Come in." Lauren waved her inside. "I was going to call you about your jewelry."

Sure. That had never happened before, even though her pieces had been available for sale at this place for months. Either something major had happened with them that Lauren had forgotten about until now, or this had to do with Van Gogh. Clover bet on the latter. Lauren was a nice person but a totally lousy liar.

Clover backed away. "What about my jewelry?" "It's really selling."

She halted, more floored than pleased. Despite Lauren having displayed select pieces next to the T-shirts, belt buckles, and other stuff she hawked here, until now Clover's work had simply laid in the cases, collecting dust.

She warned herself not to get too excited. However, optimism bubbled up. "You've finally moved the jeweled eyebrows?" A stunning design from a Chanel show she'd seen on the Net and had modified for her stuff, making it ultra-dramatic for a trendy event or a Halloween party, whichever the wearer preferred. The result was way better than the jeweled eyebrows Oprah wore in A Wrinkle in Time.

"Not yet. But we will."

As soon as they found someone who wanted their face pierced to hold the things on, unless they opted for glue. Maybe she should do boring navel rings. "What about the gold-chain sunglasses?" Another design she'd seen and made her own.

"We're working on it. We did move other items."

"No kidding?"

Jasmina joined them at the door. "Yep." She held up her hand, showing off the slave bracelet Clover had designed. Delicate links connected Jasmina's ring to her bracelet, the pieces made of engraved silver, the finish antique.

Clover smiled wanly, appreciative at how great Jasmina and Lauren treated her. "Thanks for buying that."

"I didn't. Noah and Kyle did." Jasmine flashed her perfect smile. "Since I've been wearing it, I've sold three more."

"Seriously?"

"You bet." Lauren grabbed Clover's wrist. "Come in." She pulled her inside.

Even with the frigid air-conditioning, sweat poured down Clover's back. Desire urged her toward Van Gogh. Good sense told her not to revert to her inherent candor, jump him, and make a scene.

"Look who's here." Lauren spoke to the general crowd then honed in on Van Gogh. "It's Clover."

She wanted to run or die, maybe both at Lauren's clumsy matchmaking. This was worse than Clover's initial foray into asking guys for dates.

The waiting customers talked to one another or on their smartphones, oblivious to her presence. Van Gogh kept his head down.

Given the vein that had popped out on his temple, she suspected he would have ditched his client and bolted if he could have.

"This is new." Jasmina stroked Clover's bracelet. A wraparound design that covered her forearm, the leaves and petals in burnished silver. "It looks like a tat."

That had been her intent.

Lauren studied the piece and frowned. "One of ours."

Clover hid her arm behind her back, hoping they hadn't patented, trademarked, or copyrighted the design. She couldn't afford a lawsuit for stealing it.

Lauren focused on the parasol. "This is new, too. Wow, it's gorgeous." She took the thing and twirled it. The beads sparkled wildly beneath the fluorescent lights. Black lace and silk fluttered. "Can you make one for Molly?"

Molly, Lauren's eleven-month-old daughter, currently did time in a

playpen next to the front counter. She staggered around her enclosure, either practicing her walk or looking to make a break.

Clover wiggled her fingers at the little girl. She had Lauren's blue eyes and her daddy's dark hair.

Molly reached the mesh side and tugged on the padded bar. It didn't budge. Her face turned redder than Van Gogh's had earlier. She dropped to her butt and sucked vigorously on the pacifier Clover had designed for her. Dainty bumps simulating pearls surrounded tiny, jeweled lips in ruby red. Somewhat similar to Elsa Schiaparelli's and Salvador Dali's jewelry designs.

Jasmina tried out the parasol. Coupled with her low-cut tank top, short-shorts, long auburn hair, and the cute ribbon tat on her ankle, she resembled a pinup photo from the 1940s, showing the perfect woman that WWII soldiers lusted on in between combat. "Isn't Molly too young for black?"

"I was thinking of pink or maybe yellow." Lauren smiled. "A much smaller size, too. You can do that, right? Nontoxic materials, of course. She's at the stage where she puts everything in her mouth."

She'd tossed aside the pacifier to suck her toes.

"I'm sure I can come up with something."

"Let's talk at the counter." Lauren led the way. Once there, she patted Clover's hand. "How long have you been doing this?"

She'd spoken quietly.

Clover kept her voice down despite the music and other noise. "Designing jewelry and stuff? Since I graduated art school a few years ago. I know I'm not making a lot of bucks, but I'm still pretty young."

At twenty-five, she had only five more years to go before everything would be over, her youth gone. Maybe her dreams, too.

She glanced at Van Gogh.

He shifted and stepped around his client, facing her.

Before he noticed her lusting, she looked away.

Lauren crossed her arms. Her white embellished T-shirt spelled out World's Greatest Mom in red glitter. "Are you ever going to break the ice with him?"

Clover played dumb. "Him who?"

"Van Gogh. Who else?" Jasmina rested her forearms on the counter. "You'll have to, you know. It's not as if he's going to make the first move. It's been like eight months since you came on the scene."

Closer to a year.

"I know this is hard." Lauren stroked Clover's arm. "No one's shyer than I am. If Dante hadn't pursued me, I'd probably be watching him and another woman by now. Molly would have been their kid. Lucky for me he's so lusty." Her gaze grew unfocused. Pink bloomed in her cheeks, the shade matching her jeans. "That man knows how to seduce and romance."

"My guys, too." Jasmina's dark eyes gleamed. "They could give John Mayer and Colin Farrell pointers on how to attract women. I never knew men could stay awake so long after marathon sex."

Lauren sniggered. "I think I've shaved a couple of years off Dante's lifespan a few times. Just saying."

"I know." Jasmina laughed. "I like to play with Noah's and Kyle's heads. Keep them going past the point the surgeon general would recommend."

Huddled close, they talked fast and furious, trying to outdo each other with tales of their sexual adventures.

Van Gogh stepped away from his client, a thirty-something man who could've made a sumo wrestler cry. He lumbered past the front counter toward the back rooms. Clover steeled herself for Van Gogh's approach. He had to pass the counter to get to his station. No way could he avoid her.

He did, hurrying past, not glancing her way.

She followed.

Another artist barreled down the hall toward her. She reared back.

So did he. "Sorry. Are you Amy Fetters?" "What? No."

"Oh. Thought you were my next job. Waiting room's out there." He pointed behind her. "We'll call you when we're ready."

Clover slunk back to the counter.

Lauren offered a pleased smile. "That's the spirit. Go for it. However, you need to wait until Van Gogh's not busy with a client. Catch him during his break. Better yet, bring him something good to eat."

Jasmina choked and coughed. "I think that's the plan."

They giggled.

Clover plodded to Van Gogh's artwork. Lauren devoted a section on the right to his paintings and Tor's sketches, both men accomplished artists. Van Gogh's oils were as funky and dramatic as Vase with Red Poppies, The Starry Night, and Daubigny's Garden, his namesake's celebrated paintings. Like the real Van Gogh had done with those famous pieces, her Van Gogh had employed vivid colors and bold brush strokes. For his subjects, he used everyday settings and people that he made extraordinary.

The same as she did with her jewelry designs. If that didn't make them made for each other, what did?

Jasmina bumped Clover's arm. "If you're planning to whack him with one of those frames to get his attention, I'll help."

"What if I buy a painting?" He'd have to talk to her during the sale. She could brag on his talent then, which was even better than flirting, and certainly more honest on her part. As an artist, he had no equal. "Maybe I could take all of them?" He couldn't forget her after that.

"Have you seen the prices?" Lauren gestured to the nearest piece.

Clover gasped. "That one's past my credit card limit." Admittedly, she had less than a thousand available but still ...

"The others cost more. Looks as if you'll have to do this the old-fashioned way."

"Which is?"

Jasmina rocked on her heels. "Seduce him."

"No." Lauren spoke to Clover. "Talk to him. Say hi. Start a conversation."

"That's what I've been trying to do. I'm so desperate, I'm even willing to bat my eyelashes and all the other junk women are supposed to do with guys. But how can I if he won't even look at me or if he runs the other way when I approach? It's not as if I can take a sledgehammer to his ankles to keep him from budging like that nut did to the writer in Misery."

"Good point. That's no way to begin a romance. You'll have to be yourself. You're perfect just as you are."

Hardly that, but Clover felt comfortable in her own skin. Whether that equated to success with men was another matter entirely. "Maybe there's another way."

Jasmina and Lauren exchanged a glance.

Lauren spoke first. "How's that?"

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Wicked Design"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Tina Donahue.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Wicked Design 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Lori-Gonzo More than 1 year ago
I absolutely enjoyed Van Gogh and Clover. They were two peas in a pod, artistic, not popular, but very talented and interesting. Clover was quirky, brave, went for what she wanted, and spoke her mind, most times a little too blunt or forward. Together they sizzled and got to be accepted for their true selves. My heart went out to Clover a few times during their journey to happy ever after, but thankfully it all worked in the end. And if you didn't love Tor before, you will in this one with his heart to heart talk with Van Gogh. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
UpAllNightBB More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars Review by Heather Late Night Reviewer Up All Night with Books Blog Wicked Design by Tina Donahue is part of the Wicked Brandseries and I’m definitely intrigued. The books are standalone, but the characters are fun and a good blend of kink and “normal” to be very relatable. Clover Dasleigh is a strong, independent woman trying to get her jewelry business off the ground, while also trying to get the attention of Van Gogh. Van Gogh is “the hottest guy she’d ever seen” and he just doesn’t know that she exists. What Clover doesn’t know is that Van Gogh not only knows she exists, but he is just as captivated as she is. Van Gogh is a tattooist at Wicked Brand, whose real passion is painting. He’s just too shy and insecure to speak to the gorgeous woman who inspires his art. Who is going to make the first move and get this romance going? Clover and Van Gogh fall into a hot and heavy romance quickly and then have to deal with the realities of actually learning about each other. Can their passion sustain them when real life, ambitions, and past insecurities clash with the present? Wicked Design is fast-paced and hot. It felt a bit rushed when Clover and Van Gogh get together and maybe a little forced for them to discover their mutual kink. A little more of the storytelling from later in the story at the beginning would’ve made their “coupling” a bit more realistic.