Inked (The Driven World) by Tracy Lorraine




Chapter One





Harlow





“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Bailey, my best friend and roommate, asks the second she finds me sitting on the couch with a blanket over my lap, a tub of ice cream in hand and a rum and Coke on the coffee table.

“Err… Friday night in?” I say, my brows drawing together, trying to figure out if I’ve forgotten something. The look on her face and the way she’s standing impatiently with her hands on her hips sure points to that.

She’s just finished a twenty-four-hour shift at The House, caring for her boys, so I was expecting her to take up residence on the other couch with her wine while we caught up with The Bachelor.

“It’s Austin’s birthday,” she says with a roll of her eyes.

“Right.”

“We’re going out. We’re meeting everyone at Rush in…” she pulls her cell from her back pocket and looks at the time, “in like… an hour, so we need to get our shit together.”

Before I have a chance to argue, she’s standing before me and pulling the ice cream from my hand.

“Come on, H. Move that sexy ass and go and find a hot little dress to wear.”

After depositing the tub on the coffee table, she rips the blanket from my lap and attempts to pull me from the couch.

“Really?” I sulk. “Austin won’t care if I’m there or not, I barely know the guy.” We might work for the same company, but it’s not like we spend any actual time together, other than the odd night out.

“I told him you’ll be there.”

“But you didn’t think to tell me,” I mutter, eventually going easy on her and standing.

“I could have sworn I’d mentioned it.”

“When could you? You’ve hardly been home this week.”

She shrugs. “Well, you know now. It’s going to be a great night.”

She ushers me out of the living room—thankfully after I grab my drink. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

When we get to my room, she allows me to get ready alone, which is a relief. The last thing I need is a Bailey makeover for tonight.





Smoothing down my silk top, I add a layer of gloss to my lips and slip my feet into my shoes.

Bailey’s still sitting in front of her mirror when I join her in her room thirty minutes later.

“How are you ready al—no, no, no. You can’t wear that,” she says looking at me over her shoulder in the mirror. I look down at my skinny jeans and black blouse.

“Why not? It’s perfectly fine.”

“Yeah, for an afternoon with your aunt.”

Minus the height of my heels, I can’t argue with her.

She spins on her chair, and I get a look at her dress—if it can even be described as such. It’s fire-engine red; I swear I’ve got underwear that covers more skin.

I run my eyes over her, suspicion beginning to stir in my stomach. “I feel like I’m missing something. This isn’t just a night out for Austin’s birthday, is it?”

“His cousin’s coming.”

And now, it all starts to make sense.

“The British one?”

“Yes! I can’t wait to hear him say my name,” she swoons, getting this far-off look in her eye.

I shouldn’t be surprised—she’s been telling me about him for quite a few weeks now and trying to convince Austin to introduce them.

“You mean moan your name,” I mutter.

“Harlow, I’m not some easy piece of ass, you know.”

“Really?” I ask, my brows lifting, my lips curling in amusement.

“Okay, so maybe I am, but only for the right guy.”

“Riiight.”

I watch as she gets up from her seat and walks toward her wardrobe, thankfully pulling her ridiculously short dress down in the process so I don’t have to see her easy ass.

“Now, let’s see what I’ve got.”

“Oh no, B. You’re not getting me in one of your dresses. They barely fit you, they’ll never cover my ass and tits.”

“Have faith, girl. Have faith.”

Sadly, I have very little. I love Bailey, but at times she has questionable taste. Our styles are opposite in every way, not just with how much skin we deem acceptable to expose.

“Yessss…” she squeals, and my stomach drops into my heels. “This will look killer on you.”