Title: Leave a Mark
Author: Stephanie Fournet
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
She’s pierced, and dyed, and covered in tattoos—and she’s everything Dr. Lee Hawthorne wants.
Dyed, pierced, and covered in tattoos, Wren Blanchard is the exact opposite of everything Dr. Lee Hawthorne thought he wanted.
His residency is almost finished. With the perfect job, the beautiful house, and the polished girlfriend, he knows he should be happy, yet he isn’t.
But once Wren lands in his ER with her sharp tongue and artist’s soul, she leaves a mark on him that just won’t fade.
Wren knows the good doctor is way out of her league. To people like him, she’s a circus freak. Besides, she’s not the type to get hung up on guys, especially ones with midnight blue eyes—ones who know all about antiques, crack bad jokes, and love Joss Whedon.
No. She doesn’t need that.
After all, she has friends, a psychotic cat, and a promising career as one of the best tattoo artists in town. And it’s enough.
Really, it is.
Or it would be if Lee weren’t there every time she turned around.
One kiss seals their fate.
Their attraction is undeniable–but Wren’s past is full of ghosts. Is their bond strong enough for a solid future? Or will their new relationship crumble beneath the weight of all she carries?
The question surprised him. “Yes. Is it that obvious?”
Her startled laughter was the only answer he needed. And Lee wanted to hear it again — even if she laughed at him.
“I mean, I’m licensed. It’s not like I just have my learner’s permit or anything.” It was a bad joke. An awful joke, but it worked because she kept laughing. Her laughter was a mix of high and low notes, like a handbell choir. And like music, he could feel it in his chest.
“That’s not what I meant,” she said, her smile untamed. “You just look really young, and I’ve heard that residents have — like — negative time.”
He gave her a helpless grin. “Negative time. That’s about right. Who told you that?”
Her smile demurred. “One of my clients.”
“One of your clients is a resident?” His curiosity pounced. Did he know someone who was secretly covered in Wren’s work?
She shook her head, but her smile never failed. “I don’t tat and tell. Tattooing is very personal. If someone wants you to see their work, you’ll see it. But I don’t talk about my clients.”
Even though he was the one asking, Lee liked that she wouldn’t answer. “You don’t talk about them at all?”
Wren raised and dropped her right shoulder in a half shrug, but she still smiled at him. “Well, I don’t identify them.” Her voice softened, but Lee thought he heard a touch of pride. “I’ll talk about the artwork, or I’ll retell a funny story someone told me while I worked on them, but I don’t go around talking about who was in my parlor.”
“That’s cool,” he managed, even though it was more than cool. After seeing her artwork on the walls of her apartment, he already respected her as a professional, but she clearly had integrity on top of talent. He wanted to know more, but more than anything, Lee wanted her to keep talking. “What kind of tats did you do today?”
Her smile grew, and again her cheeks colored. He found his eye drawn to the translucent skin below her cheekbones. Wren’s fair complexion was an alluring contrast to her black and blue hair, but when she blushed, Lee found it impossible to look away.
“Well, let’s see…” Her green eyes swiveled to the ceiling as she recounted. “I did a fleur-de-lis for this girl who turned eighteen today. I inked a Captain America shield on this guy’s bicep—”
Lee laughed, not so much about the tattoo choice, but at the look of amusement in her eyes.
“Yeah, he was definitely an Avengers fan… Um…” She paused to tally on her fingers. “…I touched up a Celtic knot for a lady, and I worked on a larger piece for one of my regulars.”
“What was it?” Lee asked, intrigued with the way her face softened when she thought about her work.
“Oh, it’s a dragon. Pretty big.” Wren drew a serpentine shape across her chest. “A piece like that needs to be worked on in stages, so we did some of the shading today.”
He had more questions. He could have stood there listening to her all night, but the rational part of his brain told him to give it a rest. They were in the middle of the grocery store. If he wanted to talk to her more, he should ask her out for coffee.
But you can’t ask her out. You’re seeing someone.
“You’re really talented. I’m sure you stay pretty busy. You seem…” He couldn’t find the words for what he wanted to say. He wanted to tell her that she seemed like the kind of person he could talk to — listen to — for hours. And that he would’ve liked the chance. That she was special, and he knew it. “…you seem perfect — I mean… you are unique.”
He didn’t question why she stared at him with unblinking eyes. What the hell had he just said? She was perfect? Who talked like that?
But in the seconds after he’d blurted out the words, he watched her eyes light with a smile — a surprised and genuine smile, and he realized he didn’t regret the words at all.
“Um… thank you?” What had been pink on her cheeks was now scarlet, and Lee thought he might have turned a little pink, too.
“I should let you get back to your shopping,” he said, clearing his throat. He didn’t want to walk away. Maybe if he just stood there, she’d leave first, and he’d be able to watch her go.
“Yeah…” She didn’t move.
Neither of them moved.
“…yeah, I should go.”
“It was great running into you,” he said in a rush. “I’m glad you are feeling better.”
“It was nice running into you, too, Dr.—”
“Lee,” he interjected.
She bit her lip and smiled. “Lee,” she said with a nod. “It was so nice, Lee.”
It was selfish. He’d made her say his name and, again, as he knew he would, he felt a stirring — like fingers running down his sternum. He’d never liked the sound of his name so much.
“Wren,” he said with a nod, liking the feel of her name on his tongue even more.
“Goodnight.” She turned and left him.
Okay, so this may be the most unusual playlist ever assembled. This is largely due to the fact that Dr. Lee Hawthorne has both a jukebox and a sense of humor, so why can’t we mix Simon and Garfunkel with a little Pitbull? The Wurlitzer, naturally, only holds 45s, so most of the songs that come up in the novel are much older than Lee and Wren, but I can see Wren punching “Under Pressure” and Lee following with the confidence of Sam and Dave and whimsy of The Police. Lee and Wren both love antiques, after all, so why wouldn’t they share a love of old music? And with as many self-doubts as Wren carries, who else but Hozier would she have on her playlist? The list ends with Diana Krall’s version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” for obvious reasons. (Make sure you read the Epilogue.)
Stephanie Fournet, author of Fall Semester, Legacy, Butterfly Ginger, and Leave a Mark, lives in Lafayette, Louisiana—not far from the Saint Streets where her novels are set. She shares her home with her husband John and her daughter Hannah, their needy dogs Gladys and Mabel, and an immortal blue finch named Baby Blue. When she isn’t writing romance novels, she is usually helping students get into college or running. She loves hearing from fans, so look for her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and stephaniefournet.com.
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