Inking the Soldier Read Online Flora Ferrari

Categories Genre: Alpha Male, Erotic, Insta-Love Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 46
Estimated words: 45284 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 226(@200wpm)___ 181(@250wpm)___ 151(@300wpm)

I’m lucky to be working my dream job in a tattoo parlor. And now I get to tattoo my dream man?

Kayden was a dog handler in the Marines, and now he wants to get his service animal tattooed on his muscled shoulder. No way an older, experienced guy would look twice at a curvy girl like me. Right?
I’m shocked when he tells me, the rookie, to tattoo the piece. His body is a work of art, the sort that makes women—okay, me—swoon and obsess.
How am I going to focus on my work when he’s shirtless? I try to banish the steamy thoughts. I tell myself it’s innocent, but his eyes tell a different story.
One night I see the darkness in him, the pain. I pry too much, and he tells me to back off. Will his past keep us apart?
Can I break down his walls, or is he going to break my heart instead?

* Inking the Soldier is an insta-everything, standalone, insta-love romance with a HEA, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************




There’s always howling in my dreams. My service animals, Gunner and Sergeant, would never howl like that in real life.

When I was overseas, doing what had to be done with my best friends—one, then the other, since life is cruel—they were like assassins. Stalking, silent, acting only when I needed them to, but in my dreams, they howl, scratch, and sniff frantically so that I wake up to the sound of it. Sometimes, I jolt awake. I don’t let myself think about that for long.

My alarm clock screeches, and I sit up, glancing at the time as I always do. It’s five a.m. Some people think discipline comes easy to us ex-service folks, but that’s never been the case in my experience. Some of us become less disciplined once we’re out of the system.

The pull of the bed is real, the softness of the pillow, the mattress beckoning and telling me if I return to bed, the dreams will be sweeter.

Instead, I force myself to walk through my apartment, quickly brush my teeth, and pull on my gym clothes, folded the night before. At the door, as I pull on my sneakers, I catch sight of myself in the mirror. There’s this aura around me. Haunted almost. But I don’t let myself think about it.

It’s time to run.

I’m waking up now, thoughts of Gunner and Sergeant drifting away.

It’s easier to focus on the physical act of running, to hone in on the discipline to complete the five miles to the gym. Head ducked, no music, just my breath and the slap of my sneakers on the pavement.

Every so often, I look over my shoulder. It’s not that I expect any of the alleyways, tunnels, or the entrance of the park to be hostile, but instinct drives me.

The world is dark, my chest cold as I draw in the late winter air, a taste of spring telling the world it will soon be over. There’s a light sheen of ice over several cars.

As I run, I pass a man driving in a car, a young girl asleep in the passenger seat, her face pressed against the window. He’s at a light red light and, when he looks at her, I can see the love there, the protection, the family.


The word bounces around my head with the pace of my running steps.

It’s something I often dreamed of having, especially when I was overseas. I’d dream about finding the perfect woman to have children with, a woman who could look past my darkness and see… see what? See the potential, see my need to claim her, to make her mine, to protect her.

But she never arrived, and that’s fine.

Just keep running.

Maybe she doesn’t exist.

“I don’t know what you expect,” Connor told me once. He served with me throughout the 2000s and the early 2010s before we both retired and pursued our own careers. “Just find a pretty girl and stick a ring on her finger. The rest will take care of itself.”

I laughed at that, though there was a grimness to it. I wish it was that easy, but there’s a danger a man like Connor couldn’t be aware of. He saw some action. He experienced a lot of the same sort of stuff I did, but he’s able to joke it away, able to laugh at it, stick it in a box, never look at it.

That’s what I do. Stick it in a box. Except I feel hollow. Often like I’m pretending.

I can’t inflict that on a woman.

Finally, I reach the gym, finding Connor in the parking lot, leaning against his truck. He’s a few feet shorter than me, but that’s not a brag. Most people are shorter than me.

He wears his hair long these days, whereas I keep mine Marine-short. He ties his up in a man bun, his beard thick and still almost completely black despite his thirty-seven years.

He kicks away from his truck, sipping on his coffee.

“You’re making me look bad, old man,” he banters.

I grin and wink. Nobody would ever guess how much effort it takes to smile at my friend. Nobody needs to know. As long as I keep myself together, as long as the howling in my dreams doesn’t invade my waking life, I consider that a success.

“Got to show you infants how it’s done.”

We laugh as we head toward the gym. I’m only four years older than Connor, at forty-one, but Marines will find any reason to talk crap. It’s far better than talking about the real stuff.

We work our ass off in the gym like we do most mornings. We disappear into a world of metal and sweat and physical determination, gritting our teeth and growling and letting out the monster in here so we don’t let it out anywhere else.

“How’s the dating app?” Connor asks me on a break between sets.