I was breathing fast.
Like, someone-get-this-girl-a-paper-bag-she's-about-to-throw-up fast. And maybe I was. Maybe that rock I was feeling in the back of my throat was bile about to fill my mouth and--
"Calm down, Hermosa. It's just a tattoo."
The noise that came from my mouth was supposed to be a guffaw but came out more as a hee-haw. "Just a tattoo. Can it really be just a tattoo? It's just ink, y'know, scratched into my body forever." Gasp. Gasp. Swallow. Gasp. "I shouldn't have let you talk me into this."
My brain was objecting the second I had the words out. Oh, you know why you let him talk you into this.
A row of shiny, pearly teeth was suddenly all I could see. For a moment, I felt my nerves ebb, just from seeing that smile. "You were all for it out in the parking lot."
My fingers squeezed down on the chair underneath me, nails digging into the upholstery. I could see the tattoo artist from the corner of my eye, frowning at the fact that his canvas was about to pass out from hearing the buzzzzzzzzzz of the machine. "That was when I could fake the fact that I had courage."
"You're cute," he said with that same smile, and pried one of my hands from the chair. "Here, I'll hold you hand." Four of his fingers laced through my own, his thumb trapping mine. Even my heart had been shocked by the gesture, and stopped beating. "Better?"
I was about to get a tattoo for this boy with a perfect smile and soft hands. This was the epitome of a bad idea. But I found myself nodding, knowing I'd agree to anything he suggested.
My mom was going to kill me. "Better."