Hello and welcome to the 415 Ink: Rebel Blog Tour. I’d like to say I’m Rhys Ford, your host, but the truth is, I am merely a stealer of space and time. Their space, your time. BUT I hope I can make it worth your while.
Because dudes, I’ve got a book I want to tell you about.
If you know me at all, you know I have a few tattoos and well, have a hardcore love for art. Skin art to be exact. It’s a difficult medium and well, there’s a culture surrounding it as well. Being a tattoo artist is more than a profession, it truly is a calling, or it is for the great artists, the ones who push at the boundaries of skin and ink and do fantastical things on a living canvas.
The 415 Ink series hopefully will capture a part of that culture and also showcase five foster brothers who have made their own family. Set in San Francisco, I will introduce you to each of the five in a series of books where they find love and in some cases, their true path in life. The first, Rebel, is about Gus, the true middle kid in the bunch, and the man whose love he’d won, lost and hopefully will love again.
As all of my blog tours, I want to present you with something unique at each stop, as well as a giveaway. So, for each blog, I will give you a story (or part of a story as I’ve split most into two pieces) about a tattoo… involving a character from one of my series. Check out the blog stop list to get a sneak peek at the characters!
The giveaway? You’ll be entering to win a $20USD gift certificate to the online retailer of your choice!
Now, onto the tales of tattoos and where you can find Rebel, on sale December 29th through Dreamspinner, Amazon and other fine bookstores.
Tokyo — Damien Mitchell and Miki St. John
Part Two of Two
The first bite of pain came fast and hard, a splash of fire on his skin then settling into his bones. Gripping the back of the chair he was sitting on, Damien breathed through the sting of coals being dragged across his flesh and focused on whatever was in front of him…whatever he could see through the filmy veil of tears clouding his vision.
He’d loved the tattoo, an elaborate kirin with a defiant smirk and flaming mane, but Ichi warned him it would be more than a few sessions to complete. They’d made arrangements to meet again in San Francisco and Los Angeles when Ichi came over to do a tour, but the initial work—the hardest part—would be done in Tokyo, a six to seven hour stretch of outlines and packed in black stippling.
There was going to be a hell of a lot of drinking once he was able to get out of the chair.
His brother Miki was hungry…although to be fair, Miki was always hungry.
He’d gotten taller since the day Damie heard him belting out Joplin on a Chinatown fire escape and gained a bit of muscle mass, adding a wiry strength to his lanky frame. His hair was longer, a messy chestnut-streaked brown mane and his face had filled out, taking him from a chipmunk cute kid to a stunningly pretty young man. His green-flecked hazel eyes were the same, guarded, skeptical, and usually hooded, taking in everything around him.
Just like he was doing right now.
At midnight, the tattoo shop was busy, filled with the chatter of artists and a couple of clients who kept sneaking glances over at the mixed-race singer sprawled out over a weathered velvet wingchair Ichi’d dragged over for Miki to sit in. Sitting was… difficult for Miki. He lounged into things, his lean body was a sinuous liquid pour of elegant dismissal of physics and manners, his long legs draped over chair arms. If it were anyone else, Damie would have thought the artful arrangement of limbs and the erotic cant of Miki’s head against the chair’s upper swoop was a calculated pose meant to seduce and arouse.
Damie knew better. Miki was fucking oblivious.
Not so much that his eyes didn’t narrow when Damien hissed at the mounting pain but still, clueless as to how he was affecting many of the people in the shop.
Oddly enough, as gorgeous and sensual of a creature as Miki was, he did absolutely nothing for Damien… except invoke a need to protect and possibly shove as much food down his brother’s throat as humanly possible.
Someone in the shop switched the music over, flipping from classic L’arc En Ciel to Sinners Gin and Damien laughed at Miki’s eye roll.
“Why don’t you get those noodles you wanted?” Damien suggested through a hiss. “I’m going to be here a while.”
“Want some too? Or do you want me to grab you some coffee instead?” Miki eased up out of the chair with a sinewy grace. “I’ve got my card on me and some cash but the noodle place had one of those signs so I should be okay.”
“Just… grab me something cold. Jesus fucking Christ this hurts.” Damien gulped down some air, hoping to cool off the burn from the inside out. Ichi made some murmuring noises he took as a question about if Damien wanted to stop so he shook his head. “I’m good. It just… fuck, right over that spot.”
“Spines are the worst,” Ichi confirmed then hummed to himself. “Well, necks. Anything with connective tissue. The pain travels sometimes so you’ll feel it in other places. If you need to stop—”
“He won’t,” Miki snorted. “Stubborn as fuck. Probably crawl back out of his grave because he’s not ready to be dead when the Reaper comes for him. Just you watch.”
“Go get your damned noodles. And maybe a beer,” Damie chanced a glance over his shoulder at Ichi. “Beer okay? Can we drink? Do you want to drink?”
“None for me. I’m… driving a needle,” the Japanese artist teased, shifting his chair around to work over Damien’s shoulder. “And yes, you can drink… a little bit. Just do not get drunk. Not good for the skin. If they have an iced Coffee Boss that would be nice.”
“Okay, some pisswater beer for Damie, a coffee thing for Ichi and noodles for me.” Miki grunted at them. “I’ll be back in a bit. Hopefully they’ve got chicken. I mean octopus is okay, but I’d rather have chicken.”
Ichi grew still, pulling the buzzing needle away from Damien’s skin and a thoughtful expression settled on his handsome features as Miki ambled out of the front door, letting the noren drop behind him. Damien knew that look. He’d seen it a thousand times before, but Ichiro simply dipped his tattoo machine head back into the ink well and began again.
“Jesus, I don’t know what’s worse,” Damien muttered. “You working on it without stopping or you stopping long enough for my skin to think it’s over and then you start again.”
“I think it’s worse when they stop.” Another dip and the burn began again in a different spot. “Tell me about your friend. He looks… complicated. Beautiful but very complicated.”
“That is possibly the best description of Miki St. John that I’ve ever heard.” Damien held himself extremely still as the needle drifted back across the spine. It hit a cluster of nerves and his toes began to tingle then it drifted away, filling in another line. “If you’re interested… he likes guys — for the most part — he’s just kind of… a mess.”
“Do you say that because he is not sentimental or because you want to keep others away from him?” This time the pinprick of pain did not come for the needle but rather from Ichi’s words, but Damien hissed anyway. “I like how he looks. And he seems like he would be a challenge but not one that I would survive. His skin is on too tight and you seem to be the only one he trusts. I would sooner offer him friendship than anything else. I think that is something he could return without me losing any of my fingers. As much as I would love to see how he tastes, I like having my tongue in my mouth.”
“Yeah, I don’t know if there’s someone out there who will ever when Miki’s heart but if he exists, I hope to hell he has a strong stomach because that fucker eats the weirdest things.” Another buzz, another burn, and Damien settled in against the chair, thinking he finally had gotten a grip on the pain coursing over his skin when Ichiro circled back, adding an embellish. “Motherfucker. Jesus, and somebody did this to Miki when he was a kid?”
If Ichiro was curious about what Damien said, he didn’t get a chance to ask because Miki came through the shop’s curtained door holding a plastic bag in one hand and what looked like a short bottle shaped can in the other. His brother paused for a second, probably caught up in the tangle of his own lyrics wrapping around him as he walked through the shop. Ducking his head down, Miki stalked forward.
“Hey, D! I got you… what the fuck is this?” Miki studied the can as he approached the stall. “It’s Michelob. Guy says it’s American, but I don’t know it’s Japanese. Could be horse piss but he said it was the best they had. Ichi, I got you a couple of those coffee things. Where can I put this stuff down? Can I eat in here? Or do I have to go back outside?”
“No you’re fine,” Ichi informed him. “Have a seat. You can use the table over there if you want. When Damien feels the need to stop, he’ll be able to reach for his drink.”
“I’ve changed my mind,” Damien grumbled. “Go get me some fucking whiskey.”
“You’re going to have to be happy with the beer for right now. I’ll get you something after I eat.” Sitting down on the wing chair, Miki dug out a Styrofoam container and a pair of chopsticks then opened it up, letting out a cloud of pungent steam. Whatever Miki brought back with him smelled more like someone had dredged the Bay and served up in a taco than anything edible but knowing his brother, Miki didn’t care. “I want to eat this while it’s still hot.”
“I have literally seen you eat a forkful of macaroni and cheese that is fallen into a snow bank. You don’t give a shit if your food is hot. You don’t even give a shit if your food is cooked.” The next line brought tears to Damien’s eyes, and he ground his teeth together to stop himself from yelping. “Pass me the fucking beer.”
There wasn’t enough alcohol in the can to do anything other than dampen the back of Damien’s mouth, and he gratefully accepted one of Ichi’s coffees, hoping the still missing-in-action Stan have been right about the caffeine. Either he was getting used to the drag of fire across his flesh, or Stan had been right because after a few minutes, the agony didn’t seem so bad. He was actually considering telling Ichi to see how far he could go when Damien spotted the six-inch long pink tentacle Miki slurped up from his noodles.
“Okay, that’s kind of disgusting.” Damien wrinkled his nose. “I’m getting tattooed here and you’re doing Cthulhu impressions.”
“Fuck you. You’re just mad because I won’t get you some whiskey until I’m done eating.” Miki picked up another piece of a cephalopod with his chopsticks and nibbled on its end. Gesturing with the tentacle, he said in his husky, smoky voice. “That looks like it hurts.”
“Shit, you think?” He sneered back only to get flipped off. “You don’t remember what it feels like?”
“Me?” Miki glanced down at his arm, his tattoo hidden under his sleeve. “Nope. I don’t remember anything.”
“He said you got a tattoo when you’re a child,” Ichiro commented, circling back around to Damien’s other side, his rolling chair squeaking as he moved. “That is… wrong. Never children.”
“Yeah, nobody asked me,” Miki said, putting down his chopsticks. Dragging up his sleeve, he showed Ichiro the mangled, patchy blue lines on his arm. “One of the cops told someone it meant Mieko so they wrote that down is my name but…”
“That is not what that says.” Ichiro’s frown grew deeper. “I don’t recognize it. Not that I know every kanji but usually I can hammer away at the edges of one. I’ve never seen that.”
“Yeah, nobody else has either. Or least a couple of times when I brought it up to someone I thought might know,” Miki said, pulling his sleeve back down. “They just change the subject and walked away.”
“Hey, I’ve got an idea.” Damien set up before Ichiro began again. “Do you think you can cover it? I mean, Miki, you hate it. Ichiro here is a God and how often are you going to have some free time and there is a tattoo God right next to you?”
For a moment, Miki’s face softened with an expression Damien could only call regret and then his brother, in true Miki form, picked his chopsticks back up and laid Damien’s soul out for the vultures to pick clean.
“I can’t do that, D. What happens if someone comes looking for me and all they have to find me is this?” Miki tapped at his arm with the blunt ends of his chopsticks. “This is all I have that’s really me. Everything else is something gave to me like leftovers and hand-me-downs but this — as fucking ugly as it is — is all I’ve got that’s mine. So maybe one day, when I’ve given up on anyone giving a shit about me, I’ll get it covered. But for right now, it stays. Because someone still might need me to have it. And I want them to be able to find me.”
About Rebel (415 Ink: Book One)
The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.
Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.
Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.
For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.
When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.
About the Author
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem and a 2017 Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards for her novels Ink and Shadows and Hanging the Stars. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal. Rhys shares the house with two cats, Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo and Tam, a diabetic black shorthair, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. She is also responsible for the care and feeding of a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.
Follow the Tour
12.26 Joyfully Jay (Kane, Part One)
12.27 Sinfully Gay Romance (Kane, Part Two)
12.28 It’s About The Book (Damien and Miki, Part One)
12.29 The Novel Approach (Damien and Miki, Part Two)
12.31 Boy Meets Boy Reviews (Cole and Ichi, Part One)
1.1 Ndulgent Bloggers (Cole and Ichi, Part Two)
1.2 Smexy Books (Gus and Bear)
1.3 The Blogger Girls (Kane and Miki)