India’s grip tightened on the tattoo gun.
“Macie said you came to a McKay family dinner at the big house. I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed. Very few people get invited into the sacred McKay family realm if you’re not married to one.”
“I’ll remind you my sister, Skylar, is married to a McKay.”
Cat gave her a droll stare. “And I’ll remind you about the number of McKay shindigs you’ve been invited to because of that association. Zero. Am I right?”
“Can you turn your leg a little?”
“It shocked me to hear you and Colt were together.” Cat laughed. Not a nice laugh, a mean laugh. “A few of us around here wondered if you weren’t g*y.”
“Come on. With the bull dyke swagger, the piercings and the excessive tats, not to mention the motorcycle, the addiction issues, the funky haircut and the tough girl attitude?” She slurped her Diet Coke. “Granted, single men are slim pickin’s unless you’re in the market for a dumb cowboy.”
A loud click echoed in the room. India sat up and heard it again. She scrutinized her tattoo gun. Did it seem overly hot? She smacked it on her hand. It’d be just her luck if the damn thing died on her. She stepped on the foot pedal, let go, and waited for the noise to sound again. Nothing. Weird.
“Is everything all right?” Cat asked.
“Just fine. I’m switching ink colors.”
“As long as you’re not changing colors.”
India wished she could change customers.
“When I heard you and Colt were ‘dating’,” Cat made quotes in the air, “I thought as your friend, I should warn you. Don’t get suckered in by his charms, because that cowboy talks sweet. And before you know it, you’ll be watching him doing the same sweet-talking routine on another woman as soon as he gets bored with you.”
“You telling me you’ve dated Colt?”
Cat attempted an innocent look. “Would you be upset if I said yes?”
Yes. No. Lie. If you say no she’ll get pissy and clam up. India settled for, “Maybe.”
“I didn’t ‘date’ him, but I did sleep with him a couple of times.”
“When was this?”
“Right after I moved here…maybe three and a half years ago.
We were dancing at the Golden Boot, one thing led to another…and we ended up back at his place.” Cat paused. “Then a week or so later we were at a party and ended up in somebody’s bedroom again. Anyway, he f**ked me and never called me. What kind of man does that?
“My friend Mimi went to a party at the Boars Nest, his old house, like a month later, and Colt was f**king some stripper, right in front of everyone! And when he finished with her, he passed her off to another guy.”
Yeah, and then Colt probably passed out. Those drinking escapades were a thing of the past, in Colt’s past, and had no bearing on their future.
Still, India had to concentrate on keeping her hand from shaking. “Why are you telling me this about Colt if it happened years ago?”
“Because a leopard doesn’t change his spots, India. Knowing the truth about him will save you a lot of heartache. You wouldn’t be the first woman in this area to fall for his lies and lines and you won’t be the last.” Cat pushed onto her elbows and looked at India over her shoulder. “Besides, didn’t Blake West ask you out?”
“Yeah he did.”
Colt happened. “We decided to stay friends.”
“Was that before or after you and Colt hooked up?”
“See! That’s what I mean. You and Colt had been friends forever, and when his cousin starts paying attention to you, a cousin he’s always had a rivalry with, then Colt becomes interested in you?
Isn’t that just a little…ironic?”
It wasn’t as if India hadn’t thought of that. And discounted it.
She opened her mouth to protest, but Cat wasn’t done.
“Almost as ironic as Carolyn McKay waltzing in here yesterday.”
“She’s a regular customer of Sky Blue.”
“But I’m betting she didn’t come in here to buy lotion. I’m betting she came in here to talk to you. Did she warn you off Colt?”
India looked up. “Why would she do that?”
“Because you’re not the type of woman she wants her darling son dating, are you?”
“My, my Cat, what a tangled web you weave. I’m finding it impossible to follow a single thread.”
Cat gave her a superior sniff. “What do you mean? It’s obvious.”
“Not to me. First you say Colt is going to dump me because he dumps every woman. Then you say his mother is worried we’re going to have a permanent relationship, so she comes to warn me off?”
“Which brings me back to my original point. You being at the McKay family dinner. I think that tipped Mama McKay off Colt’s fling with the local tattooist might go on a little longer and she had to do something to stop it.”
Fling. As if.
“So what did she say to you?”
None of your goddamn business.
“Because you looked upset.”
Maybe it’s because I look like I could use a big bottle of scotch.
“Probably not as upset as you were knowing Colt came into the diner with another woman last night.”
“Who?” Dammit. She shouldn’t have asked. It’d be just like Cat not to tell her. And then for India to find out it’d been Colt’s sister-in-law and to get pissed off for nothing.
“That gorgeous redheaded lawyer who moved to town earlier this year and took over her father’s law office…Ginger Paulson?”
That’d explain Colt’s evasiveness about the woman talking to him at the community center. “Maybe it was business.”
“Oh honey, it sure didn’t look like they were talking business.”
Cat gasped with mock distress. “Oh, India, I’m really sorry I opened my big mouth and told you when you didn’t know.”
No, you aren’t sorry you miserable pot-stirring, gossiping, lazy-assed bitch.
Rather than allow catty Cat the satisfaction of seeing how badly she’d upset her, India shrugged. “I appreciate you telling me.
Like you said. I’m just dating him. No big deal, nothing permanent, we’re having some laughs. It’s not like I’m picking out wedding dresses and invitations.”