Our release-aversary to celebrate the first birthday of kINKED continues!

In case you haven’t read it yet, we’re sharing the first bit of INKarnate by Mara Malins. It’s about a woman named Emily who starts an apprenticeship at a tattoo studio and experiences a bit of culture shock. Not everyone is happy about her arrival though, tattoo artist Matt Jones doesn’t think she belongs there.



INKarnate (excerpt)

By Mara Malins


Emily took a deep breath.

The winter air was bitterly cold in her lungs and she shivered, pressing her nose deeper into her woollen scarf. She wasn’t likely to get any warmer standing outside and yet she couldn’t force her legs to move through the door. Nervous, she peered around the curling edges of posters advertising local rave nights and up-and-coming bands to see through the tinted window. The room on the other side was dark; she couldn’t see anything.

“Come on, you coward,” she muttered. Then, ignoring the anxiety churning in her stomach, she took another deep breath, pushed open the door and stepped through.

A buzzer echoed around the room, startling her. When no-body immediately came, she closed the door gently and took a few steps into the room, her eyes taking in everything. The reception area was spacious and lit by three fluorescent tubes hanging from the ceiling. The furniture was surprisingly stylish, all chrome and glass and sparsely placed, giving a modern and almost pretentious feel to the room. There were no trinkets decorating the place, just a few magazines stacked neatly on a glass coffee table, but the walls were crammed full of framed pictures, each showcasing the talent of the tattoo artists available. Interested, she went over to examine them.

She was on the third frame when she heard somebody delicately clear their throat behind her. She whirled around and faced a stern-looking man of around fifty-five. He was a walrus of a man, with huge rolls of fat circling his waist, hips and neck. The shirt he was wearing was two sizes too tight and bulged alarmingly. One deep breath and Emily feared the shirt would rip from his body, Hulk-style.

“Can I help you, miss? You wanting some art doin’?” He said in a drawling, phlegmy voice. “Matt is booked for the next few months but we can probably slot you in fairly quickly with one of the other artists, depending on what you’re look for?”

Emily blinked. “Matt?”

“The main artist? I assume you’re here for him? Girls of your age usually are.”

“Oh no, I don’t want a tattoo.” Emily answered, too nervous to even smile. “I’m here for the apprenticeship. The one that was advertised this week in the paper?” She pulled the cutting from her portfolio and slid it over to the man.

He cocked an amused eyebrow at her. “You? You’re here for the ‘prenticeship?”

“Yes, sir.”

“There’s no sir’s and madam’s round here. I’m Blakey. The owner.” He said, holding out a huge hand to her. She took it, wincing at how damp and warm it was. He gave her fingers a quick squeeze–tight enough to make her quietly gasp–and then dropped her hand. She resisted the urge to wipe it clean on the fabric of her dress.

“I’m Emily. Emily Mistry.”



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