1. Trepidatious

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1. trep·i·da·tious (adjective) apprehensive or nervous; filled with trepidation.

Wait to start the song.

Ryan wasn't nervous about his move to Los Angeles. The year of saving, the months of planning, the two hour flight and the three days of doing nothing but unpacking, none of it had made him nervous.

However, walking down Valencia Avenue, eyeing all of the tattoo parlors and gripping his bag strap tight against his chest, he felt nothing but trepidation. Ryan had wanted to be a tattoo artist since he was a child. Watching through every season of Best Ink, LA Ink, Miami Ink, and Ink Master had prepared him for what tattoo artists looked for. They paid attention to style, they paid attention to detail, they paid attention to unnerving precision, and - most importantly - they paid attention to confidence.

Ryan may be lacking a bit in the confidence area, but, as far as everything else, he thinks he's pretty good. He'd spent almost a year practicing his tattooing on various gourds and rotting fruits and vegetables and he feels like he's ready to take on an apprenticeship and learn from the best artists in Los Angeles. He takes a deep breath and looks over the notes in his phone again, starting at the top of his list of 'best rated' parlors and started walking down the avenue.

His first stop was a shop called Hustlers, and when he walked inside, he started taking in the art on the walls. A lot of the art was photorealistic, depicting real life scenery and images, almost like photographs but not as clear. After looking through the art he went to the front desk and cleared his throat. "Hi," he said softly yet confidently. "Is the shop owner here?"

A woman with brown-to-blonde ombré hair looked him up and down and blinked a couple of times before answering. "She's sitting right in front of you," she said, her voice bored and mostly uninterested. "Can I help you?"

Ryan cleared his throat again, letting out a small breath. "I see that most of the art surrounding the walls depicts photorealism. Is that the most common style that is done here?"

The woman tightened her lips slightly, nodding towards him. "My artists are versatile, but their preferred styles are photorealism, yes. Why do you ask?"

Here goes nothing, Ryan thinks to himself. "I'm looking for an apprenticeship," he spoke firmly. "I've just moved here, to Los Angeles, and I'm looking for a tattoo parlor to showcase at and hopefully plant a foundation at, as well."

The woman hesitated for a moment, like she wanted to say no right then and there, but she sighed gently. "I'm not gonna to lie to you, kid," she said softly, "we don't get much business around here. A lot of my artists only show up when I call them, and the only demographic we get are mostly men and some women in their thirties, and that's maybe only two to three times a week. From the looks of it, this shop won't be open much longer. Maybe a month, at most."

Ryan felt a pang of hurt for this strange woman. He couldn't imagine having to say goodbye to a place that was the home of something he held so dearly. He looked at the woman and nodded gently. "Do you know of some other parlors that would be open to taking apprentices?"

The woman thought over Ryan's question for a moment. "There's a lot of shops in downtown LA, kid," she said, walking from behind the counter. "Crossroads is a good start, maybe even Wolfhound. You have a lot of options, that's for sure."

Ryan nodded and hitched his bag strap higher on his shoulder. "Thank you, ma'am," he said softly. "I'm sorry to have wasted your time. I hope things get better for you, here."

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