Burnout_ A Legal Heat Novella - Sarah Castille

Chapter One

Sophie Nichols knew regret.

It slithered through her dreams every night, tainted every relationship she had, and now, as she pushed open her brother’s front door, it whispered a warning.

What if her move to Vancouver was nothing more than another attempt to run away? What if she couldn’t shake the past?

But there was no going back now. She’d quit her job in Toronto, transferred to the Vancouver Police Department, sold her house, and given away everything of sentimental value. Today was the first day of her new life, and there was no better way to start than going to one of Jason’s crazy parties.

Taking a deep breath, she walked into the small, dilapidated bungalow and closed the door behind her, shutting out the incessant hum of Main Street traffic only half a block away. Heavy metal music pounded loudly through the house and reverberated through her body. She walked the floor looking for her brother. If memory served, Jason would be in the kitchen, selling drugs to his closest friends at a hefty mark-up. He was nothing if not entrepreneurial.

Leather, piercings, and tattoos appeared to be the style of choice for Jason’s guests, with the odd Mohawk and fluorescent-streaked hair. Not Sophie’s usual crowd, but then she hadn’t moved to Vancouver to hang out with the same conservative, law-abiding crowd she had left behind to start her new life.

She smoothed her top down over her tight jeans and checked the laces on her knee-high boots, the three-inch heels giving her the height she so desperately craved. Not that five foot four inches was unusually short for a woman, but it just meant she had to act tougher, fight harder, and throw out a lot more attitude on the job to ensure both colleagues and criminals took her seriously.

“Hey, Soph.” Jason waved to her from across the open-plan living space. Sophie pushed her way through the crowd, keeping her eyes on the sweep of blond hair on top of his head, and away from the curious stares. She had never been a social butterfly. Her ex, Ryan, had been the talker in their relationship, the darling of the Toronto real estate crowd. Slick talk. Sweet talk. Dirty talk. Lies. He’d say anything to get a sale. Or a wife. She’d always wondered if he’d first hooked up with her simply because of the opportunities her connection to the most prestigious real estate agency in the city had afforded his career.

No. She refused to think about Ryan. She was never going to move on if she spent another year sitting in her apartment, wishing she could live just one night of her life over again.

Jason swept her up in a hug, and she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him back. They didn’t see each other often, but they stayed in touch, and when he’d found out what had happened with Ryan, he was on the first plane to Toronto to help her through the trauma. Despite being blessed with charm, height and good looks, Jason had been the high-school bad boy, cutting class, smoking cigarettes or weed behind the gym, and blowing off teachers, while convincing their parents he was the perfect son. They were night and day—Jason, tall and blond; Sophie short and dark—and yet he had always been there for her. If not for Jason, she would still be sitting in her apartment in Toronto, drowning her sorrows in vodka and soap operas, letting life pass her by.

Sophie buried her face in his shoulder and inhaled the distinctive foxy scent of marijuana.

She might have lost her way, but Jason hadn’t changed.

* * *

“Who is she?”

Ace Logan, sergeant-at-arms for the Rogue Riders MC, sipped his beer, his eyes skimming over the sweet curves of the dark-haired woman who, only moments ago, had been picking her way cautiously through the crowd.

“Jason’s girlfriend, maybe?” Kickstand, a junior patch member of the MC, grimaced when Ace scowled.

“Your job is to find out everything about the people we do business with before we do business. If that is his girlfriend, you should know her name, what she does, where she lives, and how much time they spend together.”

Ace leaned against the wall, arms crossed, as he surveyed the room, taking note of the biker brothers who had accompanied him for the meet with Jason scattered around the room. They weren’t here to party, but he’d instructed them to blend into the crowd, and so far everyone except Kickstand, who had clearly had one beer