Home > Rule Breaker (Vegas Vipers #3)

Rule Breaker (Vegas Vipers #3)
Author: Stacey Lynn








The judge peered down at me through thick, black-framed glasses that looked way too small on his round face and balding head. He appeared less happy to be sitting on the bench than I was to be standing across from it.

Didn’t really blame the guy. Probably sucked to have to be at work, dealing with assholes like me, the day after Christmas.

As for me, spending thirty-six hours in the county jail lock-up wasn’t exactly a great holiday, but I’d also had worse.

I tugged on the cuff links at my wrists, straightening my dress shirt neatly pressed beneath my seven-thousand-dollar gray pinstripe suit, and awaited his verdict while he sniffed into a tissue and pretended like he was reading my file for the first time.

“All assault charges against the woman have been dropped,” he muttered, loud enough for everyone in the courtroom to hear, but that wasn’t a surprise.

Like I’d drug, kidnap, and sexually assault my sister for fuck’s sake, but the media liked to spin the tale of me being the bad guy. The bar brawl I got into on Christmas Eve was merely more fodder for their entertainment. I didn’t care enough to correct them, and having a sister was a secret I’d kept for long enough.

“And it appears it’s your lucky day that the victim of your physical attack is also refusing to press charges.” The judge sneered at me over the rim of those glasses.

He probably figured I was some rich prick, a professional athlete who could get away with murder. He wasn’t altogether wrong, but that was only because the kind of men I’d ever considered murdering were the men who kept my sister and mom hooked on drugs and sold their flesh for payment.

Chad Attler, also known as Crank to those who knew his street name, wouldn’t press charges against me, but he was first on my hit list. Had he died the other night, I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it.

“However, the club you destroyed during your tantrum has not been so understanding. For your charge of disturbing the peace, you will face sixty hours of community service. You will also pay for the damages accrued, totaling seventy-two thousand, three hundred and twenty-six dollars…” He glanced down at the paper in his hand and looked back up at me. “And thirty-nine cents.”

I scoffed, unable to help it. Thirty-nine cents? They couldn’t have rounded?

Next to me, my attorney shoved his elbow into my arm. “Shut up, Masters.”

The judge glared. “Is something amusing to you, defendant?”

“No, Your Honor.”

Except for the fact that for me, seventy-two thousand dollars wasn’t much of a hardship even if I suspected the total wasn’t nearly that high. On top of the fine I’d assuredly receive from the hockey league and my team’s general manager, the other night’s fiasco would end up costing me a pretty penny.

Every penny absolutely worth it to feel Crank’s bones shatter beneath my fists and ribs break under my feet.

Fucking asshole.

The judge kept talking. I responded when necessary. Once his gavel pounded and he announced “case dismissed” I turned to my lawyer. “Thanks, man.”

I shook his hand as he rolled his eyes. “Stay out of trouble until this community service is done or you’ll be spending more than a day and a half in jail.”

I didn’t make promises I couldn’t keep.

I’d do anything to keep my sister as safe as I possibly could. “See you around, Banks.”

Jordan Banks was a great lawyer and had my respect. He’d helped me out of more than one jam and had even ensured my sister wasn’t stuck with a public defender after she got picked up on a possession charge one night. He’d also helped me get her an emergency bed in one of the best rehab facilities in the state while I was locked up.

For now, and hopefully for the next ninety days, Lucy was safe. That was all that mattered.

I spun on my heels, walked down the small aisle and pushed open the doors leading me out of the courtroom, only to pull to an abrupt stop as Gabby Taylor and her husband—and my teammate—Joey, jumped to their feet.

She rushed to me, hands going to my biceps as she frantically scanned my face. “You were hurt.”

I flinched from the contact of her hands on me before relaxing and brushed my finger over the gash on my cheekbone. The one hit Crank had gotten in. Hurt like a bitch due to the rings he wore, but I’d made him pay for that, too.

“I’m fine. Just a cut. Had worse during games. What are you two doing here?”

Joey’s brows tugged in and he shook his head. “Didn’t want you to come out of here alone.”

“I insisted. We didn’t realize the hearing would be closed though,” Gabby said. “Are you okay? The other night…”

“Was nothing.” I gently shook her off. For some damn reason, I was drawn to this woman. Not in the way that made me an asshole, but from the first night Gabby slid into a booth across from me at the bar Joey owned where the team tended to hang out, she’d made it her mission to include me. She was so damn nice, I’d actually felt bad being a dick to her.

She took my effort not to be a dick as me being a good guy. She was wrong, but she had some crazy magic ability to make the world seem less shitty. Somehow, I’d become friends with both of them over the last few months. Not in a hang out every week or anything, but neither of them irritated me as much as others, so I didn’t mind their occasional company.

That they were there, though, was surprising.

When was the last time someone ever showed up for me? Definitely not since I was in college a decade ago.

I grabbed my keys from my pocket and flipped the ring around my thumb. “I need to get to the team’s offices. Meeting with Coach and Pete in an hour.”

“We know,” Joey said. “We’re taking you.”

“Not necessary.” I started walking for the exit, keys in hand, when Joey called out from behind me.

“Where’s your car, asshole?”

Shit. I dropped my head and stared at the floor as his chuckle grew closer. His hand slapped my shoulder and gave me a quick shake. “That’s what I thought. We’re taking you. The team should know we’re behind you. Whatever’s going on, we support you.”

Fuck, that felt good. Almost wiped away the embarrassment that I’d forgotten I didn’t have a fucking car here because I’d come straight from holding to the courthouse, the suit brought to me by my lawyer’s assistant. Hell. That meant my car was still parked near the club where I’d found Lucy. Probably hocked for parts by now.

Something else to add to the bill of this shitty holiday season. Why…. why they always had to fall apart around Christmas was an answer I would never receive.

“Thanks, Joey.”

“Thank Gabby. It was all her idea.”

“Of course it was,” I muttered.

He played it off like he wasn’t being a good guy, a good friend, probably because he knew not to push me too far. I’d told him once I had problems with my family, but he’d never asked for more information. He wasn’t going to get it that day either, even if I saw the questions lingering behind his eyes still focused on me.

A smile twisted his lips and he shrugged. “Come on. Let’s go hear the rest of the damage and then figure out how to move on from it.”

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