BOOK 1: The Lone Wolf
BRITNEY “CRACKER” COOPER
I pulled my beat-up pickup into the parking lot and frowned when I saw a police car parked outside the metal shop.
Jeez, I thought, snorting to myself. ~I haven’t even rolled into town yet and the cops are already on my ass?~ I grinned at my own joke. Yeah, the cops and I have a long history together.
I turned off the ignition and the motor died with a loud, almost exhausted, sigh, happy to be out of commission and probably plotting the next thing that would break down.
Not that I minded. I liked getting grease on my hands once in a while, and besides, working on a truck or motorcycle out in this heat sure beat the frozen fingers I’d get doing it back in New York.
“Stay,” I told Max, whose reply was a big slobbering lick across the face.
The way-too-big, black Tibetan mastiff yipped and wagged his tail as he jumped back and forth, almost knocking over the motorcycle that was probably in worse shape than my truck.
But I had a good reason for that!
The bell above the door rang, and some curious customers, as well as a couple of servicers, looked up from what they’d been doing and cast curious glances at me.
I guess I couldn’t really blame them. Fairfax was a relatively small town, after all, and being the new girl in town was bound to turn a couple of heads.
I hadn’t been back for almost three years and, before that, I only stayed for the Christmas holidays, spending them with my adopted sister and her family.
I smiled as some of the big burly men gave me lopsided grins and what was probably supposed to be flirtatious once-overs. I tried not to laugh as I kept walking.
It wasn’t just any metal shop. A lot of the bikers from the local motorcycle club, Wolf Riders MC, worked here; and among them was my brother.
He wasthe real reason why I’d moved here in the first place.
Rumor had it that the club was dealing drugs, and now, I was afraid that the club had gotten my brother into trouble.
“—disturbing the customers,” a deep male voice boomed, pulling me out of my thoughts.
I spun around, trying to find the source of the voice, which turned out not to be that hard! The biker was huge, with big, tattooed arms that he folded over his impressive chest.
He towered over the five-foot-something sheriff who, wearing his khaki pants, hat, and shiny star, paled in comparison to the biker.
I grinned. It looked like a poodle starting a pissing match with a mastiff.
Oh, don’t get me wrong! Sheriff Big-Shit was impressive; just not as impressive as the biker.
And despite looking like he belonged on the cover of Vogue, there was just something about his eyes that I didn’t like.
Not that I ever needed a reason to hate a cop, but… It was the way he looked at you, in that privileged and arrogant way, as if he was better than everybody else.
“If you have nothing to hide, you won’t mind if I take a look,” the sheriff said, smirking.
See what I mean?
“Your logic is flawed,” I replied, not even thinking. Suddenly, both men turned to me, and I realized that I’d once again spoken my mind before my stupid brain could stop me.
“What did you say?” the sheriff asked as if feeling threatened by me.
Not that I blamed him. I might be a small thing, but I was as deadly as they came, having earned myself two state championship gold medals in tae kwon do and a black belt in karate.
But since he was the one with the legal gun…!
“Your logic is flawed,” I repeated, walking right up to them. “Imagine if a total stranger walks up to your house and demands entrance.”
I ignored the looks from everyone else. “You might not have anything to hide but you’re not necessarily interested in strangers going through your porn collection.”
Snickers sounded and low comments about his manhood didn’t improve his mood much.
He glared daggers at me that made me feel like a pincushion, but whatever. I was enjoying making that face frown, ruining his perfect skin!
“And if we’re being technical, is this private property?” I asked, turning to the biker, who I guessed owned the store.
He gave me a small nod, confirming what I’d already suspected, and I turned my attention back to the sheriff.
“Since you’re on private property, he”—I pointed to the biker—“can legally shoot you if he feels the need to protect his land.”
That got a reaction! The bikers seemed surprised by the information, while the sheriff clearly didn’t appreciate watching me metaphorically disarm him.
But whatever! I hated when cops used dirty tricks and the general public’s lack of knowledge of the law against them.
It was more proof that just because you had a badge, it didn’t make you a good guy!
“And just who do you think you are?” the sheriff growled and took a threatening step toward me.
Being five foot freaking five, I was average height for a woman but still had to crane my neck to look up at him as he towered over me.
“A lawyer,” I replied sweetly, fluttering my lashes. “And a damn good one at that. But don’t take my word for it.”
I spun, turning toward the biker and, very disrespectfully, turned my back to the cop. I almost wished I had eyes on the back of my neck just so I could see his face.
But the view in front of me wasn’t all bad either.
“Do you feel threatened, Mr.…” I found his nametag on the side of his black tee. It read Buck, and I had to bite my lip not to grin. The name fit him.
His big hands could easily have been mistaken for huge antlers, and he had forest-green eyes and black hair. He was huge in all the right places.
Fuck me, I hope he’s proportional all over!
“Buck,” I continued, giving him my best lawyer-face. “Is this man harassing you or, in any way, bothering you and preventing you from doing your job?”
He looked surprised for a second—probably too much man to accept help and whatnot—but with a subtle wink, I got him on board, despite the displeased frown he was sporting.
“Yes?” he growled, making it sound more like a question, but I could work with that.
“This is police business, miss,” the sheriff said, once again trying to get ahead in the conversation. “Do you want to be arrested for obstruction of justice?”
I spun on him so fast, he had to take a step back, so I didn’t step on his Armani shoes! Noticing them, I wondered how, on his salary, the shit did he afford shoes like that?!
“Unless you’re actually charging my client with something,” I said, shitting out law so fast, I probably made him dizzy, “I think your business here is concluded.
“And as for arresting me,” I smiled, absolutely loving this part as I crossed my arms over my chest and gave him a bright smile. “You can’t arrest people for doing their job, now, can you?”
There was practically steam coming out of his hat!
Ah! This is why I love my job!
“We haven’t been introduced,” he growled, reaching out his hand for me to shake. “I’m Sheriff Emilio Jones. And you are?”
Why did it feel like I was offering my hand to a snake?
“Britney Cooper,” I replied, shaking his hand firmly, refusing to show fear and, instead, keeping my smile in place. “And here’s how things are going to go from here!”
I gestured at the people around me. “You’re going to bid these nice people goodbye, leave a tip for coffee and then get back to your job so they can go back to theirs.
“Otherwise, tension might rise, angry words will be said and then he”—I pointed at Buck—“will have a legal right to shoot you!”
Surprised, Sheriff Jones glanced between me and the tall biker. And damn it, but when I heard knuckles cracking somewhere in the shop, I think the poor sheriff shat himself!
“Do we understand each other, Sheriff Jones?” I asked, keeping my voice deceivingly sweet as more and more people were quietly snickering. Some were outright laughing.
Knowing that he wasn’t going to win this fight, he finally accepted defeat; albeit, very disgracefully.
“Have a nice day,” he snarled, spun on his feet, and marched out of there.
“Why thank you, I will,” I called after him, giving him a girly wave. “Bye!”
Surprised, people started applauding me and laughing at the same time. Some even came up to me, telling me he’d gotten what he deserved. I did a lady-like curtsy and laughed it off.
“Why did you help me?” suddenly sounded behind me. And there was only one man with a voice that could make me shiver like that.
He did have a very sexy voice, and I had to cross my legs, so as not to let my libido run away with me while I imagined how he would sound talking dirty to me.
“I hate cops! Sue me!” I replied and shrugged nonchalantly.
I was just about to be on my way when I remembered the reason why I was here. I gave him a quick once-over and realized that he might be just what I needed.
“Do you do custom jobs?” I asked and felt a little surprised when I had to crane my neck so much just to be able to see his face.
“I accidentally ran my bike into a car, and it needs some repairs. Think you can give me a hand?”
Ok, I didn’t plan on getting involved with the shop, the club, and hell, even my brother and I had an understanding about not getting into other people’s business.
But if I had to hang out with 300 pounds of gorgeous, how could I refuse?
The guy gave me an equal, although less subtle, once-over, and his gaze actually paused at my cleavage.
When he was finally able to tear his eyes away, he made a hand motion toward the desk, and although I didn’t see it, something fun must have transpired, because he was smiling all of a sudden.
I turned my head at the reception area, but, yeah, there was no way bolts and screws were that interesting.
“Ok,” Buck murmured, calling my attention again. His amazing green eyes landed on me again, and this time. there was a ghost of a smirk on his lips. “Let’s see what you got!”
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