Shine Not Burn
Author:Elle Casey

Shine Not Burn by Elle Casey









To Mimi Strong.


An author friend whose name suits her perfectly.






Chapter One



THEY CALL ME PARTY GIRL. That’s who the invitation says I am, anyway.


Yo, Party Girl! We. Need. You. Be at the airport tomorrow at 1pm on the dot at the Delta ticket counter or you will henceforth be known as Mud. We’re not kidding. Don’t let us down. And remember, you have permission to have fun and forget about your bullshit boyfriend PUKE because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Over and out. Love, your best friend, Kelly. And no, Candice is not your best friend, I am. Love, Kelly. Your best friend.


I put the invitation down on my desk. “No way,” I said out loud into my office, “not gonna happen.”


“What’s not gonna happen?” asked Ruby, my assistant. Really she’s more like a mother, next door neighbor, confessor, and general pain in the butt all rolled into one, but the nameplate on her desk says she’s Ruby. Executive Legal Secretary at Harvey, Grossman, and Cantor, LLP. She came in carrying a piping hot mug of coffee, and like she does every day, earned my undying gratitude for her uncanny ability to know exactly what I needed when I needed it. Nine a.m. and I was ready to mainline the caffeine at this point. Bachelorette party invites do that to me.


“I’m not going to this stupid thing,” I said, tucking the invitation under my desk blotter. I could already imagine what Luke would have to say about it. That would be Luke with an L and not with a P. My girlfriends weren't fans.


“For Kelly? Of course you are. She’s your best friend. Do you want me to RSVP for you or are you going to handle it?”


I frowned at her, not quite snatching the cup out of her hands but letting her know she was making me cranky. “No, miss busybody, I do not want you RSVPing for me.” I put the mug closer to my face so I could smell its contents, wishing the act of snorting coffee steam could get the caffeine to go in deeper or make its effects last longer. “I told you. I’m not going.”


She pursed her lips at me in her patented Ruby-ain’t-playin’ look. “Mmm-hmm.” Two head bob-n-weaves later and I was folding. She had serious guilt-trip power, and she wasn’t afraid to use it on me regularly.


“But I don’t want to go,” I whined, getting my pout on and working it with everything I had. “I have two briefs to finish by Tuesday and three hearings this week on motions to dismiss and that’s just the tip of my unholy awful iceberg.” I kicked my desk lightly, wanting to do it harder but loathe to damage my Louboutins. They’d cost me almost a week’s pay.


“You finished those briefs last week, as you well know, and you can send Bradley to the hearings.” She said Bradley with that tone - the one that conveyed how irritating she found him. She always did. I had to really resist the urge to do it myself. He had this way of getting under a person’s skin. Creepy crawly and seriously, ew. Gorgeous clothes and a pretty face could only do so much for a guy when his personality was so gag-worthy. Think snake crossed with honey badger and you’d be close to understanding his style.


I rolled my eyes. “You really need to stop snooping around in my computer files, Rubes.”


“Why? How else am I’m going to keep up with you? If I wait for you to ask me for help I’ll be old and gray before that happens.”


“You already are old and gray,” I said, smiling behind my mug. The glee I was feeling at this point was totally rude, but that’s how I roll. Rockin the Louboutins while harassing senior citizens. Classy with a capital K.


She pointed a very long, very polished fingernail at me. “Girl, you are so lucky you’re sitting behind that desk and not out there in that mess of secretaries with me, otherwise …” She wrinkled up her mouth at me and shook her head slowly a few times.


“Otherwise, what? You’d mess me up? We’d throw down in the copy room?” My grin got bigger.


“Count on it, baby girl,” she said. She turned to leave the office, her panty-hosed legs making loud swishing sounds like they always did. I swear one day the friction between her thighs was going to start a fire in the office.


“Who do I send the RSVP to?” she asked without even looking back at me. “Candice or Kelly?”


I sighed heavily, putting the mug down on the desk blotter.


Ruby wins again. As usual.


“Kelly,” I sighed out. “Send it to Kelly’s work email.”


I spun my chair to the side so I could face my computer, clicking on the keys that would take me to my client files. The impending doom of Kelly’s upcoming bachelorette party hung over my head. I was supposed to be figuring out how I was going to work my way around the 4th DCA’s latest ruling, but the words on the document I’d just opened swam in front of my eyes.