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Gabriel’s Rule (The Escort #1)
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“You said you wanted normal, Gabe. Riley is your normal.”
After nearly ten years of moonlighting as a professional escort, Gabriel Maddox is good at giving women the forbidden pleasures they crave. They don’t need to know that something inside of him dies a little each time he does it or that his desperate need for cash is the only reason he can’t walk away. They just need to know that to get what they want, they have to play by his rules.
Riley Sinclair is starting over. She’s left dry, dusty Texas and her ultra conservative, fanatically religious parents and cheating, mean-spirited fiancé behind for a new life in Seattle. But one look at her stunningly gorgeous new neighbor Gabe brings back all the insecurities she’s trying to escape.
Gabe can only offer Riley pleasure but when she discovers that his perfect outside hides something terribly broken on the inside, will she risk her heart to give him what he needs?
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Not again. Gabe Maddox stared at the door in front of him for a long moment and then pushed the door open with his foot. He took in a quick view of his apartment before looking at the doorjamb again. Abby hadn’t bothered to find a loser able to pick the lock this time; the door had been pried open with a crowbar. It wouldn’t have taken much effort Gabe knew, because everything in his apartment building was so old and run down that the building probably wasn’t too far from being condemned by the city. He may as well have left the door unlocked but Abby would have been too high and too desperate to even have the sense to check it first.
Steeling himself against the automatic disappointment that went through him at her latest betrayal, Gabe took a few steps into the apartment and looked around at the chaos. The few books he had, had been dumped on the floor and the bookshelf turned over, probably to check for money hidden behind it. The small TV he had bought at the thrift store after the last time was gone which surprised him because he’d only paid fifteen bucks for the thing and couldn’t imagine it would bring in any kind of cash – it seemed like it would have been more effort to haul the heavy little thing around, but he again figured Abby was well beyond common sense at this point. He was glad to see his couch was still intact. The cushions had been pulled off but at least this time there weren’t big slashes in the fabric.
Kicking what was left of his tableside lamp out of his way, Gabe made his way to the kitchen. They’d left his weight bar and bench alone, as well as the heavy boxing bag that had hung from the ceiling in the dining room, so at least there was that. The high quality workout equipment was among the few things he had splurged on in recent years, figuring it was more of an investment than an indulgence.
His kitchen hadn’t fared as well as the living room. The few dishes he had were mostly in shards and there was food debris everywhere. Damn, he’d just shopped yesterday too. The morons hadn’t even been considerate enough to close the freezer after they rifled through it so there was water dripping all over the floor. His heavy work boots crushed glass and ceramic as he left the kitchen and checked the bathroom, then bedroom.
She hadn’t found much else; he certainly wasn’t stupid enough to keep any kind of medication in the place and the only thing of value was his cell phone charger sitting next to his bed. She’d taken that too. He stepped over mountains of clothes thrown on the floor and dropped to his knees to look under the bed. He sighed in relief when he saw the floorboard he had carefully pried up earlier this year to hide the few valuables he did have was untouched. It was the only reason he had invested in the heavy, wood bed frame – it was too cumbersome to move and Abby was always in a hurry when she made her little visits. The mattress had big slashes in it where someone had taken a knife to it and some of the filling stuck out, but if he flipped it the mattress would be useable, at least until the next time.
Gabe studied the damage for a few more minutes and then turned and left the room. He’d been looking forward to spending the rest of the night sitting on his ass and watching the game on his crappy little TV while nursing a couple of beers. She hadn’t even left him the damn beer. As he left the apartment and pulled the broken door closed behind him, he willed himself to drown out the feeling of betrayal that ripped at his insides. Yep, for the third time in a less than a year, his own mother had robbed him.
Riley Sinclair loved the rain but moving in it not so much. At least she only had a few boxes and her rolling suitcase to slog through the huge puddles of water that had collected on the short walkway to the apartment building. It was an ugly building, she mused, as she sat in the compact ten-year-old sedan and studied the structure. It was three stories tall with two apartments per floor. The red brick was faded and a lot of the windows were cracked or covered by newspaper from the inside. Stairs for the fire escape snaked down from the roof to the ground, but they looked like they were about to fall off the building. At least what little grass there was, was lush and rich in color. That was better than the endless dust that seemed to cover all of Texas.