Always My Babygirl by Jane Henry

 

Chapter One

Gabriel Lord

Istare at the line of monitors on my office wall.

Cycling.

Weights.

Private Training.

Cardio.

Pool.

Sauna.

And then I see her. She’s wearing her signature hot pink leggings and skin-tight black top. She’s twenty-nine years old, has a kick-ass figure, blue eyes with light tinges of violet in them, and ice-blonde hair that makes her look like an angel.

Fuck, she’s so gorgeous. She moves with purpose and elegance, her bright eyes taking in everything around her. She smiles at the help desk and hands Penny something wrapped in a napkin.

I grin to myself.

Is that a homemade muffin? She never eats them, but sometimes brings them in for the others.

Fucking adorable.

She waves to the clean-up crew. Hell, I don’t even know their names. But she does. She knows every damn one of them.

On she goes, greeting each person who sweeps the floor, wipes down the treadmills, refills the paper towels in the restrooms. There’s a brightness about her that glows like the Vegas lights.

I’ve run some details on her, just the basics. Nothing too intrusive. I know where she went to college, and that she graduated summa cum laude from a college here in Nevada. She’s got her MBA in business administration, but the name of the business she runs is somehow off record. A well-kept secret, I suppose.

I’ll find it out.

She alternates spin and lifting, but occasionally meets a friend for a yoga class, a short blonde with curly hair named Katie. She’s here nearly every damn day, and it shows.

I know she lives nearby, so close she can walk here. Sometimes at the end of her day, she comes back in the evening to use the sauna. To relax, unwind. I’ve seen the tension leave her face as she sinks down into the jets. It’s like this is her private sanctuary or something.

She keeps protein bars and bottled water in her locker. The protein bars are mostly ignored. The water she drinks from a glass bottle with a lilac sleeve.

Alright, so I might be a little on the obsessive side. But it’s harmless, really. I’m just… fascinated by her.

I watch as she goes to cycling class, and frown as she sways a little. I’m on my feet, taking an involuntary step toward the camera before I know it.

Is she alright?

I didn’t see her eat one of the protein bars before her workout. I doubt she treated herself to a muffin. Is she hungry? Dehydrated? Or am I too obsessed and the woman’s just fine?

I watch her take her class, but today, something seems... off. I swear she doesn’t look right. Even with the dimmed lights in the spinning studio, her face looks a bit pale, her complexion haggard. This isn’t like her.

I pace my office, thinking of an excuse to barge in there and interrupt her class.

Declined credit card.

Question about membership.

Fire alarm?

But before I can make a decision, I watch in sickening horror as she collapses right there off the bike, falling to the floor. There are screams from the studio as my office door slams behind me.