Home > The Heir (Gentlemen Rogues #1)

The Heir (Gentlemen Rogues #1)
Author: Nana Malone

 

Chapter One

 

 

Saffron

 

 

I ducked a wild swing and then kicked my foot out, hitting my target center mass.

Next to me on the training mats, my best mate and teammate for this exercise, Tabatha Smith, panted happily as she clotheslined her sparring partner.

When he went down like a sack of potatoes, hacking, coughing, and clutching his throat, she grinned at me.

I couldn't help but laugh. Unfortunately, in the second that I took my eyes off my target, I caught a fist straight to the sternum.

People always said that they got the wind knocked out of them, but this was a whole other kind of thing. Not only was the wind knocked out of me, my sparring partner was six-foot-five, 250 pounds. And he had not pulled his punch.

I got my soul and my sass knocked out of me.

I had, of course, been trained on what to do when you had no air and you still had to fight for your life.

I whipped my leg out and caught him behind the knee, pitching him forward. He fell down, and I quickly rolled on top of him as I took a large breath. Then I delivered a hammer fist right to the center of his chest, making him cough.

Somewhere in the distance a whistle blew, and I immediately sprang up to my feet, making a point to pretend like I wasn't breathing hard. But dear God, I didn't think I'd ever breathe deeply again.

Tabatha smirked at me. "You know you're going to get docked for control, right?"

I glowered at the trainee still laying on his back and smirked. "It was worth it." I leaned over him, smiling softly. "Trainee, control, remember?"

He grumbled from where he lay, still coughing. "Sorry."

He nodded, as if accepting the reprimand. But in his eyes I could see the challenge, the desire to put me back in my place, and I knew he’d be a problem as an op who needed to follow orders in the field. Not that he couldn't be an op, but teamwork was going to be an issue for him.

The trainees were given their marks for the day, and they all shuffled and filed out toward the locker rooms. Tabatha threw her arm over my shoulder. "Okay, now that work is done for the day, please, can we go celebrate your damn birthday?"

I wrinkled my nose. "My birthday isn’t until tomorrow."

"Oh, come on. You know I'm off for three days straight. If we don't celebrate until tomorrow, I'll have wasted a night of freedom. And if we celebrate tonight, you and I can still get out of here and go to the city for the weekend."

"You know full well I can't go anywhere."

She frowned. "Sir Gabe won't let you out of the tower, huh?"

I groaned. Gabriel Webb was our commander. He was also my adopted brother and in charge of my schedule. Basically, he was in charge of me because of how things had landed over the last two years.

"Come on, it's your birthday. Even Gabe can't keep you from that."

He could. He would, too.

"It doesn't matter how mad he is, okay? I just don't want to do anything wild or crazy." Despite being so close, Tabatha and I were exact opposites. She loved the energy of a loud, bustling club. I did not. I always felt out of place. Like it was too loud. Too hard to see.

She sighed and planted her hands on my shoulders. Tabs was several inches shorter than me, but she was built. Completely stacked in all the areas I was not. Tabatha had curves that basically screamed, Look at me. Watch me.

I was more gently curved. Athletic. Tall. Not quite willowy, but never would my curves say, Va-va-va-voom.

Tabs just laughed. "Come on. You have to have a birthday celebration. It's important to celebrate these things even if you're sad."

Just the mention of it made my nose tingle. "I know. It's important.” After all, hadn't the therapist said the same thing? She’d said it was time to start living my life again.

Easier said than done, but I had to try.

Tabs gave me a soft smile. “No one said you have to become a socialite. I’m just saying a night of dancing with your bestie might make you smile a little.”

My parents' death two years ago had scarred me in ways that I would never recover from, but letting my big brother lock me away for my own safety wasn’t the answer. "Okay, we’ll go out, but nothing crazy, all right?"

Tabatha clapped her hands in glee and jumped up and down. “Yes! Bust out the leather pants because we are doing this birthday right!”

“You are way too excited for this,” I grumbled.

Tabs gyrated all around me, and I couldn’t help but giggle. “If those are your dance moves, I worry about your sanity.”

“You worry about your own moves. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even find you someone to shag.”

“Nope. Some random sweaty bloke in a bar?” Just the idea made me shudder. “No thanks. Besides, I’m not dating right now.”

“We’re going to have so much fun. There’s a new bar in Mayfair. We’re going to go to and let the rich billionaire playboys and sons of the aristocracy buy us stupidly expensive drinks. And then, we're going to head down to South London. I know of a few clubs down there, and one of them is owned by Jamal Winston. He's that Jamaican DJ I was telling you about. He is wicked. I cannot wait."

I snorted. "Tabs, why do I have a feeling that I'm going to need to carry a weapon tonight?"

"When are you ever without a weapon?"

I frowned at that. "Well, that's just good safety. And you should always carry one too."

She shrugged. "I do. But the point is, I feel like you have six whereas I have two."

I blinked rapidly. "Well, you never know when you're going to need a spare."

She lifted her brows while still managing to roll her eyes at me.

I huffed, "All right, fine, I recognized how that sounded when I said it."

"I get it. You are warrior goddess supreme. I adore you. And I don't know how to say this, but you need some dick. All work and no play is very bad for both of us. But especially for you. Time for The Heir to get the cobwebs out.”

I loathed my call sign. It was just an ever-present reminder that my parents weren’t here.

I shook my head. "Tabs."

I glanced around, hoping none of the other trainers were around, only to realize that we were alone. Gabe hadn't even stayed to get my opinion on the trainees, which meant I would have to go to him. Was that a power play?

Before my parents died, we’d been thick as thieves. But the moment they were gone, he’d changed. He’d become cold, distant, exacting. He’d also gotten a little wild about my safety.

Tabs snorted, the little sound bringing me out of my reverie. "I love how we're both looking for him but for completely different reasons."

I rolled my eyes. "Please Tabs, I beg you, do not tell me all the dirty things you want to do to my brother."

"He’s a pain in the arse, but he’s a hot pain in the arse."

I shuddered. "That's gross. He's just Gabe."

She gave me a wicked grin and waggled her eyebrows. "Yes, he is Gabe. Those broad shoulders... I've watched him train. Shirtless, all sweaty, six-pack abs. That man is fine. How you don't see it, is beyond me."

I wasn't blind. I knew Gabe was a looker. I just also had a front row seat to all his flaws. But he was the only person in the world I fully trusted, and that was saying a lot. I loved Tabs to pieces, but sometimes I didn't trust her decisions or the risks she took. I’d trust Gabe with my life, though I resented the fact that he wouldn't let me out in the field.

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