Gabriel

Gabriel by Naima Simone Read Free Book Online

Book: Gabriel by Naima Simone Read Free Book Online
Authors: Naima Simone
Tags: Secrets and Sins#1
friends with Gabriel, but she’d never
     been to the house where he’d grown up. A damn shame her first visit was due to the
     disappearance of his mother Evelyn’s old boyfriend, Richard Pierce.
    Leah had never met Chay’s mother, either, but she did remember her own delight after
     finding out Richard and her friend’s mother were dating. Several times she’d pestered
     Chay with ideas of her flower girl dress and him holding her hand as they walked down
     the aisle together if Richard and his mother were to marry.
    She frowned. Funny how she’d forgotten those details for all these years. Only mention
     of Evelyn Sheldon—or Evelyn Gray, as she’d been known then—in the old newspaper articles
     Leah had dug up over the weekend had jogged her memory.
    After Richard had disappeared, Chay had never spoken of the man who’d been his mother’s
     partner for a little over a year. It had been Gabriel who’d comforted her, not Chay.
     Gabriel who’d listened to her stories of her “Uncle Richard.” Not Chay. Wouldn’t it
     have made sense for the two of them to share their sadness? After all, she’d lost
     a second father, and he’d lost a father figure.
    At eleven, she hadn’t questioned Chay’s absence and utter silence. But now, with the
     edge of grief dulled by two decades, it seemed…odd.
    She switched off the ignition, palmed the key, and got out. As she rounded the rear
     bumpers of her truck and the sedan, she noticed a small set of stairs nestled in the
     short wall of well-groomed hedges lining the alley. She climbed the steps and realized
     they accessed the Gray property. With only a moment’s hesitation, she lifted the latch
     on the hip-level, old-fashioned wire gate and swung it open.
    Anticipation hummed through her, and her stomach performed a nervous somersault that
     would have scored a perfect ten. The asphalt stairs represented the first step toward
     the truth.
    I’ll find out, Richard. I’ll find out what happened and bring you home. The vow whispered through her mind as she headed toward the front of the small, olive-green,
     single-family home and climbed the porch steps. At four thirty on Columbus Day, the
     bank where Evelyn Sheldon worked as a part-time teller was closed, and Leah had gambled
     on the hour being late enough for Chay’s mother to have returned home from any errands
     she’d run that day.
    Leah knocked on the front door. Her foot tapped out an erratic cadence as she removed
     a peppermint from her pocket. She popped the striped candy into her mouth and waited.
     And waited. Another minute passed and no one came to the door. She rapped the door
     again. And waited some more.
    Frowning, she leaned over the porch railing and peered into the window. But the white
     curtains were drawn, leaving a sliver of space. The parked Chevy meant someone should
     be home. Of course Evelyn could have been picked up by another person but… damn . Leah propped her fists on her hips and frowned, disappointed.
    After another unanswered knock, she retraced her steps to the side of the house and
     the alley gate. Silence greeted her as the back door came into view. At this time
     of day—adults arriving home from work, children returning from school, evening traffic—the
     neighborhood should be buzzing with activity. Instead, the absolute stillness wrapped
     around her, almost suffocating in its weightiness. Unease skated down her spine.
    She neared the rear of the home in a slow, measured stride. The need for caution clanged
     in her head, insisting she proceed carefully. Nothing about the narrow sidewalk, tidy
     bushes, and bright blue welcome mat should have inspired the disquiet tightening her
     gut. Yet as she stood at the door, the visceral instinct credited with saving her
     ass more than once while on the force clamored for her attention. And she heeded its
     warning.
    Reaching under her jacket, she thumbed the restraining strap around her SIG free.
     She studied the

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