Home > A Lot Like Adios (Primas of Power #2)

A Lot Like Adios (Primas of Power #2)
Author: Alexis Daria

 

Chapter 1

 


CALENDAR

One year until NYC

Today at 9:00 AM

 

 

Fuck.” Gabriel Aguilar scowled at the reminder on his phone screen before swiping it off with this thumb. He hated calendar alerts—the damned things ruled his life these days—but he especially despised this one. New York was the last thing he wanted to think about, today or ever.

Shoving the phone into his sweatpants pocket, Gabe pulled open the glass double doors leading into Agility Gym and strode inside like he owned the place.

Which, technically, he did.

Cool air and the faint scent of lavender greeted him, a welcome change from the blistering Los Angeles heat. The gym felt like home, more so than Gabe’s minimalist apartment in Venice did. Located near Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Agility Gym was well ventilated and spacious, with clean lines, high ceilings, and large front windows that let in lots of sunlight. All around, trainers and physical therapists worked one-on-one with clients on everything from stunt work to knee rehab.

There were ups and downs to being a business owner, but Gabe wouldn’t trade it for anything. He’d built this. It was his.

The lavender scent grew stronger as Gabe neared the front desk where Trung, a former acrobat of Vietnamese descent who managed client scheduling, chatted with Charisse, one of Agility’s best PTs. Trung swore by the soothing effects of the essential oil diffuser, and while Gabe didn’t have strong opinions about aromatherapy, he could appreciate that lavender was an improvement over typical gym smells.

Despite the calendar alert urging him on, Gabe went over to greet them.

Charisse, a tall woman with a small ’fro and dark umber skin, returned Gabe’s fist bump with a wide smile. She and Gabe were gearing up to co-teach a class on hand therapy for the many clients who complained of repetitive strain injury from overusing their phones and computers.

“Lots of new sign-ups,” Charisse said, before turning to Trung. “Can you pull up the list?”

“Sure thing.” Trung’s purple-tipped nails clattered on the keyboard before they spun the screen around, revealing a color-coded spreadsheet. “Here you go.”

“Almost at the stretch goal,” Gabe said with a grin. “We might have to open more spots.”

Scanning the long list of names gave Gabe a rush. It was the kind of thing he missed doing, since most of his time now went toward the administrative and managerial tasks of running the gym. Speaking of, he had a shit-ton of such tasks waiting for him.

“I’ll see you two later,” he said, and headed for his office in the back of the building.

As Gabe approached, his business partner, Fabian, Charles stuck his head out of his own office.

“That you, Gabe?”

Gabe started most of his mornings at a gym closer to his apartment, where he could be just another person sweating it out with the weights, and not the face of the business. They’d worked out a schedule where Fabian came in earlier, but Gabe stayed later.

“Yeah, it’s me.” Gabe had met Fabian while playing baseball for UCLA, and all these years later, the guy was still his best friend. Fabian was Haitian by way of Boston, with coppery skin and dark locs pulled back with a rubber band. He was first-generation like Gabe, whose parents had been born in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Fabian waved him into the office. “Did you see the calendar alert?”

Gabe bit back a frustrated growl. Thinking about New York made him think about his family, a topic that always tanked his mood. “How could I miss it?”

“I figured you’d say that. Come on, I’ve got some updates.”

Gabe followed Fabian into the office, trying to ignore the piles of paper on Fabian’s desk. And floor. And chair.

Fabian claimed having everything out where he could see it counted as an organizational system, and while it made Gabe twitchy, he couldn’t deny that the guy was a genius at what he did.

They’d started Agility together when they were twenty-six and filled with the fire to build something of their own, a gym focused on physical therapy and rehab. Gabe had gotten interested in sports medicine after blowing out his knee and working on his recovery with the UCLA team doctor. After graduation, Gabe worked as a personal trainer and went back to school for physical therapy. Fabian had followed up undergrad with an MBA. The gym itself was Gabe’s vision, but Fabian had the skills to make it happen. And so, Agility Gym had been born. Five years later, it was now a hot spot for Hollywood stars.

And at thirty-one years old, Gabe was tired as fuck.

But there was no rest for the wicked, and there was still work to be done. He waited for Fabian to move a pile of papers from the guest chair before he sat down. Fabian took his place behind his desk and pulled a few brightly colored sticky notes off his computer monitor. Gabe, who’d gone paperless three years ago, withheld a comment.

“Ah, here we go.” Fabian held up a blue sticky note. “Today marks one year until we have to open an Agility Gym branch in New York City, as per the terms of our investment agreement with Powell.”

Gabe crossed his arms and waited for Fabian to get to the point. Richard Powell, their first investor, had insisted they open a location in New York City within six years, mainly so Powell could use it while he was on the East Coast for work. They’d met Powell through an investment competition for recent grads, and he’d been the first one to give them a chance. At the time, they’d been thrilled that Powell had taken such an interest in the gym. But lately, his involvement left Gabe wondering who was actually in charge here.

“I know you don’t want to, but you’ve gotta get started on this, dude,” Fabian said, a note of apology in his voice. “I can hold down the fort here, but I can’t travel back and forth like we’d planned.”

Resentment simmered in Gabe’s gut. When they’d made the agreement, Fabian had assured Gabe he’d handle it when the time came. He was the one with the vision for the New York location, and the drive to get it done. But Fabian’s life had expanded in ways they never could have foreseen. Since then, Fabian had gotten married and bought a house. His wife, Iris, an entertainment lawyer, was pregnant with twins, and their home renovation project had turned into a beast. On top of all that, Fabian’s parents had moved in with him in advance of his father’s open-heart surgery, which was scheduled to take place in a few weeks.

Gabe was happy for him. He really was. Fabian had always wanted to be a dad, and even though Gabe didn’t feel the same impulse, he could still be happy for his friend.

But Gabe wasn’t happy about what it meant for him.

For all his messiness, Fabian was a great business partner, and an even better friend. He knew about Gabe’s issues with his family, and he’d never have stuck Gabe with this task if there’d been another choice. Gabe hadn’t been back to New York since his sister’s wedding nine years ago, where he and his parents had made a scene and his father had yelled “Don’t come back!” at his retreating form.

“I know I have to do it,” Gabe said, shaking off the memory. Managing the New York launch was something he’d resigned himself to once he’d realized the one-year mark was coming up and Fabian was in no position to go anywhere.

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