The Virgin Rule Book (Rules of Love #1) by Lauren Blakely



If I can resist an outside pitch, I can resist women.

“I can do it,” I tell Eric emphatically as Gabriel heads our way. “From now through spring training. I can’t risk losing another pair of socks, or someone snapping a shot of my prized baseball bat,” I say, gesturing to my crotch.

“I’m holding you to it, bro.” Eric holds up a palm for me to smack, and I do.

The shop owner reaches us, his lips twitching like he’s holding in a laugh, then he clears his throat. “Everything good?”

I give him a suspicious stare. “You were laughing at me too,” I accuse, wagging a finger at him. “You don’t think I can do it either.”

Gabriel adopts an expression as serious as a priest’s. “Every man has his Achilles’ heel.”

Eric’s eyes twinkle with mischief as he chimes in, “Crosby, even Gabriel knows of your weakness.”

“Seriously? How do you know this is my Achilles’ heel?” I ask Gabriel, indignant.

Gabriel smiles sympathetically. “Remember when you and Holden were here in December buying tuxes for the New Year’s Eve gala?”

“Yes,” I mutter. “One of my former Tinder dates called while we were here.”

“And she said she’d lost her diamond earrings in your apartment,” Gabriel continues, even-keeled. “Said she needed them to pay for a medical procedure for her sister. Asked if you had seen them or could replace them.”

Can I just grab a paper bag to cover my face? Chagrin, thy name is Crosby.

“Dude,” Eric says, chiding me.

“I didn’t fall for it,” I insist.

Gabriel pats my shoulder. “You didn’t. Because Holden and I told you it was a known scam.”

“You almost fell for that?” Eric asks incredulously.

“Fine,” I grumble. “I have a soft spot. I wanted to help her.”

“And we want to help you,” Eric says. “You need it, man. Not only are you a magnet for trouble, your heart is too squishy.”

“That’s not a bad thing,” I say, but combined with my terrible taste, maybe it is.

I toss up my hands in defeat. I’ve got nothing left in the protest tank because they’re both right. Time to man up. “Fine. I’m doing this. Whole-hog, cold-turkey, full-on woman ban through spring training. Hell, better make it until Opening Day.”

The shop owner whistles.

Eric claps.

I take a bow.

“You heard it here first,” Gabriel quips. “Would you like me to let Holden know when he stops by to pick up his tux later today?”

I roll my eyes. “Spread the word, why don’t you? Hire a skywriter. Hoist a banner.”

“We’ll all be your no-date sponsors, Crosby,” Eric says with a grin.

That’s what I need.

Backup.

Accountability.

My guys to have my back.

“Fair enough. You can all call me out if I slip.”

Eric stares at me. “No slipping.”

“It’s for your own good,” Gabriel adds, then snickers under his breath, “Diamond earrings.”

Eric shakes his head, amused. “Did you even sleep with the diamond earrings chick?”

“No,” I practically shout.

Eric holds out his arms in a wide there you have it shrug. I could caption this pic, I told you so.

“I get it. She was never even in my apartment. But I felt bad for her.”

“You’re a good one. That’s why you’re going to need a team of men to back you up. I want daily reports.”

“And when he’s on his honeymoon, you can report in here,” Gabriel puts in.

“Fair enough.” I’ve got a trainer for fitness, one who whips me into tip-top shape with ruthless sprints, squats, and crunches. I’ll enlist these guys as my no-love trainers. “Also, Gabriel, I’ll be sure to give your store a shout-out on my social media.” I run a finger along the suit jacket. “Because this tux is dope.”

“Thanks again for finding these blue ones,” Eric adds, taking off his jacket to hang it up. “Mariana will be thrilled.”

“Happy wife, happy life,” Gabriel says with a smile. “I’ll meet you at the register when you’re ready.”

I shuck off my own jacket and undo my shirt buttons, turning to Eric. “Speaking of your nuptials, I don’t need to bring anyone, do I? Since obviously, with the detox, I’d rather go solo.”