Gabriels redemption, p.10
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.10

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 10


  The next morning, Richard awoke to an empty bed and the knowledge that he’d been given a very precious gift. He felt lighter, more at peace than he had been in a long time. He breakfasted with his family and began making arrangements to resign from his research position in Philadelphia.

  In the next week, he put his condo up for sale and hired movers to return his things to the house he’d bought with his wife so many years ago. Gabriel insisted that the items they’d placed in storage also be returned to the house.

  When the moving trucks arrived, he directed the movers to the master bedroom, asking them to remove its furniture before bringing in Richard’s.

  “No. ” Richard placed his hand on his son’s shoulder. “The guest room is mine now. ”

  Gabriel indicated to the movers that they should give him a minute. He turned to his father, eyebrows knitted together.

  “Why don’t you want your old room?”

  “The master bedroom is yours now, with Julia. She’s painted it and made it her own. I won’t undo that. ”

  Gabriel protested, but Richard lifted his hand to stop him.

  “Grace will be with me wherever I sleep. She’ll find me in the guest room. ” He clapped his hand on Gabriel’s shoulder once again before calling to the movers and directing them upstairs.

  Gabriel wasn’t about to argue with his father, especially when he seemed content with his decision. And if he found his father’s remarks strange, he kept that to himself.

  (But in truth, he didn’t find the remarks strange. )

  That night, when the house was empty and quiet, Richard could almost imagine Grace getting into bed with him. He rolled onto his side and slept peacefully before meeting her in his dreams.

  Chapter Seven

  July 2011

  Oxford, England

  Professor Gabriel O. Emerson peered contemptuously around the modest guest room in staircase five of the Cloisters of Magdalen College. His blue eyes alighted on a pair of twin beds that were situated along the wall, and he pointed at them.

  “What the hell are those?”

  Julia’s eyes followed the path of his accusatory finger. “I think those are beds. ”

  “I can see that. We’re leaving. ”

  He picked up their bags and approached the door, but she stopped him.

  “It’s late, Gabriel. I’m tired. ”

  “Exactly. Where the hell are we supposed to sleep?”

  “Where do Magdalen students usually sleep? On the floor?”

  He gave her a withering look. “I’m not sleeping in a ridiculous abomination of a single bed ever again. We’re checking into the Randolph. ”

  She rubbed her eyes with both hands. “Our reservation isn’t until two days from now. And besides, you promised. ”

  “Nigel promised me one of the unused don’s rooms, a room with a double bed and an en-suite. ” He looked around. “Where’s the double bed? Where’s the en-suite? We’ll have to share the bathroom with God knows who else!”

  “I don’t mind sharing a bathroom with the other guest room for two nights. We’ll be at the conference most of the time. ”

  Ignoring her husband’s irate sputtering, Julia walked to the window, which overlooked the beautiful quadrangle below. She stared longingly at the strange stone figures that were set above the archways to the right.

  “You told me that C. S. Lewis was inspired by those statues when he wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. ”

  “That’s what they say,” Gabriel said in a clipped voice.

  She rested her forehead against the leaded glass. “Do you think his ghost ever wanders around here?”

  “I doubt he’d haunt a room like this. ” Gabriel sniffed. “He’s probably at the pub. ”

  Julia closed her eyes. It had been a long day, traveling from the hotel in London to the railway station, then to Oxford, and now here. She was so very, very tired.

  He took in her subdued form from across the room.

  “There’s no such thing as ghosts, Julianne. You know that. ” His voice was gentle.

  “What about when you saw Grace and Maia?”

  “That was different. ”

  She looked at the statues wistfully before joining him at the door, wearing a defeated expression.

  “Would it make you unhappy to stay at the hotel?” His eyes searched hers. “We’d have greater privacy. ”

  “We would, yes. ” She looked away.

  He glanced at the twin beds. “Sex is almost impossible in those things. There isn’t enough room. ”

  She smirked. “That isn’t how I remember it. ”

  A slow, provocative smile spread across his face, and he brought his lips within inches of hers.

  “Is that a challenge, Mrs. Emerson?”

  Julia regarded him for a moment. Then she seemed to shrug off her fatigue as she wrapped his silk tie around her hand, pulling his mouth to hers.

  Gabriel dropped their luggage and kissed her, forgetting his irritation. Then he reached back with his foot and kicked the door shut behind them.

  Chapter Eight

  Some time later, Gabriel was entwined with his wife in one of the narrow beds. She breathed his name against his chest.

  “You haven’t lost your skill. I found your most recent innovation extremely—satisfying. ”

  “Thank you. ” His chest swelled. “It’s late now. Time for sleep. ”

  “I can’t. ”

  Gabriel coaxed her chin upward. “Are you worried about your paper?”

  “I want to make you proud. ”

  “I will always be proud of you. I am proud of you. ” His blue eyes lasered into hers.

  “What about Professor Picton?”

  “She wouldn’t invite you if she thought you weren’t ready. ”

  “What if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer?”

  “You answer it as best you can. If they press you, you can always say they’ve asked a good question and you’ll give the matter some thought. ”

  Julia rested against his chest, her fingers scaling his abdominal muscles.

  “Do you think if I asked C. S. Lewis to intercede on my behalf, he’d pray for me?”

  Gabriel snorted.

  “Lewis was a Protestant from Northern Ireland. He didn’t believe in petitioning the saints. Even if he heard you, he’d ignore you. On principle.

  “Ask Tolkien. He was Catholic. ”

  “I could ask Dante to pray for me. ”

  “Dante is already praying for you. ” He spoke against her hair.

  Julia closed her eyes, listening to the sound of his heartbeat. She always found its rhythm comforting.

  “What if people ask why you left Toronto?”

  “We’ll say what we always say—I wanted to be in Boston because you were going to Harvard and we were getting married. ”

  “Christa Peterson has been telling a different story. ”

  The Professor’s eyes narrowed. “Forget about her. We don’t need to worry about her at this conference. ”

  “Promise me you won’t lose your temper if you hear something—unsavory. ”

  “Give me a little credit. ” He sounded exasperated. “We’ve had to deal with gossip at BU and Harvard and I haven’t lost my temper. ”

  “Of course. ” She kissed his chest. “But academics get bored and like to talk. Nothing is more exciting than a sex scandal. ”

  “I beg to differ, Mrs. Emerson. ” Gabriel’s eyes twinkled.

  “Oh, really?”

  “Sex with you is more exciting than a scandal. ”

  He flipped her to her back and proceeded to kiss her neck.

  Before the sun peeked over the horizon, Julia crept back into the room. A shaft of light from the window partially illuminated the naked man in her bed. He was lying on his stomach, his dark hair mussed. The sheet was slung dangerously low, exposing his lower back, his dimples, and the t
op of his backside.

  Julia gazed at him appreciatively, her eyes resting a beat longer than necessary on his muscular back and gluteus maximus. He was beautiful, he was sexy, and he was hers.

  She removed her yoga pants and T-shirt, placing her clothes and underthings on an obliging chair. Since they’d been married, she almost always slept naked. She preferred it that way—to sleep skin against skin with her beloved.

  Gabriel stirred when he felt the mattress move. He accepted her into his arms immediately, but it took a few moments for him to awake.

  “Where did you go?” He began to run his fingers up and down her arm.

  “I went to see the stone figures in the quadrangle. ”

  Gabriel’s eyes opened. “Why?”

  “I read the Narnia books. They were special to me. ”

  He cupped her face.

  “So you wanted to stay here because of Lewis?”

  “And because of you. I know that Paulina lived here when you did, and I . . . ” She stopped, regretting the fact that she’d mentioned someone they were both trying to forget.

  “That was before we were involved. I spent very little time with her here. ” He wrapped Julia in his arms. “I wouldn’t have tried to take you to the Randolph tonight, if I’d known your reasons. Why didn’t you tell me?”

  “I thought you’d think my attachment to the Narnia books was juvenile. ”

  “Anything important to you can’t be juvenile. ”

  He thought for a moment as he considered what she’d said.

  “I read those books, too. There was a closet in my mother’s apartment back in New York that I was convinced would open into Narnia if I was a good boy. Clearly, I wasn’t. ”

  He expected her to laugh, but she didn’t.

  “I know what it’s like to be willing to do anything to make the stories real,” she whispered.

  Gabriel’s hold on her tightened. “If you want to see where Lewis lived, I’ll take you to The Kilns, his house. Then we’ll go to The Bird and Baby, where the Inklings met. ”

  “I’d like that. ”

  He brushed a kiss against her hair. “I said once that you were not my equal, but my better. I’m afraid you didn’t believe me. ”

  “It’s difficult to believe that you think that, sometimes. ”

  He winced.

  “I need to do a better job of showing you,” he whispered. “But I’m not sure how. ”

  Chapter Nine

  After breakfast in Magdalen’s dining room, Gabriel insisted that they take a taxi to St. Anne’s, the venue for the conference. He was worried that Julia (and her high heels) wouldn’t survive the walk, and there was no way in hell he was asking her to change shoes.

  “This is a dream come true,” Julia murmured, as they drove through Oxford. “I never imagined being able to visit here, let alone being able to present my research. I can’t believe it. ”

  “You’ve worked very hard. ” He brought her hand to his lips. “This is your reward. ”

  Julia was silent, as she felt the weight of expectations on her shoulders.

  When they passed the Ashmolean Museum, Gabriel’s eyes suddenly grew alight.

  “I wonder what kind of trouble we can get into in there. ” He pointed to the museum. “As I recall, there are ample locations for a tryst or two. ”

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