Gabriels redemption, p.29
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.29

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 29


  Julia’s eyes widened. “I thought you didn’t like socializing with grad students. You’d never join me before. ”

  Gabriel brushed his thumb across her jaw.

  “I’d do almost anything to make you happy. I don’t want you to regret a single moment we’re together. ”

  His eyes grew dangerous. “So come here. ”

  A few hours later, Gabriel heard the house telephone ring. He ignored it.

  Curiosity eventually got the best of him and he stuck his head through the study doorway and into the hall. From a distance, he could hear Julia speaking Italian. Wondering who she was speaking with, he left his study to descend to the kitchen.

  “No, Fra Silvestro. Non è necessario. ”

  Julia caught Gabriel’s eye and lifted a finger, indicating that he should wait.

  “Allora dovremmo organizzare una festa per i bambini. Non per me. ”

  Gabriel’s eyebrows lifted and he crossed over to her, leaning against the counter.

  “Sì, per i bambini. Possiamo festeggiare i loro compleanni. ” She paused, and Gabriel could hear the Franciscan brother chattering away on the other end of the line.

  “Ci dovranno essere regali, palloncini e una torta. E del gelato. ” Julia laughed. “Certo. E’ proprio quello che vorrei. . . . Ci vediamo, allora. Arrivederci. ”

  Julia hung up the telephone. “Good grief. ”

  “What was that all about?”

  “That was Brother Silvestro from the orphanage in Florence. ”

  “Why is he calling you?”

  “He wanted to speak to you but seemed delighted that you were indisposed. ”

  The edges of Gabriel’s lips turned up. “Sounds like he wanted to sweet-talk us and thought you’d make a better target. ”

  “Perhaps. He wanted to host a party for us when we visit the orphanage next week. ”

  Gabriel appeared surprised. “And you said no?”

  “I asked him to throw a party for the children, instead. We don’t need a party. ”

  Julia turned her attention to what she’d been doing before she received the telephone call, which was preparing a light lunch.

  Gabriel wrapped his arms around her from behind.

  “You’re very assertive. ”

  “It’s for the children. ”

  “This is something about you that’s always puzzled me, Julianne. You give up what you want rather easily. But you’re adamant about not giving in when it comes to someone else. ”

  “I don’t think I give up what I want so easily. I didn’t give up on you, did I? And you were pretty awful in the beginning. ” Julia peered up at him out of the corner of her eye.

  He shifted his feet.

  “I had in mind how much you wanted to stay at Magdalen College and how you were willing to leave when I insisted. ”

  She turned back to what she was doing.

  “Sometimes I don’t have the energy to fight with you. You were upset about the room. I don’t like seeing you upset. ”

  Gabriel pressed his lips to her neck.

  “I think you need a party. ”

  “I do. ” She reached up and tangled her fingers in his hair. “I need a private party that involves me peeling my handsome husband out of his favorite pair of jeans. ”

  She moved her mouth to his ear. “But your glasses stay on. ”

  He chuckled and pulled their lower bodies flush. “I didn’t know you had a thing for men in glasses. ”

  “Oh, I do. The way you feel about my high heels? That’s how I feel about you in glasses. But first I have to call Fra Silvestro’s assistant to see if she can rent a pony. ”

  Gabriel straightened.

  “A pony?”

  “Is that a bad idea?”

  “Can you rent ponies? In Florence?”

  “I don’t know. I’m sure none of the children have ever seen a pony, let alone had the chance to ride one. I thought it would be fun. ”

  Gabriel observed his wife’s excitement with no little amount of joy.

  “If you look after the gifts for the children, I’ll find a pony. ”

  “Thank you. ” She gave him a saucy wink. “Oh, and while you’re at it, see if you can rent a petting zoo. ”

  Chapter Twenty-nine

  Julia didn’t respond to Paul’s email. He’d asked her not to contact him, and she decided to honor his request. She knew that eventually their paths would cross at a conference or a colloquium. She thought that once he became used to the idea that she’d married Gabriel, he’d be able to be friends with her again.

  Or so she hoped.

  But his request and the way he’d done it—via email—had hurt. So she avoided her email for a couple of days. When she finally checked her account, she found a message from her father.


  Call me on my cell phone as soon as you get this message,


  Tom’s emails and telephone messages were usually terse. He was not a man of many words. But the tone of this particular email was so ominous, Julia didn’t bother to alert Gabriel as to what was happening. She simply picked up the telephone in the kitchen and dialed her father’s cell phone.

  He picked it up on the first ring. “Jules. ”

  “Hi, Dad. What’s going on?”

  Her father paused as if he were struggling to find the words. “We’re at the hospital. ”

  “The hospital? Why? What’s wrong?”

  At that moment, Gabriel walked into the kitchen. Julia pointed to the telephone and mouthed the words My dad.

  “Yesterday we went to have an ultrasound. We were supposed to find out the sex of the baby. But something was wrong. ”


  “His heart. ”


  “My son. ” Tom’s voice broke on the last word.

  “Dad. ” Julia sniffled and her eyes filled with tears.

  Gabriel stood very close to his wife, so that he could hear both sides of the conversation.

  “Where are you now?” she asked.

  “At the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. They agreed to see us right away. ”

  Julia heard a muffled noise in the background, then heard her father whisper, “It’s going to be all right, honey. It’s going to be all right. Don’t cry. ”

  “Is that Diane?”

  “Yes. ” Tom sounded strained.

  “I’m so sorry, Dad. What did the doctor say?”

  “We just met with the cardiologist. He says that the baby has hypoplastic left heart syndrome. ”

  “I’ve never heard of that before. What is it?”

  “It means he only has half a heart. ” He inhaled slowly. “It’s fatal, Jules. ”

  “Oh my God. ” A tear spilled onto her cheek.

  “He won’t survive without surgery. So they’ll have to operate after he’s born. That is, if Diane can carry him to term. Sometimes . . . ” Tom’s voice trailed off.

  “Can they fix it?”

  “The surgery can make his heart do what it needs to do, but it can’t give him a normal heart. They say it will take three different surgeries and a lifetime of medication. No one knows how well he’ll do or if he’ll—” Tom began to cough.

  “What can I do?”

  “There’s nothing anyone can do. Except pray. ”

  Julia began to cry, and Gabriel gently removed the telephone from her hand.

  “Tom? It’s Gabriel. I’m sorry about the baby. Let me book you a hotel near the hospital. ”

  “We don’t need—” Tom stopped abruptly, and Gabriel could hear Diane speaking in the background.

  Tom sighed. “Okay. That would be good. ”

  “I’ll make the arrangements and email you the information. Do you want to go to New York for a second opinion? I can make airline reservations for both of you. We can get you a referral to another hospital. ”

  “The doctors here seem to know what the
y’re doing. We have a meeting with the pediatric cardiac team tomorrow. ”

  Gabriel’s eyes fixed earnestly on his wife’s.

  “Do you need Julianne?”

  “There isn’t much she can do right now. ”

  “Be that as it may, she’s your daughter and the baby is her brother. You say the word, she’ll be there. ”

  “Thanks. ” Tom sounded gruff. “Things are up in the air right now. ”

  Julia wiped at her tears and gestured to the telephone.

  “She wants to speak with you. Take care, Tom. ”

  Gabriel handed her the phone.

  “Dad. Please keep in touch and let me know what’s going on. ”

  “Will do. ”

  “I hate to bring this up, but what about the wedding?”

  “We don’t know, Jules. ”

  “We’ll plan on spending Labor Day in Selinsgrove. I can be there before that, if you and Diane need me. ”

  “Good. ”

  “Do you want me to tell Richard?”

  Tom hesitated.

  “Might as well. The fewer people I have to have this conversation with the better. Diane was on the phone with her mother earlier and her sister, Melissa. ”

  A tear slid down Julia’s nose.

  “I love you, Dad. Give my love to Diane. ”

  “Will do. Bye, Jules. ”

  Julia quietly put down the phone. Then she was in Gabriel’s arms.

  “They were so happy about the baby. ”

  He squeezed her tightly as she clutched at his shirt.

  “They’re at a good hospital. ”

  “They’re devastated. It sounds like even if the heart problem can be corrected, the baby still will have health problems. ”

  “Doctors make predictions, but they’re guided by probabilities. Every patient is different. ”

  He straightened suddenly, as if something had just occurred to him.

  “Does Tom have any health problems?”

  “Not that I know of. Both of his parents had heart disease. ”

  She looked up at him. “You don’t think this is genetic, do you?”

  “I don’t know. ” He held her more closely. “There are few days when being an MD is infinitely better than being a PhD. This would be one of them. ”

  More tears streaked down Julianne’s cheeks. It had never occurred to her that something could be wrong with the baby. She’d been so happy to be having a sibling that any of the risks were unthinkable.

  As she cried in the arms of her husband, she realized that whatever grief she was feeling, Tom and Diane must be feeling tenfold.

  “How could they have prepared themselves for this?” she croaked. “They’re devastated. ”

  Julianne leaned against Gabriel, not noticing the expression on his face or the sudden flash of horror in his eyes.

  Chapter Thirty

  August 2003

  Cambridge, Massachusetts

  Gabriel? Baby, it’s time to get up. ”

  A soft, feminine hand stroked the stubble on his face and for a moment, he relaxed. He wasn’t sure where he was or who was lying naked beside him, but she had a sexy voice and a light touch. Cautiously, he opened his eyes.

  “Hi, baby. ” Her large blue eyes stared down at him in devotion.

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