Gabriels redemption, p.4
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.4

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 4


  “I’ll be honest, but supportive. I promise. ”

  “That’s the best I can hope for. ” She smiled up at him. “Now I need you to take me to bed and cheer me up. ”

  His eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “What would cheering you up entail?”

  “Taking my mind off my troubles by tantalizing me with your naked body. ”

  “What if I’m not ready for bed?”

  “Then I guess I’ll have to go to bed by myself. And maybe cheer myself up. ” She stood and stretched, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye.

  In a flash he was behind her, scooping her into his arms and racing for the stairs.

  Chapter Three

  You can’t present this. ” Gabriel strode into the study the following afternoon, clutching a printout of Julia’s lecture.

  She looked up from her laptop in horror. “Why not?”

  “You’re wrong. ” He set the pages down and pulled off his glasses, tossing them on top of her desk. “St. Francis comes for the soul of Guido da Montefeltro after he dies. We discussed this. You agreed with me. ”

  Julia crossed her arms defensively.

  “I changed my mind. ”

  “But it’s the only interpretation that makes sense!”

  She swallowed hard, shaking her head.

  He began to pace in front of her desk.

  “We talked about this in Belize. I sent you an illustration of the scene while we were separated, for God’s sake! Now you’re going to stand in front of a room full of people and say that it never happened?”

  “If you’d read my footnotes, you’d—”

  He stopped pacing and turned to face her.

  “I read the footnotes. None of those sources go as far as you. You’re merely speculating. ”

  “Merely?” Julia pushed back from her desk. “I found several reputable sources that agree with most of what I say. Professor Marinelli liked my paper. ”

  “She’s too easy on you. ”

  Julia’s mouth dropped open. “Too easy? And I suppose you think that Professor Picton invited me to the conference merely out of charity?”

  Gabriel’s expression softened. “Of course not. She thinks well of you. But I don’t want you to get up in front of a crowd of senior professors and offer a naïve interpretation. If you’d read my book, you’d—”

  “I read your book, Professor Emerson. You only mention the text I’m analyzing in passing. And you naïvely adopt the standard interpretation, without reflecting on whether you should. ”

  Gabriel’s eyes narrowed.

  “I accept the interpretation that makes sense. ” His tone was glacial. “I never naïvely adopt anything. ”

  Julia stood, huffing in frustration.

  “Don’t you want me to have my own ideas? Or do you think I have to repeat what everyone else has already said just because I’m a lowly grad student?”

  Gabriel’s face reddened. “I never said that. I was a grad student once, too, if you’ll recall. But I’m not anymore. You could benefit from my experience. ”

  “Oh, here we go. ” Julia threw up her hands in disgust and walked out of the study.

  Gabriel followed.

  “What do you mean, here we go?”

  She didn’t bother turning around.

  “You’re just upset that I’m going to disagree with you in public. ”

  “Bullshit. ”

  “Bullshit?” She turned around. “Then why are you telling me to change my paper so I fall in line with your book?”

  He placed a hand on her arm. “I’m not trying to get you to fall in line. I’m trying to help so that you won’t make a fool—” He stopped abruptly.

  “What was that?” She shook off his hand.

  “Nothing. ”

  He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.

  When he opened his eyes, he appeared calmer. “If you start now, you should be able to rewrite your paper in time for the conference. I can help. ”

  “I don’t want your help. And I can’t change my thesis. They’ve already published the abstract on the conference website. ”

  “I’ll call Katherine. ” He gave her an encouraging smile. “She’ll understand. ”

  “No, you won’t. I’m not changing it. ”

  Gabriel’s lips pressed together into a thin line.

  “This is not the time to be stubborn. ”

  “Oh, yes, it is. It’s my paper!”

  “Julianne, listen—”

  “You’re worried I’ll make a fool of myself. And embarrass you. ”

  “I didn’t say that. ”

  She gave him a look that was wounded if not betrayed. “You just did. ”

  She stalked into the bedroom, attempting to close the door behind her. His hand shot out, stopping the door.

  “What are you doing?”

  “I’m trying to get away from you. ”

  “Julianne, stop. ” He gazed around helplessly. “We can talk about this. ”

  “No, we can’t. ” She jabbed a finger into his chest. “I’m not your student anymore. I’m allowed to have my own ideas. ”

  “That isn’t what I was saying at all. ”

  She ignored him and walked toward the bathroom.

  “Julianne, damn it. Stop!” he bellowed from the doorway.

  She whirled around.

  “Don’t yell at me!”

  He held his hands up in an expression of surrender and drew a deep breath.

  “I’m sorry. Let’s sit down and talk. ”

  “I can’t talk to you right now without saying something I’ll regret. And you obviously need to cool down. ”

  “Where are you going?”

  “To the bathroom. I’m locking the door and I’m going to avoid you for the rest of the day. If you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to my dad’s. ”

  Gabriel winced. She hadn’t stayed with her father since before they were married.

  “How would you get there?”

  She rolled her eyes.

  “Don’t worry, I won’t leave you without a car. I’ll call a cab. ”

  “There aren’t any cabs in town. You’ll have to call one in Sunbury. ”

  Julia glared. “I know that, Gabriel. I used to live here, remember? You must really think I’m an idiot. ”

  She walked into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.

  Gabriel heard the lock click into place.

  He paused for a moment before knocking on the door. “Rachel, Aaron, and Richard are arriving soon. What will I tell them?”

  “Tell them I’m an idiot. Obviously. ”

  “Julianne, just listen to me. Please. ”

  He heard water running from behind the door.

  “Fine!” He shouted. “Avoid me. Our first fight and you lock yourself in the God damned bathroom. ” He smacked his palm against the door.

  Abruptly, the water shut off.

  She raised her voice in order to be heard. “My first public lecture and you tell me it’s shit. And not because it is, but because I didn’t agree with you and your own God damned book!”

  After a lengthy hot bath, Julia emerged. The bedroom was empty.

  She dressed quickly before entering the hall. She padded over to the staircase, listening.

  Satisfied that the house was empty, she walked to the study and closed the door. Then she sat behind her desk, turned on some soft jazz as background noise, and returned to her paper.

  “Where’s Julia?” Rachel hugged her brother before rolling her small suitcase and that of her husband, Aaron, into the living room. Her tall and willowy form was clad in a pair of khaki pants and a V-necked white T-shirt. Her long blond hair hung straight and perfect, pushed back from her attractive face by large black sunglasses. She looked like she could have starred in a Gap ad.

  Gabriel’s expression tightened.

  “She’s working on her paper. ”

  “Did you tel
l her we arrived?” Rachel moved to the foot of the stairs. “Jules! Get your ass down here!”

  “Rachel, please,” her father said reprovingly before greeting Gabriel with a hug.

  Richard stood an inch or two shorter than his son and had light hair and gray eyes. He was quiet and serious, and his intelligence and kindness engendered respect in all who knew him.

  When there was no movement upstairs, Rachel turned to her brother, gray eyes narrowed.

  “Why is she hiding?”

  Gabriel shook Aaron’s hand in greeting. “She isn’t. She probably didn’t hear you.

  “Your rooms are ready and there are fresh towels in the guest bathroom. Dad, you’re welcome to stay in your old room. ”

  “I’ll be fine in the guest room. ” Richard picked up his bag and began climbing the stairs.

  “Are you and Julia fighting?” Rachel gave Gabriel a suspicious look.

  He pressed his lips together. “You can say hello when you go upstairs. Then we’ll meet for drinks on the back porch. I’m barbecuing ribs for dinner. ”

  “Ribs? Fantastic. ” Aaron clapped an appreciative hand to Gabriel’s back. “I was going to stop to pick up some Corona before we arrived, but Rachel wanted to come straight to the house. I’ll be back in a few. ”

  He picked up his car keys and was about to head to the door when his wife stopped him. She shook her head.

  Gabriel watched the exchange between Rachel and Aaron and decided that was his opportunity to excuse himself.

  “See you on the patio in a few minutes. ” He walked toward the kitchen.

  Rachel shook her head at her husband. “They’re fighting. I’ll go talk to Jules and you talk to Gabriel. Then you can pick up the Corona. ”

  “What could they be fighting about?” Aaron ran a hand through his dark curly hair.

  “Who knows? Maybe Julia rearranged his collection of bow ties without asking him. ”

  “Hey. ” Rachel opened the door to her father’s former study.

  Julia greeted her best friend with a wide smile. “Rach! Hi. ”

  The two women embraced and Rachel settled herself in one of the comfortable chairs by the window.

  “How’s it going?”

  “Fine. ”

  “So what’s up with you and Gabriel?”

  “Nothing. ”

  “You lie like a carpet. ”

  Julia turned away. “What makes you think something is up?”

  “Gabriel is downstairs looking unhappy and you’re up here looking unhappy. There’s tension in the house. I don’t need to be a psychic to pick up on it. ”

  “I don’t want to talk about it. ”

  “Men are jerks. ”

  “I can’t argue with that. ” Julia collapsed in the chair opposite her best friend, flinging her legs over the arm.

  “I fight with Aaron, sometimes. He’ll get mad and take off for a couple of hours, but he always comes back. ” Rachel looked at her friend carefully. “Do you want me to go and beat Gabriel up?”

  “No. But you’re right. We’re fighting. ”

  “What happened?”

  “I made the mistake of letting him read the lecture I’m working on. He told me it’s terrible. ”

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