Gabriels redemption, p.40
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.40
 

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard  
Page 40

 

  Her insides twisted.

  She placed the train on the desk and returned her attention to the drawer.

  There was a wooden box, which she opened. In it, she found a string of large South Sea pearls and a ring with diamonds set into the band. Julia picked up the ring to look for an inscription, but there wasn’t one. She saw two silver bracelets and a necklace, all of which were marked from Tiffany.

  The jewelry had to have been his mother’s. But she wondered about its source. Gabriel had told her several times of the poverty they’d lived in. How could someone who was so poor have such expensive jewelry? And why didn’t his mother sell the jewelry when money grew short?

  Julia shook her head. Gabriel’s childhood was tragic, to be sure, but so was his mother’s life.

  She closed the box and turned her attention to the photographs, which had been sorted into envelopes. She leafed through them quickly, finding pictures of Gabriel and his mother, and a few snapshots of a man and a woman who must have been Gabriel’s parents. Surprisingly, however, there were no photos of Gabriel’s parents together.

  Like Gabriel, his mother had dark hair, but her eyes were dark too, against pale, milky skin. She was fine featured and very beautiful.

  In contrast, Gabriel’s father was gray haired with piercing sapphire eyes. He was attractive for an older man, but there was an overall harshness to his expression that Julia didn’t like. In the pictures, he rarely smiled.

  At the back of the drawer, underneath a worn teddy bear, was a diary. Julia opened it and looked at the flyleaf.

  This is the Property

  of

  Suzanne Elizabeth Emerson.

  On impulse, she opened it to a random page. Her eyes alighted on the sentence written at the very top:

  I’m pregnant.

  Owen wants me to have an abortion.

  He gave me money and said that he’d make the appointment.

  He said that if I did this for him, he’d find a way for us to be together.

  But I don’t think I can do it.

  Julia slammed the book shut and hurriedly shoved it to the back of the drawer.

  Gabriel could come looking for her at any moment. He’d be incredibly angry at what she’d done.

  She already regretted it. Suzanne Emerson’s words flashed before her eyes. If Gabriel were to read them, he’d hate his father even more.

  She placed the teddy bear back where she found it, along with the photographs and the jewelry box. She was about to return the train to the drawer when she noticed what was next to it, sitting atop the pile of unopened mail.

  It was a letter.

  She hadn’t recognized the handwriting, but it didn’t matter. Paulina’s name and address were neatly written in the top left corner of the envelope. Somehow, she’d discovered Gabriel’s address and sent the letter to their home.

  Their home. The home Gabriel shared with his wife.

  Julia wanted to fling the letter into the fireplace.

  She was already beginning to keep secrets—reading his mother’s diary when he wasn’t looking. She couldn’t throw Paulina’s letter away, too.

  Holding the envelope away from her body, she walked to the bedroom and handed it to him.

  “Thanks, but I’ll go through the mail later. ” He moved to toss the envelope on the bed, but she stopped him.

  “Look at the return address. ”

  Gabriel glanced at the letter.

  He cursed.

  “Why is she writing to me? Not even Carson, my lawyer, hears from her now. ”

  Julia remained motionless, watching him.

  He ripped open the letter, expecting to find a long, handwritten missive. He was surprised to find a single piece of cardstock.

  He read the printed words quickly.

  “It’s a wedding invitation. ” He turned the card over, finding Paulina’s flowing script on the back.

  Gabriel,

  I would never be gauche enough to invite you to my wedding.

  I simply wanted you to know that I’m getting married.

  After all these years, I’ll finally be a wife and a mother, to two wonderful girls.

  Now that we’re both happy, things are as they should be.

  XO,

  P.

  He handed the invitation to Julia for her perusal.

  Julia skimmed it.

  “She’s getting married. ”

  “Yes. ”

  “How do you feel?” Julia searched his face.

  He placed the invitation back in the envelope. Then he tapped it against the open palm of his left hand.

  “She expressed it correctly—we’re both happy. She’s found the family she wanted. ”

  His blue eyes trained on Julia’s.

  “She has you to thank. ”

  “Me?”

  “You were the one who persuaded me to let her go. That she’d never find her own happiness while she was dependent on me. You were right. ”

  Julia shifted her weight at his praise, all too conscious of the fact that she’d been snooping through his personal effects only minutes earlier.

  “You were right about Maria, too. ” Now his eyes were sad.

  Julia went to him, wrapping her arms about his waist.

  “I wish I weren’t right about Maria. But sometimes loving someone means that you have to let them go. ”

  “I’ll never let you go. I’d challenge anyone to try to take you away from me. ” He sounded fierce.

  Julia pressed her fingertips to his lips. “Remember that when you’re working things out in your own mind. No matter what your troubles are, I’m here. And I’m not going anywhere. ”

  She kissed him again, then she disappeared into the hall.

  Gabriel looked at the invitation, his mind wandering into the past.

  Chapter Thirty-eight

  January 2010

  Toronto, Ontario

  Paulina Gruscheva entered the lobby of the Manulife Building, her high-heeled boots clicking against the marble floors, her cell phone pressed to her ear. She’d been resident in Toronto for some time, but Gabriel had refused to see her, speak with her, or entertain any communication with her at all.

  She’d grown tired of waiting.

  When she reached Gabriel’s voice mail, she hung up and dialed his landline. She prayed silently that Julianne wouldn’t answer. It was bad enough that he was sleeping with her. She didn’t have to have their affair thrown back in her face.

  Again.

  Undeterred by the fact that he wasn’t answering his phones, she approached Mark, the security guard, demanding that he contact Professor Emerson immediately. When he refused, she fluttered her eyelashes and tried to cajole him. He was immune to her tall, blond, blue-eyed charms.

  She raised her voice, creating a scene.

  Within minutes, Mark contacted the Professor and asked that he please meet his guest in the lobby.

  Paulina smiled triumphantly.

  But her smile disappeared when she saw him, his expression furious, his eyes snapping, as he walked toward her. He grabbed her elbow roughly and half-dragged her through the lobby and out to the semicircular driveway in front of the building.

  “What do you think you’re doing?” he spat, releasing her.

  Paulina retreated a step, surprised by his fury.

  “Well?” he demanded.

  “I wanted to talk to you. I’ve been here for weeks. You wouldn’t see me!”

  “We are not having this conversation again. I said all I had to say to you back in Selinsgrove. You know where you stand. ”

  He turned to go back into the building, but she caught his arm.

  “Why are you doing this to me?” Her voice faltered as she blinked back tears.

  Gabriel’s expression softened. Marginally.

  “Paulina, it’s over. It’s been over for a while. I’m not trying to do anything to you othe
r than persuade you to move on with your life. And to let me move on with mine. ”

  She looked up at him as the tears began to fall.

  “But I love you. We have a history!”

  Gabriel closed his eyes for a moment, and a pained look spread across his face.

  He opened his eyes.

  “I’m in love with someone else. I’m sleeping, exclusively, with someone else. ”

  “Yes, you are. And she’s your student. ”

  “Careful,” he growled.

  She tossed her hair behind her shoulders.

  “It’s remarkable the kind of information you can gather in a city of this size. Antonio from Harbour Sixty was quite forthcoming. ”

  He stepped closer. “You didn’t. ”

  “I did. Funny how you took her to the restaurant you always take me to when I’m in town. ”

  “I haven’t taken you there in a very long time, Paulina. Even after we stopped—” He paused, struggling.

  “After we stopped—fucking, Gabriel? Why can’t you say it? We’ve been fucking for years. ”

  “Keep your voice down!”

  “I’m not your dirty little secret. We were friends. We had a relationship. You can’t just ignore me and treat me as if I were trash. ”

  “I’m sorry for how I treated you. But listen to yourself. Don’t you think you deserve to be the center of someone’s universe? Instead of chasing after someone who wants someone else?”

  She tore her eyes from his. “You always wanted other women. Even when I was pregnant. Why should now be any different?”

  He flinched. “Because you deserve to be with someone who wants you as much as you want him. It’s time to move on. It’s time to be happy. ”

  “You make me happy,” she whispered. “You’re all I want. ”

  “I’m in love with Julianne and I’m going to marry her. ” He sounded determined.

  “I don’t believe you. You’ll come back. You always come back. ” She wiped a few tears away with the back of her hand.

  “Not this time. In the past, I was weak and you held my guilt over me. But no more. We can’t see each other and we can’t speak. I’ve been patient with you and I’ve tried to help, but I’m done. As of today, your trust fund is frozen. ”

  “You wouldn’t!”

  “I will. If you go back to Boston and begin seeing a therapist, I’ll see that you continue receiving support. But if you contact me again, or if you do anything to hurt Julianne, you’ll be cut off. Permanently. ” He leaned forward menacingly. “And that includes doing anything to hurt her life as a student. ”

  “You’d do that? You’d just throw me away? I’ve sacrificed my life for you. I lost my academic career!”

  Gabriel’s jaw clenched.

  “I never wanted you to do that. I did everything I could to help you stay at Harvard. You dropped out. ”

  “Because of what happened to me. Because of what happened to us!”

  His hands fisted at his sides.

  “I don’t deny that I’ve behaved abominably and you have every reason to be angry. But my admission doesn’t change the fact that this has to end. Today. ”

  He leveled his gaze on her and for a moment, he wore a look of compassion.

  “Good-bye, Paulina. Be well. ”

  He moved toward the sliding doors.

  “You can’t. You won’t!”

  His face wore a look of steely resolve.

  “I already have. ”

  Gabriel walked into the Manulife Building without a backward glance, leaving Paulina outside, crying, and standing in the snow.

 
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