Gabriels redemption, p.52
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.52

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 52


  Gabriel retrieved a towel and handed it to her.

  That was when she noticed the way his eyes were alit in anticipation, his smile growing wider.


  “Did you forget what day it is?” He trailed a finger down her arm.

  “No. Our special day is tomorrow. ”

  “We’re starting early. ”

  “Do you think that’s wise?”

  “I don’t give a damn. I’ve waited long enough. A man can only stand so much. ”

  “Oh, really?” She cocked her head to one side.

  “So prepare to be pleasured, my dear. ”

  She quickly ran the towel over her body, drying herself, then wound it over her hair.

  Gabriel picked up a glass jar and held it out to her.

  “Chocolate Body Paint,” she read. She glanced up at him. “Now?”

  “Now. ” He wiggled a small paintbrush under her nose. “You said that you enjoyed our foray into body painting while we were in Selinsgrove. I decided we should try it again. ”

  “But I thought you’d want to do other things. You’ve been doing things for me for three weeks. I’ve been able to do very little for you. ”

  “Foreplay is for me as well as you,” he whispered, his eyes darkening. “And I have plans for both of us. ”

  “Wow. ” She breathed.

  “I thought about trying it in the bedroom, but things could get messy. ”

  He crouched in front of her, his face level with her navel, and opened the jar. He dipped the paintbrush in the chocolate, spreading the confection liberally over the delicate strands of the brush, before winking up at her.

  “Shall we begin?”

  She nodded, her eyes half closed.

  Slowly, he began to draw a heart around her navel.

  The feel of the chocolate and the brush gliding across her warm skin caused her to fidget. And of course, despite the fact that it almost tickled, Gabriel would not be rushed.

  “There. ” He put the jar and brush aside and licked his lips. “Now comes the fun part. Ready?”

  “Yes. ” The word came out as more of a squeak than a statement.

  She reached out a shaking hand to grasp a railing when Gabriel’s tongue made contact with her skin, swirling through the chocolate and dipping into her navel.

  He steadied her by splaying one of his hands across her backside.

  “It tastes better than I expected. ” He nibbled at her. “Then again, that’s probably because I like how you taste. ”

  His tongue blazed a trail to her hip bone, where he began placing openmouthed kisses.

  “I think we need more chocolate. What do you think?”

  “Yes, please. ” Julia nodded furiously. “Definitely, more. ”

  Gabriel picked up the chocolate and the brush.

  “Then you’d better hold on tight, darling, because I’m planning to be thorough. ”

  She leaned forward, cupping his chin.

  “As am I. ”

  Chapter Fifty-four

  As November progressed, Diane and Tom continued to receive positive reports about their baby’s health. Surgery would still be necessary, but the baby was developing and Diane was also healthy.

  Julia received the reports about her brother with a combination of relief and cautious optimism.

  She hadn’t told her family about her fibroids or about Gabriel’s vasectomy reversal. His family didn’t know that he’d had the procedure in the first place. And she didn’t want to worry anyone about her own health issues, especially since Dr. Rubio assured her that fibroids were common and, at least at this point, not serious.

  The Emersons bore one another’s health burdens, sharing only some of the information with Rebecca. But Julia seemed to bear the burden of her graduate career alone.

  (Or so she thought. )

  Late one November evening, Gabriel awoke with a start. He was instantly alert, straining his ears for the slightest sound. In the distance, he heard a woman crying.

  He reached for Julia in the darkness, but she was gone.

  Without even bothering to switch on the light or to grab his bathrobe, he sprang to his feet, naked, and exited the bedroom.

  A shaft of light shone from underneath the study door.

  He quickly walked toward it, the sound of crying growing louder.

  Behind the door, he found Julia, her head on her desk. Her shoulders were shaking, her glasses discarded on her open laptop. A large pile of books was scattered across the desk and down on the floor.

  “Darling. ” He placed his hand on her head. “What’s the matter?”

  “I can’t do it. ”

  “You can’t do what?” He crouched beside her.

  “I can’t catch up. I’m behind in my reading for all my classes. I should be working on my seminar papers, but I’ve been trying to read. I should have started the revisions on my lecture, but I haven’t had time. And I’m just so tired. ” Her voice cracked.

  Gabriel eyed her sympathetically. “Come to bed. ”

  “I can’t!” she wailed, throwing her hands up. “I need to stay up all night and finish my reading. Then tomorrow, I need to spend the day in the library working on my papers. I don’t know when I’m going to revise my lecture for publication. ”

  “You can’t do anything more tonight. Even if you stayed up, you’re too tired to focus. Come to bed now and you can get up early. You can tell me about your readings over breakfast and I’ll see if I can give you the CliffsNotes version of them. ” He gestured to her with his hand.

  She shook her head. “CliffsNotes won’t cut it. ”

  “Julianne, it’s two o’clock in the morning. Come to bed. ” His tone grew commanding.

  “I have to stay up. ”

  “Sleep now and I’ll help you. I can go with you to the library and help you with your research. That should save you some time. ”

  “You’d do that?” She wiped her nose with a tissue.

  He frowned. “Of course. I’ve been volunteering to help you all semester. You wouldn’t let me. ”

  “You’re busy with your own stuff. And then you had surgery. ” She wiped her eyes hastily.

  “You’re going to get sick if you don’t take care of yourself. Come on. ” He placed a hand on her elbow and helped her to her feet before closing her laptop firmly.

  He followed her down the hall to their bedroom.

  “I’m so tired,” she sniffled, resting her head on the pillow. She was even too tired to spoon.

  “All you have to do is ask. I’d do anything for you. You know that. ”

  “I’m supposed to do this by myself. ”

  “Bullshit. ” He placed an arm around her waist. “The program is designed to be grueling. Everyone else is probably getting help from someone. ”

  “You didn’t need help when you did it. ”

  “Think about what you’re saying. I was doing coke when I was in grad school. And I had P—someone to look after me. ”

  He sighed, lowering his voice. “You looked after me when I came home from the hospital. That’s probably when you fell behind. Let me help you catch up. But the first thing you need is a good night’s sleep. We’ll talk tomorrow. ”

  She was too weary to argue. Within minutes, her breathing deepened and Gabriel knew that she’d fallen asleep.

  Chapter Fifty-five

  That Saturday, Julia and Gabriel planned to spend most of the day in the library, researching her seminar papers. As a way of showing her appreciation, she prepared pancakes while he sat at the kitchen table, clad in his pajama pants and glasses, reading The Boston Globe.

  She poured the batter onto a hot griddle before turning to him.

  “There’s something I’ve been wondering. ”

  “And what’s that?”

  “Will you tell me what you wrote in the card that you left at my apartment, back in Toronto?”

lowered his newspaper.

  “What card?”

  “The one that didn’t survive my loss of temper. ”

  He pretended to search his memory.

  “Oh, that card. ”

  She rolled her eyes. “Yes, that card. ”

  He folded the newspaper and put it aside. “Do you really want to know?”

  “Of course. ”

  “But you tore it up. ”

  She gave him a look.

  “I thought you forgave me. ”

  “I did. ” He smiled ruefully. “It was a simple card. I apologized for being an ass. ”

  “That was nice,” she prompted. “What did you say?”

  “I called you my Beatrice and said that I’d wished for you my whole life, even though I was convinced that you were a hallucination. I said that now that I’d found you, I’d fight to make you mine. ”

  Julia smiled to herself as she flipped the pancakes.

  “And there might have been poetry. ”

  She looked over at him. “Might have been?”

  “Shakespeare’s twenty-ninth sonnet. Do you know it?

  “‘When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes

  I all alone beweep my outcast state,

  And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

  And look upon myself, and curse my fate,

  Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

  Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

  Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,

  With what I most enjoy contented least;

  Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,

  Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

  Like to the lark at break of day arising

  From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

  For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

  That then I scorn to change my state with kings. ’”

  Julia pressed her hand over her heart. “That’s beautiful, Gabriel. Thank you. ”

  “What’s even more beautiful is the fact that I don’t have to content myself with memories anymore. I have you. ”

  Julia quickly turned off the burner and moved the griddle from the heat.

  “What are you doing?” Gabriel appeared puzzled.

  She tossed the spatula aside.

  “We’re having ripped-up-note-revealed sex. I’ve been waiting for this forever. ” She grabbed his hand, tugging him toward the hall. “Come on. ”

  He planted his feet. “What kind of sex is that?”

  “You’ll find out. ” She gave him a saucy look and raced toward the stairs, the Professor at her heels.

  Having spent a very long day conducting research, Gabriel and Julia returned to a dark house. Julia ordered pizza for dinner while Gabriel flipped through the Saturday mail.

  He came across a blue envelope that was addressed to him in a spiky, unfamiliar hand. The return address was in New York City.

  Intrigued, he opened the envelope and read,

  Dear Gabriel (if I may),

  Recently, I was contacted by Michael Wasserstein, our family attorney, telling me that you were making inquiries about our father, Owen Davies. I was told that you wanted to learn more about his family history.

  My name is Kelly Davies Schultz and I’m your half-sister. We also have a younger sister, Audrey.

  I always wanted a brother. I mention this because I feel badly about how my mother and sister behaved with respect to our father’s will and I want you to know that I was not a party to contesting it. At the time, I wanted to write to you to tell you so, but my mother was being difficult and I decided not to antagonize her. I made the wrong decision.

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