Gabriels redemption, p.53
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.53

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 53


  Since my mother died this past spring, I’ve been thinking about you and wondering if I should get in touch. I think it’s Providential that you reached out when you did.

  Michael tells me you live in Massachusetts, that you are a professor, and that you are recently married. I’m wondering if you and your wife would like to come to New York to meet me and my husband, Jonathan? We’d be delighted to take you to dinner. I think that would give us a chance to get to know one another.

  You’re unlikely to hear from Audrey, for reasons I’ll explain in person. But I’m eager to meet you and to share what I know of our family history.

  I’m enclosing my business card with my home number and email written on the back. Please don’t be alarmed by the fact that I’m a psychiatrist. I promise that I don’t practice on family members, and also my specialty is children. So even at your young age you’re far too old to be my patient . . .

  I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully, to meeting you. Please don’t hesitate to call or to write.

  Your sister,


  Gabriel lowered himself into a chair and sat, staring at the pages.

  Chapter Fifty-six

  After dinner, Julia reread the letter from Kelly Davies Schultz.

  “What do you think?” She folded it neatly and handed it back to Gabriel.

  “I’m skeptical. ”

  “She sounds nice. And funny, too. Why are you skeptical?”

  “They tried to have me disinherited. How do I know this isn’t a ploy?”

  “A ploy for what? The money was distributed years ago. ”

  He folded his arms across his chest. “Information. ”

  “Sweetie, she’s the one with information. You wanted the opportunity to find out more about your family history, especially your parents’ health. Now you have it. I thought you’d be happy. ” She sat on the chair next to him. “When would we go?”

  Gabriel’s expression tightened.

  “The sooner I put all of this behind me, the better. ”

  “We’re supposed to be in Selinsgrove for Christmas and New Year’s. I’ll want to go earlier if Diane has the baby. ”

  Gabriel looked at her closely.

  “You have a lot going on right now. I’ve tried to help you catch up, and I promise I’ll do more. ”

  Julia gave him a half-smile. “I feel as if there’s a ‘but’ coming up. ”

  “Would it hurt you if I said this was something I wanted to do right away? Maybe after classes are finished the second week in December? I can have a graduate student deal with the exams. ”

  Julia scratched at the surface of the kitchen table with her fingernail.

  “That’s when I have to submit my lecture for publication. I’ll be finishing up my seminar papers and turning them in. That’s the worst time for me to go away. ”

  “I was thinking this might be something I should do on my own. ”

  Julia examined her fingernails as if they were fascinating.

  “You have no idea what you’re going to find out. I think you’ll need me. ”

  Gabriel smiled slowly.

  “I will always need you, Julianne. But I think the first time I meet Kelly it should be the two of us. Then if there’s anything unpleasant, I’ll deal with it. ”

  “If that’s what you want. Can’t we visit her over Christmas or something?”

  “I don’t think it’s wise to put this off. She might change her mind. Certainly, the sooner I know about my medical history, the better. ” He gazed at her significantly. “I wouldn’t ask you to do anything that would put your program in jeopardy. ”

  “Okay. ” She did not sound enthusiastic.

  “We can ask Rebecca to stay while I’m gone. Then you won’t be alone. It will be a short trip. Two or three days, tops. I’ll see if I can schedule an appointment with the lawyer who handled my father’s estate and I’ll meet Kelly. Then I’ll come home. ”

  He took her hand, tracing her lifeline with his thumb.

  “I can’t bring myself to call her my sister. ”

  “I think I should come with you. ”

  “You just said that you don’t have time. You need to get some work done. And I know that I’m distracting. ” He gave her what he hoped might be a provocative look.

  “You can be very distracting. ”

  “Good. ” He lifted her into his arms and walked toward the stairs. “Prepare for some extensive distracting. ”

  She placed her hands on his biceps, stilling him.

  “Put me down. ”

  “I’ll put you down when we get to bed. ”

  “I have something to say that you aren’t going to want to hear. ”

  “Then say it quickly and get it over with. ” He tensed.

  She wriggled in his arms, so he set her down on the stairs.

  “Your trip to New York is going to open up a lot of memories. Of course I’ll do whatever I can to help. But one thing we haven’t talked about is forgiveness. ”

  “Forgive my parents?” he spat. “That’s a laugh. ”

  “Forgiveness frees you. It’s for you, as much as for them. ”

  He pulled away from her. “I can’t forgive them. They don’t deserve it. ”

  “Who deserves forgiveness, Gabriel? You? Me?”

  “You, for one. ”

  “Apart from God, the only person who can forgive me is the one I’ve wronged. That’s the power we have. We can use that power for good—to forgive someone. Or we can use it to hold on to old wrongs and hurts so that they never heal. ”

  She reached out to him, grasping his hand.

  “I’m not saying they deserve it. I’m certainly not asking you to forget or to pretend nothing ever happened. Just think about it. ”

  “I’ve already thought about it. The answer is no. ”

  “How can you ask Paulina to forgive you if you aren’t willing to forgive your parents?”

  Air escaped Gabriel’s lungs as if she’d struck him.

  “Don’t,” he whispered.

  “Just think about it, my love. Think about your reconciliation with Maia and what that meant to you. And imagine what it would mean to your father to hear that you forgive him. ”

  Gabriel led her upstairs but did not speak.

  Chapter Fifty-seven

  While Julia finished her seminar papers and revised her lecture for publication, Gabriel met with his urologist for a checkup on December fifth, then flew to New York.

  As soon as he’d checked into his room at the Ritz-Carlton, he realized his mistake. He should have brought Julia with him. The large and beautiful bed would be cold that evening. He hated sleeping alone. It always reminded him of their separation, a memory he loathed.

  He placed a few phone calls—to Lucia Barini at Columbia, to his father’s lawyer, and to Julia. He was disappointed when his call went to voice mail.

  “Julianne, I’m in New York. I’m staying at the Ritz-Carlton, room four eleven. I’m having dinner with Kelly tonight, and then I’ll be in my room. Talk to you later. I love you. ”

  Gabriel ended the call with a huff of frustration. Then he prepared to meet his sister.

  Upon arriving at the Tribeca Grill, he was ushered to a table for two, at which sat an older, blond woman. When she looked up at him, he saw a pair of blue eyes that matched his own.

  She fanned a hand to her mouth before standing. “I’m Kelly. ”

  “Gabriel Emerson. ” He shook her hand awkwardly.

  Her eyes filled with tears. “You look just like him. ”

  “Like whom?”

  “Dad. ”

  Without thinking, Gabriel pulled his hand back.

  Kelly managed a smile. “I’m sorry. Please. ” She gestured to the empty seat across from hers.

  She sat down and dabbed at her eyes with a napkin.

  “It was just such a shock, seeing you there. You look just like Dad
did when he was young. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”

  “Thirty-five. ”

  “I remember being thirty-five. I won’t play coy and make you guess my age. I’m forty-nine. ”

  Gabriel nodded, his jaw clenching and unclenching. He tried to formulate something to say but found himself at a loss. Mercifully, they were interrupted by the waiter.

  They ordered drinks and made small talk until the waiter returned. Then they placed their dinner orders, waiting almost impatiently for the waiter to leave again.

  Kelly leaned forward in her chair.

  “I’m so pleased to meet you. Thank you for accepting my invitation. ”

  “Not at all. ” Gabriel tried to force a smile.

  “I owe you an apology. ”

  His smile disappeared. “For what?”

  “As I said in my letter, I should have reached out to you when I learned of your existence. I should have done the right thing rather than worrying about upsetting my mother. ”

  Gabriel’s hands drifted to his silverware. “That was a long time ago. We don’t need to speak of it. ”

  “Thank you. I should mention that my mother knew about you but would never discuss you, even after Dad died. She never forgave him for having a mistress. ”

  Gabriel’s body visibly tightened.

  “So you didn’t know about me before?”

  “No, but I knew your mother. I’m sorry to hear that she passed away. ” Kelly offered a sympathetic look.

  “Thank you. ” Gabriel straightened in his chair. “She died when I was nine. But the family who adopted me are very good. ”

  “Michael mentioned that. He told me that our father had kept apprised of you and your doings for years. ”

  Gabriel’s eyebrows shot up. “What?”

  “Didn’t you know that?”

  “No. We left New York just before my mother died. I didn’t have contact with your father after that. ” Gabriel ground his teeth. “Not a phone call, not a letter, nothing. ”

  “I’m so sorry. I assumed there was some contact between you and Dad, based on what Michael said. ” Kelly sipped her wine thoughtfully. “He told me that Dad was aware of the family who adopted you, and that he knew you went to Princeton and Harvard. Apparently, you were a topic of conversation between them over the years. ”

  “If he was interested enough to discuss my life with his lawyer, why wasn’t he interested enough to pick up the telephone? Or to write a letter?”

  Kelly looked down at the tablecloth. “I think I can shed some light on that. Dad was the kind of man who made a decision and stuck to it. ” She lifted her face, surveying Gabriel’s body language with concern. “But I’m worried this conversation is upsetting you. ”

  “I’m here for answers,” he clipped. “I knew they weren’t going to be pleasant. ”

  “Yes, of course. So you knew Dad?”

  “I met him, yes. ”

  “But you grew up in Pennsylvania, after you left New York?” she prompted.

  “I was fortunate that when my mother died, a family connected with the hospital agreed to take me in. ”

  “And your mother’s family?”

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