Gabriels redemption, p.59
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.59
 

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 59

 

  She buried her face in her hands and began rocking back and forth.

  Gabriel reached out to touch her shoulder. “Not so fast. Jack intercepted it. He wants to know what he should do with it. ”

  Julia dropped her hands. “Tell him to destroy it. Ask him to find all the copies and destroy them, too. ”

  “Are you sure? He can delete the photos involving you and send the rest. They’d get what they deserve. ”

  Julia pulled the sheet up to her chin.

  “I don’t want revenge. ”

  Gabriel’s eyes glinted dangerously. “Why the hell not?”

  “Because I’ve moved on. I rarely think of them and I want to keep it that way. I don’t want to watch their lives implode and know that I’m responsible. ”

  “You wouldn’t be responsible. They’re the ones responsible. ”

  “I’m accountable for my actions. ” Julianne’s voice grew steely. “I don’t understand why Natalie is doing this now, after you and Jack sorted her out. ”

  “Simon is marrying someone else. ”

  Julia’s eyes grew round. “What?”

  “I expect Natalie is hoping his fiancée will leave him if his past is exposed. ”

  Julia seemed shocked. “He finally dumped her. I would have thought he’d keep her on the side, but perhaps his father told him to cut her loose. ”

  “That wouldn’t surprise me. The election is next year. ”

  “Now there’s a wedding. ” Julia shook her head. “Nothing like a little matrimonial window dressing to make the campaign appear more family friendly. I just wish Natalie would leave me out of it. ”

  “You’re in it. At least for now. ” Gabriel’s mouth settled into a grim line. “I think it’s safe to say that Jack will be paying Natalie and her apartment another visit. What do you want me to tell him about the flash drive?”

  “Ask him to destroy everything. ”

  Gabriel huffed in frustration, running his fingers through his hair.

  “They don’t deserve your mercy. ”

  “His fiancée does, whoever she is. She’ll be humiliated. ”

  “She’s a stupid girl if she’s involved with him. ”

  Julia winced.

  “I was a stupid girl once. ” Her voice was so soft, Gabriel had to strain to hear her.

  “You weren’t stupid; you were manipulated. Come on, don’t you want them to suffer?”

  “Not this way. ”

  He rose to his feet, placing his hands on his hips.

  “I do! Think about what he did to you. Think about what she did. They made you suffer for years. They nearly destroyed you!”

  “But they didn’t,” she said quietly, to his retreating back.

  He walked toward the window and moved the curtains, staring out over Central Park.

  “I broke his jaw, and it still didn’t give me satisfaction. ” Gabriel examined the bare, snow-covered branches of the trees. “I wanted to kill him. ”

  “You acted in self-defense. If you hadn’t come to my rescue . . . ” She shuddered in remembrance of the day she was almost raped. “But what you’re asking me to do isn’t self-defense. ”

  He glanced at her over his shoulder. “No. It’s justice. ”

  “We spoke once, about mercy seasoning justice. We spoke about penance and forgiveness. ”

  “This is different. ”

  “That’s right. Because even though I could demand justice, in this case, I decline. To quote one of our favorite novels, to God I respectfully return the ticket. ”

  Gabriel snorted. “You’re misquoting Dostoyevsky for your own Franciscan purposes. ”

  Julia smiled at his indignation.

  “I know you’re angry with me for not wanting to punish them. But, darling, think of his mother. She was kind to me. This will kill her. ”

  Gabriel didn’t take his eyes from the trees.

  “You threatened to go to the press yourself. ”

  “To tell them the truth, not to share the pictures. And only if Natalie gave me no other choice. ”

  Gabriel’s right hand formed a fist, which he brought to rest against the window, resisting the urge to punch through the glass.

  It wasn’t fair.

  It wasn’t fair that someone as sweet as Julianne was neglected by her mother and father and left to a cruel and manipulative boyfriend.

  It wasn’t fair that Suzanne Emerson was left to cling to the scraps her lover fed her, while he lavished love on his family.

  It wasn’t fair that Grace and Maia died while others lived.

  It wasn’t fair that Tom and Diane were expecting a baby with a damaged heart.

  No, the universe wasn’t fair. And if that weren’t lamentable enough, when the opportunities came for justice, Franciscans like Julianne turned the other cheek and spoke of mercy.

  Damn.

  He closed his eyes.

  She’d turned the other cheek to him.

  As had Grace.

  As had Maia.

  With a deep sigh, he focused his attention on Assisi and what had happened to him when he visited the crypt. God had met him there, but not with justice. With mercy.

  “Call your uncle. ”

  “Gabriel, I—”

  He opened his eyes and unclenched his fist but didn’t turn around.

  “Just call him. Tell him what you want him to do. ”

  Julianne tugged the sheet free, winding it around her petite frame. She went to him, bringing her front to his back.

  “You want to protect me. You want justice. I love you for that. ”

  “I still wish I’d killed him. ”

  “You have. ” She pressed her cheek against his shoulder blade.

  His muscles tensed. “How so?”

  “You love me, you’re kind to me, and you treat me with respect. The longer I’m with you, the more everything having to do with him seems like a bad dream. So in many ways, you have killed him. You’ve killed his memory. Thank you, Gabriel. ”

  Gabriel closed his eyes as a great wave of love and something he couldn’t quite name washed over him.

  Julia kissed his shoulders and went to call her uncle.

  Chapter Sixty-two

  That evening, Julia and Gabriel dined at Kelly’s Manhattan apartment with her husband, Jonathan, and their daughters, Andrea and Meredith.

  Julia felt welcomed by Gabriel’s family. By the end of the evening, they were visiting like old friends rather than strangers.

  Kelly gave Gabriel a pair of cuff links and an old Brooklyn Dodgers cap that had belonged to their father, along with several books that had been written by their grandfather.

  Gabriel gave Kelly the knowledge that the train engine he had, was, in fact, their father’s. He’d carved the initials “O. S. ” into it as a boy, when his name had been Othniel Spiegel.

  The Emersons invited the Schultzes to visit in Cambridge or Selinsgrove, and there was talk of a joint holiday in the Hamptons the following summer. Kelly made sure that Gabriel promised to attend the next meeting of the Rabbi Benjamin Spiegel Foundation. She was looking forward to introducing her brother to the cousins.

  Back at the Ritz before bedtime, Julia checked her email. She was wearing the Dodgers cap, since it was almost too small for Gabriel’s head.

  (A fact she pointed out with no little amusement. )

  She stared at her laptop screen from behind her tortoiseshell glasses.

  “Scheisse. ”

  “I really need to start teaching you to curse in a different language. I’ve heard that Farsi has some particularly colorful expletives. ” Gabriel smirked as he walked toward her, clad in a plush hotel bathrobe.

  “I’m not sure Farsi could capture what I feel when I look at this. ” Julia pointed to the screen.

  Gabriel picked up his glasses and put them on. He gazed at the scanned black-and-white engagement photo, recognizing Simon Talbot immediately.

/>   He resisted the urge to curse. “Who’s the woman?”

  “Do you know Senator Hudson from North Carolina? That’s his daughter. She’s a senior at Duke. ”

  Gabriel and Julianne exchanged a look.

  “Her family is very conservative. How did she end up with him?” Gabriel sounded contemptuous.

  “I have no idea. But I can understand why Natalie is upset. Simon dumped her for the Jacqueline Bouvier of fiancées. Look at her. ”

  “Who sent you the photo?”

  “Rachel. It was published in The Philadelphia Inquirer. ”

  Julia turned back to her laptop, gazing sadly at the photograph of the smiling couple.

  “I feel sorry for her. She has no idea what she’s getting into. ”

  “Perhaps she does but doesn’t care. ” Gabriel tugged on the brim of her ball cap. “This looks good on you. I didn’t take you for a Dodgers fan. ”

  She grinned. “I’m embracing your Brooklyn heritage. ”

  The next day, Julianne finished her seminar paper while Gabriel attended to business, researching his grandfather in the Columbia University archives. That afternoon, they joined Kelly and Jonathan in paying a visit to Aunt Sarah at a nursing home in Queens.

  After an evening spent shopping and then dining at the Russian Tea Room, they returned to the hotel. The room was bathed in candlelight as Julia moved atop him. Her hands rested on his chest, stroking him.

  He gripped her hips, urging her to increase her pace.

  “Say my name,” he whispered.

  She gasped as he thrust up inside her.

  “Gabriel. ”

  “Nothing could enflame me the way your voice does when you say my name. ”

  “Gabriel,” she repeated. “That’s beautiful. ”

  He pulled her closer, his lips moving across her breasts.

  “You inspire me. ”

  “You’re very intense. ”

  “Of course I’m intense. I’m with my beautiful wife, having fantastic sex. ”

  “I feel like we’re the only ones in the world. ”

  “Good,” he mumbled, watching her as she moved up and down and up and down.

  “You make me feel beautiful. ”

  In response, he licked her breast until she began to groan.

  “I love you. ”

  Gabriel’s eyes grew determined as he urged her to go faster.

  “I love you too. ”

  “I’d be proud to have a baby with you,” she managed, just before lifting her chin and closing her eyes. Her body shook as the pleasure coursed through her.

  He continued thrusting, watching as she climaxed. Then he quickened his pace, planting himself with one great thrust before he came.

  “I’m glad you joined me in New York. ” Gabriel held Julia’s hand as they waited to check in for their flight back to Boston. “I’m sorry we didn’t get to see a show, but at least we saw some of the sights. ”

  “Gabriel, you braved the crowds to take me Christmas shopping. I don’t have anything to complain about. ” She pressed a kiss to his lips. “They’re going to charge us for having overweight bags. ”

  “I’d like to see them try. It’s Christmas, damn it. ”

  She laughed. “So it is. Somehow, I can’t imagine you sitting through an entire Broadway show. ”

 
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