Gabriels redemption, p.60
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.60

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 60


  He sniffed. “I’d see Shakespeare. ”

  “The musical?”

  “Very funny. I’d sit through a performance of Les Misérables. ” His gaze leveled on hers. “Your interpretation of that novel changed my life. ”

  Julia looked down at her feet, at the new high-heeled Manolo Blahnik boots Gabriel had insisted on buying her at Barneys.

  “I think a lot of things conspired to change your life. I can’t take credit for what happened to you in Assisi. ”

  “No. ” He lifted her hand, stroking his thumb over her knuckles before toying with her wedding band.

  “But I wouldn’t have made it to Assisi if you hadn’t helped me first. And I wouldn’t have had the joy of discovering my grandfather if you hadn’t agreed to have a child with me. You’ve given me so much. ”

  “Tammy said that fatherhood does something special to a good man. I’d like to see what it does to you. ”

  Gabriel blinked twice, hard. “Thank you, Julianne. ”

  He captured her smile with his mouth, kissing her until a throat cleared behind them.

  Embarrassed, they moved ahead in line, hands woven together.

  The Emersons had just cleared security when Julia’s cell phone rang.

  “Jules. ” Tom’s gruff voice echoed in her ear.

  “Dad. Is everything okay?”

  The pause on the other end of the line caused Julia to stop walking. Gabriel stood at her side, a questioning look on his face.

  Tom cleared his throat. “I’m at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. ”

  “Oh, no. Are Diane and the baby all right?”

  “Diane woke up in the middle of the night feeling funny and so we drove here right away. ” Tom paused. “Right now, they have her hooked up to a bunch of monitors but she and the baby are fine. However”—he paused again—“she started going into labor a little while ago. ”

  “She’s early,” Julia breathed.

  “That’s right. ” Tom’s voice was tight. “They won’t know how he’s doing until he’s delivered. The doctors say there are lots of things they can’t see on an ultrasound. They might have to work on his heart immediately. ”

  “Will he need surgery?”

  “The corrective surgery is scheduled for three days after delivery, give or take. I suppose he might need surgery before, depending on what they find. ”

  Julia looked at Gabriel. “We’re at JFK in New York, getting ready to fly back to Boston. Would you like me to come home?”

  “Yes. If you can. She’ll probably still be in labor when you arrive, but it would be good to have you here. It’s going to be a long three days and I don’t know if—” He began coughing.

  “I’m coming. Okay? I’ll change my flight and head straight to the hospital. I’ll call you when I arrive so you can tell me where to meet you. ”

  “Okay. ” He sounded relieved. “Jules?”

  “Yes, Dad?”

  “Thanks. See you soon. ”

  “Bye, Dad. Give my love to Diane. ”

  Julia disconnected the call and looked up at her husband. His expression was grim.

  “I guess I should have spoken to you before I promised I’d go to Philadelphia. ” She chewed at the inside of her mouth.

  “It’s an emergency. We have to go. ”


  “The baby will be my nephew. And I’m not letting you go by yourself. ” He pulled her into his side, leading her through the crowd.

  Chapter Sixty-three


  Tom’s hand was on her shoulder, trying to awaken her. She was seated in a chair in the Special Delivery Unit waiting room. Gabriel was standing nearby, nursing a very bad coffee.

  (Fortunately, he’d restrained himself and elected not to complain to the hospital administration about the sad state of their vending machines. )

  Julia opened her eyes, squinting against the overhead light.

  Her father crouched in front of her. “We had the baby. ”

  “Is he all right?”

  “They had to do a procedure right away, but now he’s recovering and Diane is with him. ” Tom pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and held it out to her. “He’s a good-looking boy. ”

  Julia scrolled through a series of pictures of a tired but glowing Diane and a mocha-skinned boy who had black, curly hair.

  “He’s beautiful, Dad. I’m so happy for you. ” She handed the phone back.

  Tom looked at the last picture for a moment, his thumb grazing across the baby’s head.

  “Thomas Lamar Mitchell. Seven pounds, ten ounces. Born today, December eleventh. ”

  “I didn’t know you were naming him after yourself. ”

  “A boy should have his father’s name,” Tom’s voice was gruff. “Anyway, Diane wants to call him Tommy. For now. ”

  “Then Tommy it is. ” Julia glanced over at her husband, who was frowning into his coffee cup.

  “You kids should go back to the hotel. I’ll call if anything changes. You won’t be able to see him today. They’re keeping an eye on him, and hopefully they’ll operate on his heart in a few days. ”

  “Okay, Dad. ” Julia wrapped her arms around her father, hugging him. “Congratulations. ”

  Chapter Sixty-four

  So how’s the baby?” Rachel leaned across the dining room table in her parents’ former house.

  It was two nights before Christmas. Julia had just rejoined Gabriel’s extended family at the table, after speaking with her father on the telephone.

  “He’s fine. I guess it’s normal practice for the baby to remain in the hospital until a month after surgery. He’ll be able to come home in January. ”

  “That must be hard on your dad and Diane. ”

  “It is, but they’re staying with the baby. Dad was going to take a leave of absence from Susquehanna, but they gave him family leave with pay. ” Julia smiled. “How’s that for a caring employer?”

  “What about the hospital bills?” Rachel lowered her voice.

  “A guardian angel is taking care of what the insurance doesn’t cover. ” Julia’s eyes flickered in the direction of her husband, then returned to her friend.

  “Some guardian angels are so damn sweet. ”

  “What are you two whispering about?” Gabriel leaned into their conversation.

  Julia grinned. “My new brother. I can’t wait to buy him his first Red Sox cap. ”

  Gabriel made a face. “Your father will burn it. He’s a Phillies fan. ”

  “He won’t burn a gift from me. I’m the big sister. ”

  “Sisters are very important,” said Rachel, solemnly. “Remember that when you go shopping for my Christmas gift. ”

  “I’ll try to do that. ” Gabriel pushed his chair back from the table and stood. He lifted his water glass.

  Everyone stopped what they were doing, including Quinn, who sat still in his high chair, staring at his uncle.

  “We have a lot to be thankful for. ” Gabriel’s eyes met Julianne’s and held them. Then he took his time, making eye contact with his siblings and their spouses, and finally, with his father, who sat at the foot of the table.

  “Mom had a habit of forcing everyone to say what they were thankful for, during dinners like this. I thought I’d cut to the chase and announce that I’m thankful for my beautiful wife, my new job, and my new nephew, Tommy. ”

  The adults lifted their wine glasses in response, drinking to Tommy’s health.

  “I know that everyone heard the toast I made to Mom at Rachel and Aaron’s wedding. ” Gabriel’s voice suddenly grew hoarse. “But I’d like to repeat part of it. ”

  As everyone at the table indicated their agreement, Julia saw Gabriel’s hand tremble slightly. She quietly slipped her hand into his and was gratified when he squeezed her softly.

  “This evening would be incomplete if we didn’t acknowledge the absence of our mother, Grace. Grace w
as gracious and beautiful, a loving wife, and a devoted mother. Her capacity for goodness and compassion knew no bounds. She was generous and kind and very, very forgiving. She welcomed me into her home. She mothered me when I had no mother, even when I was difficult. She taught me what it is to love someone selflessly and absolutely, and without her and Dad I’d probably be dead. ”

  Gabriel paused and looked at Richard and Julia.

  “Recently, I had the opportunity to find out more about my biological parents, including my Jewish heritage through my father. When I chose to read a passage from the Hebrew Bible at Rachel and Aaron’s wedding, I didn’t know about my background. Now the Scripture is even more meaningful and I can say, as I said before, that it expresses Grace’s love for her family. ”

  He freed himself from Julia’s grasp and pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and began to read.

  “‘Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so he shall have no need of spoil.

  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. ’”

  Gabriel’s eyes sought Julia’s, and for a moment the world stopped as he saw amazement and love radiate from her face.

  “‘She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

  She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

  She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. . . .

  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. . . .

  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

  She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

  She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. . . .

  Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. . . .

  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. . . . ’

  “I ask you all to drink to the memory of our mother, Grace. ”

  By the time everyone drained their glasses, there was barely a dry eye among them.

  Chapter Sixty-five

  December 2011

  Near Essex Junction, Vermont

  Two nights before Christmas, Paul was working in the barn, deep in thought.

  (Parenthetically, it should be noted that he was also deep in something else. Something organic. )

  “Hey. ”

  His sister Heather had wandered almost silently into the barn and was now staring at him, arms folded across her chest.

  “Hey yourself. ” He continued working, speaking to her over his shoulder. “What are you doing?”

  “Chris had to look at one of the Andersons’ horses. They think it has colic. He’ll be out most of the night, so I asked him to drop me off. How are you?”

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