Gabriels redemption, p.61
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.61
 

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 61

 

  “Fine. ”

  “You don’t sound fine. ” She stared at him until he met her gaze.

  “I’m just preoccupied with my upcoming interviews. I’m meeting with six different colleges at the Modern Language Association convention in January. That’s a lot of pressure. ”

  “Right. ” Heather gazed at her big brother skeptically.

  “I have an interview with St. Mike’s. If they hire me, I could help Dad out on the weekends. ”

  “That’s great news. I’ll put in a good word with St. Michael, himself, asking that he see to it that you get the job. ”

  Heather cocked her head to one side and listened to the music that was playing in the background. It was a cover of “In the Sun” and Paul was listening to it on repeat, over and over again.

  “If you’re excited about your job prospects, then why the hell are you listening to this? I’m ready to slit my wrists already and I just got here. ”

  He glared at her and began walking in the opposite direction.

  She followed.

  “I ran into Ali the other day at Hannaford’s. ”

  “Mm-hmm. ”

  “Why don’t you ask her out?”

  “We go out once in a while. ”

  “I mean on a date, not as friends. ”

  “We broke up. ” He laid emphasis on the words. “A couple of years ago. ”

  “Chris wants to go snowboarding in Stowe for New Year’s. He’s going to rent a place so we don’t have to drive back and forth. Invite Ali and come with us. ”

  “That’s not a good idea. ”

  Heather reached out and caught her brother’s arm, stopping him midmotion. “Yes, it is. It will be like old times. Ask her. ”

  “We can’t leave Mom here by herself. ”

  “That’s why you hired extra help. Virgil. ” Heather gave him a toothy grin.

  “I’m not Virgil. I’m Dante,” he mumbled.

  “What?”

  “Nothing. ” He turned away.

  “Look, big guy, you need to blow off some steam. You’re letting things fester. I can see it. ” She grinned at him impishly and tried to tickle him. “Fester, fester, fester. ”

  Paul swatted her hands away. “If I say yes, will you bug off?”

  “Absolutely. ”

  “Fine. Now get lost. ”

  “Fine. I’ll make coffee. And when you come to the house, I’ll expect you to call her. ”

  Heather disappeared from the barn and Paul stood still for a moment, wondering what he had just agreed to.

  Chapter Sixty-six

  December 27, 2011

  Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

  Richard, his children, and their spouses were gathered around the dining room table enjoying dessert and coffee. Rachel was updating everyone on her fertility treatments.

  “Yeah, I’m on hormones. But I feel better than I did on the pill. It made me emotional. ”

  Aaron lifted his eyebrows behind Rachel’s back, and everyone laughed at his incredulous expression. Everyone, save Rachel and Julianne.

  Gabriel’s eyes drifted to his wife, noticing that her eyes had narrowed. She began staring so hard at the table that he wouldn’t have been surprised if the wood started to blacken and burn under her gaze.

  Suddenly, she pushed herself back from the table and bolted, her chair toppling over. Gabriel righted the chair and excused himself, climbing the stairs two at a time in an effort to catch up with her.

  When he reached their bedroom, Julia was pawing through the contents of her nightstand. She pulled the drawer out and dumped the contents on the bed, spreading the items out into a single layer.

  “Damn it!” She cursed.

  “What’s the matter?” His hand caught only air as she brushed past him.

  He followed her into the en-suite, watching her empty her makeup case onto the counter. She tossed items aside frantically, an expression of distress breaching her lips.

  “Julianne, what’s the matter?”

  “I can’t find them. ”

  “Find what?”

  When she didn’t answer, he grasped her arm. “Julianne, find what?”

  “My birth control pills. ”

  For an instant her panic traveled through him, but only for an instant.

  “I’m sure they’re here somewhere. When’s the last time you saw them?”

  She blinked, her eyes flickering to the side.

  “In Cambridge,” she whispered.

  Now his eyes widened.

  “Not in New York? Not here?”

  “I was on my period just before you left for New York, remember? I should have started a new pack of pills that Wednesday. ”

  “And did you?”

  She shook her head. “I was on my way to see you. I was in such a hurry to make it to the airport, I forgot them. And then while we were in New York . . . ”

  “Darling. ” He reached for her but she turned away, covering her face with her hands.

  “I can’t believe I’ve missed almost an entire month of pills and only realized it now. I’m such an idiot. ”

  “You aren’t an idiot. ” He pulled on her wrist and moved so that he was encircling her with his arms. “You were in a hurry to meet me in New York. Then we had the call from your father at the airport. You’ve had a lot on your mind. ”

  “I guess it’s a good thing your surgery hasn’t kicked in yet. ”

  A shadow passed over Gabriel’s features, but then it was gone, like an errant cloud on a summer’s day.

  “So I just need a replacement package of pills until I get back to Boston. ” Julia explained her situation to the pharmacist the following morning.

  The pharmacist nodded. “That shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll call your pharmacy back home. It should only take a few minutes. Just have a seat. ”

  “Thank you. ”

  Julia rejoined Gabriel in the waiting area that was nestled inside the small Selinsgrove pharmacy.

  “Is everything all right?” He gave her a concerned look.

  “Yes. ” She breathed a sigh of relief. “It shouldn’t take too long. ”

  Gabriel pulled out his iPhone and began pressing some buttons.

  “What are you doing?” She looked over at him with interest.

  “While you were talking to the pharmacist, I was checking our messages. My urologist’s office called. ”

  “Should you call him back?”

  “If you don’t mind. ”

  “I don’t mind. ” Julia frowned. “Why is he calling you over Christmas vacation?”

  “I don’t know. I was expecting a call a couple of weeks ago about my latest test results. There probably hasn’t been a change. ” He looked unhappy.

  “The doctor said it could take up to a year. Don’t worry. ” Julia took his left hand in hers.

  He kissed the back of her hand before standing and walking to the front of the store.

  By the time he returned, Julia had already received her prescription, paid for it, and taken the first pill.

  Gabriel planted his feet, staring at her prescription bag.

  She looked up into wide, conflicted eyes.

  “What’s the matter?”

  “Let’s go home. ” He moved to touch the small of her back, guiding her toward the door.

  “Is everything all right?”

  “We’ll talk in the car. ”

  Julia dutifully walked with him to the Jeep, which was parked outside. It was the vehicle that Gabriel kept in Selinsgrove simply for convenience.

  “You’re scaring me,” she whispered.

  “No need to panic. ” He opened the passenger door, waiting until she was situated before closing it.

  When he climbed into the driver’s seat, he didn’t bother placing his key in the ignition. He simply put his iPhone on the dashboard and turned to her.

  Julia could see by his expression that he was struggling.
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  “Was it bad news?”

  “I don’t think so. ”

  “Then what is it?”

  Gabriel took her hand in his, tracing the hills and valleys of her knuckles with his thumb. He stopped at her wedding band.

  “Look at me. ”

  She met his eyes, her heart beginning to pound in her chest.

  “I don’t want you to panic, all right?”

  “Gabriel, I’m panicking. Just spit it out. ”

  He pressed his lips together.

  “The doctor’s office called to give me my latest test results. They were supposed to call two weeks ago, but there was an—anomaly. ”

  “An anomaly?”

  “The test results were positive. ” He was speaking slowly, very slowly, his eyes searching hers.

  Then he waited for the import of his revelation to sink in.

  She blinked. Several times. “So you’re—?”

  “Yes. ”

  “But that’s impossible. It’s hasn’t been three months yet. ”

  “I know. They repeated the test and received the same results. Apparently, the doctor would like to use my story as a testimonial. ”

  Gabriel’s proud smile disappeared when he saw Julia’s face.

  “Even if I’m fertile, it doesn’t matter. You’ve been on the pill since September. It would take more than a month for your system to get back to normal, wouldn’t it?”

  “I don’t know. They warn you to use backup birth control if you miss a couple of pills. And I missed a whole package. ” Julia lifted a shaking hand to her mouth.

  Gabriel wrapped his arm around her shoulder, drawing her close.

  “I’ll go back into the drugstore and buy a pregnancy test. Then we’ll know for sure. ”

  Julia’s eyebrows shot up. “Right now?”

  “Would you rather wait?”

  “This can’t be happening. ” She dropped her face into her hands.

  Gabriel flinched.

  “Would it really be so terrible?” he mumbled, rubbing his chin.

  When she didn’t answer, he touched her shoulder. “I’ll be right back. ”

  Julia leaned back against the headrest and closed her eyes, calling on all deities named and unnamed to come to her aid.

  Chapter Sixty-seven

  December 28, 2011

  Washington, D. C.

  Natalie Lundy stared at her cell phone and cursed. She’d placed call after call, leaving message after message, but now the number she’d been dialing for several weeks was no longer in service. Simon had changed his number. And her emails had gone unanswered.

  She gazed at the cardboard box that sat on the floor, its contents silently mocking her. She was jobless.

  The day after the announcement of Simon’s engagement, she’d been summoned to the office of Senator Talbot’s campaign manager. At least Robert had had the good sense to be embarrassed about what he was about to do.

  “We have to let you go,” he said, avoiding her eyes.

  “Why?”

  “We’re overstaffed. The senator wants us to make some cuts, and personnel are the first thing to go. I’m sorry. ”

  Natalie lifted a single eyebrow at him. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with my relationship with Simon, would it?”

  “Of course not,” Robert lied smoothly. “It’s business, not personal. ”

 
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