Gabriels redemption, p.66
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.66

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
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Page 66


  “Do you need an invitation?”

  Gabriel stared into her eyes, which had widened with excitement.

  “I could spend the rest of my life inside you and die happy. You’re my home. ”

  Julia paused at the sudden vulnerability that flashed across her husband’s face. She lifted her hands to cover his, pressing into her breasts.

  “You’ll make me cry. And I’m emotional already. ”

  “No tears, please. ” He squeezed her more tightly.

  “Then come,” she whispered, bringing their hips into alignment.

  He slowly entered her.

  “Home,” he whispered.

  Julia didn’t try to blink back the tears. She let them fall.

  “I love you so much. ”

  He responded by licking and sucking her breasts, teasing her and spurring her on. Within minutes they were pushing and pulling, their skin warm and alive with excitement.

  “Is it good?” Gabriel ground out, his hands dropping to her hips.

  Her eyes were closed, her rosy lips parted. When she didn’t answer he placed a tender hand to her face. “Julia?”

  Her eyes fluttered open. “It’s good,” she panted. “So good. ”

  His large hands gripped her hips, urging her on.

  “Faster,” he murmured.

  Julia responded by lifting herself and quickly slamming down, over and over again, until they both collapsed from near exhaustion.

  Chapter Seventy-three

  January 31, 2012

  Cambridge, Massachusetts

  Professor Katherine Picton stood in the lecture hall at Harvard, surveying the crowd. She’d delivered her paper presentation a half hour after Professor Jeremy Martin offered his. And she’d fielded questions from the audience and received a very smart paperweight as a gift from Professor Greg Matthews, on behalf of the Department of Romance Studies.

  She hadn’t had the opportunity to greet the Emersons yet. She was eager to do so. They’d invited her to their home for dinner so she could escape Greg’s more experimental culinary choices.

  “Ah, there you are!” Professor Picton’s crisp British accent cut through the hum of a dozen or so conversations.

  She strode quickly down one of the aisles, straight to where Julia was still seated, while Gabriel stood next to her, chatting amiably with Julia’s supervisor, Professor Marinelli.

  “Katherine. ” Gabriel greeted her smoothly, kissing her cheek.

  “Gabriel and Julianne. Good to see you both. ”

  She turned to Professor Marinelli. “Cecilia, delightful to see you, as always. ”

  “And you. ” The two women embraced.

  “Now then, have you spoken with Jeremy?” Katherine turned her blue-gray eyes on Gabriel.

  “No. ” Gabriel was terse.

  “I think it’s high time you two buried the hatchet. Don’t you?”

  Cecilia gazed between the two other Dante specialists and politely made her excuses, choosing to flee to another part of the room where an argument was not about to break forth.

  “I don’t have a problem with Jeremy. ” Gabriel sounded offended. “Jeremy has a problem with me. ”

  Katherine’s eyes snapped.

  “Then you won’t mind if I bring him over here. ”

  She marched her small figure up to Jeremy Martin and spoke to him rather directly.

  Julia stood uneasily, wondering what was about to happen.

  It was obvious that Professor Martin did not wish to speak with Gabriel. Julia watched as he looked in their direction, then looked back at Katherine, shaking his head.

  Katherine appeared to scold him, but only for a moment, before the two professors walked in the direction of the Emersons.

  “Here we go,” Julia whispered, taking Gabriel’s hand.

  “Emerson. ” Jeremy’s voice was stiff, as he approached.

  “Jeremy. ”

  Katherine looked between the two men and frowned. “Well, get on with it. Shake hands. ”

  Gabriel released Julia’s hand in order to shake the hand of his former friend.

  “For what it’s worth, Jeremy, I’m sorry. ”

  Julia looked up at her husband in surprise.

  Professor Martin appeared taken aback as well. He shifted his weight, his eyes traveling from Gabriel’s to Julia’s and back again.

  “I understand that congratulations are in order. You’ve been married about a year, I think. Is that right?”

  “That’s right,” Julia interjected. “Thank you, Professor Martin. ”

  “It’s Jeremy, now. ”

  “I know we owe you a debt. I won’t forget it. ” Gabriel lowered his voice.

  Jeremy stepped back.

  “This isn’t the time or the place. ”

  “Then perhaps we could talk in the hall? Come on, Jeremy, we were friends for years. I’m trying to apologize. ”

  Jeremy grimaced. “All right. Ladies, excuse me. ” He nodded at Katherine and Julia before following Gabriel into the hallway.

  “That went well. ” Julia turned to Katherine.

  “We’ll see. If they return without having spilt any blood, I’ll agree with you. ” Katherine’s eyes sparkled impishly. “Shall we watch through the door?”

  Over dinner at their home that evening, Gabriel and Julia were determined not to announce her pregnancy to Katherine. They’d resolved not to tell anyone until she was in her second trimester.

  (However, they did nothing to hide the telltale sign of the Volvo SUV that Gabriel had recently purchased, which was parked in the driveway. )

  While Gabriel was in the kitchen making coffee, Katherine turned her all-seeing eyes on Julia and tapped a single finger on top of the linen tablecloth.

  “You’re expecting. ”

  “What?” Julia faltered, putting her water glass down so she wouldn’t spill.

  “It’s obvious. You aren’t drinking. You declined coffee. Your husband, who by all accounts is very solicitous, is hovering over you as if you were made of china, while simultaneously trying to hide his extreme, testosterone-laden pride. You can’t fool me. ”

  “Professor Picton, I—”

  “I thought we’d agreed you’d call me Katherine. ”

  “Katherine, I’m not very far along. We aren’t telling anyone, including family, until I’m in my second trimester. ”

  “That’s wise. It might be good for you to put off telling your department until the last possible moment. ” Katherine sipped her wine thoughtfully.

  “I’m afraid to tell them. ”

  Katherine put her glass down. “Can you tell me why?”

  Julia’s hand went to her abdomen. “There are several reasons. I’m worried they’ll think I’m not serious enough and that Cecilia will drop me as a student. ”

  “Nonsense. Cecilia has three children, two of which she had while she was a graduate student in Pisa. Next problem. ”

  Julia paused, her mouth open.

  “Um, I didn’t know that. ”

  “I’ve known her for years. She’s a working mother who is determined to carve out time for her family. That’s why they spend their summers in Italy, so the children can be with their grandparents. Next problem. ”

  “Um, I’m worried they’ll take away my funding and I’ll lose my fellowship. ”

  “Universities are very different from when I was a student. There are legal issues that would prevent your department from doing that. You’re entitled to a maternity leave just like everyone else. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, Harvard has a committee on the status of women that would ensure you are treated fairly. Even if your department were chaired by a fool, and it isn’t, he’d have to follow the guidelines. Next problem. ”

  “I’m not asking for a maternity leave. But I was told by my doctor I’d need to take at least six weeks off after the baby is born. I’m worried my chair will force me to deregister for the semester.

  Katherine frowned. “Not take a maternity leave? Are you mad?”

  Julia started to protest, but Katherine lifted an aged, wrinkled hand.

  “I might be an old maid, but I know you won’t be able to do justice to your program, or your newborn, if you don’t take a maternity leave. You are allowed one. You should take it. ”

  “Won’t the department frown on it?”

  “Some of the old fossils might, but if you have the support of your supervisor, what does it matter? My advice is to speak to Cecilia and ask for her advice. She’ll know best how to guide you. Don’t let the misogynists drive you into an impossible situation. ”

  Katherine tapped her chin thoughtfully. “I’m always eager to fight injustice. Let them try to injure you. In fact, I have half a mind to accept Greg Matthews’s offer to join his department just to ensure that they don’t. ”

  Julia’s jaw dropped. “You’d consider that?”

  “I’ve decided to sell my house and leave Toronto. All Souls is eager to have me join them in Oxford on a more permanent basis, but the truth is there are only a few fellows in that college that I can tolerate. It’s making my meals in college most unpleasant. ”

  “It would be wonderful to have you at Harvard. ”

  “I’m beginning to think so, too. ” Katherine’s eyes shone. “This is where all the action is. Greg promised me he’d move my library personally. I want to accept his offer simply to see him hand-packing my books. ”

  Julia laughed at the thought of Professor Matthews, who was very distinguished, moving Professor Picton’s extensive private library by hand.

  “I’m happy you and Gabriel are having a baby. Whether I move to Harvard or not, I’m hoping you’ll let me be the aged, eccentric godmother who purchases outrageous gifts and feeds the child things that aren’t good for him. ”

  “I’d like nothing more. ” Julia squeezed Katherine’s hand just as Gabriel returned with coffee.

  He glanced between the two women. “What’s going on?”

  Katherine lifted her wine glass, saluting him. “I was just telling Julianne that I accept the distinguished appointment as your baby’s godmother. ”

  Just before bed, Julia asked Gabriel about his conversation with Professor Martin.

  Gabriel stared up at the ceiling.

  “It went better than expected, but I doubt he’ll ever forgive me. ”

  Julia rested her head on his chest. “I’m sorry. ”

  “He thinks I stabbed him and the entire department in the back. Although the fact that I married you seems to have ameliorated his low opinion of me. Perhaps once he learns we’re pregnant, his anger will cool a little more. ”

  “How do you feel about him?”

  Gabriel shrugged. “He was a friend. I’m sorry we had a falling out, but I’m not sorry for what I did. I’d do it again. ”

  Julia sighed. “Well, the day wasn’t a total loss. I enjoyed watching my fellow graduate students react to your arrival. ”

  Gabriel’s lips twitched. “Oh, really? And how did they react?”

  Julia rolled onto her stomach. “Like they’d never seen a hot professor before. You made quite an impression in your turtleneck. ”

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