Gabriels redemption, p.67
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.67
 

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard  
Page 67

 

  “Ah, yes, the turtleneck. Turtles have that effect on people. ”

  “It’s the man they were admiring. And I was proud to be with you. ” She laced the edges of the sheet between her fingers. “But there are still rumors going around. ”

  “Oh, really?” Gabriel lifted her chin so he could make eye contact.

  “Zsuzsa told me that some of the grad students have been saying that you got me into the program. ”

  “Bastards,” Gabriel spat. “This is Christa’s fault. ”

  “Not entirely. We made our choices and we have to live with them. ”

  “The reality of what happened and what they’re saying is poles apart. ”

  “That’s true. But you’ll be interested to know that now they’re gossiping about Christa. ”

  Gabriel gazed at her with cautious interest. “Christa? Why?”

  “Sean, one of the PhD students in my department, has a friend at Columbia. He said that the department forced Christa out. None of the faculty would agree to supervise her. ”

  Gabriel’s eyebrows lifted. “Really? When I was in New York, Lucia mentioned that Katherine complained about Christa’s behavior in Oxford. But I doubt her dismissal had anything to do with us. Lucia also said that her work wasn’t very good. ”

  “It’s possible she didn’t get along with the Dante specialists in that department. They can be mercurial. ” Julia winked at her husband slyly.

  “I have no idea what you’re talking about. ” Gabriel sniffed.

  “Sean said that Christa is on her way to do her PhD in Geneva. ”

  “Geneva doesn’t have its own doctoral program in Italian. They’re part of a consortium. ”

  “That’s where she’s headed, if the rumors are to be believed. ”

  Gabriel shook his head. “If she’d just focused on her work at Toronto and not become fixated on me, she’d probably still be there. Her original application and writing sample were very good. It was her machinations that were her downfall. Then she made the colossal error of going up against Katherine. That made Lucia nervous. ”

  “Why?”

  “Katherine is one of the best in her field. If anyone wants to publish in Dante studies, or write a grant for support, or try to get a job, people look to her for her opinion. If she approves of you, she’ll say so. If she doesn’t, she’ll say that, too. No one wants to alienate her in case they need her support some day. That includes Lucia and her department. ”

  Julia pursed her lips.

  “I didn’t want Christa’s life to be ruined. I just wanted her to leave us alone. ”

  “She did this to herself. She had several opportunities to rethink her choices, and she didn’t. No one made her go to Oxford and try to sabotage you, or to do mediocre work at Columbia. ”

  “I suppose you’re right. ” Julia rested her head on the pillow. “Academia is the strangest place. ”

  “Bit like Mars, really. Except with more sex. ”

  Julia laughed. “I’m glad Katherine approves of me. I shudder to think what would happen if she didn’t. ”

  “Me, too. But in any case, I’ll speak to Greg Matthews and make sure the rumors about us are quashed. ”

  “Don’t call in a favor for that. I might need his help with something else. ”

  “Like what?”

  “Katherine thinks I need to take a maternity leave. She wants me to speak to Cecilia about it. ”

  Gabriel stroked the arches of her eyebrows with his fingers.

  “And what do you want?”

  “I have to talk to Cecilia. But I was hoping to wait until I’m in my second trimester. Most mis—” She caught Gabriel’s eye and stumbled over the word. “—problems occur in the first trimester. ”

  “If you want to take a maternity leave, you should. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. I’m going on leave regardless. After the paternity leave, they owe me a sabbatical. I could be home with the baby for two years. ”

  “Isn’t there some rule about not taking a leave and a sabbatical back to back?”

  “Probably. ” Gabriel began caressing her lower back. “But I have it written into my contract that they give me a sabbatical the year after next. It was part of their job offer. ”

  “I’d hate to see you waste your sabbatical,” she said quietly.

  His hand rested in the hollow of her lower back.

  “What part of spending time with the baby would be wasted?”

  “You won’t be able to finish your book. ”

  “I’m sure I’ll have time to write. Even if I didn’t, it would be worth it. Talk to Cecilia and see what she says. But whatever you do, don’t worry. I made promises to you, and I intend to keep them. ”

  Julia smiled. “That’s the only reason why I’m not freaking out. ”

  He gazed at her intensely. “Good. ”

  Chapter Seventy-four

  April 2012

  So, Julianne, what can I do for you?” Cecilia Marinelli ushered her graduate student into her office, gesturing to a comfortable chair near the large desk.

  Cecilia was just under five feet tall, with bobbed dark hair and blue eyes. She was from Pisa, originally, and spoke English with an accent.

  “I came to ask your advice. ” Julia began wringing her hands.

  “Ask. ” Cecilia gave Julia an encouraging look.

  “Um, I’m going to have a baby. ”

  “Congratulations! This is good news, yes?” Cecilia switched to Italian, smiling widely.

  Julia answered her in Italian. “Yes. Very good news. Uh, but I’m due in September, right at the beginning of the semester. ”

  Cecilia shrugged. “Then you take maternity leave and return the next year. ”

  “I don’t want to fall behind in my program, so I’m not going to take a maternity leave. ”

  Professor Marinelli shook her head. “This is not the best idea. Normally, in your third year, you would teach in the fall and take your linguistics course plus another class. Then you would write your general exams in the winter. Since your baby comes in September, I think your teaching and coursework would have to be delayed until January. Then you will be studying for your exams at the same time. This is too much. ” Cecilia’s tone was not unkind.

  “I didn’t realize that. ” Julia’s voice sounded shaky and small.

  “You do what you like, but certainly, I would take maternity leave. ”

  “Really?”

  Cecilia sat back in her chair for a moment. “It will be too much for you to put all these things in one semester. Your colleagues will have the advantage of you in their general exams. And you cannot fail. So, to make things fair, you take maternity leave for one year. Then, you teach and take your classes the following September, and take your exams in the winter. Yes, you will be behind a year. But you are a good student. I think you will catch up when you are writing your dissertation. It will be better to be behind a year than to realize midsemester you cannot do everything. ”

  Julia’s heart sank as all her plans fell to pieces. Frantically, she searched for another solution.

  “Aren’t some of the courses offered in the summer?”

  Cecilia noted her student’s reaction and switched to English. “No, I’m sorry. ”

  Julia’s hands twisted in her lap.

  “It’s just that Gabriel was going to take a leave from BU so that I wouldn’t have to. ”

  “Gabriel? With a baby?” Cecilia laughed, chattering to herself in Italian.

  (Apparently, she found the thought of the Professor looking after a baby highly amusing. In this, she was not alone. )

  “This, I did not expect. But it shows he will be a good father, yes? If he is willing to help. But Gabriel’s leave doesn’t solve the problem of the schedule. It isn’t realistic to think you can have a baby, then return to class the next day. God forbid you have complications and need to take time off before the baby is born. ”

>   Julia winced. “I hadn’t thought of that, either. ”

  Cecilia smiled patiently. “This is why we have advisors, to offer advice and maybe a little caution. My advice is to take maternity leave. You won’t lose your place in the program or your funding. If you want, I can give you a reading list for your dissertation prospectus and you can work on that while you’re on leave. You could also work on your other languages. But let’s not be too ambitious. And there’s one more thing, but you must promise to keep it secret. Professor Matthews is waiting to make the formal announcement. ” She switched back into Italian, as if that language afforded them more privacy.

  “Of course. ” Julia responded in Italian, looking at her supervisor with interest.

  “Professor Picton has decided to come to Harvard. ”

  “Really? That’s wonderful. ” Julia’s heart leapt with joy.

  “Yes, it is. She’s committed to stay in Oxford one more year, then she will arrive next September, when you return from maternity leave. I cannot speak for her, but I believe she would be a reader on your dissertation. This is very good news for your project. ”

  Julia smiled as the wheels began turning in her mind.

  “So,” said Cecilia, reverting to English once again. “I won’t tell you it will be easy, being a mother and a student. But you can do it. Please give Gabriel my congratulations. I’m happy for you both. ”

  Julia thanked her professor and exited the office.

  When Julia arrived home for dinner, Gabriel was sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen island, reading the newspaper.

  He immediately dropped the paper when he saw her.

  “Why, hello, beautiful. How was your day?”

  “It was okay. ” Julia put her messenger bag down on the floor and sat next to him at the island.

  “What’s wrong?” He placed his hand at the back of her neck and gently pulled her close so he could kiss her. “Are you ill?”

  “I have good news and bad news. ”

  The edges of his lips turned down. “What’s the bad news?”

  “Professor Marinelli said I have to take a maternity leave. ”

  “Why did she say that?”

  “Since the baby is due in September, she doesn’t think I should register for courses in the fall. The way the schedule is, it would be too much if I tried to cram the third-year requirements into the winter semester. So she thinks I should just take the year off. ”

  Gabriel rubbed at his chin. “I’d forgotten about how busy the third year is. What do you want to do?”

  “What can I do? I have to take a maternity leave. ” She put her elbows on the counter.

  “Julianne, you can do anything you want. If you want to take classes after the baby is born, we’ll make it work. You’ll just have to take incompletes while you catch up on what you’ve missed. ”

  “The graduate school doesn’t like students taking incompletes. ”

  “No, they don’t. But they allow it, in certain circumstances. I’m sure they’d allow it in this case. ”

 
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