Gabriels redemption, p.68
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.68

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
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Page 68


  “Then I’d be playing catch-up while studying for my general exams. ”

  “That’s true. Just because Cecilia thinks it might be challenging doesn’t mean it will be impossible. As I said before, I will make this work. I promise. ”

  Julia looked up at him, at his warm and earnest expression. “You will make this work?”

  “Of course. But I’m not going to tell you what to do. You decide and I’ll speak to Greg, if necessary. ”

  “No, I’ll talk to him. But—” She paused.


  “I need to tell you the good news. Cecilia said that Katherine is coming to Harvard. ”

  Gabriel’s mouth opened in astonishment. “What? I had an email from her last week. She never mentioned anything. ”

  “Apparently, she’s staying at Oxford next year and coming to Harvard the year after. That’s another reason why Cecilia thinks that a maternity leave is a good idea—Katherine will arrive when I come back. ”

  “That’s great. ”

  “It is. But—” Julia shook her head. “I don’t want to take a maternity leave, but I’m worried about failing my exams. ”

  “You won’t fail. ”

  “I won’t be in tiptop shape either. ”

  “Then we’ll get you into tiptop shape. You’re going to have Rebecca and me here to hold the fort. You can study for your exams and do what you need to do. ”

  “I want to be a mother, too,” she whispered. “I don’t want to ignore the baby. ”

  “I’m sure you can find a balance. ” He kissed the top of her head before crossing over to the refrigerator. He retrieved a bottle of ginger ale and quickly poured it over ice in a tall glass.

  He handed it to her. “You don’t need to decide right now. Register for the fall and if you feel like you need to drop the courses or take incompletes, you can. ”

  “I don’t want to start something and not finish it. I certainly don’t want to risk failing my exams. ” She looked up at Gabriel, a worried expression on her face. “I don’t want to be an absent mother, like Sharon. ”

  “You won’t be like her. ”

  Gabriel looked down at the marble-topped island and traced a pattern on its surface.

  “Truthfully, I don’t know what to expect when we have the baby. But as I said, I’m taking leave regardless. ”

  “Cecilia mentioned that she could give me a reading list for my dissertation prospectus. I could work on that while I’m on leave, along with my languages. ”

  He lifted his head. “I’m sure the baby will be delighted to learn about Dante and also to be able to do more than just curse in German. ”

  Julia laughed and wrapped an arm around his waist. “I think I’d be missing out if I didn’t take part of a maternity leave. Who knows what kind of mischief you and the baby will get into?”

  “Oh, you can be sure we will get into all kinds of mischief. ” He winked. “And there is a strong possibility that shenanigans and hijinks of various sorts will also occur, with regularity. ”

  “Perhaps you and the baby will need me. ” Julia glanced at him.

  Gabriel’s eyes locked on hers.

  “Of course we’ll need you. But I’ll make it work if you can’t be here. ” He brought the backs of his fingers to her face and gently stroked her cheek. “If you take maternity leave, we could spend part of the year in Umbria. ”


  “Or Oxford, or Paris, or Barcelona. You name it. ”


  Gabriel pulled back. “Of all the cities in the world, you want to go there?”

  “That’s where your family home is. That’s where my family is. It might be nice to be close to Diane. She could give me advice and we could schedule play dates. ”

  “We can talk to her on FaceTime from Europe. ”

  “The orchard is there. ”

  Gabriel traced his thumb across Julia’s lower lip and sighed. “Yes, the orchard is there. ”

  “I’ll look into registering for the fall and if I can’t go back after the baby is born, I’ll drop the classes. Then I’ll go on maternity leave for the winter semester and start studying for my general exams. ”

  “That sounds like a good plan. Katherine will be here by the following September. ”

  “We can have the baby at Mount Auburn Hospital, and decide from there where we want to go. I’m not sure about taking a newborn on a transatlantic flight. ”

  “Hmm. I hadn’t thought about that. ”

  Julia wrapped her arms around his waist. “We haven’t thought of a lot of things. ”

  “Ah, but I have a book. ” Gabriel reached over to pick up a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting that was sitting nearby.

  “Make sure to mark the place where it talks about transatlantic flights and the likelihood of writing a book on Dante’s concept of Hell while caring for a baby. I’d be interested in reading those sections. ”

  He tossed the book aside. “Very funny, Mrs. Emerson. ”

  She pressed herself against him. “If we go to Europe, we’ll be able to visit some museums. ”

  “That we will. ”

  “We’ll be able to tango against the wall. ”

  “We’ll have to bring Rebecca with us if we ever want to have a tango in a museum again. ” He pressed an openmouthed kiss to her neck.

  “Museums aren’t as accommodating as they used to be. ”

  His eyes shone.

  “Except for our last visit to the Uffizi. ”

  Now she was blushing.

  “That’s what I want for our next anniversary. ”

  “What? A museum?” He smirked.

  “No. Another tango against a wall. ”

  “Shall we try the Louvre next time?”

  Julia felt her insides flame. “That sounds promising. ”

  He kissed her neck, fluttering his lips against her skin. “We have a lot of good things to look forward to, Mrs. Emerson. But I think we both need to read that book. ”

  Chapter Seventy-five

  Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

  You’re what?”

  A pile of silverware slid from Rachel’s fingers, clattering onto the kitchen island. She stared openmouthed at her best friend.

  Gabriel had his arm around Julia as they stood in the kitchen of the Clark family home. Scott, Tammy, and Quinn sat on stools nearby, while Richard and Aaron were deep in conversation near the stove.

  “I’m pregnant,” Julia repeated, her eyes searching Rachel’s face.

  The room fell silent.

  “But, but, I didn’t know you were trying. I thought you were going to wait,” Rachel sputtered.

  “The news was unexpected but not unwelcome. ” Gabriel pressed his lips to Julia’s temple.

  “That’s great news, Julia. When are you due?” Tammy interjected.

  “September. ” Julia’s hand curved over her slightly protruding abdomen. “We told Dad, Diane, and my uncle Jack last night. ”

  “I think this calls for cigars. I’m very proud of you both. ” Richard shook Gabriel’s hand and clapped him on the back before kissing Julia’s cheek. “It will be nice to have another baby around. Quinn and Tommy will have a new playmate. ”

  “Exactly. ” Tammy followed, hugging Julia, and so did Scott.

  Julia looked over at her best friend apprehensively. “Rach?”

  “I—” Rachel suddenly closed her mouth. She looked as if she were about to burst into tears.

  Aaron wrapped an arm around her shoulders. He murmured something in her ear.

  “I’m happy for you,” Rachel managed. After a moment, she embraced Julia and Gabriel together. “I am. I’m happy for you both. ”

  Julia’s eyes began to water.

  “I think we should give the girls a minute. Isn’t there a game on?” Aaron jerked his thumb toward the living room, where the wide-screen television was located.

Tammy, Quinn, and the men quickly retreated, leaving the best friends alone.

  “This is a surprise. ” Rachel sat on one of the bar stools. “Was it an accident?”

  Julia chewed at the inside of her mouth. “Gabriel doesn’t want us using the word accident. He doesn’t want the baby growing up thinking he wasn’t wanted. ”

  “Of course not!” Rachel appeared horrified. “I didn’t think of it that way. I’m sorry. ”

  “But, uh, clearly this was unexpected, because we were planning on waiting. ”

  Rachel’s eyes trained on her friend’s.

  “It must have been a shock for you. Are you all right?”

  “I was upset at the beginning, but Gabriel has been great. He’s really excited and his enthusiasm is infectious. Rebecca moved in with us, so she’ll help with the baby. I’ve decided to take a maternity leave, and Gabriel is going to do the same. ”

  Rachel snorted, resting her forearm on the top of the island. “Gabriel is taking a maternity leave? I’ll believe that when I see it. ”

  “Well, it’s a paternity leave. It’s available to him and so he’s going to take it. They owe him a sabbatical anyway, but he’s deferring it. ” Julia sat on the stool to Rachel’s left. “We’re even talking about moving here for part of the year, after the baby is born. ”

  Rachel’s gray eyes grew soft. “Dad would love that. Have you told him?”

  Julia shook her head. “We were waiting until we told everyone we were expecting. ” She glanced in the direction of the living room. “Gabriel is probably asking him right now. ”

  “Dad won’t say no. Will Rebecca come too?”

  “I haven’t thought that far ahead. But it would be a bit ridiculous for one little baby to require three adults to supervise him. ”

  Rachel regarded her friend. “You haven’t been around babies much, have you?”

  “No. ”

  “You might need Rebecca to keep up the house and to cook for everyone. ” Rachel stared at her fingernails. “You and Diane will be able to commiserate about motherhood. We’ll come home for weekends. The baby will be surrounded by family. ”

  “That’s what we wanted. I’m sorry about the timing. I know you and Aaron have been trying and I feel so—”

  “Don’t. ” Rachel forced a smile. “I’m happy for you. And I’m going to be the best damn aunt I can be. I’m hoping, someday, you’ll have the chance to be the same to mine. ”

  “Me, too. ”

  Julia smiled, a sympathetic sadness twisting in her insides.

  That evening, Aaron stood in his wife’s childhood bedroom, which was still decorated with the awards and trophies she’d won in high school. He held her in his arms as she sobbed into his chest.

  He felt helpless. He felt impotent.

  “Rach,” he whispered, rubbing her back.

  “It’s so unfair,” she managed, her hands fisting his shirt. “They didn’t even want a baby! Jules was going to wait until she graduated. I can’t believe this is happening. ”

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