Gabriels redemption, p.70
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.70

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
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Page 70


  (Because her thoughts were so engaged, she didn’t notice the ex-Marine from Philadelphia who was sitting in a dark car across the street, watching to see if she’d open his letter. She certainly didn’t know that he was ensuring that no one would trouble his niece and her unborn child. )

  At the bottom of her mailbox, she found a manila envelope. It had her name on it, but no address or stamp. Puzzled, she gathered her mail and took the elevator to the third floor. Once she’d entered her apartment and locked the door behind her, she abandoned her luggage and flopped onto the couch.

  She opened the manila envelope first and was stunned to find that it contained a stack of large black-and-white photographs. They were all date-stamped September 27, 2011.

  A strange buzzing filled her ears. As did the sound of her keys falling from her hand and crashing onto the hardwood floor.

  Leafing through the photos, she saw two naked bodies entwined on a bed. The identity of the man was unmistakable. So was his body, his positions, his technique.

  But the woman he was with didn’t look like a woman. She looked young, like a teenager.

  And the things they were doing . . .

  April covered her face with her hands, a cry of anguish escaping her lips.

  Chapter Seventy-seven

  Washington, D. C.

  That evening, Simon Talbot knocked on the door to his father’s office in their family home in Georgetown. He’d been summoned by Robert, his father’s campaign manager, and ordered to return home immediately.

  He didn’t know what was so urgent. That morning, he’d said good-bye to April at the airport after enjoying a quiet but sexually charged weekend. He intended to surprise her the following weekend by flying down to Durham. Soon her semester would be over and he’d help her pack her things and move her life to his apartment in Washington, where she belonged.

  “Come in,” the senator called.

  Simon opened the door and walked toward the chair that was placed in front of the senator’s desk.

  “Don’t bother sitting. This won’t take long. ” As usual, the senator was gruff and to the point.

  “Have you seen these?” He tossed a stack of photographs onto the desk. They fanned out into a random pattern.

  Simon looked at the picture nearest him. Snatching it up, he stared at it. His face grew pale.

  “Well? Have you seen them?” The senator raised his voice, angrily thumping on the desk with his fist.

  “No. ” Simon slowly placed the photograph back on the desk, as the feeling of fear pricked the back of his neck.

  “It’s you, isn’t it?”


  “Don’t lie to me! Is that you?”

  “Yes. ” Simon felt his chest tighten. He was having difficulty breathing.

  “Did you take these pictures?”

  “No, Dad. I swear. I have no idea who took them. ”

  His father cursed.

  “These are just copies. Do you know how I got them?”

  Simon shook his head.

  “Senator Hudson. Someone sent the originals to your fiancée. She told her father about them and he had copies made, which he delivered to me. ”

  Simon’s chest grew even tighter.

  “April saw them?”

  “Yes. She was hysterical. Her mother flew down to Durham to be with her. She had to take her to the hospital. ”

  “Is she all right? What hospital?”

  “Focus on the problem, boy, for God’s sake! Do you have any idea what this means for my campaign?”

  Simon clenched his fists. “Forget about your campaign for a minute. Did April try to hurt herself? What hospital is she in?”

  “We’re lucky the Hudsons have no interest in blackmail. They simply want you to leave their daughter alone. The wedding is off, obviously. They’re going to make the announcement tomorrow. ”

  Simon pulled out his cell phone and hit a button. He held the phone to his ear, but within seconds, he received a recorded message indicating that April’s cell phone number was no longer in service.

  “Dad, I can explain. Let me talk to April. It isn’t what she thinks. ”

  “Don’t,” his father barked. “Robert recognized the girl in the pictures. She was a high school student who interned in my office. Do you understand the damage you’ve done? How could you be so stupid!”

  “It happened over a year ago. The date is wrong. I swear I wasn’t fucking around on April. I love her. ”

  “You love her,” his father scoffed. “You had that red-headed whore on the side all the time. ”

  Simon took a step forward. “I didn’t. I broke things off with her. I’m telling you, April is different. ”

  The senator waved his hand as if he were swatting a fly.

  “It’s too late. She doesn’t want anything to do with you. And who could blame her? The girl in the photos was seventeen, she was working for me, you slept with her, and you encouraged her to drink and use drugs. And it’s all in God damned black and white!” The senator swiped across his desk, sending the photos, pens, and papers flying into the air.

  “Dad, I swear I can fix this. Just let me talk to April. ”

  “No. ” The senator rose to his feet, glaring at his son. “The Hudsons want you to leave her alone, and that’s what you’re going to do. ”

  “But Dad, I—”

  “Do what you’re told for once!” he bellowed.

  Simon stood, but only for a moment before picking up a bronze statue of a horseman that his father kept on his desk and hurling it against the wall.

  “You never listen!” he shouted. “My whole life, you give orders, you talk, but you never fucking listen. So fuck you. Fuck your campaign and fuck the family. The only thing I’ve ever cared about is her. And I’m not going to lose her. ”

  And with that, he strode out of the office, slamming the door behind him.

  It was, Simon thought, the bitterest irony, as he sat in a police station in Durham.

  (Unlike Gabriel, Simon did not know the actual meaning of the term irony. )

  He’d tried repeatedly to see April, but with no success. He sent flowers and letters, but they were refused. He tried emailing her, but she’d blocked his email address.

  He’d attempted to wait for her outside her apartment and had been arrested. Now he was sitting in a police station awaiting news of whether he would be charged. He didn’t have a lawyer, and he knew his father wouldn’t help him.

  He’d deserved his last arrest—when he’d assaulted Julia. He’d been angry and looking to even the score between them. But with April, he’d acted out of love. He could only hope that if he accepted his arrest and pleaded guilty, perhaps he’d have the opportunity to make amends. Perhaps she, or her mother, who was a kind, sympathetic woman, would give him five minutes to explain.

  He didn’t know who took the pictures. Natalie had not been a party to that particular encounter, although she was familiar with the hotel room in which it occurred. It was possible she’d hired someone to film him.

  It was obvious that Natalie had sent the pictures to April. She was the only one who stood to gain by breaking them up. And in one calculated act, she’d hurt him, April, and his father’s campaign. And she was enough of a vindictive bitch to want to do so.

  So while Simon was biding his time waiting for an opportunity to make amends with April, he was going to take a trip out to Sacramento and pay Natalie a visit.

  Those were the plans that formed in Simon’s mind as he waited to find out his legal fate. He had no idea that Jack Mitchell was sitting in his dark Oldsmobile outside the police station, thinking of his pregnant niece, and smiling.

  Chapter Seventy-eight

  Cambridge, Massachusetts

  Once Julia’s morning sickness subsided, she developed a strange fixation on Thai food. There was a restaurant near her old apartment in Cambridge that she favored, insisting it was the on
ly place that satisfied her craving. Consequently, Gabriel or Rebecca ordered takeout from that restaurant almost daily.

  Given her food intake, at one point Gabriel surmised that seventy-five percent of her body mass (and the baby’s) was composed of spring rolls. So the child was no longer called Ralph. Gabriel, Rebecca, and eventually Julia referred to him as Spring Roll.

  At the end of April, the Emersons visited Mount Auburn Hospital in order to have another ultrasound. They hoped that the picture would be clear enough to reveal the sex of the baby.

  “Spring Roll is a boy,” Julia whispered, trying to ignore the pain of her overfull bladder.

  “No. ” Gabriel grinned. “Trust me. I know women. This baby is definitely a girl. ”

  Julia couldn’t help but laugh.

  The technician called her name. Julia squeezed Gabriel’s hand before following the technician into the ultrasound suite.

  (At this juncture, Gabriel knew better than to argue with the technician about accompanying his wife. )

  “Do you want to know the sex of the baby?” the technician asked as she placed a gown on the bed.

  “Absolutely. My husband is waiting and I know he’d like to find out, as well. ”

  “Of course. I’ll let you get changed and be right with you. My name is Amelia. ” The technician smiled and left Julia to change into the gown.

  In a few minutes, Julia’s rounded abdomen was covered with a warmed but sticky gel, and the ultrasound began. She couldn’t help but stare at the computer screen, watching image after image of her baby.

  Truthfully, she couldn’t make out much other than the head and the body. Poor Spring Roll looked like an alien.

  “We’re in luck,” said Amelia, pressing a few buttons to capture some images. “Your baby is in the right position so I can have a good look. ”

  Julia heaved a sigh of relief. She was excited but nervous.

  “I’ll just capture a few more images and then we can call your husband. Okay?”

  “Thank you. ”

  A few minutes later, Amelia went to fetch Gabriel. When he entered the room, he strode to Julia’s side immediately and took her hand, kissing it.

  “So?” He turned to Amelia, who was sitting at her computer screen once again.

  She pointed to the screen. “Your baby is developing well. Everything looks good. Congratulations, you’re having a girl. ”

  Gabriel’s face split into a wide, happy smile.

  Julia’s eyes filled with tears. She cupped her hand over her mouth in surprise.

  “I told you, Mama. I know women. ” He kissed Julia’s cheek.

  “We’re having a girl,” she repeated.

  “Is that all right?” His sapphire eyes darkened in concern.

  “It’s perfect,” she breathed.

  Gabriel made copies of the ultrasound snapshots and immediately had them professionally framed, but he resisted the urge to display them outside their bedroom and study.

  “Now that we know that Spring Roll is a girl, we should probably think about setting up her room. ” Gabriel kept his eyes on the road as he drove the Volvo one Saturday in May. “We should also talk about names. ”

  “That sounds good. ”

  “Maybe you should think about what you want and we can go shopping. ”

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