Gabriels redemption, p.71
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.71
 

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard  
Page 71

 

  Julia turned to look at him. “Now?”

  “I said I’d take you to lunch, and we can do that. But afterward, we need to start thinking about Spring Roll’s room. We want it to be attractive, but functional. Something comfortable for you and for her, but not juvenile. ”

  “She’s a baby, Gabriel. Her stuff is going to be juvenile. ”

  “You know what I mean. I want it to be elegant and not look like a preschool. ”

  “Good grief. ” Julia fought a grin as she began imagining what the Professor would design.

  (Argyle patterns, dark wood, and chocolate brown leather immediately came to mind. )

  He cleared his throat. “I might have done some searching on the Internet. ”

  “Oh, really? From where? Restoration Hardware?”

  “Of course not. ” He bristled. “Their things wouldn’t be appropriate for a baby’s room. ”

  “So where then?”

  He gazed at her triumphantly. “Pottery Barn Kids. ”

  Julia groaned. “We’ve become yuppies. ”

  Gabriel stared at her in mock horror. “Why do you say that?”

  “We’re driving a Volvo and talking about shopping at Pottery Barn. ”

  “First of all, Volvos have an excellent safety rating and they’re more attractive than a minivan. Secondly, Pottery Barn’s furniture happens to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I’d like to take you to one of their stores so you can see for yourself. ”

  “As long as we get Thai food first. ”

  Now it was Gabriel’s turn to roll his eyes. “Fine. But we’re ordering takeout and taking it to the park for a picnic. And I’m having Indian food, instead. If I see another plate of pad Thai, I’m going to lose it. ”

  Julia burst into peals of laughter.

  Late that night, Gabriel retired to the master bedroom after a long evening spent putting together a wish list for the nursery. Some of the items he was going to place on a gift registry, since his sisters (Kelly and Rachel), Diane, Cecilia, and Katherine had all demanded that he and Julia register for baby gifts.

  Gabriel had no idea parents did such a thing and found himself intrigued by the concept.

  (He was distressed to learn that the Pottery Barn Kids gift registry did not extend to children’s books in Italian or Yiddish. )

  As he walked past the bed toward the bathroom, he noticed that Julia’s feet were peeking out from under the duvet. The rest of her body was covered.

  He smiled and reached over to pull the duvet over her feet.

  Chapter Seventy-nine

  May 2012

  Sacramento, California

  Natalie Lundy went about her daily life with a spring in her step. Simon and April had had a very public breakup, he’d been disowned by his family, and Senator Talbot’s campaign was in shambles.

  In short, she had no reason to jeopardize her new job by telling compromising tales to the tabloids. Someone had done the work for her—probably a jealous ex-lover of Simon’s or a political opponent of his father’s.

  Natalie was blissfully unaware of Simon’s plans for revenge. Or the fact that he’d abandoned those plans when April elected not to press charges against him. Natalie heard rumors that he was trying to win April back, but public opinion was such that she thought that outcome was more than unlikely.

  Certainly, Natalie and Simon had no idea of Jack Mitchell’s involvement, which meant that he slept well at night, secure in the knowledge that he’d done what he needed to do in order to protect his pregnant niece.

  Chapter Eighty

  July 2012

  Boston, Massachusetts

  I’m not sure this is a good idea. ” Julia hesitated outside the Agent Provocateur boutique on Newbury Street.

  “Why not?” Gabriel gripped her hand.

  “This isn’t a maternity store. They won’t have anything that fits me. ” Her cheeks colored.

  “I’ve already spoken with Patricia. She knows we’re coming. ” He smiled down at his pregnant wife. “In fact, I made a few requests. ”

  Julia recognized the name of the boutique’s manager, as they’d met once before. Gabriel was not the sort of man who was embarrassed by women’s underthings. In fact, he preferred to choose them himself, at least for special occasions.

  This was a special occasion. As her pregnancy progressed, Julia was uncomfortable sleeping naked. Since none of her sexy lingerie fit her anymore, she’d taken to wearing yoga pants and T-shirts to bed. For Gabriel, this was not a welcome change.

  So of course, he did something about it.

  Patricia greeted them warmly and ushered them to a private dressing room in which she’d placed a rack of nightgowns, underwear, and robes.

  “Call me if you need anything. ” She gestured to the house telephone that was placed on a table nearby before closing the door behind her.

  Julia fingered the transparent black chiffon of a babydoll nightgown as Gabriel watched her, the way a cat watches a mouse.

  “I don’t think I can do this. ” She glanced at the large trifold mirror balefully.

  “It’s just us. Look, Patricia provided us with drinks. ” He placed a few ice cubes in a glass and poured some ginger ale over them.

  She took the drink gratefully. “This is not a good day for me. I feel like a cow. ”

  “You are not a cow,” Gabriel clipped. “You’re pregnant. And beautiful. ”

  She avoided his eyes. “I can’t stand in front of that mirror. I’ll look like a bus—from three different directions. ”

  “Nonsense. ” He took the drink out of her hand, placing it on the low table nearby. “Take off your clothes. ”

  “What?”

  “I said take off your clothes. ”

  She backed away from him. “I can’t. ”

  “Trust me,” he whispered, stepping closer.

  She looked up at him. His blue eyes were warm, but he looked very determined.

  “Are you trying to make me cry?”

  He stiffened.

  “No, I’m trying to help you see what I see when I look at you. ” He beckoned to her and she moved to him.

  He placed his hand on her shoulders and kissed her forehead. “Pick something you think is pretty and try it on. I’ll sit over there with my back turned while you change. If you don’t like anything here, we’ll go somewhere else. ”

  Julia leaned against him for a moment and he took her weight, stroking her sides up and down.

  She sighed and picked a few satin hangers, carrying them to the far corner, where there was a series of hooks on the wall.

  Gabriel smiled as he sat in a leather club chair, which was positioned a few feet away, facing the mirror. He made sure to keep his back to her while she undressed, not wanting to upset her.

  He helped himself to some Perrier and began eyeing the clothes rack. In deference to Julia’s modesty, he hadn’t requested the more provocative items—items that lacked coverage over the breasts, for example. The point of this exercise was to purchase things that made her feel confident and sexy, not self-conscious and cold.

  Although some of his choices might push her boundaries, he wasn’t interested in upsetting her. This was supposed to be fun and, he hoped, inspirational.

  “It’s a little tight,” she called to him.

  “They’re supposed to be tight. Come over where I can see you. ” He kept his eyes fixed on the mirror, almost breathless in anticipation.

  “I think I need a larger size. ”

  “I gave Patricia your measurements. ”

  “You did what?” She almost shrieked. “But I’m massive. ”

  “Julianne. ” His tone was commanding. “Come—here. ”

  She took a deep breath and walked toward the mirror.

  Gabriel felt his heart stutter in his chest.

  Julia stood wearing a Syble babydoll, which was black chiffon and embroidered with small pink flowers.
She’d kept on her black maternity panties but had added a pair of black seamed stockings, pulled up just to below her baby bump.

  “Breathtaking,” he said.

  She stood to the side of the mirror, her hand traveling between the panels of black chiffon to her stomach. Then she turned around slowly, checking her backside.

  “You look perfect. ”

  She caught his eyes in the mirror.

  He could no longer sit. He moved to stand behind her but resisted the urge to touch.

  He knew that if he gave in, he’d have her in the dressing room in the leather club chair and their shopping trip would be over. Surely he could wait a few minutes while she tantalized him.

  “What do you think?” he asked, his voice gruff.

  “I like it. I still think it’s a little tight. ” She tugged at the straps, exposing more of her large breasts.

  He moved his hands to fit over them and squeezed.

  “It fits you like a glove. You have a beautiful figure. ”

  A soft look came into her eyes. “You really think that. ”

  “I do. ” He caressed her breasts through the fabric, passing his thumbs ever so gently over her sensitive nipples.

  Her lips parted as she watched him touch her, feeling the sensations tingle across her flesh while seeing the hunger in his eyes.

  Here was a man hopelessly aroused and eager, plying his seductive trade.

  Gabriel brushed her hair aside and brought his lips to her ear. “Just think how I’ll make you feel when I remove it. ”

  Throwing caution aside, he placed his lips to her neck, his tongue darting out to taste her skin.

  “It’s getting hot in here. ” She closed her eyes, leaning into his embrace.

  “I’m just getting started. ” He pressed himself against the curve of her backside so that she could feel his prominent arousal. “I think we can agree that we’ll take what you’re wearing. Now choose something else. ”

  She turned to kiss him, reaching up to tangle her fingers in his hair. She kissed him until they were almost ready to forgo shopping before returning to the clothes rack.

  Gabriel walked to a nearby table and lifted the house phone.

  “Patricia? We’re going to need more ice. ”

  Chapter Eighty-one

  August 2012

  Near Burlington, Vermont

  As the winter months passed, Paul spent more and more time with Allison. They went to dinner and to the movies. They flirted via email and text message. And his cupboards at the Norris farmhouse were always filled with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and homemade cookies.

  In fact, his friendship with Ali (for so he was still calling it) had become very important to him. He eagerly looked forward to spending time with her every weekend. And although their physical relationship hadn’t progressed beyond a few chaste kisses, their connection continued to deepen.

  However, neither of them could have anticipated the overwhelming joy that was to come in early March when Paul was offered the position of assistant professor in the Department of English at Saint Michael’s College. He didn’t waste time fussing over the salary or negotiating a lighter teaching load or other perks. He simply accepted the job. Gladly.

  He emailed Julia about his job offer and they resumed their occasional, friendly correspondence. He was stunned when, in mid-April, she emailed him announcing that she was pregnant.

 
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