Gabriels redemption, p.74
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.74
 

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard  
Page 74

 

  Angie picked up the child, cradling her. “We’ll give you a wristband that matches hers so we know she’s yours. ”

  The second nurse affixed a white plastic wristband on Gabriel’s right wrist.

  “Would you like to hold her?”

  He nodded, wiping his cold, clammy palms on his green surgical scrubs.

  Angie gently placed the baby in his arms. Immediately, the child opened large, dark blue eyes and looked up at him.

  Their eyes met and Gabriel felt as if his entire world stopped.

  Then she yawned, her tiny rosebud mouth expanding greatly, before she closed her eyes again.

  “She’s beautiful,” he breathed.

  “Yes, she is. And she’s healthy. It was a difficult delivery, but she’s fine. You’ll notice that her face is a bit swollen, but that will come down. ”

  Gabriel lifted the baby so she was inches from his face.

  “Hello, Spring Roll. I’m your daddy and I’ve been waiting to meet you for a long time. I love you so much. ”

  He held her close, listening to her tiny breaths, feeling her little heart beat through the swaddling material.

  “My wife,” he croaked, not bothering to blink away the tears that had re-formed in his eyes.

  The nurses exchanged a look.

  “Did Dr. Rubio talk to you?” Angie asked.

  Gabriel shook his head, holding the baby tightly.

  Angie looked to the other nurse, who frowned.

  “She should have spoken to you by now. I’m sorry about that. It’s been very busy, as I said, and there was a shift change. ” Angie gestured to a nearby chair. “Why don’t you sit down with your daughter, and I’ll go see if I can find the doctor. ”

  Gabriel did as he was told, holding his daughter close to his heart.

  The nurses’ expressions said it all.

  There would be no happy reconciliation.

  There would be no vision of Julia holding their child.

  He’d lost her. As surely as Dante had lost Beatrice, he’d lost his beloved.

  “I’ve failed you,” he whispered.

  Hugging his daughter close to his chest, Gabriel cried.

  Chapter Eighty-seven

  As Gabriel sat, holding Spring Roll, time seemed to have no meaning. Images flashed before his eyes. He saw himself taking the baby home from the hospital. Feeding her in the middle of the night. Walking down the hall to the empty master bedroom.

  He was so alone.

  He’d loved one woman in his life. At first, he’d loved her like a pagan, eager to make her an idol and worship her. Then he’d recognized that some things were more important than his love for her—her happiness, for example.

  In his mind’s eye he could see and hear her clutching his hand, whispering, “I don’t regret getting pregnant. ”

  She’d regret it now. He’d taken her life.

  His shoulders shuddered as a sob overtook him.

  His beautiful, sweet Julianne.

  He had his cell phone but didn’t feel like talking to anyone. From the texts he’d received, he knew that Richard and Rachel would be arriving soon. Rebecca was readying the house for the guests and the baby. Kelly had texted to say that she’d ordered flowers and balloons, which were on their way to the hospital.

  He hadn’t had the will to tell them Julianne was gone.

  He stared at the face of his daughter, wondering how he was going to parent her alone. He’d relied on Julianne for so much. And ultimately, it was his selfishness that ended her life.

  He was lost in his own grief and exhaustion when someone entered the room and stood before him. Once again his eyes focused on a pair of very ugly, sturdy shoes.

  “Professor Emerson. ”

  He recognized the voice of Dr. Rubio and lifted his head.

  She looked tired.

  “I’m sorry about what happened. We had several emergencies all at once and I couldn’t get away. I’m sorry it took me so long to—”

  “Can I see her?” Gabriel interrupted.

  “Of course. But I just need to explain. Your wife—”

  Gabriel couldn’t hear the doctor’s words. He was enveloped in pain. All his conversations with Julia about children flooded his mind.

  This was his fault. He’d persuaded her to have a baby and then they’d gotten pregnant before she was ready.

  He’d done this. He’d planted his child inside her, and the act had killed her.

  He lowered his head despondently.

  “Professor Emerson. ”

  Dr. Rubio came closer.

  “Professor Emerson, are you all right?” Her lightly accented voice sounded at his ear. She muttered to herself in Spanish, words that Gabriel identified, but dimly.

  “Can I see her?” he whispered.

  “Of course. ” Dr. Rubio gestured to the door. “I’m sorry someone didn’t come to get you earlier, but the nursing staff was overwhelmed. ”

  Gabriel slowly got to his feet, continuing to cradle his daughter in his arms.

  Dr. Rubio directed him to place the baby in the bassinet, and then she wheeled the contraption in front of her.

  He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped at his face, ignoring the initials that had been embroidered on it. It had been a gift from Julianne “just because. ” She was like that—generous of spirit and generous of heart. How he wished he’d worn the Star of David she’d given to him as an anniversary present. Surely he could have derived some comfort from it.

  Gabriel followed Dr. Rubio through a series of rooms, until they entered a very large space that had a number of hospital beds in it.

  “Here she is. ”

  Gabriel stopped abruptly.

  Julianne was lying in a hospital bed and a nurse was leaning over her, giving her an injection.

  He could see her legs shift beneath the blanket. He could hear her moan.

  He blinked rapidly, as if the tears in his eyes had caused a mirage.

  He felt his body sway.

  “Professor Emerson?” Dr. Rubio took hold of his elbow in an effort to steady him. “Are you all right?”

  She called to the nurse and asked her to place a chair next to Julia’s bedside. They helped Gabriel to the chair and wheeled the bassinet so that it was next to him.

  Someone pushed a plastic cup of water into his hand. He stared at it as if it were a foreign object.

  Dr. Rubio’s voice, which had been hazy in his ear, suddenly became clear.

  “As I said, your wife lost a lot of blood. We had to give her a transfusion. When I made the incision for the cesarean section, I encountered one of her fibroids, and unfortunately it bled quite a bit. We had to do some surgical repair afterward, which is why the procedure took so long. ”

  “Fibroids?” Gabriel repeated, his hand over his mouth.

  “One of her fibroids was attached to the uterus right at the place where we make the incision. We stopped the bleeding and stitched her up, but it made the c-section more complicated than usual. Fortunately, Dr. Manganiello, the surgeon on call, scrubbed in. Your wife is going to be fine. ” She placed a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder. “And there doesn’t appear to be any permanent damage to her uterus. She’ll be waking up soon but she’ll be woozy. We’ll be giving her medication to control the pain. I’ll check on her tomorrow during my rounds. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. She’s a beautiful little girl. ” Dr. Rubio patted his shoulder and left.

  Gabriel stared at Julia, noticing that the color in her skin had returned. She was sleeping.

  “Mr. Emerson?” The nurse noticed his tears. “Can I get you something?”

  He shook his head, quickly wiping his face with the back of his hand. “I thought she was dead. ”

  “What?” The nurse’s tone was sharp.

  “No one told me. She looked like she was dead. I thought . . . ”

  The nurse came a step clos
er, a look of horror on her face. “I’m so sorry. Someone from the previous shift should have explained what was happening. There was another emergency c-section at the same time as your wife’s, but that patient lost her baby. ”

  Gabriel lifted his eyes to meet the nurse’s.

  “That isn’t an excuse,” the nurse said quietly. “Someone should have told you that your wife was all right. I’ve worked in labor and delivery here for ten years and we lose very few mothers. Very, very few. And when we do, there is an immediate inquest and everyone is extremely upset. ”

  Gabriel was about to ask what “very few” meant when he heard a groan coming from Julia’s hospital bed. He put the cup of water aside and stood over her.

  “Julianne?”

  Her eyelids fluttered open. She looked at him for only an instant, then closed her eyes.

  “Our daughter is here. She’s beautiful. ”

  Julianne didn’t move.

  But a few minutes later, she began moaning again.

  “It hurts,” she whispered.

  “Hold on. I’ll get someone. ” Gabriel called the nurse.

  After the nurse adjusted Julia’s intravenous, Gabriel picked up the baby.

  “Darling, meet your daughter. She’s beautiful. And she has hair. ” He held the baby up so Julia could see her from her reclined position.

  Julia’s gaze was wide and unfocused before she closed her eyes.

  He cradled the baby against his chest once again.

  “Sweetheart? Can you hear me?”

  “It will take a while for her to come around. But she’ll wake up eventually. ” The voice of the nurse broke into Gabriel’s musings, as he wondered anxiously if Julia was unhappy about how the baby looked.

  He placed the child back in her bassinet and sat next to it, keeping a watchful eye on his wife. He was never going to let her out of his sight again.

  His iPhone chirped with a couple of texts, and he quickly checked it. Richard and Rachel were making excellent time and would arrive soon. Tom and Diane sent their congratulations and their love.

  And Katherine Picton restated her insistence that she be named godmother. She even promised a rare manuscript of Dante’s La Vita Nuova as an inducement.

  Gabriel snapped a few photos of Spring Roll with his phone and quickly emailed them to everyone, including Kelly, pausing to tell Katherine that no inducement would be required.

  “She has hair?” When Julia finally awoke, the first thing she noticed was the dark strands peeking out from under the baby’s purple knit cap.

  “She does. Lots of hair. Darker than yours. ” Gabriel grinned and placed the baby on Julia’s chest.

  She unwrapped the baby and peeled back her gown, placing her daughter skin against skin. The infant immediately snuggled into her mother.

  In Gabriel’s mind, it was the most incredible sight he’d ever seen.

  “She’s beautiful,” Julia whispered.

  “Pretty like her mama. ”

  She pressed gentle kisses to the baby’s head. “I don’t think so. She has your face. ”

  Gabriel laughed. “I don’t know about that. I’m not sure she looks like either one of us, except that she seems to have my eye color. She has the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen, but she doesn’t like to open them. ”

  Julia lifted her head to examine the baby’s face, cuddling her even closer.

 
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