Gabriels redemption, p.75
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.75

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 75


  Gabriel watched her with concern. “Are you in pain?”

  She grimaced. “I feel as if I’ve been sawn in half. ”

  “I think you were. ”

  She peered up at him questioningly.

  “No darling, I didn’t look. ” He brushed a kiss against her hair. “We should probably talk about what we’re going to call her. Her grandfathers are not going to be impressed with the name Spring Roll. And I’ve already heard from Katherine, who thinks the baby should be named after her. ”

  “We talked about Clare. ”

  Gabriel considered that possibility for a moment.

  “I like Clare, but since we prayed at St. Francis’s crypt, perhaps we should call her Frances. ”

  “St. Clare was Francis’s friend. We could call her Clare and make Grace her middle name. ”

  “Grace. ” Gabriel caught Julia’s eye and felt himself choking up. “How about Clare Grace Hope? She represents the culmination of so much hope, so much grace . . . ”

  “Clare Grace Hope Emerson. It’s perfect. ” Julia kissed Clare on her tiny cheek.

  “She’s perfect. ” Gabriel kissed Julianne and Clare and wrapped his arms around them both.

  “My sweet, sweet girls. ”

  Chapter Eighty-eight

  Julia slept soundly, her breathing deep and her form unmoving. When the nurse directed Gabriel to place Clare in the bassinet so that he could sleep, he refused. He held his daughter in his arms as if he were afraid she’d be taken away from him.

  His eyes grew heavy and he reclined in the chair next to Julia’s bed, placing his daughter on his chest. With a yawn, she seemed content, her cheek resting against him, her tiny bottom in the air.

  “Faith, hope, and charity,” he murmured to himself. “But the greatest of these is charity. ”

  “What’s that?” Julia shifted in bed, turning toward him.

  He smiled. “I didn’t mean to wake you. ”

  Julia moved her legs tentatively, clutching the place where her incision was. “The pain is coming back. I’m probably due for a shot. ”

  She looked over at him, at the way he was holding Clare in his arms, her body resting in the center of his chest.

  “You’re a natural, Daddy. ”

  “I hope so. But even if I’m not, I’ll work hard to become one. ”

  “I didn’t know,” Julia whispered, her eyes filling with tears.

  “You didn’t know what?”

  “I didn’t know it was possible to love someone other than you so much. ”

  Gabriel cupped Clare’s head with his hand.

  “I didn’t know, either. ” He kissed his daughter’s head. “In fact, I was just disagreeing with St. Paul. ”

  “Oh?” She wiped away a tear. “And what did he say in response?”

  Gabriel caught her eye. She grinned.

  “I told him that the greatest virtue isn’t charity; it’s hope. I discovered charity with Richard and Grace, but also with you. And it helped me through some very dark days. I also discovered faith, when I went to Assisi. But without hope, I wouldn’t be here. I would have taken my life. Without divine intervention in the form of a teenage girl in a Pennsylvania orchard, I’d be in Hell and not sitting at your side holding our daughter. ”

  “Gabriel,” she whispered, the tears flowing.

  “Charity is a great virtue, and so is faith. But hope means the most to me. This is hope. ” He gestured to the baby girl on his chest, swaddled in white and wearing a tiny knit cap.

  Gabriel’s prayers of thanks were spontaneous and heartfelt. Here, in this room, he had an embarrassment of riches—a pretty, intelligent wife, who had a very large and giving heart, and a beautiful daughter.

  “This is the culmination of all my hopes, Gabriel. ” Julia reached out to him and he strained to catch her pinky finger with his own. “This is my happy ending. ”

  He looked to the future with hope and saw a house ringing with the laughter of children and the sounds of small feet running up and down stairs. He saw Clare with a sister and brother, one adopted, one not.

  He saw baptisms and first communions and his family sitting with him in the same pew, Mass after Mass, year after year. He saw skinned knees, and first days of school, prom dates and graduation from high school, broken hearts and happy tears, and the joy of introducing his children to Dante, Botticelli, and St. Francis.

  He saw himself walking Clare down the aisle at her own wedding, and holding his grandchildren in his arms.

  He saw himself growing old with his beloved Julianne and holding hands with her in their orchard.

  “Now my blessedness appears,” he whispered, holding his wife’s hand and Clare Grace Hope as she slept peacefully on his chest.

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