Gabriels redemption, p.9
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       Gabriels Redemption, p.9

         Part #3 of Gabriels Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard
Page 9


  He groaned and took a step forward.

  She held out her hand, stopping him.

  “I left my bubble bath in the guest bathroom last night. Would you mind getting it for me?”

  “Not at all. Goddess. ” He tasted her lips before walking away.

  It took him a few minutes to locate the bubble bath, because someone had knocked it to the floor and it had rolled next to the wastepaper basket. When he stooped to pick it up, he noticed something wedged in between the basket and the wall.

  It was a small, rectangular box.

  He read the label. Pregnancy test.

  But the box was empty.

  When he’d overcome his surprise, and double-checked that he’d read the label correctly, he placed the box where he’d found it and returned to his room.

  Wordlessly, he handed the bubble bath to Julia, who proceeded to lace the water with its sandalwood-and-satsuma-scented essence before climbing into the tub.

  She arranged herself in what she thought would be a provocative pose.

  Lost in thought, Gabriel stood motionless.

  “What’s the matter?” She angled herself in the bathtub so she could see him better.

  He passed a hand over his mouth and chin.

  “Is Rachel pregnant?”

  “Not that I know of. She told me they were trying. Why?”

  “I found an empty box for a pregnancy test in the guest bathroom. It looked like someone tried to hide it. ”

  “It was probably her. ”

  “I wish it were you. ” Gabriel gave her a look that was so intense, she felt its heat on her skin.

  “Even after what happened yesterday?”

  “Of course. Couples argue. Husbands are asses. We have hot, sweaty makeup sex and move on. ”

  She looked down at the water. “I’d rather have the hot, sweaty makeup sex without the fighting. ”

  His voice dropped to a husky whisper. “That would rather defeat the purpose of making up, wouldn’t it?”

  She inhaled deeply and lifted her dark eyes to meet his. “I’m not ready for a family. ”

  “Our time will come. ” He took her hand, pressing his lips to her soapy fingers. “And believe me, I don’t want to start another argument tonight or add to your stress. ”

  Julia smiled weakly.

  “I suppose the test could be Tammy’s. ”

  “She already has a child. ”

  “Quinn will be two in September. I know she wants children with Scott. ”

  Gabriel adjusted the lighting, dimming it before disappearing into the bedroom. A moment later, he returned, and Julia heard the voice of Astrud Gilberto floating from the speaker that was mounted in the ceiling.

  Julia gave her husband an appreciative look. “Whoever took the test might have discovered she isn’t pregnant. But if she is, you’ll be an uncle again. Uncle Gabriel. ”

  Without reacting, he unbuttoned his shirt. He pulled it off and removed his T-shirt, exposing his tattoo and the light dusting of dark hair on his muscled chest.

  Julia watched as he hung his shirt on a hook before his hands went to his belt. He smirked as he slowed his movements, teasing her.

  She rolled her eyes. “The bathwater will be cold by the time you finish. ”

  “I doubt it. I certainly won’t be standing out here when I finish. ”

  “Why not?”

  “Because I intend to finish inside you. ”

  With a smirk, he hung up his trousers before divesting himself of his boxers.

  Julia knew her husband’s body well, but even so, his figure always took her breath away. He had wide shoulders that tapered to a narrow waist and hips, which framed muscular thighs. His arms, along with his abdominals, were well defined, as was the V that sloped to his all-too-prominent sex.

  “It kills me when you look at me like that. ” His eyes fixed hers hungrily.

  “Why?” She stared at him shamelessly, moving forward in the bathtub to make room for him.

  “Because you look as if you want to lick me. All over. ”

  “I do. ”

  In a flash, Gabriel settled behind her, wrapping his long legs around hers. “That scent is familiar. ”

  “I bought the bubble bath because it reminded me of the massage oil you used in Florence. You rubbed my back, remember?”

  “As I recall, I rubbed more than that. ” Gabriel nuzzled her ear with his nose. “You have no idea what that scent does to me. ”

  “Oh yes, I do. ” Julia rested against his chest, feeling him hard against her lower back.

  “Before we move on to—ah—other activities, I’d like you to talk to me. ”

  “About what?” Julia tensed.

  He placed his hands on either side of her neck and began to massage her.

  “Relax. I’m not the enemy. I’m simply trying to persuade you to confide in me a little. You tend to take bubble baths when you’re stressed. And you’ve been taking them daily. ”

  “I just have a lot on my mind. ”

  “Tell me. ”

  She used her left hand to skim the surface of the water, pushing the suds back and forth.

  “I worry about grad school and flunking out. I worry about my lecture. ”

  He squeezed her shoulders.

  “We’ve spoken about your lecture and I gave you my honest opinion— it’s good. You aren’t going to flunk out of your program. You just have to take grad school one semester at a time. You don’t have to entertain our relatives this week. Tomorrow, we’ll announce that you’re spending the day working on your paper. They’ll entertain themselves during the day, and tomorrow night I’ll grill steaks for dinner. I’m sure Rachel and Tammy will pitch in. ”

  Julia’s muscles began to soften under his fingers. “That would help. Thank you. ”

  “I’d do anything for you,” he whispered, pressing his lips against her neck. “You know that, don’t you?”

  “I do. ” She turned and kissed him earnestly.

  When they broke apart, she smiled. “You’ll have your birthday when we’re in Italy. How would you like to celebrate it?”

  “With you. In bed. For a couple of days. ” He spread his arms around her waist, stroking the skin around her navel.

  “Would you like to invite people to join us in Umbria? They could come with us to the exhibition in Florence. ”

  “No, I want you all to myself. We can invite them to Cambridge for your birthday. ”

  Julia placed her hand over his, stopping his movements. “I don’t like making a big deal about my birthday. ”

  He leaned back. “I thought we were past that. ”

  “We’ll be busy in September. ”

  “Twenty-five is a milestone birthday. ”

  “So is thirty-five. ”

  “My milestones are only important because of you. Without you, they’d be empty days. ”

  Julia buried her face in his chest. “Do you have to be so sweet?”

  “Since I’ve eaten sour for most of my life, yes. ” With his mouth, he explored the curve of her neck and the soap-slicked skin of her shoulders.

  “Then I guess we’re having a party in September. We should celebrate Labor Day weekend. ” She kissed his pectorals before facing forward once again. “What did Richard say when you spoke to him tonight?”

  “He’d like to move back, but he doesn’t want to buy the house. I think he was counting on the money for his retirement. ”

  “He can live here without buying it. You don’t care, do you?”

  “Not at all. I’d rather he lived here. But he feels badly about taking advantage of the renovations. ”

  “Now he can enjoy them. The only problem is what to do with the furniture. There’s no room for it back in Cambridge. ”

  “We could give it to Tom. His furnishings have seen better days. ” The Professor sounded prim.

  “You’d do that?”

  “I’m not go
ing to lie, Julianne. Your father is not my favorite person. But since you are . . . ” He kissed her.

  “Richard has things he bought with Grace that he doesn’t want to part with, and there’s some of the furniture he left behind that we put into storage. We’ll have to move the new furniture out to make room. We could offer it to Rachel, if you’d rather. ”

  “I think it would be nice to offer it to my dad. He and Diane are talking about getting married. ”

  Gabriel tightened his arm around her middle. “How do you feel about that?”

  “She’s good to my dad and she’s good to me. I’d like him to have someone to grow old with. ”

  “I hate to break it to you, darling, but your father is already growing old. We all are. ”

  “You know what I mean. ”

  He moved her so she was facing him, bringing her legs around his waist.

  “Lucky for you, I’m not too old to keep you up all night. I believe this is a room we haven’t christened—yet. ”

  Chapter Six

  Sometime after midnight, Richard felt the mattress dip as someone crawled under the blankets. He rolled over, spooning the body of his wife. Her figure was familiar and soft, and he sighed loudly as he pressed against her.

  She sighed equally in contentment, as she always had in such moments, nestling into him.

  “I’ve missed you. ” He stroked her hair, kissing it. It didn’t seem strange to him that her hair was long and straight, the way it had been before chemotherapy.

  “I’ve missed you, too, darling. ” Grace reached for his hand and wound their fingers together.

  Richard felt her wedding and engagement rings tap against his wedding band. He was glad he hadn’t removed it.

  “I dream about you. ”

  She kissed where their rings touched. “I know. ”

  “You were so young. We had our lives ahead of us, so many things we wanted to do. ” His voice caught on the last word.

  “Yes. ”

  “I miss this,” he whispered. “Holding you in the dark. Hearing your voice. I can’t believe I lost you. ”

  Grace freed his left hand and pulled it toward her chest.

  Richard steeled himself for the feel of the concave impressions where her breasts had been. Although he was sorrowful over her scars, it never bothered him to look at or touch her there. But she wouldn’t permit it.

  She’d been planning on having reconstructive surgery, but the cancer returned, making surgery impossible. She was always beautiful to him, always enchanting, even at the end.

  As she brought his hand up, his palm met round, full flesh. He hesitated, but only for a moment. She placed her hand over his and pressed.

  “I’ve been healed,” she whispered. “It was more wonderful than you can imagine. And it didn’t hurt. ”

  Richard’s eyes pricked. “Healed?”

  “No pain. No tears. And it’s so, so beautiful. ”

  “I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were sick. ” His voice caught again. “I should have paid attention. I should have noticed. ”

  “It was my time. ” She reached down and kissed the back of his hand. “There’s so much I want to show you. But not yet. Rest, my love. ”

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