Home > Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(10)

Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(10)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

   “I need to finish my shower.” She peered down at the sheets in dismay. “We need to wash the sheets.”

   “I’ll look after it.” He stood and paused, still holding her hand. “And I’ll help you shower.”

   She looked up at him with such relief it almost broke his heart.

   She slid to the edge of the bed. He helped her to her feet and escorted her back into the bathroom.

   The shower was still running and the shower doors were fogged. Gabriel quickly removed the pink flamingo (which had showered enough) and placed it next to the bathtub. Then he divested himself of his wet towel before helping Julia into the shower. He followed, closing the door behind him.

   She looked up at him wistfully. “It’s been a while since we showered together.”

   “We need to remedy that. And I need to buy more chocolate body paint.” Gabriel hazarded a small smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He was scrutinizing Julia like a mother hen.

   He lifted her hand and placed it on his hip. “So you don’t fall over,” he explained.

   Julia rubbed her thumb over his damp skin.

   He positioned her so she was under the spray, wetting her hair once again. His thumb gently stroked her forehead, as light as a blessing, before his fingers sifted through her dark brown strands. Then he squeezed shampoo into his palm and began to apply it to the crown of her head.

   “Roses,” he breathed.

   “It’s new.” Julia spoke with her eyes closed, leaning into him.

   “I miss the vanilla.”

   “The shower gel is vanilla.”

   “Excellent.” Gabriel’s gaze darted to the tiles beneath their feet, looking for blood. He was relieved when he didn’t see any.

   He was leisurely in his movements. He massaged her scalp and lovingly worked the shampoo to the ends of her hair.

   Julia lifted her other hand and placed it on his hip, clutching him for balance. Her nose came in contact with his pectorals and the delicate strands of hair that covered them. She nuzzled him.

   After he rinsed her hair, he used her vanilla-scented soap to gently caress her shoulders, her swanlike neck, and her swollen breasts.

   She opened her eyes.

   “Are you still sore?” His thumbs hovered a respectful distance from her nipples.

   “A little.”

   Gabriel withdrew his hands to her waist, allowing the water to stream down her front, rinsing her breasts. He bent forward and kissed across her collarbone and down to her chest, studiously avoiding her nipples.

   He poured more soap into his hands and lathered them, then washed her abdomen before examining her stitches. “They’re holding. I don’t see any problems.”

   His hand drifted down to her tangle of curls, but he didn’t move between her legs. “And here?”

   “Just be very gentle.”

   Delicately, he washed in between her legs, staring watchfully into her eyes.

   “This reminds me of Umbria,” she whispered. “On our first trip to Italy, you washed me in the shower.”

   Gabriel’s eyes smoldered. “I remember.”

   “I was awkward.”

   Gabriel frowned and withdrew his hand. “I never thought of you as awkward. You’d been hurt, Julianne. It took time for you to get used to me.”

   “I don’t know how you put up with me.”

   Gabriel looked pained. He washed his hands quickly before taking hers. “It’s you who put up with me, Beatrice. Never forget that.”

   He pressed a kiss to the center of her palm. “I’m the one who left you in the orchard by yourself. I’m the one who forgot you and treated you abominably until I remembered. And still, you think . . .” He shook his head. “I was haunted by my share of ghosts our first trip, and then after, when we returned to Selinsgrove.”

   Julia winced, remembering a particularly painful conversation they’d had in the woods behind Richard’s house.

   “You’re still here.” Gabriel’s eyes met hers. “And so am I, which is why you have to let me take you to the hospital. You burst into tears yesterday and you fainted this morning. It may be postpartum hormones, but it may be something more.”

   “I just got home.” She pressed her cheek to his chest. “Don’t make me go back.”

   He placed his hand at her lower spine. “Will you at least speak to Rebecca? She’s a mother. I want to hear what she thinks.”

   “All right.”

   “Also, I’d like you to consider taking a maternity leave from Harvard, effective immediately.”

   Julia stepped back. “No. I’m starting my maternity leave in January.”

   Gabriel gazed down at her intently. His jaw clenched.

   She removed her hands from his hips. “I’ve already missed a week of classes. I told Greg Matthews I’d be back as soon as possible.”

   “Julianne,” he murmured. He was trying hard, desperately hard, not to tell her what to do. It was obvious she should begin her maternity leave immediately. She would be in no shape to take classes.

   But he was trying to convince her to go to the hospital, which was more important at the moment than the timing of her maternity leave.

   Julia looked at his somewhat grim expression. She knew he was biting his tongue. “If you take me to the hospital, who will look after Clare?”

   “I’ll ask Rachel to look after her while we’re gone.”

   “I haven’t pumped any milk.”

   “You can feed her again before we go and if we aren’t home in time, we’ll have Rachel and Richard bring Clare to the hospital.”

   Julia gripped his arm. “I’m not leaving her.”

   Gabriel arched his eyebrows. He began formulating a series of arguments calculated to convince his wife of the foolishness of her demand but abruptly stopped. “Fine. We’ll take her with us.”

   “Good.”

   “Good,” Gabriel repeated, rather woodenly. He reached for the soap and carefully turned Julia around. Then he continued to care for his wife, trying as hard as he could to mask his anxiety.

 

 

Chapter Nine


   You should see a doctor.” Rebecca’s face was creased with concern. She and Julia were speaking privately in the kitchen.

   “Gabriel is overprotective.” Julia peered across the room at her husband, who was holding Clare.

   “In this case, with good reason.” Rebecca placed a pair of oven mitts on the counter, next to the stove. Her Bostonian accent became more pronounced as the creases of worry in her face deepened. “Fainting isn’t normal postpregnancy. You don’t want to be holding the baby and pass out.”

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