Home > Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(2)

Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(2)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

Chapter Three


   What is she doing?” The Professor peered into the rearview mirror at his wife, who was seated behind him, next to Clare.

   His handsome face was boyish and his blue eyes danced. He was finally bringing his family home from the hospital. He had difficulty containing his excitement.

   “She’s still sleeping.” Julia bent over the baby carrier and lightly stroked the infant’s cheek.

   The baby’s rosebud mouth pouted while she slept. Wisps of dark hair peeked out from beneath the purple knitted hat she’d received as a gift from the hospital auxiliary. She was a beautiful baby, with a button nose and pudgy cheeks. Her eyes were large and indigo blue, when she deigned to open them.

   Julia’s heart was full. Her baby was healthy and her husband was even more supportive than she’d imagined. It was almost too much happiness for one person.

   “If she does something cute, let me know.” Gabriel’s tone was eager.

   Julia laughed. “All right, Professor.”

   “I like to watch her sleep,” Gabriel mused. He continued to drive the Volvo SUV at a snail’s pace through the streets of Cambridge. “She’s fascinating.”

   “You need to keep your eyes on the road, Daddy.”

   Gabriel flashed Julia a look.

   “Since when do you drive so slowly?” she teased.

   “Since everything I love is in this car.” Gabriel’s expression softened as he made eye contact with her through the mirror.

   Julia’s heart skipped a beat.

   His enthusiasm for fatherhood had outstripped her expectations. She remembered the first night they’d spent in the hospital, after Clare was born. Gabriel held Clare all through the night and would not be parted from her.

   Gabriel had said once that when he was an old man, he’d remember what Julianne looked like on the night they made love for the first time. She would remember the sight of her husband holding their baby on his chest for the rest of her life.

   Tears filled her eyes and threatened to overflow. She bent over the baby in order to hide her reaction.

   Gabriel turned the SUV onto their street—slowly, ever so slowly.

   “What the hell?” His buoyant mood came to an abrupt end, rather like a ship hitting an iceberg.

   “Language,” Julia murmured. “Let’s not teach the baby naughty words.”

   “If the baby were awake, she’d want to know what the hell was going on, too. Look at our lawn.” Gabriel piloted the car toward the driveway, his eyes trained on the front of their property.

   Julia followed his gaze.

   In front of their elegant two-story house was a flamboyance of plastic pink flamingos. Plastic, shocking pink flamingos. A giant wooden flamingo stood next to the front door, holding a sign:

        Congratulations Gabriel and Julia! It’s a girl!

 

   The smaller flamingos were so numerous Gabriel could barely see the blades of grass beneath them.

   It was an infestation. An infestation of tacky, kitschy lawn ornaments, clearly chosen by a fiend with an extreme deficit of good taste.

   “Holy shit!” exclaimed Julia.

   “Language.” Gabriel smirked. “I take it you weren’t expecting this?”

   “Of course not. I barely checked my email this week. Did you do it?”

   “You think I did this?” The Professor was indignant. Surely Julianne knew his taste did not extend to plastic abominations of lawn ornaments.

   But her comment reminded him of the email he’d received while they were still at the hospital. The contents of the message were urgent. He needed to speak to Julianne about them.

   She distracted him by laughing. “Maybe the flamingos are from Leslie, next door? Or your colleagues at Boston University?”

   “I doubt that. Surely they would have the good sense to send champagne. Or Scotch.”

   Once again, he prepared to tell Julianne about the email. But as he pulled into the driveway, the side door opened and Rachel, his sister, raced out.

   She was smiling ear-to-ear and dressed casually in a white T-shirt, jeans, and sandals. Her long, straight blond hair spilled over her shoulders, and her gray eyes were alight.

   “I guess we found the culprit of kitsch.” Gabriel shook his head.

   Julia touched his shoulder. “It was kind of her to do this. She’s been going back and forth between here and the hospital, helping out.”

   Gabriel frowned. “I know.”

   “Even though you think the flamingos are tacky, you need to be appreciative.”

   He lifted his chin primly. “I can be appreciative.”

   “I mean appreciative in a believable way,” Julia clarified.

   When Gabriel’s frown deepened, she unbuckled her seat belt and moved forward, pressing her lips to his cheek. “I love you. You’re a wonderful husband and an incredible father.”

   Gabriel lowered his gaze and tapped his fingers against the steering wheel.

   Julia tousled his dark hair. “Maybe we should keep a few of the flamingos? For the garden?”

   Gabriel speared her with a glare.

   “I’m kidding.” She held up her hands in surrender. “Try to look happier than that, okay?”

   “Fine.” Gabriel exhaled beleagueredly. He turned off the car and climbed out.

   “What took you so long?” Rachel gave her brother a perfunctory hug and opened the SUV’s rear door. “We’ve been waiting all morning.”

   Gabriel leaned over the open door, watching as Rachel climbed into the back seat. “They had to check Julianne and Clare before discharging them. And they inspected the baby’s carrier and car seat before we left.”

   “Well, that’s good,” Rachel replied. “But it shouldn’t have taken three hours. How slowly did you drive?”

   Gabriel brushed imaginary lint from his sport coat. Then he took a closer look at the back seat.

   “Just a minute, Rachel,” he cautioned. “I need to unfasten the baby carrier from the base.”

   “Hurry up. But go over to Julia’s side because I’m not moving.” Rachel leaned over her sleeping niece and her grin widened. “Hi, Clare.”

   Julia reached across the baby to touch her friend’s arm. “I love the flamingos.”

   “I knew you’d appreciate them.” Rachel beamed. “Dad was hesitant, but I thought they were hilarious. Even Scott chipped in.”

   “We need to take a picture of Gabriel with the flamingos and send it to Scott.”

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