Home > Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(7)

Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(7)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

   He sprang back with a curse.

   There, resting on his pillow, was a large, plastic flamingo. It was staring at him with a crazed smile on its face.

   He swore.

   A giggle sounded from the other side of the bed.

   Gabriel switched on the lamp and glared at his wife. “Et tu, Brute?”

   “What?” Julia rolled over to face him, feigning drowsiness. But she couldn’t maintain a straight face.

   Gabriel grimaced. He picked up the accursed lawn ornament with two fingers and regarded it distastefully.

   Julia laughed. “Oh, come on. That was funny.”

   He wrinkled his nose and placed the flamingo on the floor. Then he pushed the creature aside with his foot. “I hope you cleaned it after you pulled it out of the dirt.”

   “Maybe.” She gave him a saucy wink.

   He examined his pillowcase, his hands going to his waist. “We’re going to have to strip the bed.”

   She flopped back against the mattress. “It’s late. I washed the flamingo before putting it on your pillow, I swear.”

   Gabriel gave her a dubious look.

   She patted the sheets on his side. “Look, nice and clean. Come to bed. It’s been a long day.”

   He gazed from his pillow to her tired but hopeful face and cast his eyes heavenward. He shook his head. “Fine. But I’m stripping the bed tomorrow morning. And I’m bleaching everything.”

   Gabriel removed something from the drawer in his nightstand and hid it in his hand. He left the light on and crawled under the covers. “Rachel must have put you up to it.”

   “No, it was my idea.” Julia yawned.

   He pulled her toward him and kissed her temple.

   “I love to hear you laugh,” he confessed. “And to see you smile.”

   Julia snuggled against him. “I’m sorry for the tears earlier. I’m just tired and overwhelmed.”

   “I’m worried about you.”

   “I’m fine.”

   “There’s no reason for you to be tired and overwhelmed. You have me.”

   She rested her head against his bare shoulder. “Good, because I need you. And Clare needs you, too.”

   Gabriel hid his face in her hair. “Every day is a gift. I vow not to waste them.”

   “Me, too.”

   He felt for her right hand. “I wanted to give you something at the hospital, but we didn’t have a lot of privacy. Then I wanted to give it to you when we got home, but the timing wasn’t right.”

   Julia lifted her head. “What is it?”

   He placed a small robin’s-egg-blue box in her hand.

   She sat up immediately. She undid the white ribbon bow that was wound around the box and opened the lid. A smaller velvet box was nestled inside.

   Gabriel took the smaller box and opened it, presenting it to her.

   Inside the box was a ring, which featured a large oval ruby flanked by two round diamonds. The setting was platinum and reminiscent of Julianne’s engagement ring.

   He removed the ring and grasped her right hand, slipping it on her fourth finger. “This is a gift to commemorate the great gift that you’ve given me. The ruby represents you, the heart of our family, and the diamonds represent me and Clare. Together, we form a family.”

   He leaned down to press his lips against the base of her finger.

   “It’s beautiful,” she whispered. She gazed at him in wonder. “I don’t know what to say.”

   Gabriel’s eyebrows moved together. “Do you like it?”

   “I love it. It’s gorgeous. But most important, I love what it represents.” She stared at the ring. “And it fits.”

   “I had to approximate the size based on your other rings. But it can always be resized.” With his thumb he moved the ring back and forth on her finger, experimentally.

   “It’s incredible. Thank you.” She kissed him once again.

   Gabriel took the boxes and ribbons and placed them on his nightstand. He switched off the light. “When is the baby’s next feeding?”

   “Soon. I set the alarm on my phone.”

   Gabriel settled under the covers and brought Julia into his side. “Wake me when you’re finished, and I’ll change her. Then you can get back to bed sooner.”

   Julia hummed and lifted her right arm, examining her ring in the semidarkness. “I’m exhausted.”

   He chuckled. “Then go to sleep.”

   “Now I’m wired. It’s the flamingo’s fault.”

   Gabriel laughed. His wife giggled in response.

   When their laughter abated, Gabriel found himself staring down into her large, expressive eyes. Something passed between them.

   Impulsively, he shifted her to her back. He traced her eyebrows with his fingertip. “Beatrice.”

   She sighed when his lips met hers.

   The electricity between them had not abated. Gabriel took his time, allowing his mouth to worship hers.

   He deepened the kiss, his hand stroking her hip over her nightgown.

   As his tongue gently teased hers, she made a noise in her throat. Gabriel felt encouraged and continued to dance, his lips firm and insistent.

   His hand slid up her side and hovered over her breast. His eyes held a question.

   “Your gift deserves a celebration,” she whispered. “I’ve missed you.”

   Gabriel smiled widely, his hand hovering like a bird over her breast.

   Julia’s expression changed. “But it’s too soon. My breasts are sore and I’m sore around the incision and farther down.”

   Stricken, Gabriel lowered his hand to rest on the mattress, near her hip. “I’m sorry.”

   Julia’s palm moved to his thigh and began to slide upward. “I can look after you.”

   Gabriel caught her wrist. “Another time.” He lifted her wrist to his lips and kissed the pale skin that stretched over her veins.

   Julia sighed the sigh of the exhausted and frustrated. She slid her head across the pillow until it rested next to his shoulder. “Are you sure?”

   “I’m sure. What can I do for you?”

   “Nothing.” She forced a smile. “I’ll be fine in six weeks.”

   Six weeks? What fresh hell is this?

   Gabriel blinked slowly. Somewhere in the recesses of his memory he recalled Dr. Rubio’s Athena-like pronouncement that intercourse had to be delayed. But the duration of the delay hadn’t truly penetrated his consciousness.

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