Home > Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(8)

Gabriel's Promise (Gabriel's Inferno #4)(8)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

   “I would if I could.” Julia sounded apologetic. “I’m sorry.”

   Her earnest tone roused him from his reverie. “You have nothing to apologize for.” He kissed her lightly on the nose. “Here.” He slid his arms under her body and gently assisted her in rolling onto her side, facing away from him.

   He spooned behind her, sifting his fingers through her hair. He felt her body begin to relax beneath his touch. “I’ll rub your back.”

   His hands slid sensuously over her shoulders and down her back. Skin to skin, he caressed her. And where he found tension, he massaged. “How does this feel?”

   “Great.” Her body sagged against the mattress.

   “And this?” He focused his contact on her right shoulder.

   “It feels good.”

   “Then just feel, sweetheart. I’ll stay right here. Right here.” He pressed a slow, chaste kiss to the area between her shoulder blades and felt her shiver beneath his lips. “I’ll be good. I promise.”

   He knew her body. He knew how to build the pleasure in her, and how to make her toes curl. But in these moments, his sole purpose was to care for her and help her fall asleep.

   She moaned softly, her eyes closed.

   His hands slipped down to her lower back. He kneaded the muscles carefully, and whispered his fingers across her skin.

   Julia’s breathing evened out and soon it was clear she’d fallen asleep.

   Gabriel continued to caress her, but more lightly. “Thy love is better than wine,” he spoke in the darkness. “I’ll never get over my desire for you.”

   With a final caress, he kissed her shoulder and carefully rested his hand on the curve of her hip. He sighed and lifted mournful eyes to heaven. “Give me chastity, Lord, at least for the next six weeks.”



Chapter Seven

   An infant’s cry split the silence.

   It took time for Gabriel to shake off his sleep, like a swimmer struggling to reach the surface. Julia rolled over next to him. He heard her fumbling with her cell phone.

   She groaned.

   “Is it time?” His voice was gravelly with sleep.

   “Not for an hour.” Julia sank back against the pillow and covered her eyes with her hands.

   “I’ll go.” Gabriel pushed back the covers.

   “No, I can do it.”

   “Just rest. I’ll check on her.”

   Gratefully, Julianne pulled the covers over her head.

   Gabriel crossed to the playpen and lifted a crying Clare into his arms. The baby quieted for a moment as he held her to his bare chest. But then she continued.

   He walked swiftly to the nursery, murmuring and jostling her gently in his arms. She continued crying, even after he switched on the light. He hadn’t discerned her different cries. Not yet. All crying sounded the same to him and so he wasn’t sure what she was communicating.

   He placed her on top of the change table and unswaddled her, carefully removing her sleeper. The baby cried louder.

   He made shushing noises as he removed her diaper, which was wet. But she cried on, even after she was clean and dry.

   Puzzled, he dressed and swaddled her, cradling her against his bare chest. Again the baby paused her crying as soon as she touched his skin. When she continued, he cleared his throat and attempted to sing.

   The baby continued to cry.

   “My singing isn’t that bad,” he protested. “I can carry a tune.”

   He sang more loudly, swaying back and forth across the carpet, like a dancer. When he ran out of verses to “You Are My Sunshine,” he made up new ones.

   He was just about to take the baby to Julianne for feeding when he placed his hand on the baby’s head, stroking her hair. Clare stopped crying.

   Not wishing to tempt fate, Gabriel kept his hand where it was and continued singing. When he removed his hand, she began crying again.

   He placed his hand back on her head and the infant quieted.

   Gabriel’s sleep-addled brain moved slowly, but eventually it occurred to him that perhaps the baby was cold. He retrieved the purple knitted cap Clare had been gifted at the hospital and placed it on her tiny head.

   The baby moved a little and closed her eyes, resting her cheek over Gabriel’s heart.

   He stopped singing but continued dancing slowly back and forth.

   He worried that if he placed Clare in the playpen, she’d start crying again. Julianne would have to feed her soon, anyway. She deserved a few more minutes of rest.

   He dimmed the nursery’s chandelier and settled himself in the large armchair in the corner, propping his feet up on the ottoman. He held Clare to his chest, the way he had the first night in the hospital.

   “I have no idea what I’m doing,” he whispered to the sleeping infant. “But I promise to learn more songs.”



Chapter Eight

   Gabriel stood in the master bathroom, shaving. His dark hair was damp, his blue eyes bleary behind his glasses. He was clad only in a white towel, which he’d wrapped around his hips. He paused as Julianne entered the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

   “Where’s the baby?” he asked.

   “Rachel is changing her and then she’s going to take her downstairs.” Julia yawned.

   It was early morning, but the household was awake. Rebecca had already started breakfast and the scent of coffee and bacon wafted up the stairs.

   “Did you sleep well last night?”

   Julianne flushed a little. “Yes. Did you?”

   “Tolerably.” He took her hand and pulled her into his arms. “Is the timeline really six weeks?”

   “I’m afraid so. But the timeline is about what my body can sustain, not yours.” Julia kissed him firmly. “I’ll see that you’re well looked after.”

   Gabriel opened his mouth to protest, and then shut it abruptly. His lips widened into a wolfish grin.

   She lifted her right hand and wiggled her fingers. “And thank you for this. It’s even more magnificent in daylight.”

   “You’re welcome.” He kissed her, his mouth lingering against hers.

   “I need a shower.” She pulled back.

   He kissed her forehead. “Now’s your chance.”

   She hugged him around the waist before crossing over to the linen closet.

   Gabriel pretended to continue shaving, regarding Julianne through the mirror.

   She retrieved a pair of thick white towels, hanging them on a hook near the walk-in shower. Then she opened the shower door.

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