- Author: Gabriel's Woman
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Copyright © 2001 by Robin Schone
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Gabriel knew the woman in the lusterless cloak.
He knew her because he had once been her.
The perfect prey and the perfect predator.
She came to kill an angel.
She wouldn’t live to see the dawn.
Jumbled voices spiraled upward on ribbons of yellow fog and gray smoke. Men in black dress coats and
white waistcoats and women in shimmering gowns and winking jewels shifted inside a flickering maze of
candlelit tables: standing, sitting; leaning back in Honduras mahogany chairs, slanting forward over white
They did not know they were bait, the English ton who sought pleasure and the London whores who
sought their wealth.
They did not know that a woman stalked them; Gabriel’s body throbbed with knowledge.
Of pleasure; of wealth.
Of life; of death.
By reopening the House of Gabriel—a tavern where every carnal desire could be satisfied—he invited
both patrons and prostitutes.
Sex and murder.
White flame shot upward.
Twenty feet below him, a man snared his gaze.
A man whose hair was as dark as Gabriel’s was fair.
A man with violet eyes instead of silver.
His right cheek was pitted with shadow.
Twenty-seven years of memories arced between them. Images of war-hungry France instead of
winter-shrouded England; of two half-starved thirteen-year-old boys instead of two forty-year-old men in
tailored black dress coats and white waistcoats.
My two angels, the madame who had plucked them off a Paris street had said. A dark one, for the
women. A fair one, for the men.
She had trained them to be whores, and they had excelled at it; she had taught them the eighth deadly sin,
and they had broken it.
The flare of candle flame dimmed, abruptly recalling Gabriel to the pistol that weighted his left hand.
Michael, the scarred angel had come to protect Gabriel, the untouchable angel.
Revenge would not be possible without him.
Without him there would be no need for revenge.
The woman would die because a dark-haired angel lived.
A pulse tattooed a relentless rhythm against the rosewood grip: men, women; pain, pleasure; life, death.
The Adams revolver was equipped with a double-action lock: manual cocking for accuracy, self-cocking
for rapid fire.
He could manually cock the revolver.
He could release the trigger in a single, precise shot.
One bullet would kill Michael.
One bullet would stop the twenty-nine-year-old cycle of death.
Gabriel did not cock the revolver.
He could not kill Michael.
The second man had sent a woman to do the job Gabriel had failed to do six months earlier.
A sharp report ricocheted down his spine.
The woman halted on the edge of candlelight, Michael in her sight.
Out of the corner of his right eye, Gabriel saw a waiter in a short black cloak and white waistcoat bend
over, straighten with a white silk napkin. Immediately below Gabriel, two waiters inched closer to Michael.
Their hands remained at their sides: they were not prepared to shoot a woman.
Four tables over, a waiter poured champagne from a newly uncorked bottle, crystal glinting, liquid
Of the second man, there still was no sign. But he was down there, a chameleon in a black dress coat
and white waistcoat. Disguised as a patron or a prostitute. Leaning back in a Honduras mahogany chair or
slanting forward over a white silk tablecloth.
Turgid with the heat of sex and the thrill of murder.
Time slowed to the beat of Gabriel’s heart.
The cloaked woman brought her arms forward and clasped a dull, dark object between her hands.
A blue-plated pistol did not reflect light. Gabriel knew that because his own pistol was blue-plated.
The thundering roar of sexual parley dimmed.
Her head was concealed by the fold of a dark hood: Gabriel could not see her features.
Regret knifed through him.
For the men and women who had died; for the men and women who would die.
For the woman below who was about to die.
Perfect prey and perfect predator.
Gabriel aimed at the pale blur of her face.
At the same time a clear, feminine voice rang out: “I offer you my virginity, gentlemen.”
The woman dressed like a streetwalker; she spoke like a well-bred woman.
One by one the tons’ genteel guffaws and the prostitutes’ practiced titters died.
Silk whispered. Candle flames fluttered.
Uncertainty immobilized his waiters.
Duty dictated they expel the woman in her cheap black cloak; experience warned them it was too late:
she had attracted the attention of rich patrons.
Virgin flesh was prime produce.
The waiters would not interfere.
“The man who tenders the highest bid shall possess their reward this very night,” she continued in a
clarion voice, hands still, body poised, death just a bullet away. “Shall we start at one hundred and five
One hundred and five pounds tumbled through the fog and the smoke.
On London streets a maidenhead—whether real or manufactured—sold