Bayou Baby (Butterfly Bayou 2) - Page 9

As he watched Seraphina with her friends, he knew it might be a promise he couldn’t keep.chapter twoThe ceiling fan turned overhead, the hum the only sound cutting through Quaid Havery’s words. Seraphina had barely heard the man because Luc was squirming in her arms. Her baby boy was in a climbing phase. He climbed out of his crib most nights, terrifying her and keeping her awake. He scaled the bookcases and china cabinet of her childhood home with ease. He climbed up anyone who happened to be holding him as though the child had been born with an innate need to always be at the highest place of any room.

“I’m sorry,” she managed to say to Papillon’s one and only lawyer. “I should have found a babysitter but pretty much everyone who normally babysits for me is in this room. Noelle LaVigne is at a science camp at LSU. I had to bring him.”

It was also hard to find babysitting on Sunday mornings since for the most part everyone would be at church. The irony being if she was actually at church, she could have dropped Luc off at the childcare center and they wouldn’t have this problem. But no, they’d been told that Aunt Irene wanted her will read the morning after her funeral and there would be no delay. Her great-aunt was having one last moment of pure stubbornness.

Her oldest brother stood up and held his hands out. “Come here, Luc. I don’t like sitting any more than you do. Quaid, how long is this? We all know she was going to give what little she had to that cat shelter.”

They were all here, her family. Her mother and brothers, Remy and Zep, and her sweet sister-in-law, Lisa. They were down to the six of them with Luc. She remembered a time when her grandparents and dad had been alive and holidays were big, chaotic events. She’d grown up surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins, but one by one they’d all left Papillon for greater opportunities, and as the older generation had passed on, the younger ones had lost touch.

The idea of not giving her son what she’d had made her sad inside, but then she had to wonder what her grandparents would have thought of her having a baby out of wedlock.

Remy took Luc and lifted him up. Luc giggled and generally looked at his uncle with worshipful adoration.

At least he knew he was loved.

“Remy’s right.” Her mother was dressed in her favorite jungle-printed caftan, her hair up in a light blue turban she claimed made her look mystical and wise, but Sera was fairly certain she wore so she didn’t have to do her hair every day. “I don’t understand the purpose of this meeting. Irene didn’t have much beyond that ramshackle house of hers, and it probably should be condemned. The only reason they didn’t do it before was everyone knew she had a shotgun and wasn’t afraid to use it.”

Her great-aunt had been what they liked to call in these parts a “character.”

“Did she maybe have a million dollars in cash stuffed in that old mattress of hers?” Zep asked.

Her younger brother was a character, too. “I assure you she did not. I spent the most time with her and she didn’t have two cents to rub together.”

“Well, maybe a couple of cents,” Quaid said in that I-know-something-you-don’t-know way of his. Quaid was in his thirties and made most of his money working for the two wealthiest families in the parish. He made enough off the Daroises and Beaumonts that he did a lot of pro bono work. Though Sera was surprised her great-aunt had bothered with a will.

After all, she’d told Sera she wanted her to float her body out in the bayou and let the gators take her because that was the circle of life. Sera had argued that the circle of life didn’t normally involve stringing together enough pool noodles to carry a body out to sea . . . or into Otis’s belly. She rather thought her aunt simply wanted to frighten the kiddos one last time or to become a legend. The legend of Floating Irene.

They had enough ghost stories.

“So she wrote us all a letter? We should listen to it. It’s the last thing she’s ever going to request of us.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t say that, Sera.” Quaid grimaced as he held up a piece of paper. “I have to read this exactly as it’s written. You understand that, right? I’m legally obligated to read every word, though her opinions might not be my own.”

“What does that mean?” Lisa asked.

Zep groaned. “It means she’s got to get her digs in. Go on. It’s not going to be anything I haven’t heard before. Let’s see. I’m going to guess. I’m a moron. I need to stop . . . what did she call it? Spreading my seed everywhere and hoping it grows. See, I never hope it grows. I kind of pray it doesn’t grow.”

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