“I did,” he replied. “Blew it right off, but the good news is I can’t lose much more of it, and I would bet any mines your great-aunt could get here aren’t as bad as the ones I came up against in Afghanistan. I’ll try to make sure if I step on one, I only lose the prosthesis. It’s surprisingly replaceable and they’re always innovating. I wouldn’t mind checking out the new ones. I have my eye on a sweet new C-Leg. Besides, Shep here used to sniff out mines and munitions. He’s pretty good. I know I wish he’d been with me that day.”
“I’m so sorry.” Sera needed to be nicer to the man. Just because he was Celeste Beaumont’s nephew didn’t make him a bad person. “We shouldn’t joke about things like that.”
“Hey, if I can’t laugh about it now, why did it happen?” He’d moved in closer to her, and though there was still at least a foot of space between them, she swore she could practically feel the heat from his body. He’d been running and a fine sheen covered his skin. It did nothing to make him less attractive. “I have a whole repertoire of one-legged jokes. Well, it’s really more like one and a half. I still have my knee and the thigh. I have some spectacular scars. Does the leg bug you? I normally wear full-length pants.”
She found everything about the man fascinating, but then she thought he probably got that a lot. “The leg doesn’t bother me. I’m sorry I stared. I haven’t seen one like that before. My brother has a couple of friends with prostheses. He was in the Navy.”
Harry smiled again. “He was a SEAL. He was the Navy. Yeah, I talked to him yesterday. He seems like a great guy.”
“Remy’s the best,” Hallie said, staring at him like he was a rock star and she was a twelve-year-old girl with a crush. “And thank you for your service.”
Harry nodded her way, but Sylvie was muttering something under her breath about marriage, to which Hallie again reminded everyone her eyes still worked.
If Harry was bothered by the shenanigans, he didn’t show it. “Are you going inside? You should take an inventory first. Did the lawyer do that for you?”
“No, and knowing what Quaid charges per hour, I’m glad he didn’t,” she explained. “It was a real simple will. She had items for my mom and my brothers, but everything else came to me. I feel like I’m being selfish.”
“You took care of her,” Sylvie said softly. “You were the one who visited her and made sure she had food.”
“And dealt with those cats.” Hallie wrinkled her nose. “Did anyone clean up all that kitty litter or did you inherit that, too?”
Oh, she’d dealt with it. “The cats are in happy homes. And luckily my brothers feel the way y’all do.” It was time to make her retreat. She turned to Harry. “Like I said, you are more than welcome to run through here. Now I need to go inside and make a few lists. It was nice to see you again.”
“If you would like, I could come in with you,” Harry offered. “Old houses like this are a hobby of mine. I might be helpful. Why don’t you let me see inside, Seraphina?”
When his voice went low like that, her mind went a little blank. If he’d only been gorgeous, she could have dismissed him, but he was charming, too. And Remy had talked about him after the funeral, telling her stories of how he’d earned his medals while he served his country.
But he was connected to the Beaumont family and that meant he was off limits. Totally and completely, full stop.
She held her notepad up like it was a shield. “I wouldn’t want to take up your time. Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr. Jefferys. Hallie, Sylvie, I’ll be inside if you want to come in. If not, thanks so much for coming out here with me.”
She didn’t look back as she started toward the porch. The sooner she got this place ready to sell, the better.* * ****
Harry stared as Sera walked away from him. It seemed to be the way they ended every interaction.
The pretty woman with the halo of curly dark hair and perfect skin held out her hand. “She forgot to introduce us. I’m Sylvie Martine. I’m the mayor. Well, it’s honestly more like being a warden sometimes.”
He shook her hand, his mind still on the woman slowly making her way up the steps as though she expected them to give way underfoot at any moment. “Harry Jefferys. Nice to meet you.”
He was a fool because only this morning he’d made the decision to stay away from Seraphina Guidry, but here he was knowing he wasn’t about to continue with his run. He was going to follow her into that house and see how bad the situation was.