He was pretty sure he’d seen one on the wall of the kitchen. He’d liked Sera’s home. It was comfortable. It wasn’t a museum like his aunt’s house, and yet it had been beautifully decorated. There had been pictures all over the place, and plants and books. He’d stared for a long time at the picture of Seraphina in her majorette uniform. She’d practically shone in that picture, a light in her eyes that couldn’t be denied.
Life had dimmed her light, but he often saw it sputtering back to existence as though her spirit could only be dark for so long.
Her shoulders were right back up to her ears. “I can’t remember the number. How stupid is that? I push a button on my phone. Mom. The landline doesn’t have a button for my mother.”
She’d been on edge ever since she’d realized they wouldn’t make it back to Papillon and she was separated from her son. It was more than that. She’d gotten to the flooring place and they’d tried to jack the price up on her. They’d seen a pretty blonde and figured they could take advantage of her. Harry had set them straight, but he would bet that hadn’t been the first time Sera had to deal with men who thought pretty meant dumb, and dumb meant they could do whatever they liked.
He pulled his shirt over his head and set it on the sink before grabbing a towel and drying off as best he could.
She took a deep breath. “Or I could calm down and look it up in my contacts. I’m sorry. I do know how a phone works. I didn’t think about the landline. I never use it. I’m panicking. It’s my first real time away from Luc and this storm looks nasty.”
She picked up the phone and dialed the number.
“Hey, Mom,” she said. “I’m afraid Harry and I got caught on the wrong side of the bridge. I’m so sorry. I should have been home hours ago. Is Luc okay?”
He stepped back in the bathroom to give her some privacy. He could hear her talking quietly but he shut the bathroom door and leaned against it.
He was falling madly in love with this woman and he was blowing it. He should have thought about her and what she needed, but no, he’d made the selfish choice to have her all to himself. He’d known exactly when she was renting that truck. She’d made a note of it on that endless list of hers and he’d used it to his advantage. He’d gone in and rented the truck right out from under her, though the wood had come in days ago. He’d done it because he’d wanted to spend the day with her. He’d spent most afternoons with her lately, but being on a road trip together was different. She couldn’t ignore him in the truck. He’d been able to turn on the radio and talk to her about the kind of music she liked. He’d had hours with her without the fear of getting caught. That hadn’t gotten past him. He knew why she’d taken him into the kitchen at Guidry’s when there had been plenty of open tables in the dining room. She was nervous about his aunt finding out they were spending time together. He could have told her that he didn’t intend to lie about what he was doing. His aunt hadn’t asked where he spent his afternoons. She was far too busy working on the wedding or the business. She’d been going into the office the whole time Harry had been here.
But when she eventually asked, he was going to tell her because he wasn’t ashamed of Sera.
He was kind of ashamed of himself, though.
“Harry? Are you okay in there?”
He opened the door. “Everything all right at home?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Luc and Shep are getting along great. Lila’s going to bring over some food for him. Zep is there in case anything happens, so they’ll all be fine. I’m sorry I freaked out. I don’t spend much time apart from Luc. I haven’t ever spent the night away from him. He’s in a climbing phase and I worry a lot.”
“I’m the one who’s sorry. I should have brought you home sooner. I shouldn’t have made you have dinner with me.”
“You didn’t make me do anything,” she said. “Is that wine? Because I could use it.”
“Yeah. I figured I got you into this situation, the least I could do was try to make you comfortable. I’m sorry there wasn’t much of a selection. I did get toothbrushes, and I found a T-shirt for you to sleep in. I’m going to warn you, though. It has a big beer can on it.”
She picked up the bag and took it out to the king-size bed that dominated the room. “Big beer can it is, then. Beggars can’t be choosers.”