Celeste could understand that.
“You invited her to the brunch next Saturday.” He said the words flatly, but they were an obvious accusation.
“I thought you would be happy that I’m not going to fight your cousin on his choice of romantic partner. I remember a whole argument about what a terrible person I was and how downtrodden poor Seraphina is. You were right about that. The poor girl doesn’t even have the money to buy herself a nightie. She has to greet the day in an ill-fitting T-shirt with the words Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder on it.”
Her son’s eyes narrowed. “You know that’s not what I meant.”
“Well, Calvin, it’s been implied by several young people lately that I don’t understand anything at all, so you will have to be more specific.” She’d expected she would get an earful from her children. Harry was the only one who seemed happy with the invitation for Sera to join them at family events.
Harry didn’t know her as well as Cal and Angie.
“You invited Sera to brunch with Austin’s family. What are you planning to do to humiliate her?”
Her heart clenched a bit at the accusation. She’d decided this was the best path because Harry would likely change his mind, or Sera would, and her getting in the way would only bond them further. She’d never purposefully humiliated anyone. She’d had more than enough of that from her mother-in-law. “I am not the one who put those rumors out about Seraphina. I am not the reason she can’t keep a job. I’ve never in my life told someone they shouldn’t go to Guidry’s for any reason other than the heartburn their gumbo gives the world.”
“You didn’t tell your friends to stay away from the diner she worked at? Or the store? Or Marcelle’s?”
He really didn’t think much of her. Her mother-in-law might have had a point about keeping the relationship with one’s children fairly emotionless. “No. I don’t talk to my friends about Sera.” She didn’t actually have friends. She had cronies. She had women and men around town who did her bidding because they wanted to be associated with the Beaumont name. “I know everyone blames me because I said some things in my grief, but I said them inside this family.”
“Everyone knows how you feel about her,” Cal pointed out.
“I can’t help that.” She felt a bit weary about the whole thing. Seeing the way Harry had lit up when he realized she wasn’t going to give him hell about being with that little blonde . . . She had to stop thinking that word. From what she could tell, Sera wasn’t a tramp. She’d dated one young man in the years since Wes had died. Obviously she’d had an affair that went wrong and resulted in an unplanned pregnancy, but Celeste was getting far too old to judge someone for a mistake like that. Lately, she’d started thinking that judging anyone at all took far more energy than she was willing to expend. “I don’t know what’s going to happen between them, but I will not lose another family member because they see something in Sera Guidry that I don’t.”
Cal stared at her for a moment. “I almost believe you.”
“Do I hope this doesn’t go anywhere? Yes. I believe they are jumping into this relationship far too quickly, and I don’t want Harry to get attached to her child when we don’t even know who the father is or if he’s going to come into the picture at some point. But I’m not going to say a thing about it. It doesn’t work. Trying to control situations . . . All it’s done is cost me my children.”
Cal was quiet for a moment. “You haven’t lost me. Or Angie.”
“It felt like I had the other night.” Sitting and talking to her maid over some excellent roast and a bottle of wine had caused something to shift inside her. Annemarie reminded her of her mother. And her sister. They’d talked about Annemarie’s grandbabies.
Oh, she’d missed her sister in those moments. If her sister had lived, she would have moved her into Beaumont House along with Harry.
“Did you know when I first married your father, I asked him if your aunt could come and live in the guesthouse?”
Cal’s shoulders relaxed, but his eyes had widened in surprise. “Are you talking about your sister?”
“Yes, this was before Harry was born, but our parents had passed on and I helped her out because she was in college.” They’d lived in a tiny apartment and Janelle had gone to school while Celeste worked. “I couldn’t imagine her living alone, and let’s be honest, her degree was going to be social work, so she was going to starve. I thought she could transfer to a school close to here and live in the guesthouse and she could help with you.”