Bayou Baby (Butterfly Bayou 2) - Page 80

“It’s roast chicken, potatoes, and a salad, I believe.” Annemarie closed the door. “Your daughter returned safely, though Harry left a note. I believe he is spending the evening out.”

He’d called her moments before and told her not to expect him home. She’d told him to be discreet. He’d asked her what that word really meant. Silly boy, but then the times had changed and no one would think much about Harry and Sera spending the night together since she’d practically put her stamp of approval on the relationship.

It was odd how she’d softened. She’d gone into the whole thing with a mind to manipulate, but Harry was happy. Shouldn’t he be allowed to be happy? She’d spent the last forty years of her life being terrified of making a mistake, of stepping slightly out of line and losing everything.

And then she’d stood in that design house where her mother-in-law had forced her to go twice a year for new clothes. Where her mother-in-law and the designer had consistently clucked about how she was overweight or underweight, how her skin was too sallow or she smiled too much. Where on more than one occasion she’d been forced to smile through one of her husband’s “friends” talking down to her.

It had occurred to her when she’d seen that guard walking toward Sera that this could be the moment she broke the girl. She could manipulate the situation so Sera thought she’d caused it, or even though she’d been perfectly innocent, there would be no justice for her. Yes, that might have caused her to run away.

She’d known she could break Sera the way she’d been broken.

In that moment she’d wondered who would try to break Angela. She’d already cracked. Angela had lived under many of the same rules. Did she want that for her daughter? Did she want that for any woman?

“Mom?” Angie came down the stairs.

Her baby girl looked so pretty in her dress and cardigan. Celeste held her arms open. “Hello, my darling. How was Sedona? You look lovely. Doesn’t my daughter look pretty, Annemarie?”

“She does, Mrs. Beaumont. That color suits her nicely,” Annemarie said with a gracious smile.

Angie started to give her the air kiss she was used to, but Celeste wanted more. She drew her daughter in and hugged her like she hadn’t in years. Angie was stiff for a moment, but then her arms wrapped around her and she laid her head on Celeste’s shoulder. “It was good. The spa was beautiful. Did I say thank you for sending me and my friends?”

She kissed her baby girl’s head and stepped back. “I was happy to do it. Was the plane okay?”

“It was wonderful.” Angie glanced over at Annemarie. “Could I have a moment alone with my mother?”

Annemarie nodded. “Of course. I’ll go and see if Cook needs any help. I believe dinner is in half an hour.”

“Thank you so much,” Celeste said, taking her daughter’s hand and leading her into the study. “Would you like a glass of wine? I’ve told Annemarie I would like to have wine or a cocktail in the study every evening.”

“I thought you said wine was only for special occasions.”

“I’ve changed my mind on a couple of things,” she said, crossing to where the bottle of Cab had been properly decanted and waiting to be poured. “I’ve decided I’m close enough to death that every day should be celebrated.”

“Mom,” Angie said, sounding shocked.

She poured two glasses of wine. “Well, it’s true.”

Angie took the drink like she needed it. “What is going on with you? I leave for a week, and when I come back, it appears the world has turned upside down. I got a frantic call from the House of Hanover. Justine said you canceled all the bridesmaids’ dresses.”

“Well, I’ll probably change my mind if she apologizes and fires that uppity saleslady.”

“And I got a call from Britney Brewer that you blamed her father for something a hooker did,” Angie continued.

That man was going to pay. “Seraphina obviously isn’t a hooker. Harry doesn’t have two dimes to his name, and if Sera was making money off some other man, she would dress better than she does. Britney’s father was being a massive ass and I dealt with him. The saleslady and security guard blamed Sera for Brian being a nasty lecher. Tell me something. Has that man ever hit on you?”

She shook her head. “No, but he does make me uncomfortable from time to time. Why on earth was Sera at House of Hanover? Tell me you’re not getting her a dress for my wedding.”

“Well, if I don’t, she’s promised me she’ll show up in some sequin-encrusted jumpsuit that will make the entire wedding party look like a prison disco.”

“I don’t think that’s a thing, Mom. I’m really confused. I thought you hated Sera. I talked to Harry about it earlier. I told him he shouldn’t trust you, that you’re playing some game.”

Tags: Lexi Blake Butterfly Bayou Romance
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