She’d been the one who’d dealt with the funeral home, selected the coffin, and picked out Aunt Irene’s best muumuu for the funeral. She was also the one who’d found homes for sixteen cats.
Was she going to end up with sixteen cats, a closet full of housedresses, and video tapes of every episode of Murder, She Wrote? She glanced down at the bio she’d written. It was nothing more than a list of dates. When her aunt was born. When she died. Where she graduated from high school and how long she’d worked at the DMV. A single paragraph to sum up a whole life.
Would she even need a paragraph?
“It’s probably for the best,” Hallie whispered because the church choir was starting to hum. “I heard that Kellie Boyce bet Jenny Halstrom that she would have Harrison Jefferys eating out of the palm of her hand within a week. You know she’s been on the prowl ever since she got back into town. I also heard he won’t be staying long. The rumor is he’s kind of a drifter.”
Her mother shook her head. “Men like that only drift until they find a reason to settle down.”
“Or until the police catch up to them because they use their good looks to facilitate their murder sprees.” Sera might have been watching too much Dateline, but she wasn’t about to become a cautionary tale. Not again. She was the example every mother in town used to steer their daughters away from premarital sex. Don’t let your boyfriend go too far or you’ll end up like that poor Seraphina Guidry. She wasn’t about to add being murdered to her résumé of bad choices.
“Delphine, Remy.” A cool voice had Sera’s head turning. Celeste Beaumont stood at the end of the pew. She was roughly her mother’s age but looked younger due to regularly scheduled trips to a plastic surgeon in New Orleans. The woman was still gorgeous and still as cold as ice. “Please accept my condolences on the loss of Irene.”
Her mother held her head high. “Thank you. She will be missed.”
“By who?” Zep asked, earning him a hearty smack to the back of his head from Remy. “Well, she used to turn the sprinklers on kids who tried to trick or treat her house. Sorry.”
“A little respect goes a long way,” Celeste said, settling her Chanel bag on her arm. “That’s a lesson your mother should have taught you. You’ll excuse me but I should go and join my family. Again, our condolences.”
Her mother shook her head as Celeste walked away. “I will show that woman respect. I will shove it right up that tight—”
“Momma,” Remy interrupted. “Church.”
Her mother settled back. “That woman.”
Yes, that woman. Celeste Beaumont had never liked her friendship with Wes. She’d tried to keep them apart, wanting more suitable friends for her baby boy.
What would she do if she knew Luc was Wes’s child? Angela was the only Beaumont who knew, and Wes’s sister had been adamant about keeping the secret. Angela had been the one to save her from making the worst decision of her life. Angela was probably the reason she still had custody of her son.
Sera turned toward the pulpit as Father Franklin stepped up.
“Still, you should look at him,” Hallie whispered. “Because he really is gorgeous. Is it wrong that I think it’s kind of sexy that he has a fake leg? Like he’s a bionic man.”
“Yes. It’s wrong.” It was wrong to think of anything but her son and getting them to a good place.
She didn’t have time to date. She needed to build a life.
She might even need to build that life somewhere else.
The priest began to speak and Zep began to snore.
Some things never changed. She needed to make sure she wasn’t one of them.* * ****
Celeste Beaumont sank into her place on the pew beside her older son.
Her only living son.
It hadn’t been so long since she’d been in this very church for Wes’s funeral. Her husband’s funeral had been even more recent, but it was Wes’s service that haunted her. Ralph’s death had been . . . she hated to call it a relief, but it was an honest word. Thirty years she’d spent with that man and not once had he told her he loved her.
But Wes, oh, her Wesley had said it all the time. Her sweet boy had loved her with an open heart.
That same heart was the reason he was dead.
It was odd since she’d had so many nightmares about burying Wes young. Ever since that moment she’d been bathing him and found a lump under his armpit. That had started years of worry, treatment, certainty she would need a small coffin for her baby boy.
The worry had never gone away, even after he’d been cancer-free for years.