Celeste seemed to take Cal’s words as a peace offering. “As long as you don’t parade improper ones in front of him.” Celeste turned Harry’s way. “I heard from some of my friends that the Guidry girl was sniffing around you yesterday at her own aunt’s funeral. The gall of that girl. It’s no wonder she got herself in trouble. You should stay away from that bit of trash.”
“She wasn’t hitting on me. She warned me that her mom might try to set us up.” What exactly was his aunt’s problem with the Guidrys? After his encounter with the sassy Seraphina, he’d spent some time talking to her brother Remy, who had served in the Navy. He found he naturally migrated to the ex-military crowd. He felt more comfortable with them than discussing small-town politics or gossip. He’d liked Remy and his pretty wife, Lisa. He’d definitely liked the gumbo.
Celeste pushed back her chair. “Well, of course Delphine is trying to catch a man for her daughter. That girl is trouble, Harry. And she’s not smart enough to protect herself. Or she got pregnant intentionally to trap whoever she was sleeping with at the time. What I’m trying to say is Seraphina Guidry is a single mom. She’s not the type you should be around, and you should guard yourself around that whole family. Angie, I’m going to check my makeup. I’ll be ready to go in half an hour. Don’t be late, and you should change your shoes. Open-toed shoes in church is rude.”
His aunt strode out having never touched a bite of food.
Angie sent her brother a glare. “You had to bring up Wes, didn’t you?”
Cal sighed. “I’m sorry. She was pushing me. I had a long night.”
“I’m sure you did,” Angie shot back. “But you’re not the one who has to spend all day with her. She’ll be on edge and short with everyone.”
“Y’all don’t ever talk about Wes?” He’d found it odd. There were pictures of Wes everywhere. His youngest cousin had died roughly three months after he’d shipped out to Afghanistan. He’d been killed in an accident.
“Oh, she talks about him but it’s usually to let me know it would have been better if I’d died instead of Wes,” Cal replied.
“That’s not true.” Angie stood and crossed to the buffet, grabbing a muffin.
“Really?” Cal looked at his sister, a skeptical expression on his face. “And when she said, You know I wish Wes was here instead of you—what do you think that was a metaphor for?”
“Damn,” Harry breathed.
“She was tipsy and she didn’t mean it.” Angie sat back down and turned to Harry. “Mom got drunk on the anniversary of Wes’s death last year. She was harsh on all of us, but she apologized the next day. She certainly doesn’t want Cal dead, just a bit more serious about life.”
Cal smiled, but there was no humor behind it. “When Wes died, Angie became the angel. My mother only seems to be able to truly love one of us at a time. It might have been different if Wes hadn’t gotten sick.”
He knew a little bit of the history. “He had cancer as a kid, right?”
Angie nodded. “He was diagnosed when he was four. My mother pretty much devoted herself to him from that point on. He went through a lot at a young age. It was awful, but he got the best care, and by the time he was seven or eight, you would never have been able to tell he’d been sick at all. He was healthy. Wes recovered from his cancer. Mom never did.”
Cal sighed. “Wes was her perfect child, her miracle baby. Well, with the singular exception of his choice in friends. If you want to know why Mom wants you to stay away from Sera, it’s because Wes was crazy in love with her.”
Angie shook her head. “They were friends. That’s all they ever were.”
“Yeah, well, Wes wanted more.” Cal looked tired as he sipped his coffee. “My younger brother was a good guy, but he was used to getting what he wanted. He chased after Sera for years. My parents sent us to public school at first. Some of the older kids at the school used to bully Wes. Sera stood up for him. She was his only friend in the beginning. I often think he imprinted on her, but she never liked him that way.”
“Like I said, they were friends,” Angie agreed. “She’s not bad. Sera’s actually pretty nice. She’s a little on the unlucky side. She does have a kid.”
“Lots of people her age have kids. It’s not like she’s a teen mom.” He was confused about a lot of things. “Why does everyone treat it like she did something scandalous? We’re not back in the 1800s. Women have kids without getting married.”