She’d learned some guys were good at hiding their intentions. “I’m sure he’s great with Johnny. He was great with me until I wanted to get serious.”
Sera, you can’t think this is going anywhere. I want to get into management. I know it sounds stupid, but wives can make or break a career here. You would break mine. But we can have some fun.
“I didn’t like that man,” Sylvie said. “He was pretty and all, but he had my jerk alarm going off. Sera, you can’t let a man like that take you out of the game.”
“It’s not just him.” She blinked back tears, pushing the humiliation down. “You would think in this day and age that no one would care. I’m not the only single mom around here. It’s like I’m wearing a scarlet letter.”
“But it wouldn’t be if you would fess up about who Luc’s dad is,” Hallie insisted.
No, if she told who Luc’s daddy was, the town might explode. And according to Angie, she might lose custody of her son. “I don’t remember his name. It was a crazy night and I can’t even regret it because I love Luc.”
Would things be different if she moved? She looked up at the house she’d loved since she was a child and realized this might be what her aunt had wanted. For her to leave Papillon behind and start all over again. If she moved to Houston or New Orleans, no one would care that they didn’t know who her baby’s father was. She would be one more anonymous woman trying to make her way in the world.
Though it made her heart ache, she might have to sell this place. Not might. She knew what she had to do. There would be no gorgeous B and B where she served muffins and planned weddings, where Luc ran wild all over the bayou. She would have to take everything they could get out of this place, move to the city, find an apartment and a job she would likely hate, and survive.
“There’s nothing wrong with you.” Sylvie was always a positive voice in her life. Despite everything she’d been through, somehow Sylvie always saw that silver lining. “It’s their problem.”
“It will get easier.” Hallie sighed as though she knew she’d gotten everything she was going to get.
“Will it?” There were things Sera hadn’t considered. “Or will it get worse as Luc grows up? Will everyone be watching to see if they can see their husband in my kid’s face? How will they treat him?”
Hallie’s eyes went wide. “They won’t be nasty to Luc. I can’t believe they will. You’ve got friends. No one is freezing you out. It’s just the stuff with Jackson that’s bringing it all back. And who cares what those crazy women think. Once you meet someone great and settle in, they won’t see you as a threat. Right now you’re a gorgeous blonde who does yoga every Wednesday. It’s intimidating when you’ve got three kids and a husband who’s gone most of the time. You’ll see. Now, I know I made a mistake with Jackson, but I was thinking . . .”
Sera put her hands up. “Absolutely not. I’m done dating. I’m going to work on this house and try to figure out where to go from there. No more men.”
She gasped as something moved behind Hallie. The overgrown bushes shook and she could hear the sound of leaves rustling. Sylvie backed up.
Hallie turned and grabbed her arm. “What is that? Is it a gator? I heard rumors that Irene had them trained to attack. She found them as babies and raised an army.”
Sylvie snorted. “I could see that happening.”
Her aunt hadn’t been the mother of gators, but they were close to the water. It certainly wasn’t unheard of for something scaly with big teeth to lumber through the area.
“Okay, we’ll get in my car.” Sylvie touched the button on her keys and there was a chirping sound as it unlocked.
They were closer to the car than the house. If it was a gator, he would mostly just hiss and look scary, but it was never a good idea to hang out with one. Unless it was Otis, but he stayed closer to the wharf.
The bush rustled again and a big creature rushed out, but Sera relaxed. Normally the sight of a German shepherd running her way would scare her, too, but this one had the goofiest, happiest look on his face. His tongue was hanging out and his tail wagging like he’d been playing a game and he’d won.
“Hey, boy.” Sera got down on one knee.
Sylvie breathed a sigh of obvious relief. “I’ll take dog over gator any day. I know I’ve lived here most of my life, but I will never get used to massive reptiles running toward me.”