That seemed to stump her. She was quiet for a moment and then nodded as though coming to a decision. “That is a kind offer, Mr. Jefferys.”
“It’s Harry, please.” He knew it was a mistake, but something inside him flared to life when he realized he was going to spend time with her. Something about Seraphina Guidry made him feel. He hadn’t realized how numb he’d been. This was a big job. It could take months to get this house rehabbed. He would be around her constantly. He could figure out what it was about this woman that got to him.
“Harry, it’s kind of you to offer, but I have to turn you down.” Her jaw had gone tight. “I have to do this myself. I hope you have a nice day.” She turned and started for the inside but stopped and put a hand on Shep’s head. “You, too.”
She disappeared behind the door.
That hurt more than it should.
Sylvie had an apologetic frown on her face as she opened the door Sera had closed. “I should follow her.”
Someone should. It apparently wouldn’t be him.
“Shep, come on, boy.” He knew when to retreat.
The dog looked back at where Sera had disappeared before he whined and moved down the stairs.
He knew the feeling. She’d wanted to say yes to him. It had been there in her eyes. She’d wanted to invite him in and get his advice, but she’d turned him down even when it was to her own detriment.
Something was going on and he didn’t entirely understand it. He understood why his aunt was upset. Why was Seraphina? Was she afraid of his aunt?
Hallie was staring down at him. “I’m going to get her to change her mind. She needs help. She’s not thinking. She’s had a long week, and a funeral is always exhausting. I hope the offer will still be open because she’s going to realize how much she needs you. She’s being stubborn is all. She’s got it in her head she needs to be independent.”
He rather thought he was the problem. He would bet if someone else had offered to help her for free, she would have been all over that deal. As he’d never done anything she could have found offensive, this had to be about his family. It had to be about his aunt or maybe even Wes. Was she carrying a torch for the boy she’d rejected? Or guilt because she’d rejected him in the first place?
He wanted to tell himself it was a mystery he didn’t need to solve, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to leave it alone.
“I’m around if she changes her mind.” He reached and got his earbuds. “Even if she only wants to talk. I’ll send her some resources. Come on, Shep. This run isn’t going to finish itself.”
He took off, jogging slowly, but his mind was back on that house and the woman inside it.* * ****
Not even the air-conditioning and breeze of the fan in Quaid Havery’s elegantly appointed office could cool down the fire Celeste felt licking along her every nerve ending. “What do you mean Irene left the house to her niece? Which niece are we talking about, because it better be someone from out of town. Some long-lost niece no one in the Guidry family talked about? One who never chased after my son and clawed his heart out? It better be that niece.”
Angela was seated beside her, and her daughter shook her head. “Quaid didn’t have anything to do with who Irene Guidry left the house to. You don’t have to breathe fire his way.”
The man who’d been the family lawyer since he’d taken over for his father four years before actually looked intimidated, and that wasn’t an expression she normally saw on the thirty-two-year-old’s face. “I absolutely didn’t tell Ms. Guidry who to leave her house to. I merely served my function and wrote the will.”
And that was where he’d made his mistake. “You wrote the will and knew Seraphina Guidry would inherit that house.”
“Yes, I did.” Quaid straightened up and seemed to shake off his surprise. “When one writes a will, one tends to need the names of the people inheriting, Mrs. Beaumont. Like when my father wrote your husband’s will and put your name there on the list.”
She felt her eyes narrow because she knew what he was poking at. “Yes, it’s lucky for me that you put off that appointment with my husband before he could change the will and leave everything to Calvin. Is that what you’re trying to say? Don’t you try to intimidate me, Quaid Havery. Angela and Calvin both know what happened.”
Angie leaned over, looking the lawyer in the eye. “We’re happy Dad didn’t rewrite his will. Cal didn’t want that responsibility, and he certainly didn’t like the way my father treated us like we were back in the eighteenth century and everything should be held by the eldest son. My mother can handle the Beaumont holdings and has done so brilliantly. Don’t think you can split us up over that. There are many other ways to go about sowing dissension among the Beaumonts.”