“I agree with you, but your aunt has a lot of sway in this town,” Zep explained. “It’s not like she can turn Sera into an outcast, but she can make her damn uncomfortable. How did she take finding out Sera inherited that house?”
“Not well.” His aunt had been angry at dinner this evening, though in a restrained way that made Harry far more nervous than if she’d let it out. “But there’s not a lot she can do about it.”
Zep took a sip of his beer. “She can do more than you think. Celeste can be creative. I know she’s convinced a lot of her friends to abandon Miss Marcelle’s salon since Sera started working there.”
“She wouldn’t.” Celeste might call her lawyer and yell, but surely she wouldn’t actively try to hurt Sera and take her job. That would be overkill.
“Sera’s had five jobs in the last three years,” Zep pointed out. “She thinks she gets fired or laid off because she’s bad at them. I think Celeste had a hand in her losing them all. I was hoping with Angie getting married that Celeste would forget about her vendetta against my sister.”
“I’ll look into it.” He wasn’t sure what he could do about it, but he couldn’t simply let it lie. He’d never been the type of guy who could see a wrong being done and shrug and walk away.
“Good,” Zep said with a nod. “Now, are you going to ask my sister out or what?”
“Whoa. I think that would put her in a worse position than ever. My aunt’s already upset about the house.”
Zep leaned in, his voice going low. “Yeah, but Sera was smiling this evening when she talked about you. I haven’t seen my sister smile like that in years. She likes you.”
He’d felt it. He’d felt her watching him, felt her curiosity, but he’d also known it was tempered with wariness. “She’s been clear that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“And yet tonight at dinner she went into detail about how graceful you are.” Zep smirked and rolled his eyes. “It was over the top and nearly made me lose my appetite. Harry’s so graceful. Yes, she used that word. Graceful. She said you ran like you never lost a leg. How would she know that except she watched you for a while. She also said you offered to help but she had to turn you down since she was sure you already had enough work because you’re doing a bunch of stuff for the wedding.”
“I’m only working on the gazebo, and I can’t even start for a few days,” he explained. “I’m waiting for some wood I ordered to come in. I’ve got to drive to New Orleans to pick it up along with a bunch of other materials. I have some time to help her out.”
“Good. She’s taking a couple of weeks off so she can get things started on the house. Though if you ask me, Marcelle sounded a little relieved. Another job bites the dust,” Zep said under his breath. “Maybe you should run through those woods again and, oops, you happen to be carrying your tool kit. You could do that for strength training. And somewhere in all that helping, you convince her to go out with you.”
Harry held his hands up because Zep was moving pretty fast. “I don’t know that my dating Sera would be good for her. I’m not staying. I’m only here until after Angie’s wedding.”
“And then you’ll go home?”
He didn’t really have a home. “I’ll hit the road again.”
“That’s going to get old after a while,” Zep pointed out with a shake of his head. “You know, Papillon is a nice place to settle down. Lots of room. Good food. Who knows? Maybe you’ll like it here. You won’t know unless you try. And hey, we’re growing. Lots of work for a person who knows how to build things. It’s something to think about. We even have a clinic with a nurse practitioner who knows what’s she doing now.”
It was his turn to get suspicious. “You really want me to ask Sera out. Won’t that cause more problems for her?”
It could definitely cause problems for him.
Zep set his beer down. “Sure, but sometimes problems have a way of solving themselves. Sometimes when you put two problems together, they get tied up so tight they make something. But hey, what do I know? I’m only saying Sera can be stubborn but she deserves some happiness. Patience is the key with her. I hope she doesn’t kill herself fixing up that house. I went by this afternoon to pick her up and one of the porch steps gave way. Now you have to hop over it. And she told me I broke it so I have to fix it. That’s not fair. She got all the money and the house. I got a bunch of condoms and my aunt is mean. She bought regular size. I can’t even use them. Because I need the extra-large kind.”