Her eyes flared. “Great?”
He smiled her way. “I can’t help it. I’m a really good kisser.”
She snorted, a sound he shouldn’t find so adorable. “Arrogant much?”
He forced down a sigh of relief. If she was sassing him, she wasn’t embarrassed anymore. “I’m only being honest here. I have it on the highest authority that I’m a world-class kisser.”
“And whose authority is that?”
“Suzy Perkins. She was my girlfriend through the last couple of years of high school and my Army days. She would write me long letters about how much she missed kissing me.”
“Then she should have married you. Yet I don’t see a ring on your finger.”
“She really wanted a guy with both limbs.” It was actually easy to joke about it now. Suzy had been a sweet girl, but she hadn’t been able to handle what rehab had been like. She hadn’t liked hospitals and doctors and dealing with his grumpy ass. Somehow he kind of thought Sera wouldn’t have wilted like Suzy had. Sera would have yelled at him when he hadn’t wanted to do the work it took to walk again. She would have been strong enough to handle it.
Sure enough, her eyes flared and her shoulders went straight as an arrow. “She left you because of your leg?”
There was the lioness who would defend those she loved. “I don’t think it was really about the leg. I think it was more about the fact that I wasn’t the most lovable guy at the time.”
“You had just had your leg amputated,” she said with righteous indignation. “You were in pain and shock. You needed her. You didn’t even have your mom. You were alone. Who took care of you?”
“You don’t want to hear it.” God, he wanted to touch her again.
“Oh. It was Celeste.”
He didn’t want to make more of it than there had been. “She came to see me in the hospital, and then she paid for a nurse and a physical therapist.”
“You needed someone who loved you to be with you.”
“Yeah, well, Suzy didn’t love me. But I am an excellent kisser, and I’ve obviously worked my magic on you because you aren’t crying anymore.”
She reached out and put a hand on his arm. “She was wrong for you. I’m glad Celeste came to visit you. I might not like her, but I’m glad she was there for you.”
“Me, too,” he replied. It would have been so easy to lean over and brush his lips against hers again. It felt like the right thing to do, but he forced himself to take a step back. “I’ve got a week before I’m going to have to split my time between here and the gazebo. The stairs and the porch are solid now. I’m not going to repaint until the end of the project, so what shall we work on next?”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I can help you.” He wanted to. “I’m waiting on the special wood I need for the gazebo. I’m at loose ends, and I’m not good at sitting around. I like to work.”
“Harry, I’m so glad you were here, but you have to know it was your aunt who called in code compliance on me.”
He wouldn’t put it past his aunt to call around and put a bug in someone’s ear. “She wants to buy the place. And honestly, they probably would have come around at some point.”
Sera shook her head. “She won’t stop, and she’ll be angry when she realizes you’re helping me.”
“I wasn’t planning on telling her.” He also wasn’t planning on hiding it. He wouldn’t bring it up, but if she asked, he wasn’t going to lie. His aunt’s morning routine didn’t lead to a lot of conversation. She was in the office by eight a.m., and unless it was a Sunday, she didn’t eat breakfast. He’d barely said hello to her before she was running out the door today. Cal had left for New Orleans and wouldn’t be back until Friday. Angie was wrapped up in wedding plans. No one even bothered to ask him what he would be up to. He didn’t think that would change.
“It won’t work,” she insisted.
He shrugged. He wasn’t sure it could work, either, but he wasn’t about to leave her alone to handle this job, especially now that she was on a clock. “I’m going to see if I can fix the wiring in the kitchen. It kind of sparks at odd times.”
“Harry.” She stared up at him, the saddest look on her face. “It can’t work.”
He knew what she was talking about, but he wasn’t going to argue with her. If she kicked him out, he would stay away. But he would also give her an out if she couldn’t ask him to stay. “I think it can. Oh, it will likely require an entire rewire, but that weird lamp will work again. I promise. The only thing I’m better at than kissing is fixing things.”