It was Sera’s fault, but Celeste could see the game wasn’t the same this time. She would need to play differently.
“Ma’am, should I serve dinner?” Annemarie stood in the hallway, a concerned look on her face. “I can make you a plate.”
Annemarie had been with the family for ten years, but Celeste knew nothing about the woman. It was obvious she’d heard what had happened. Servants who knew secrets should be immediately dismissed. That was what her mother-in-law had taught her.
Why should she turn out a woman who did her job simply because she might know she fought with her children? Annemarie was excellent at taking care of the house and the family. And actually Celeste did know a bit about her. Annemarie was a mother of four. They were all out in the world now, but she was a mom, too.
“Have you eaten?”
Annemarie’s eyes widened. “No, ma’am.”
“Cook left her excellent roast.” If she sat there alone, she would brood. Perhaps it would be good to talk to someone. “Would you please join me? Unless you need to head home. I’m alone. It appears I’ve angered all my children today.”
“I was actually trying to avoid the storm. I don’t like driving in this rain,” Annemarie explained.
“Then let’s not let that roast go to waste.” It felt good to have one person not hate her. “How are your children, by the way?”
Annemarie began talking about college and the grandbaby she was expecting soon.
If she wanted her own grandbabies to care about her at all, she needed to find a way to be more than purse strings. Perhaps it was time to change her image.
And then she would change Seraphina’s. She was going to win.
She had to.* * ****
Harry came awake to the feel of Seraphina rubbing her cheek on his chest. His arm was around her and the night before came back in a rush.
Yes, they were in a cheap motel and he’d screwed up, but she’d come to him so sweetly he could only be grateful that Sera was a forgiving woman. The drapes didn’t quite cover the whole of the window, so a shaft of light illuminated the room. He was covered in her hair. It was spread all over his chest and across his arm, flowing out on the sheet. Yes, he was caught in her web and that seemed like a perfect thing to be.
Sera yawned and cuddled close. “What time is it?”
He glanced over at the clock. “Early. Did you sleep all right?”
He intended to sleep with her a lot. As often as he could. If the night before had taught him anything, it was that their connection was real. It might be the realest thing he’d ever felt.
That should have been a problem, given how his aunt felt about her, but he wasn’t going to let that hold him back. Aunt Celeste was wrong about Seraphina. She was not merely a good person, she was a person he looked up to. She worked hard and made him want to be a better man. His mother would have adored Seraphina. If his aunt couldn’t see that, it was her loss.
“Like a baby.” She sat up in bed. “I have a baby.”
He reached for her phone. His was a brick because he hadn’t charged it before he’d left. Sera was far more responsible, but then she had a lot she was responsible for. “Call. I bet your mom’s awake.”
She took the phone, the blanket falling away and revealing her breast.
He lay back and watched her. She was the single most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, and he was going to have to get a new damn phone because he wanted her to be able to contact him anytime she needed him. If she got a flat, he would be there. If she needed someone to pick up Luc, he wanted to be that person for her. He wanted the responsibility so badly he ached with it.
“Hey, Momma. How is Luc?”
Harry closed his eyes and let a feeling of serenity flow over him. It felt like something had fallen into place the night before, something he’d been missing for a long time.
He’d been floating around, looking for something to ground him, and he thought he’d found it. Her. He’d found her.
“Seriously? That’s so sweet. I’m glad to hear it. I promise we’ll be . . . Really? Well, if you wouldn’t mind. Yeah, I would like to have breakfast before we . . . Yes, I’m still with Harry.”
He opened his eyes and felt a smile cross his face. “Damn straight you are.”
She flushed the prettiest pink and shook her head his way before getting back to talking to her mom. “Yes, that’s what I mean. We’re . . . dating.”
He reached out and put a hand on her leg, loving the fact that he had the right to touch her.