Harry’s face flushed. “I didn’t even think about it. I’m sorry. I’m not in the habit of calling home. I haven’t had anyone who needed me to check in for a long time.”
Which was why Sera should start training him now. “Well, I happen to know a couple of things about overly protective family members. I will give you some advice. If your cell had been working, your aunt might have been able to get a call or a text through and then she wouldn’t have had to worry. You have to think about these things now.”
Because I want to rely on you.
Harry seemed to hear her unspoken words. “I will. I promise.” He looked back to his aunt. “I’m sorry I worried you. Sera and I went to New Orleans to pick up supplies. We had dinner in town and started back too late to get across the bridge. I didn’t understand how bad the storm would get.”
Celeste turned a pointed glare Sera’s way. “You should have. You know what the weather is like here.”
She shrugged. She’d decided to go for honesty. “I was way too busy staring at Harry to think about the weather. And he’d stolen my truck out from under me and wouldn’t take me back home unless I had dinner with him.”
“Which is precisely why you should give up on eating. I find life is far easier if men can’t hold me hostage to my own physical needs,” Celeste replied, her expression perfectly serious.
“Did you just tell me I would be better off if I starved myself?”
Celeste merely sighed. “We’re all better off when we practice self-denial, dear. Now, since we’ve established that you and Harry have entered into a physical relationship, I need to know if this is going to go any further. Tell me you haven’t decided to make this emotional as well.”
She said the last with a hint of distaste.
“Aunt Celeste, perhaps we should talk about this later.” Harry had moved to stand beside Sera as if he could stop whatever attack Celeste would send her way. “When we’re at home.”
“Why would we do that?” Celeste asked. “Are you or are you not emotionally involved with this . . . with Seraphina Guidry?”
Harry seemed to falter, but Sera knew a challenge when she saw one. She simply hadn’t taken any challenge up in the last few years. Being with Harry the night before seemed to have changed something inside her. Or rather brought out a bit of the Sera she’d been before. Harry had been raised to be polite and deferential to the women in his life. A Southern gentleman. He might need some cover for this one. “Yes, he’s emotionally involved with me. It wasn’t a one-night stand, and you’re going to have to deal with the fact that your precious nephew is dating a Guidry.”
Celeste sighed. “Well, at least it isn’t that scoundrel Zep.”
“Aunt Celeste,” Harry said with warning in his tone.
“Nah, babe, that’s fair,” Sera replied. “My brother is a hot mess. He’s got his own cell at the sheriff’s office. He really is the trashiest Guidry, and I’ve seen pictures of myself in short shorts and a tank top, so that’s saying something.”
She wasn’t sure what Celeste was up to, but she got the feeling she wasn’t about to start a fight. If it happened, if Celeste pointed out all the reasons Sera wasn’t right for Harry, she rather thought Harry would shut his aunt down.
No, Celeste was playing at something else, and it kind of scared her because she had absolutely no idea where this was going.
“Your brother is a menace,” Celeste said with a frown. “But that’s neither here nor there. My Harry is a serious young man. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have Calvin? I’ve been told I can make that happen.”
“Aunt Celeste,” Harry practically growled.
Celeste simply sighed. “Well, Cal told me he finds Sera attractive, and he would be simpler.”
“I’m not interested in Cal.” She could growl a little, too.
“He’s worth more than Harry,” Celeste pointed out.
She stepped in front of Harry because she wasn’t about to take that. “We have different versions of worth. Why don’t you make yourself plain? What is this about? If you’re going to try to buy me off or scare me away, you should know it’s not going to work. I know we’ve had trouble in the past, but I’m not going to let you bully me anymore.”
A brow rose over Celeste’s eyes. “I was unaware I’d bullied you in the first place.”
She was over pretending. “You’re the reason I can’t keep a job in this town.”
“Or maybe it’s that you’re not very good at the jobs you’ve chosen.”
That was sadly fair, too, though she was certain she would have had more of a chance without Celeste’s influence. “Are you trying to tell me you didn’t say anything about me, didn’t influence people into not coming to the salon or shopping at places I worked at?”