“I don’t think I can keep him away. These two are in love,” she said with a smile.
Shep’s tail thumped softly against the floor in agreement.
“’Night, buddy,” Harry said, giving the dog a pat before he held out his hand. It was time to take Sera to bed, to wrap his arms around her and show her this could work.
She turned the light off, the room illuminated only by the small nightlight that cast a soft glow. She stepped up to him, and she was so lovely his heart seemed to tighten. “Did I thank you for dinner?”
It hadn’t been a particularly romantic affair, but it had been one of the best nights he’d had in forever. Her hand slid into his and he tugged her out to the hallway. “I had the best company, so I think I should be the one thanking you.”
She closed the door with her free hand and went up on her toes to brush her lips against his.
He backed her up against the wall, his hands going to her hips. “I loved our evening, Sera. I loved spending time with Luc. I loved seeing this side of you. You’re a good mom.”
She teared up slightly. “Sometimes it’s nice to hear that. It can be hard. I get judged a lot. I always have to worry if I’m giving him what he needs.”
“You’re giving him everything he needs,” he said, brushing his lips over her forehead. “He’s a happy, healthy kid, and now he’s got a sixty-pound furry ex-military bodyguard who works for pets and kibble.”
“Well, I kind of like having my own ex-military guy,” she said with a hint of a smile.
There was a noise at the end of the hall and she started. Delphine walked by in a fluffy bathrobe, her hair up in a towel. “Don’t mind me. I’m going down for some tea. ’Night, kids.”
Sera had gone stiff. “’Night, Momma.”
Maybe she wasn’t ready for this. He backed up. “Hey, you know you don’t actually owe me anything, right? I can go to my room at Beaumont House and be back here bright and early to pick up my dog and maybe have some breakfast with you. I’ll bring the donuts. I had a wonderful time tonight and that’s all I need.”
Her shoulders relaxed again and she reached for his hand. “I want my sleepover. I’m sorry. It’s weird. I live with my mom. I feel like you should be sneaking into my window. I’ve never had a man stay over.”
Soon she would have other options. “You know when we get the electrical finished, it might be easier for you to move into Guidry Place. I think we can have the downstairs fixed up. You’ll have a kitchen, and the master bedroom is attached to a study that could easily serve as Luc’s room.”
He would find a way to move himself in, and in a few weeks, she would wake up and wonder how that ring had gotten on her finger.
Because he was pretty sure he was going to marry her and stay here in Papillon and raise a family.
“I hadn’t thought about that. It would be nice to be on my own,” she said with a smile. “Even Zep has his own space, though it’s an apartment over the garage. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom, but I’ve never lived in a place that was all mine.”
She wanted to. It was easy to see she wanted a home where she was the queen. He could give her that. Oh, he couldn’t afford to buy her a new house, but he could fix up the one she had. He could put all his talent and care into making that old space a wonderful home for her and Luc, and eventually for himself. She would see they could make it work and that Papillon was the place for them.
“I can have it ready in a few weeks, maybe less. Once the electrical is cleared, we can move you in and you can work on the house whenever you have time,” he promised.
“It won’t get condemned?”
He shook his head. “It was never going to be condemned. The house isn’t nearly as bad as everyone around here thought. You’ll have it gorgeous in no time.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone believe in me the way you do.” She moved back toward him now, her arms drifting up around his neck. “I think you should take me to bed now, Harrison Jefferys.”
He wanted nothing more than to do exactly that. He leaned over and picked her up, carrying her the short distance to her room. It was next door to Luc’s, though according to what she’d told him earlier in the evening, it hadn’t been so long since she’d had his crib in her room.