Celestial Desire(6)

By: Abbie Zanders

“You look wonderful, Celeste. I am so proud of you.”

“Thanks, Mom. I feel good.”

“Everything is okay? Do you need anything?”

“Everything is fine. Stop worrying.”

“I’m your mother. Asking me not to worry is asking for the impossible.”

Celeste reached out to touch her mother’s hand. “But I’m okay. Really. I love my new place.”

“I don’t know why you just didn’t move in with me,” Jessica said. “I have plenty of room.”

“We’ve been through this, Mom.” While Celeste loved her mother and wanted to be close to her, Jessica had a tendency to be a bit overprotective. It wasn’t wholly without reason; the past two years had been difficult, but Celeste was stronger because of it. Not to mention she’d become accustomed to the freedom and privacy that came with living on her own. If she’d been staying with her mother, she wouldn’t have experienced the wonder and magic of Zane, sex-god extraordinaire. That man had some serious skills.

“Yes, and you’re right. But at least let me help. Let’s go furniture shopping tomorrow.”

Celeste hesitated, sipping from the tall glass of ice water. “Tomorrow?”

“Yes, tomorrow,” her mother smiled. “There are quite a few good places around, and at least one of them is advertising a semi-annual sale. We can pick out a nice bedroom set, some chairs and tables, maybe a sofa.”

“I don’t need all that, Mom. My lease is only for six months.”

Jessica’s smile flickered. “I was hoping you might like it enough here to stick around a bit longer than that.”

“I love it here. It’s beautiful.” Visions of a sexy, naked Zane flashed through her mind. “But I can’t make a decision like that after only three days.”

Jessica put down her fork and smoothed the napkin draped over her lap. “You’re safe now, Celeste.”

Celeste nodded, because she knew her mother wanted to believe that. Celeste wanted to believe it, too, but didn’t have as much faith in the legal system as Jessica did, not where her ex-husband was concerned. She wanted to keep her options open and her life mobile enough to move on at the first sign of trouble. Coming here at all had been a risky move – Celeste did not want the shadows of her past darkening her mother’s doorstep but figured it would be safe enough for the next few months, at least. And, truth be told, she’d really missed her mother and the close bond they had once shared.

“So what’s Mitch doing this evening?” Bringing up her mother’s special friend was a surefire way to lighten the mood and redirect the conversation to more pleasant topics. As hoped, Jessica’s features softened and a smile played about her lips. It was nice to see; her mother’s eyes hadn’t lit up like that since her father died.

“He said he had some briefs to wade through before court tomorrow.”

Mitch was a lawyer, and a good one. Celeste had met him on more than one occasion and heartily approved. “He is always welcome to join us, you know.”

“I know, and I appreciate that, but we need some mother-daughter time, too. Like dinner tonight. And furniture shopping tomorrow.”

Celeste sighed. So much for her brilliant diversion tactic. “I’d love to, Mom, but I can’t. I’ve got a ton of orders lined up, and the move put me behind.”

“Business is good, then?”

“Better than good,” she grinned. “I’ll never have to work another day again.” Jessica laughed at their inside joke, a reference to one of Celeste’s favorite sayings: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

“I’m happy for you, honey. You deserve it. But surely you can spare an hour or two for your poor old mother?”

Celeste rolled her eyes at her mother’s blatant attempt at guilt, but laughed. “All right! But only the kitchen store, no furniture.”

“Deal. I need to pick up some things for the dinner party next week anyway.”

The hairs on the back of Celeste’s neck prickled in warning. “Dinner party? What dinner party?”

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