Simple Perfection (Perfection #2)(10) by Abbi Glines

"Not sure. We're just riding. I thought you might need that right now. I'm heading north. I figure we'll find somewhere interesting by bedtime to stop at."

This was what I needed. I nodded. "Okay."

"I gotta fill up," he told me, and I headed inside the store. I would need to call Braden now. I hadn't told her I was leaving Woods. She wouldn't have seen it my way. But once Woods knew I was gone he would call her first. She would be worried. I should prepare her. I slipped my phone out of my pocket and remembered I'd had it switched off. I didn't want to be traceable. I would reactivate it in the next big city. A new number. One no one knew.

After using the restroom I grabbed a bottle of water and some Cheetos, paid, and headed outside to sit at a picnic table that sat in a grassy area.

Tripp glanced over at me before he went inside and did the same. By the time he came outside I was finished with my bag of Cheetos. He dropped a candy bar, a bag of peanuts, some beef jerky, and a bag of gummy worms on the table. "Eat some more," he said before picking up the beef jerky and taking a bite of it.

I reached for the candy bar and broke it in half before eating it. We ate in silence. I was afraid to try to talk to him. He wanted to know why I was doing this. He didn't think I should. I could tell by the way he was acting.

"He didn't know you were leaving. Didn't even have a clue. That sucks, Della. It really does. The dude's gonna take this real hard."

I stopped eating and stood up. "I can't think about that right now, okay? I need to think about other things. Not that. It's what was best for him. That's all I can tell you. Please, let's not talk about it."

Tripp let out a weary sigh, then nodded. "Fine. We won't talk about it. Not right now, anyway. Eat some worms, they're good for you," he said with a smirk as he pushed the bag of gummy worms toward me.

"I'm not hungry." I wasn't. I felt sick now.

"Fine. I'll take this with us. You'll get hungry again soon. You barely ate anything."

"Can I use your phone to call my friend Braden?"

Tripp nodded and pulled his phone out of his pocket to hand it to me.

"Thanks," I replied as I took it from him.

I walked far enough away that he wouldn't hear me. I was going to lie to Braden some, if only to keep her from telling Woods the truth.

Dialing her number, I held my breath, hoping that I could find a way to tell her and make it believable. She would go straight to Woods with my location and reason for leaving if she knew the truth.

"Hello?" Braden's voice sounded curious. She didn't recognize the number.

"It's me," I said into the phone.

"Della? Where are you?"

"I'm traveling the world. Living life. Woods's life isn't what I want for myself. I need adventure."

Braden didn't respond. She was thinking. I knew the look on her face even though I couldn't see it.

"What happened? Stop bullshitting me and tell me where you are and what's wrong." I was a horrible liar and Braden knew me better than anyone.

"I'm traveling. I'm not alone and I'm okay. I just need some time. I'll check in when I can but I need time to move on from things. This is why I got in your car and took off to begin with, anyway. Woods changed that but it was only temporary. I need to do this for me."

"I'm still calling bullshit. I don't believe you but I won't push. Call me when you can, and be safe. Can I trust who you're with to keep you safe?"

"Yes," I replied.

"You won't tell me who it is?"

"No. I need you to not tell Woods that you talked to me. Tell him nothing. He will come after me and I don't want him to."

Braden let out a small growl of frustration. "He loves you, Della," she said.

"And I love him. But it's time I lived. I can't be locked up in that small town."

"I hope you're not making the biggest mistake of your life," she said in a defeated tone.

"It was the best chapter. I'll have more chapters though."

"I love you," Braden said.

"I love you, too," I replied.

"Call me soon."

"I will."

I hung up and walked back over to Tripp, who was watching me.

"Thanks," I said, handing back his phone.

"Did you have yours turned off so he couldn't track you?" he asked, standing up.

I nodded.

"Damn, girl. You didn't leave the boy a bone, did you?"

"Can we go? I just want to ride."

"Yeah, let's go," he said, and headed for the Harley parked near the table.


She hadn't left me anything but a note. She'd taken all her things. I held the pillow she'd slept on last night and pressed my face to it. It smelled like her. The sexy sweet scent that was Della.

How was I supposed to let her go? She didn't want me to find her . . . she wanted to live. This wasn't living for her. She had started out on a journey to see the world and she'd met me. Now she wanted more.

I'd hovered over her. I had tried to keep her safe and not let her do things she wanted. I'd controlled her job and what she did. She wanted to spread her wings and I'd clipped them. So she'd found another way to fly.

My chest was so tight that each breath I took was painful. I hadn't called anyone. I hadn't left my house for hours. I held the pillow closer and glanced over at the clock. It was after nine. I'd been home for five hours. How long had she been gone? Had she known last night that she was leaving me?

The look in her eyes as she'd made love to me had been different. There had been something in them that bothered me. But she had been so passionate and needy that I'd forgotten about everything other than the pleasure. If I had just looked deeper and talked to her . . . Instead, it had been about sex. When she had fallen to her knees in the kitchen, I was lost to whatever she wanted.

If I'd only looked deeper.

How had she left me?

Slowly, a realization came to me and I stood up, still holding her pillow. The phone call from Tripp. He hadn't made sense but he'd been trying to tell me. Motherfucker! She'd left with Tripp. She had called him and he had come for her.

The pain slowly started heating up as anger---no, fury---consumed me. She had left with Tripp. He had taken her from me. His call wouldn't have made sense to anyone. It had been his way of being able to say he had warned me when he knew I wouldn't understand him.

I reached for the lamp on the bedside table and threw it against the wall. Then I threw the sheets and shoved over the nightstand. I grabbed the mirror off the wall and smashed it, but the anger was still there. I punched the wall until my fist went through the Sheetrock and my voice seemed so far away, even though I was yelling. I had stepped outside of myself as my body went mad. Then I threw the pillow in my hand and everything stopped. That was all I had. Her pillow. I walked over to the pile of broken glass and furniture and picked the pillow back up. I held it reverently to my chest.

Her scent filled my senses and for a moment the fury eased. For a moment I wasn't a hysterical madman bent on demolishing everything in my house. I had her. I could hold this. I had her.

"Holy shit." Jace's voice came from the doorway. I snapped my head up to see him looking into my room. The horrified look on his face as he lifted his eyes to me only made me angry again.

"Dude," he said, holding up both his hands. "You gotta calm down."

He didn't understand. He hadn't just lost his reason for f**king living. She hadn't just walked away from him. Left him nothing but a note and a pillow. The note . . . shit.

I stalked to the door and shoved past Jace. I had to get the note. I had the note, too. It was something of hers. I had that. I wanted it. Even if the words in it tore me wide open, I wanted it.

The torn paper lay on the floor and I scrambled to pick it up. I couldn't read the words again. Not right now. I folded it carefully and tucked it into my pocket. I'd keep it on me. This was her handwriting. Her words.

"You're scaring me, man." Jace had followed me to the kitchen.

"I need to be alone," I said without turning to look at him.

"I don't think you need to be alone."

"Leave my motherfucking house," I snarled.

"I've called Rush and Thad. They're on their way. I'm not leaving you alone."

I didn't want them here. I wanted to yell and break things. I wanted to find a way to ease the pain. "No! Why are you even here?"

"Tripp called me," he said slowly. Just hearing his name and knowing that he was the one who had Della made the monster inside of me snap. I reached for the glass in the sink and threw it across the room, shattering a picture.

"He took her!" I roared as I grabbed a plate and hurled it across the room. "He f**king took her from me!"

"She called him. She wanted to go with him, Woods. You gotta calm down. She left of her own free will." I could hear the fear in Jace's voice but I didn't care. I grabbed a bar stool and began smashing it against the counter until the wood shattered into pieces in a heap on the floor.

"Holy hell." Rush's voice registered in my brain but I couldn't think. I didn't want them there.

"Dude! Stop him. He's gone f**king mad," Thad said.

Arms wrapped around me from behind and I fought against them, but they held me tighter. "Chill the f**k out. Breathe, man. Fucking take a breath. She isn't dead. She left. She's out there and it ain't over. So calm the f**k down," Rush said in a stern, loud voice as he held my arms back.

I took several deep breaths. He was right. She was alive. She had just left. She had left. "She left me," I said, and my voice broke.

"Yeah, she did. But you can't beat the hell out of your house. It won't bring her back and you're getting out of control. Get it together. I know what this feels like. I've been there. Losing your shit doesn't make her come back to you."

Rush had been here. He knew. Blaire had left him once. But she'd been betrayed. She'd had a reason to. I hadn't hurt Della. I had only loved her.

"I didn't let her live," I said, lifting my eyes to look straight ahead at Jace and Thad, who were keeping their distance from me.

"She needs some space. Let her have it," Rush said.

"How do I keep going? With her gone? What do I do?"

Rush let out a sigh and slowly let his hold on me go. "You wake up each morning and you go to work. You smile when you think you're supposed to. You spend your free time thinking about her. Thinking about what you'll say when you see her again. Then you go to bed and hope you get some sleep. Then you wake up and do that same shit over again."

I leaned against the wall and hung my head. "What if she never comes back?" He didn't say anything at first. We stood there in silence among the destruction.

"Then you find a way to keep living," Rush finally said, and I realized that was my biggest fear. That I'd be left needing to find a way, because Della might never come back.

"She was my go-all-in," I said as I stared down at the smashed-up bar stool.

"Your what?" Jace asked.

"Della was my go-all-in. She was my winning hand. You can't play when you go all in and lose. I'm out."

"No, you're not. This hand ain't over yet," Rush said.

I hoped he was right.

Two weeks later . . .


"Where are we now?" I asked Tripp as I got off the back of his bike---without his help this time.

"What have you been doing back there? Sleeping? We've passed several signs announcing our arrival at the home of the King," Tripp said as he grabbed our bags and headed for the hotel to get us a room.

"The King?" I asked, following him.

"Yeah, you know . . . hunka hunka burnin' love," Tripp said.

"Elvis? "You mean we're in Memphis?"

"Yep," Tripp said as he pushed open the door to the hotel and held it for me so I could go inside. Our first night I had tried to stay in my own room, but the night terrors had come fast and hard. Since then, we got rooms with two beds and Tripp helped me when the dreams came, which was every night so far. We were both so tired this week that most nights we ended up falling asleep in the same bed once the terror was over, sleeping that way through the rest of the night.

"One room, two beds," Tripp told the lady, and she glanced over at me, then back at Tripp and flashed him a flirty smile. He got that a lot. When females realized we weren't together they started throwing themselves at him. He ignored it for the most part. Sometimes there would be a girl he couldn't ignore. He would flirt back and take her number, which I thought was pointless since we weren't coming back. But he said he might just come back one day.

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