Simple Perfection (Perfection #2)(3) by Abbi Glines

"They're at the door, Della. Don't let them in here. They'll hurt us. All they want to do is hurt us. We have to keep your brother safe. They tried to kill him before. They'll kill us this time. Don't let them in. Shhhh. Stop that crying, you little brat! You have to be quiet. So very quiet, then they'll go away."

I covered my mouth with both my hands to keep in the terrified cries I couldn't control. I hated when this happened. Mom would get mean afterward. She didn't like it when people knocked on our door. It upset her. And she would talk to him. He wasn't there, but she saw him. That scared me, too.

"Get up! They're gone. Go to the door and get the package they left and be careful that they don't see you."

I didn't want to open the door. I wasn't sure what was out there that wanted to get me, but I didn't want to open the door. Momma had been making me do that more and more lately. Since my sixth birthday.

Pain seared my head as she wrapped her hand around my ponytail and jerked me to my feet. I couldn't let her hear me cry or this would get worse.

"Go!" she screamed in that voice that sent chills down my body. The hard shove from her hands sent me stumbling out of the closet and into the hallway. She would stay in the closet until I came back with the package.

I glanced back at her but instead of seeing her wild, distant eyes there was blood. It was pouring out of the room and into the hallway. No . . . no, there wasn't supposed to be blood.

Then a shrill scream of terror ripped from the small room.

I jolted straight up and the scream was still echoing around me as it tore from my chest. It was my own scream. It was always my scream. Not my mother's.

I was still alone. Looking around the living room, I took slow, deep breaths while my heart kept hammering against my chest. I pulled my legs up and tucked my knees under my chest. Falling asleep without Woods here wasn't something I did often. Having him near me while I slept kept me from having night terrors for the most part.

The clock on the fridge said it was after nine. He should have been home over an hour ago. Had he stayed later with his mother? I reached for my phone on the coffee table and saw that I had two missed calls and one text message. All from Woods.

I clicked the text message.

{tm}Please answer. I'm worried about you and Mom passed out during dinner. I think she hasn't been eating properly. Call me!{tx}

That had been ten minutes ago. I jumped up from the couch and started to dial his number when the front door swung open and Woods came running inside. His eyes locked on mine and he stopped and let out a deep breath. "Thank God. Shit, baby, you scared me."

I dropped my phone and walked over to him. "I'm so sorry. I just woke up. I fell asleep on the couch. How's your mother?"

Woods pulled me against him and wrapped his arms around me. "She was too weak to stand up so I called an ambulance. Angelina kept saying it could be a stroke. She rode in the ambulance with Mom so I could come back here and check on you."

I pushed at his chest. "Go! Go to the hospital. No, wait, let me get my shoes, I'm going too."

"Are you sure? If you're tired I don't want to drag you to the hospital. We could be there all night."

I slipped my feet into a pair of tennis shoes and ran my hands through my hair. "I want to be with you."

Woods smiled and held out his hand for me. "Good. I won't be able to focus if I'm worried about you here alone. If you need to sleep, I can always hold you."

I tried not to think about the fact that Angelina was helping him take care of his mother. He had been able to leave her knowing she would be there beside his mother. What was I good for? He had to worry about me. I was weak and needy. I was one more thing for him to stress over. I wasn't any help at all.

"Stop frowning. She's gonna be okay. The paramedics said there's a good chance her potassium is low. They don't think it's a stroke but they said due to her heart rate we needed to admit her and let doctors check her out."

I nodded as he laced his fingers through mine. "Let's go," I told him.

I was going to find a way to be helpful. He needed someone to lean on right now and I was going to be that someone.

"Did you sleep okay without me here?" he asked as we stepped outside.

"Yes. I slept great," I lied, because telling him the truth would only have upset him.

Woods

Della had finally given in and curled up against me. She'd been asleep within minutes. It was after three in the morning and they had Mom in a room under observation. Angelina was in the room with her. It was better that way.

I wasn't stupid. I knew Angelina wasn't helping my mother out of the goodness of her heart. She had no goodness in her heart. She was doing it to get to me. It wasn't like my mother needed a live-in nurse. Just a friend, and Angelina was being her friend.

Della didn't seem to mind. I had been watching to make sure it didn't get to her. The moment it seemed like Della was upset about Angelina's still being in our lives in this capacity, I would end all connection with my mom until Angelina left. She would eventually leave anyway when she realized I didn't want her and nothing she did was going to change that. Della owned me. She always would.

Della started to whimper in her sleep. I pulled her into my lap, brushed her hair back off her face, and whispered in her ear. That always calmed her. She rarely had bad dreams anymore. I normally saw them coming on and stopped them before they could take over.

"I have you, I'm right here. You're in my arms and nothing can touch you, Della. Nothing, baby. I won't let it," I assured her as her breathing returned to normal and her body eased back into a peaceful sleep. Smiling, I pressed a kiss to the side of her hair. I liked knowing I could fight off her fear. It was a powerful drug to know all she needed was me.

"Doesn't that get exhausting? She's like a helpless, needy child." Angelina's icy voice annoyed me. I didn't look up at her. I'd rather have kept my focus on the woman in my arms.

"How's Mom?" I asked her.

"She's sleeping. She hasn't been eating well. I knew that but I can't force her to eat. I'm not a damn nurse. If you came to visit her more often she'd eat more. She misses you."

My mother had never missed me. She was my father's puppet. She wanted me around if he did. When she thought I was going to marry Angelina she wanted me around.

"You're choosing her over your mother and it's disappointing, Woods."

I lifted my eyes from Della's peaceful face. "No. My mother is choosing her wants over mine. I will not live my life the way she wants me to. I will love who the f**k I wanna love. She doesn't control that," I replied in a cold voice.

"You have the Kerrington Club to run, Woods. You need someone who can stand by you and help you. You have to take care of not only the club but her. She's a weight on you, not a help. You can't be a successful businessman with a burden like her," she said, pointing at Della.

I held her closer to my chest. I could do anything if I had Della. Anything.

"What you're not understanding---what my mother is not understanding---is I can't live without Della. I can't breathe. I can't f**king concentrate. I need her. Just her. I can do anything if I have her with me. So take your snide comments and beliefs and leave me the hell alone. I know what I need and it will never be you. Did you hear that? Is it sinking in this time? It. Will. Never. Be. You."

Angelina opened her mouth and snapped it closed again. The bright red color on her face said I'd gotten through. She was furious. Good. About damn time. I didn't watch her leave. I dropped my gaze back down to Della. Just looking at her calmed me.

When the doctor came out four hours later to tell me that Mom was fine and wanted to see me, Della woke up and rubbed her eyes. I watched as the doctor looked her over appreciatively. I didn't like it when men looked at her like that but it was pointless to get mad. She was beautiful and sexy as hell. I just had to remind myself she was mine.

"Go on in and see her. I'm going to find some coffee," she said in a sleepy voice. "I'll get you some too."

I pressed a kiss to her lips because I needed to taste her and I wanted the doctor to see exactly who she belonged to. She immediately responded by wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me back.

"I love you," I said against her lips as I ended the kiss.

"I love you," she replied, then stood up.

She walked off in the short cut-off sweatpants she was wearing and one of my hoodies. She'd come with me in a tank top last night and gotten cold in the waiting room. I had gotten her a hoodie out of my truck.

"Is the woman in the room with your mom your sister?" the doctor asked. I glanced over at him. He was too young to be a doctor, wasn't he?

"No," I replied, and walked past him toward my mother's room.

Angelina was sitting in the chair beside her bed looking at a magazine. She had stayed all night. Even after I'd said what I had. Either she was crazy or she really did like my mom.

"Hey, Mom," I said as I closed the door behind me.

"Hello," she replied. "Angelina said you stayed all night. You didn't have to do that."

I walked over and bent down and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Yeah I did," I replied.

"Did you send the girl home?" The distaste in her voice wasn't missed.

"She went to get coffee," I replied. I wasn't going to fight with her over Della. "You need to eat more, Mom."

She sighed. "I know, but I just don't have an appetite anymore. I miss him."

He was an ass. He tried to control me and he lied to me. He also hurt Della and she knew about it. Forgiving those things was hard. The fact he'd hurt Della made it almost impossible. I couldn't say anything. I had nothing to say.

"I need to get to work. When they discharge you, call me and I'll come get you." Getting out of there was best. She was my mother and I loved her, but there was so much between us that needed to be forgiven. I couldn't stay there.

"I'll take her home. You go work. You're going to be exhausted since you didn't sleep all night." Angelina sounded so sincere. I didn't trust that.

"Okay, well, call if you need me," I said to my mother, and then turned and left the room.

Della stood outside the door holding two coffees. The concern in her eyes was the most sincere thing I'd seen that morning.

"Is she okay?" Della asked as she handed me a cup of bad hospital coffee.

"Yeah. She's fine. Let's go," I replied.

"Why don't I leave and you stay here? She's your mom." Della started to say more but I shook my head and stopped her.

"She's fine. She needs to eat more. I want to leave with you."

Della let out a weary sigh, then nodded her head. "Okay. If that's what you want."

Della

The bonfire lit up the dark beach. I stood watching everyone drink, dance, and laugh. Woods had left to deal with an issue with the staff. He was looking for someone to take over his old job but he hadn't found anyone yet. Right now he was doing everything himself and I could see he was growing weary.

I glanced over at the group of Woods's friends and I knew I was welcome. Bethy was laughing loudly and I was pretty sure she was drunk. But I needed time to think. I wasn't in the mood to pretend like my heart wasn't heavy. Woods had been on the phone with Angelina today when I'd walked into his office. They'd been talking about his mom and it had been friendly. She was taking a lot off him and I wanted to like her. To be thankful to her. I just couldn't.

Turning, I walked up to the parking lot. No one was up there partying and I could wait for Woods to get back. I needed to get in a better mood before he came back. The fact that I was a hindrance to him weighed heavily on me. It was getting worse every day.

If I could just get better . . . If I could just stop having bad dreams . . . If I could forget my past and move forward . . . If the fear that I might go crazy wasn't haunting me every day . . . then I might be able to help him. I might be a support for him.

"Della." Angelina's voice surprised me. I turned to see her standing behind the building where the restrooms were located. The small amount of light the moon was supplying shone down on her.

"Yes," I replied, not sure if I should be worried about being alone with her or if I was just being silly.

"Where's Woods?" she asked.

"He had an issue with some of the staff. He's dealing with it."

Angelina looked disgusted. "He has so much on his shoulders and you make it so much worse. So helpless and fu**ed up. How long do you think he'll want you? What happens when that crazy in your genes takes over? He won't be able to keep you then. You'll be locked up. And I know he doesn't want kids with you. He would be worried about them being crazy, too. That would kill him."

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