Simple Perfection (Perfection #2)(7) by Abbi Glines

The happiness in Blaire's voice was unmistakable. Rush Finlay made her happy. She made him happy. That was what I had with Woods but it was different. Rush could leave her alone with their baby and not worry about her zoning out and getting lost in her head. He could love her and not worry that his baby would inherit her mental illness. Their love was easy. It was the kind that would go the distance. What Woods and I had wasn't.

Every time I saw Rush holding his baby, I wanted that for Woods. The proud look in his eyes and joy on his face. I couldn't give him that.

"You okay?" Blaire's voice broke into my thoughts and I forced a smile.

"I'm sorry. Work on the brain. I promise to shut it off and be a good lunch date," I assured her.

"As long as it's work that's causing that distressed look on your face," Blaire replied, sounding like she didn't believe me.

I hadn't been brave enough to talk to my best friend, Braden, about this. She loved me fiercely and thought I could do no wrong. She also thought I could be a mother and stable wife. She lived in a fairy tale that I didn't allow myself to step into. Would Blaire be the same way, or would she see my side and understand my fears?

The hostess snapped to attention when she saw me and led us to Woods's table. He had told the staff in the dining room that his table should be available at my convenience.

"Oh, we get the good table," Blaire said, grinning, as we sat down. "I guess you're the boss now, too."

"Woods made a big deal out of them always seating me here." I felt myself blush and Blaire laughed.

"That's sweet," she said.

I wasn't sure how to respond to that. It was sweet. Woods was always sweet. He was impossible to get mad at. Even when he deserved it. Like when he made the new server, Ken, almost pee his pants for talking to me.

Jimmy came strutting out of the kitchen, grinning at us.

"Looks like we're going to get special service, too," I said, nodding my head toward Jimmy.

"Well, hello, my beauties. I didn't know I was gonna get this lucky today," he said with a southern drawl that made most women drool over him.

"Hello, Jimmy," Blaire said.

"You broke loose from baby duty, I see," he teased.

"It's never a duty," she replied.

"Sweet tea for both of you?" he asked.

"Sparkling mineral water for me," Blaire told him.

His eyebrows shot up and then he laughed. "Well look at Alabama getting all sophisticated with her water choices. Damn, baby girl, I remember when you drank water out of the tap."

Blaire laughed. "It's better for the baby than soda or tea. That's all."

"Mmm-hmm, next you're gonna be ordering sushi with that raw shit in it," he said, shaking his finger at her. Then he shot us both a wink and turned to head back to the kitchen.

"He's a mess," Blaire said with fondness in her tone.

"Yes he is, but he runs the kitchen so well. I don't know what we'd do without him."

Blaire leaned back in her seat and crossed her legs. "You'd beg and plead with him to come back. That's what you'd do."

She knew exactly how important he was. She had once been a server there, too. Jimmy had been her first friend in Rosemary. The story went that she came into town looking for her daddy and found her daddy's new wife's son instead. Rush Finlay wasn't a fan of her father and disliked her on the spot. But he let her live in the maid's room while she worked for Woods and made some money until her dad got back from France with Rush's mom.

Rush treated her poorly but ended up falling for her against his will. They had more pain to work through in the end and a lie that tore them apart. I wouldn't have believed any of it seeing them now, but Bethy had told me all about it. She'd been Blaire's friend through it all.

"Did my gun effectively run off the wicked witch, or did Woods do that?" Blaire asked.

"I think it was your gun and the fact that she was scared of what Woods would do once he found out. She left that night and we haven't seen or heard from her since. Mrs. Kerrington isn't very happy with Woods about the whole thing. She blames him for her leaving."

"You're welcome to tell her that it was all me," Blaire said with a smile.

"Thank you, but I don't think it will matter. She doesn't approve of me. She wants Angelina for Woods."

Blaire sighed. "I understand that. I have a mother-in-law who hates me so badly she hasn't even seen her only grandchild."

Blaire was poised and beautiful. She wasn't dealing with something like a mental illness, so you would think her mother-in-law would have loved her. But she represented something to Rush's mother that couldn't ever go away. It was part of the dark past she shared with Blaire's dad.

"I heard Rush's dad was in town last week visiting Nate," I said, remembering how the entire club had talked nonstop about the drummer from Slacker Demon being in town. He was a legend, just like the rock band he was a part of.

"Yes. Dean is a wonderful grandfather. It is a bit surreal to see him cuddling with Nate and singing to him. Nate adores the man. I love to watch Rush's face while he witnesses his dad with his son. It brings me to tears every time."

"I would imagine that is special," I replied. I didn't have parents who would see any child I might have one day. If I ever felt safe enough to have a child.

Woods

My mother was driving me nuts. She was lonely. I understood that. With Angelina gone, she spent most of her time alone. Mother had never done well alone. I had seen her at the club playing tennis with a few of her friends earlier in the week. She had put on a good show for them, treating me like she was proud of me. But I knew she was still mad at me. I'd been going along with her acting all my life.

I had sent Della to my office to organize some files on my desk that didn't really need organizing. I just wanted her safely out of the way while Mother was here. I wasn't sure my mom could act as if she liked Della. And I wasn't going to have Della hurt or embarrassed.

The rest of the staff loved Della. When they saw her coming, everyone became happier and nicer. They didn't want to let her down. Whatever had been wrong the moment before they were willing to fix. It was helping me out a shit-ton. My jealousy over the fact that the males on my staff bent over backward to make her smile was difficult. But then who wouldn't want to make Della happy? I couldn't be mad at them for that. As long as they kept their hands off of her.

"Where's Della?" Marco, our golf pro, asked as he walked into the clubhouse.

"Why do you need Della?" I asked, reminding myself that this man was happily married.

"She was working on getting me a sub for next week. They're inducing Jill on Monday and I want to be with her and the baby the first week."

"I have her working on something. I'll check to make sure she has a sub for you. You should be with your wife and child," I replied.

"Thanks, Mr. Kerrington," he replied, and nodded before heading over to grab a water from the cooler.

The back door swung open and Vince stood there, looking wide-eyed. "Mr. Kerrington, sir, you need to come quick."

It was Della. I knew that look. She was having one of her episodes. Shit!

I ran for the door. "Where is she?" I asked him.

"In your office, sir. She came up to see you and then your mom stopped by. I tried to call you but it went to voice mail. Your mom went into the office to talk to Della. After she came out I heard Della whimpering. I knocked, sir, but she didn't respond so I went in."

"That's enough. I know the rest. Don't tell anyone about this, do you understand?" I waited until he nodded before I sprinted across the parking lot into the main offices. My mother is off her damn leash. Fuck! I shouldn't have left Della alone for so long.

Several people called my name as I ran for the stairs, not wanting to wait on the damn elevator. Taking the stairs two at a time, I reached the third floor in less than a minute. My office door was closed and I was thankful Vince hadn't left her exposed to whoever walked up there.

I swung the door open and scanned the room until I found her sitting against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chin. Her arms were wrapped around her legs and she was rocking back and forth, whimpering. I hated seeing her like this. She'd been doing so well. Her night terrors had eased off; she hadn't experienced any in a month, at least.

"Della." I called her name as I walked over to her, hoping she could hear me and my voice would draw her out. I bent down beside her and pulled her into my arms. She was stiff and cold.

"No, no, no, no, no," she chanted over and over.

"I have you, sweetheart. You're in my arms. I have you, Della. Shh, it's okay. Come back to me, baby. Please come back to me. I'm right here and I have you." I whispered in her ear how much I loved her; I wasn't going to let her go until her body started to ease.

Slowly, her arms loosened their grip around her legs and wrapped around me, and then she buried her face in my neck. She was back. I continued to tell her she was wonderful and she was mine and I would take care of her. Reassuring her reassured me that I had her. That she was here and I could take care of her. I had let her take on too much responsibility because she was good at it. I had started letting her work longer and I was checking on her less. This was my fault. My mother would never have gotten to her if I had been watching her closer.

"I'm sorry," Della said in a teary voice against my chest.

"Don't say that," I replied as I ran my hand over her hair and down her back. "Please, baby, don't say that. I hate for you to think you have to say that."

She sniffled. "I need to be stronger. I want to be stronger. I want to be tough."

Did she not realize how f**king tough she was? She had lived a horror story for sixteen years of her life that had ended even more horrifically. And she still laughed and found reasons to smile. She was brave enough to live life, even after enduring the monsters that had terrorized her in her room as a child. And they weren't pretend. She'd faced real monsters and she had survived. There was no one as f**king tough as this woman.

"Della, you are tougher than anyone I know. Just because you have to protect yourself sometimes and fade away from me doesn't make you weak. You're a survivor. You are my inspiration and I love you. No matter what, I love you."

Della clung tighter to me. My mother had upset her. I would deal with her. She wouldn't get close to Della again, even if I had to ban her from the club. This would stop. I was done with my family hurting what was mine.

We sat there in silence. Della let me hold her as close as I needed to. She let me kiss her head and hands and run my hands over her arms and back to reassure myself she was okay.

The knock on the door ended our peace and quiet. Della started to move out of my lap but I held her to me. I was going to ignore whoever it was. Vince should have been out there by now.

"Is everything okay, sir?" Vince asked from the other side of the door.

"Yes, we're fine," I replied.

Della tilted her head back to look up at me. "Did he see me?"

I nodded. I didn't want to lie to her, even though I knew she hated for people to see her when she was like that.

"He's going to think I'm insane," she said with a defeated sigh.

I grabbed her chin and made her look up at me. "No, he won't. You aren't insane. You are intelligent, lovable, and beautiful. But you are not insane. You lived through hell and you beat it, Della. Most people can't overcome something like what you've overcome. Don't ever think you're less than amazing."

A small smile tugged at the corners of her lips. "You just love me," she said.

"More than life," I replied before pressing my lips to hers.

Della

Woods hadn't left me alone since my blackout yesterday. I knew he had work to do. I also had work to do, but he was keeping me by his side at home. Every time I mentioned going into the office, he did something to distract me. Oral sex on the kitchen counter had been his first tactic, and it worked. I had forgotten about anything but the way he made me feel.

Then he'd caught me sneaking off to take a shower when he was on a work-related phone call. I mentioned that we needed to get ready, and then he'd taken me against the shower wall. After he cut the water off and carried me to bed, we'd made love again.

Now he was outside on the phone again. I knew he was dealing with work from home and it only proved my point that I was hindering him. My weakness was a weight on him, but I wanted to help him. When he opened the door and stepped inside, I started to tell him that we should really go to work. I was going to fight off any sexual advances he tried to use to keep me there.

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