Simple Perfection (Perfection #2)(8) by Abbi Glines

"That was Vince. I have two board members in my office that my mother contacted about some things she knows nothing about. I need to go into work to deal with them. I should be back in two hours max," he said before the door closed behind him.

He wasn't going to let me go. "I could go to work, too. There are things I didn't get done yesterday."

"No. I've got to concentrate on this meeting, and knowing you're there will distract me. I'll be worried about you. Just stay here and I promise I'll come right back."

He pressed a kiss to my lips before walking to the bedroom to get dressed. I stood there and let his words sink in. He was taking my job away. He was going to keep me here again. He was afraid of my being at work and having one of my episodes.

I had been working so hard to be tough. To ease his worries. One bad day and he had me in a glass box again. This wasn't fair. I wanted to live. I loved being close to him and having a purpose, knowing I was helping him. Staying here all the time was lonely. I couldn't do this again.

He walked out of the bedroom dressed in a suit and smiled at me. "We'll eat at that Italian place you love in Seaside tonight," he told me, as if that made this all okay.

Instead of telling him how I felt, I just nodded and kissed him back, then watched him leave. I didn't fight back. I just let him decide what I was going to do. This wasn't tough. Blaire wouldn't have let Rush do this. She would have fought back. She would have turned Alabama badass on him and gotten her way.

I had to show Woods that I could do this. I'd had one slipup but I was bigger than that. I could keep working. He needed me there. I was helping him. I was good at it.

I went to the bedroom and got ready for work.

Facing Woods while he was in a meeting wasn't a wise decision. Instead, I finished the work I hadn't completed yesterday. I managed to schedule a stand-in golf pro, ordered new golf carts to replace two of our older ones, and met with the manager of the golf course, Darla, about using new vendors for snacks and adding some new beers.

It was three hours before I had a chance to meet with Woods. He hadn't called me yet so he wasn't even aware that he had gone over his two hours. Either he was still in a meeting or he was so swamped with work he had lost track of time.

Vince smiled at me with relief in his face when I walked off the elevator. "Miss Della, I'm so glad you're back today. You've been missed."

I needed to go ahead and deal with this thing with Vince. "Thank you," I said, stopping at his desk. "About yesterday, Vince, I'm sorry you saw me like that. I'm very thankful you went and got Woods for me. I have those episodes sometimes and I work hard to control them, but I didn't do a good job yesterday."

He held up his hand to stop me. "I don't need an explanation. If you need me I'm here. Don't you concern yourself with what I saw. That's between us and only us."

Tears stung my eyes and I only managed to nod. I glanced at the closed door to Woods's office. "Is he in there?"

Vince shook his head. "No, he left about fifteen minutes ago. He said he'd be back in thirty minutes for a conference call he's expecting."

Crap. Was I going to miss him? "Okay, thanks, Vince."

I went back to the elevator and changed my mind. I'd take the stairs. Woods normally took the stairs. I might miss him if I took the elevator.

The moment the door to the stairs closed behind me, I heard Woods's voice from below. Stopping, I considered going back into the office. I didn't want to eavesdrop.

"I don't know how you've dealt with the crazy as long as you have." Jace's voice stopped me from leaving, as did his words. I froze with my hand on the door.

"It was what I had to do. I couldn't just let her be alone. But it's affecting my work. At least when Angelina was here she helped." Woods's words were like cold water being poured over my head.

"You need to keep your ass away from her insane shit. You have a corporation to run. Dropping what you need to do to deal with one of her batshit crazy episodes isn't fair. You need to fix this problem." Jace's words made the numbness in my heart start to spread.

"I can't. How the hell do I do that?" Woods said in a frustrated growl.

I'd heard enough. I had to get away. I had to leave. I couldn't breathe. The darkness was closing in again, and this time I wasn't going to be here for everyone to witness it.

I forced a smile at Vince when I walked back out of the stairwell and headed for the elevator. He didn't ask and I didn't explain. I just kept my focus on the elevator doors. They opened and I stepped inside. Taking deep breaths, I fought off the darkness. I would not do this here. My craziness was affecting his work. No, no! I would stay focused.

When the doors opened, I stepped out and walked straight to the parking lot. When I reached my car I got inside and reached for my phone.

"Tripp," I said when he answered.

"Yeah?"

"I need you to come get me. It's time I left," I replied.

He was silent.

"Trust me. I will tell you after you get here. Don't tell Woods. Just come get me. It's past time I left."

"What did he do?"

I let out a heavy sigh and grasped at the strength I hoped was inside me. "He wants out. My issues are too much for him. He just doesn't know how to tell me. Please, it's time I left. I want to live my life now."

"I'll be there by lunch tomorrow. I just have my bike."

"I'll pack light," I replied.

"You can ship everything else. I'll text you an address."

"Okay."

"You're sure about this?"

"Yes," I replied.

Woods

My mother had called two of the board members my dad was closest to and told them that I was letting Della work at the club. Then she'd proceeded to tell them Della was mentally unstable and dangerous. She'd gone as far as to make up shit about Della trying to hurt her. My mother had lost her mind.

Jace walked into my office after I'd had a long meeting with the two men and lost my argument about Della. They wanted background checks on her. I knew what they would find and I refused to do it. She wouldn't want that.

"You look ready to murder an entire village with your bare hands, bro. What's up?" I stormed past him and to the stairwell. I needed to yell and hit a wall. That was the safest place to do it.

I ran up two flights of stairs before I stopped and slammed my fist into the wall, cursing everyone responsible. Della didn't need this right now. She was doing so much better. How was I supposed to tell her about this?

"What happened?" Jace asked from behind me. I hadn't realized he had followed me.

"My f**king mother happened. Her and Angelina. They're evil and twisted. How is it that my mother is so damn screwed up? What happened to her and my father to make them such fucked-up individuals? To make them think they can control lives? They can't! This club is mine and if I want to fire every motherfucker on the board that my father set in place, I will! It's time for a new board anyway," I snarled, taking deep breaths to calm myself down.

"I don't know how you've dealt with the crazy as long as you have," Jace said, sitting down on the steps and watching me pace.

"It was what I had to do. I couldn't just let her be alone. But it's affecting my work. At least when Angelina was here she helped," I said.

"You need to keep your ass away from her insane shit. You have a corporation to run. Dropping what you need to do to deal with one of her batshit crazy episodes isn't fair. You need to fix this problem," Jace said, as if it were easy. How was I supposed to just turn away from my mother? I was all she had.

"I can't. How the hell do I do that?" I asked, stopping my pacing and leaning against the wall. If it was a choice between Della and my mother, I would choose Della. If she forced my hand, I was going to have to turn away from her. First, I needed to decide about the board. I needed a lawyer. My own lawyer, not my father's. I was done using the people he had set in place. Things were different now and I didn't need a crazy-ass phone call from my mother sending board members to my office questioning my decisions.

It was time I made sure this place was run by me. My board would be made up of people I trusted and confided in. It was time for a new generation.

"Jace," I said, turning to look at him.

"Yeah?"

"You ready to be a board member?"

Jace frowned. "What?"

"I'm getting a lawyer. I'm firing the old board and starting my own."

A grin spread across Jace's face. "Hell yeah," he replied.

For the first time since I'd gotten the call earlier that day, I felt lighter. I wasn't going to let my mother control me. I was in control. My grandfather had left it all to me. Even her home was now mine. If she wanted to f**k with my life I'd f**k with hers enough to make her stop. She was my mom, but Della was my life.

Four hours had passed since I'd left Della. Dammit. I'd lost track of time. Grabbing my phone, I headed out the door to my truck. My call went straight to her voice mail. Shit!

Della's car was in the driveway. She was there. Maybe she'd been outside when I'd called her. I had promised her dinner tonight in Seaside. I was two hours late. This wasn't fair to her. I couldn't keep her here all the time. She was coming back to work with me. I needed her help. She was good at her job.

Opening the door, the smell of roasted garlic and tomatoes met my nose. I closed it and followed the smell to the kitchen. Della was standing at the stove with a black apron on from the club, stirring a pot.

"Hey," I said quietly so I didn't startle her.

She spun around and smiled at me. There was a sadness in her eyes she couldn't hide. I'd made her sad. My leaving her here had upset her. She had wanted to go to work today. I would have to explain all that tonight.

"I decided to cook instead of us going out," she said.

I walked over to stand behind her and wrapped my hands around her waist. "It smells incredible."

"Good. I haven't made lasagna in a long time. This sauce is hard to get right."

Something was off in her voice. I hated that she was upset.

"I'm sorry about today."

"Don't apologize. Please, don't. You had work to do. I know that and I'm okay with it."

She didn't want my apology. What was upsetting her then?

"You can come back to work tomorrow," I told her.

"I don't think I'm ready for that yet," she replied.

She wasn't ready for it? Today she'd tried several times to go back to work. What had changed?

"Why do you think you're not ready? Did you have another episode today?"

She shook her head. "No, I think it's just too much on me right now. I need to get a better grip on myself first." She turned and looked up at me. "Let's not talk about it tonight. I want to cook you dinner and enjoy being with you."

I tucked my head in the curve of her neck. "Okay," I replied. We would talk about it tomorrow then. "How can I help you with dinner?"

She turned and kissed my head. "You can slice the French bread, butter it, then sprinkle it with garlic powder. I need to toast it."

"I can do that," I said, stepping back from Della and reaching for the bread.

Della

I had known deep down that this wouldn't be forever. I'd thought once Woods realized how impossible life would be with me that he would end it. But that wasn't true. He was already tired of dealing with my being "crazy," but he'd never let me know. He made me feel cherished. If I hadn't heard him talking to Jace I would still have been holding on to the belief that we could work through it all.

Years of not living among other people had hindered my ability to read them. Jace had known that Woods was tired of dealing with me but I hadn't gotten the hint. I knew now. Tonight would be it for us. I had cooked for him and enjoyed looking at him and listening to him talk. I wanted to etch every moment of tonight in my memory.

When I left tomorrow, that would be it. I wasn't coming back and Woods would be relieved. At first he would be upset. I thought he loved me. I was just more than he'd bargained for. When he realized I'd taken myself out of the picture for him, his life would get easier. He could be free of worrying about me.

Tonight, though, he was still mine. I could hold him and believe in what we had. Just once more.

We stood side by side and cleaned up the dishes. Normally we talked and laughed but I couldn't find anything fun to talk about. My heart was too heavy.

"Are you okay?" Woods asked when he put the last dish in the dishwasher and closed it.

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