Woods

There were orders I needed to make that Juan, the head chef, had placed on my desk yesterday. Phone calls I needed to return and a fiancée determined to get me to decide on a date for our wedding. Was I doing any of those things? No. I was torturing myself instead.

Della needed a bigger bikini top and Thad was about to lose the use of both his hands. Grinding my teeth I tore my eyes off Thad rubbing sunblock on Della’s back and shoulders. Thad had managed to get her to go into the water with him. I had sat here and watched every agonizing second of it. Her squeals of laughter and Thad’s need to keep touching her had jealousy raging through my veins. I had no right to be jealous. We’d had hot sex. That was it. I knew nothing else about her. But I wanted to.

I wanted to know where she was from. It was obviously the south. I wanted to know if she had brothers and sisters. Who gave her those blue eyes that I’d seen gazed over with pleasure? Did she like to dance? Where had she learned to sing like that? She’d completely blown me away at the Delamar event. There was so much I’d never get a chance to know.

“Your shoulders are looking pink. I’d have thought with your complexion that you’d be used to the sun.” Thad said and I couldn’t keep my eyes from shifting back to look at her shoulders. He was right; they were pink.

I stood up and walked over to the rental stand.

“Give me an umbrella,” I told the young guy I’d hired only two weeks ago before the Spring Break rush hit.

“Yes sir,” he nodded, “you want me to go put it in the sand for you too sir?”

No. I wanted to do this myself. “I got it. Thanks.”

I took the umbrella. My eyes locked with Della’s when I turned to walk back that way. She was watching me curiously. Thad was saying something in her ear but she wasn’t paying attention to him. Her complete focus was on me.

“Move,” I ordered Thad giving him little time to actually follow my command before shoving the pole to the umbrella into the sand and starting the circular motion it took to get it to burrow deep enough so that it stood up and didn’t fly away.

“The umbrella isn’t gonna reach you from there,” Bethy said with a smirk.

“Didn’t get it for me.”

“Oh, you got it for me? How sweet but I’m working on a tan,” Bethy replied thoroughly enjoying herself.

“Then move over. Della’s shoulders are pink.” There I’d said it. She’d wanted me to admit it so I had. Let Della think about that one for a minute.

“You got it for me?” Della asked. I could hear the surprise in her voice and I didn’t look up at her until I had the umbrella secure.

“Yeah,” was my only response before I walked over and picked up my towel. It was time I left. She didn’t want me here and I shouldn’t be.

“Thank you,” she called out as I started to leave. I nodded without looking her way.

“You leaving?’ Jace asked.

“I have some work to do.”

“Don’t forget Friday night at the Sun Club,” Bethy said grinning up at Jace who chuckled and shook his head.

It was Jace’s birthday and Bethy was determined to celebrate it with a night of partying at the only club in town. She’d rented out the place with a little help from Grant who was friends with the owner. It was invite only.“Wouldn’t miss it,” I replied.***A night of drinking, dancing and karaoke was not something that interested Angelina. But at least I’d done my duty and invited her. She’d quickly said no and made up the excuse that she needed to fly to New York to get fitted for her wedding dress. That would take a few days so I was all for it.Bethy had gone all out on the decorations. Shot glasses had been glued to the back of a large piece of wood to spell out twenty-four. There was a small light in each shot glass so the effect was pretty damn cool. I spoke to a few people as I passed but I was scanning the room for Della.I was going to try and talk to her one more time tonight. Watching her laugh and talk to Thad and Grant like they were old friends was about to kill me. I wanted that too. I knew she wasn’t seeing either one of them but they were getting to know her. Grant had said something about Della wanting to learn to golf and I’d been instantly jealous that he knew something personal about her. Something I didn’t know.“You know Woods, once you get engaged it’s expected for you to show up with your fiancée to events,” Bethy said as she stopped in front of me and held out a shot of something that looked like whiskey.“She had to go to New York,” I replied and took the glass from her hand.“Hmmm, interesting,” Bethy drawled then walked away.I downed the shot and set the glass on the bar. Della came walking out of the ladies room and I took a minute to appreciate her tiny blue jean shorts and those boots I’d seen on her once before. I knew exactly how she looked in nothing but the boots. The black lacy top she was wearing was strapless and when she raised her arms even a little a small sliver of her stomach would show.The girl sure knew how to dress to drive a man insane.“Stop lusting, bro. You sealed your fate already,” Grant said with a chuckle as he walked up to me.“I’m not married yet,” I muttered and shot him an annoyed glare before looking back at Della.“No, but you will be. If you’d wanted Della more than the VP job you’d already have her. You made that choice and I’ve known you long enough to know you’re sticking with it.”“It’s more complicated than that.”Grant crossed his arms over his chest and stared at me. “Really? How so?”I didn’t want to explain how I felt about Della to him. This wasn’t his business. He out of all people should know what it feels like to want someone you know is a really bad idea. He’d been there, done that, and gotten burned. He just didn’t know that I knew about it. He thought it was a big secret. Nothing with Nannette was a secret. Ever. His former step-sister was all kinds of fucked up evil. He’d known that most of his life. This thing that I had with Della was different but just as impossible.“You know just how complicated things can get, Grant. I know you do,” I said in a low voice meant only for his ears.Grant’s eyes narrowed then he smirked, although it wasn’t an amused one. More of a disgusted one. “Who told you?” he asked.No one had told me. I’d watched it happen. Not much went on in my club that I didn’t see or hear about. “No one else knows. I saw it. I don’t think anyone else did.”Grant’s face looked sour. “It’s over.”I nodded. “I figured. No one can stay close to her for long.”We stood in silence and both watched Della. When her eyes finally turned and met mine, I decided to make my move. We were talking tonight. I wasn’t letting her blow me off again. Not this time.