Woods

“You need to get back into Jace’s party and I think I’m going to go back to the condo. I’m tired.” Della’s soft voice broke into my thoughts.

I wanted to keep her here with me so I could watch her and make sure she was okay. But I knew that wasn’t an option.

“I’ll drive you. Grant and I will get your car back to the condo for you later.” I wasn’t letting her drive back alone tonight. For my own sanity I needed to see her safely inside.

“You don’t have to do that. I’m okay. Really I am,” she argued letting go of my hand and standing up.

She might be okay but I wasn’t. “I’m driving you,” I repeated and stood up to tower in front of her. “Please. I’ll worry all night if you don’t let me.”

A smile touched her pink lips and she nodded. “All right. Thank you.”

I touched the small of her back because I needed to touch her somehow. The connection reminded me that she was fine now. I led her to my truck and helped her get in on the passenger side. The memory of throwing her inside once before only served to make me even more obsessive to keep her safe.

She wasn’t mine and she never would be but that didn’t change the way I felt. I’d become possessive of her. I wanted her safe and happy. Tonight had scared the shit out of me. Something wasn’t right with Della. The desire to fix it for her was strong and impossible to ignore. What could have happened to her to make her withdraw like that? She’d been completely unresponsive. Like she was just checked out.

Once I was inside the truck, I glanced over at her to make sure she was buckled up. Seeing her tonight was going to haunt me. I wasn’t sure how the hell I was supposed to move on after that.

“Thanks for your help tonight. I hope I didn’t freak you out too bad,” Della said glancing over at me.

I needed to respond but what did I say? You’re welcome and you completely fucked with my head? I couldn’t say that but I needed to say something.

“I’ll always help you but I’m not going to lie to you. After tonight, I’m concerned. I don’t want to drop you off and leave you alone in that damn condo. I want to take you back to my place and take care of you.”

I chanced a quick peek at her before looking back at the road. She was biting her bottom lip nervously. She didn’t say anything right away. I waited for her to say something. Anything. But she remained quiet. I tried not to think about it and that was proving impossible. I was never going to get the image of her face out of my head.

“I have to learn to live on my own. Live without help. That’s why I’m on this road trip. I need to find myself and make a life for me…” she trailed off before finishing.

Who told her she needed to figure out how to handle this by herself and what the fuck had happened to her to make her like this?

I reached over and grabbed her hand with mine. “Call me. Anytime. If you need someone, call me.”

She nodded. Her hand flipped over in mine and she squeezed it. “Thank you.”I pulled in front of Tripp’s condo wishing I’d taken a longer route. Della slipped her hand from mine and opened the door.“I had fun dancing,” she said before stepping out of my truck and closing the door behind her. I waited until I saw her safely inside the condo before pulling away.My mother had called me three times already this morning. I had promised to come to their beach house for a Sunday lunch with the Greystones and apparently she didn’t trust me to show up. When my cell phone started ringing in my pocket I intended to ignore it. I was on my fucking way to their beach house. She needed to back the hell off.The fact it could be Della had me caving in and pulling out my phone. Jace’s name lit up the screen.“Hello.”“Where are you?”“Going to my parents’ beach house for lunch. Why?”“Because I came by your office and you weren’t there. I thought maybe you were playing a round of golf.”“No. Not today.”Jace cleared his throat and I knew there was something more he wanted to say. This wasn’t just about me playing golf.“I, uh, I just talked to Tripp. He’s on his way home. I think it’s because of her.”Her being Della. Shit.“Okay,” I replied not sure what he wanted me to say.“They’ll both be staying in his condo.”I hadn’t thought about that. Della sharing a condo with Tripp? Hell no.“I don’t think I’m okay with that,” I said through clenched teeth.Jace sighed heavily. “Come on. Man. You’re engaged. You can’t have her. If Tripp wants her you know he’d take good care of her. Just back off and let him have his chance. This may bring him home.”Images of Della’s perfect naked body splayed out on a bed for Tripp made me want to go grab him and slam him up against the wall. She was mine. No, she wasn’t. Dammit all to hell!“I need to go,” I growled before hanging up and chunking my phone against the car door while I let out a frustrated roar.