Della

I sucked at golf.

When the ball once again went flying out into the trees I spun around and looked at Tripp who was covering his mouth to smother his laughter. At least he found my extreme lack of luck with a golf swing humorous.

When he had woken me up at seven this morning to make the tee time he’d reserved I hadn’t been very happy. But after the way he’d helped me get through my episode the night before I felt like I owed it to him. So I had dragged myself out of bed and gotten dressed. Now, seventeen holes, and twelve lost balls later, I was thinking I should have stayed in bed. Yes, I’d wanted to learn to golf but not this early and now that I knew I was terrible at it I didn’t want to try again.

“I give up,” I said, handing him the club I’d used.

“You were getting better. You just jacked this one up,” Tripp said with a chuckle.

“Save it. We both know I’m horrible at this. Can I just watch you play out the rest?”

Tripp slid the club back into the bag. “We can call it a game. You tried hard. Maybe we need to spend a little time on the driving range and work on your swing before we attempt this again.”

He was talking like we’d be golfing together in the future. I didn’t want to ever golf again if I could keep from it. I didn’t want to sound rude so I just kept my mouth shut. I got back on the golf cart and Tripp drove us back to the clubhouse.

Without thinking about it I started looking for Woods’ truck. I could tell myself that it was because I wanted to make sure he wasn’t here and I wouldn’t have to see him. But I’d be lying. I was a glutton for punishment.

“Dammit,” Tripp muttered before pulling the golf cart into the first empty spot reserved for the carts.

I glanced over at him to see what was wrong when my gaze locked on Woods. He was headed toward us.

“He looks like a man on a mission,” Tripp said in a low voice then stepped out of the cart. Woods nodded at Tripp but his eyes immediately were back on me. I watched as he walked past Tripp.

He stopped in front of me. “We need to talk,” he said.

“Y’all did enough of that last night, man.” Tripp’s tone sounded like a gentle warning.

Woods ignored him. “I’m not engaged anymore. Angelina just left and it’s over. I ended it.” He reached out and slipped his hand into mine. “Please come talk to me.”

He’d broken off his engagement? I felt like I was still sleeping. Why would he do that? He wanted what a marriage to Angelina would give him. Why was he ending that?

“I don’t understand,” I replied. My voice was barely above a whisper.

A sexy grin tilted the corners of Woods’ mouth. “That’s why we need to talk.”I glanced over at Tripp who just shrugged. I had lunch plans with him today. I couldn’t cancel on him. I needed him to say something instead of just shrugging at me.“We… Tripp and I were supposed to have lunch together,” I said, still looking at Tripp.Tripp looked from me to Woods then he shook his head with a small smile. “I’m not getting in the middle of this. Go with him. If he just broke it off with Angelina then there’s more to what he’s got to say than I thought there was,” he said and then his complete attention went to Woods. “No one’s puppet. It’s about damn time,” he said then walked off.Woods was grinning when I looked back at him. “Have lunch with me?”I glanced past him toward the club’s restaurant. I didn’t want to go in there with the boss and have lunch. I couldn’t let one of my coworkers wait on me. But I also wanted to talk to Woods. He wasn’t engaged. My heart started beating harder in my chest. Woods was free.“I wouldn’t be comfortable eating in there. Could we talk first then go find something to eat somewhere else?”“Whatever you want.” He pulled me to him and then nodded his head toward his truck. “Let’s go for a ride.”Once we were in the truck, Woods didn’t start the engine. He looked over at me. His dark brown eyes were serious but the sadness wasn’t there. “I’m sorry for how I acted last night. I shouldn’t have talked to you that way. I was panicking and I lost it.”I shifted in my seat and rested my shoulder against the leather so that I was facing him. “Why were you panicking?”Woods cocked one eyebrow as if he didn’t think this question needed an answer. As if it was understood. “Because Tripp was talking about taking you away.”Oh.“I want you to understand something. This needs to be very clear. I never loved Angelina. I never wanted to be engaged to her. I was doing it because she was the key to getting what I thought I’d always wanted. But you changed that. I realized I wanted other things. I didn’t want to be controlled. And I wanted a chance with you. Even if you don’t plan on staying long. Even if you aren’t one for commitments, I want this time with you.”The idea of losing his freedom hadn’t been enough reason for him to refuse to do his father’s bidding? It had taken me to make him stand up to his father? Why me? I didn’t understand. “What if you get to know me and you realize I’m not worth it? Will you still be glad you let go of everything?”Woods’ grin returned and he nodded. “Yeah. Like Tripp said out there. I’m no one’s puppet. It was time I put my foot down.”He was right. Living under someone else’s control wasn’t living at all. I knew that all too well. But I didn’t want to be the only reason he gave up what was rightfully his. The pressure to be worth it was too much.“I agree. Not being able to make your own choices in life isn’t fair. I guess I just want to be sure I’m not the reason you did this. Because honestly, you’re gonna find out real soon that I’m more of a mess than you already got a glimpse of the other night.”Woods’ eyebrows lowered over his eyes as he frowned at me. He didn’t like me saying that but he didn’t know the truth about me. I wasn’t going to tell him either.“I don’t like to hear you talk about yourself like that,” he said in a husky voice.I turned my body back around in my seat. “We can discuss that another time. I’m starving.” I wanted to ask him more questions like ‘what happens with your job now?’ or ‘Will your dad fire you?’ or ‘Do you have plans to do something else?’ but I was refusing to talk anymore about me and my future so I couldn’t expect him to open up about his.We could go eat and just see what happened next. He might realize what he’d done before the days was through and go running back to Angelina begging her to forgive him. There was no need for deep conversations right now. I just wanted to enjoy spending time with him and not feeling guilty about wanting a taken man.