The rest of the week Woods brought me to work and sat at an empty table while I worked. When my shift was over he asked me to tell him something I’d always wanted to do but hadn’t gotten the chance. Every day he made it happen. We had gone boating, taken a helicopter ride, gone parasailing, and eaten raw oysters. He rarely left my side. The sex was amazing and it just seemed to be getting better and more intense. I wasn’t having night terrors anymore either. I slept deeply and woke up relaxed and rested the next day.

Tonight was the staff’s bonfire and I was expected to be there. I still wasn’t sure taking Woods was a good idea. Other than Bethy and Jimmy no one knew we were dating. I hadn’t run into anyone else on our dates. I had dressed in my bikini and put a matching sundress over it. I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to swim but Bethy had said everyone at least got their feet wet. I was prepared for that and more.

Woods parked his truck and came around to get me because he was determined I shouldn’t open a car door by myself. It was cute really.

His hand slipped into mine and he held it. This was it. If any staff member was curious about the two of us, Woods was about to make it very clear.

“Sure you don’t want to turn and run?” I asked, smiling up at him.


“They may treat me differently,” I replied, thinking it could cause some hard feelings with other workers.

“I’ll fire them.”

I stopped and looked up at him. He was grinning. I slapped his arm. “That wasn’t funny.”

“Yeah, it was. Besides, if they upset you I will fire them.”

Mental note: don’t tell him if anyone upsets me.

The smell of burning wood and the sound of music filled the air as we walked into the gathering of people. Some were dancing. Others were roasting something over the fire and then a few were playing volleyball in the moonlight.

“Thirsty?” Woods asked, leading me over to the keg that was sitting up on blocks.

“I don’t much like beer from a keg. I had it once and got sick,” I told him.

He frowned. “How much did you drink?”

“I funneled it actually so I’m not sure.”

Woods’ eyebrows shot up. “You funneled beer?”

It had been one of the items on my checklist of things to do. ‘Go to a party and drink lots of beer.’ I hadn’t known about funneling but it hadn’t been hard to get me to try it. Braden had warned me I’d get sick but I’d tried it anyway.

“Yeah. Dumb decision. Frat party,” I explained. It had been at that party I’d met the guy I’d given my virginity to. Three dates later he’d talked me into sex. I’d been so naive and stupid.

“You’re here,” Bethy said, smiling as she walked up with a large red solo cup in her hand. “Drink up. The beer’s free.”

I shook my head.

“Della doesn’t drink beer from kegs. Anything else to drink around here?” Woods asked.

Bethy nodded and walked over to a cooler and threw me a bottle of water. Perfect.

“Thank you,” I told her and she saluted me before walking back over to the people dancing and Jace stepped out and wrapped his arms around her.

“Are you against me drinking beer from a keg?” Woods asked.

I shook my head and took a sip of my water.

“Good, I need something.” He walked over there and I stayed where I was. I couldn’t follow him everywhere he went. I was becoming too needy where he was concerned. I didn’t want to be codependent. My psychiatrist had talked to me about that. She said I needed to work hard to be independent and that it could be hard for me after the life I’d lived.

“Hey, Della, right?” a guy I didn’t recognize said with a slight slur.

I nodded. I wasn’t sure who he was or how he knew my name.

“Nelton, I’m the tennis pro at the club,” he said with a wink.

I nodded and glanced over to see Harold from the kitchen talking to Woods.

“Nice to meet you,” I replied.

“I’ve been watching you. Wasn’t sure if you were available or not.” He took a step closer and I managed to move to the right without looking like I was trying to get away from him.

“Oh,” was all I said. I wasn’t sure I needed to announce that I was in a relationship with Woods or not.

“You a friend of Mr. Kerrington’s? I saw you show up with him.”

“Can I help you Nelton?” Woods said just before he moved in behind me. I let out the sigh of relief. I hadn’t wanted to answer that.

“No, sir. I was just getting to know, Della.” Woods’ hand slipped around to the front of my stomach and he left it splayed there in a possessive gesture. Nelton didn’t miss it. His eyes widened and he nodded.“Good to meet you, Della,” he replied. “See ya Mr. Kerrington.” Then he sauntered away.“I can’t leave you alone for three minutes,” he said before taking a small nibble on my ear.“Your tennis pro is creepy,” I told him.Woods chuckled. “I agree but the cougars love him. I know for a fact he sleeps with several of them but it keeps them happy so we don’t let him go. Not good for business.”I wasn’t sure what the cougars were but I didn’t ask. I needed to pee. I glanced around and there were no restrooms anywhere. I found Bethy and decided to go ask her. “I need to ask Bethy something. I’ll be back,” I said before hurrying off. I didn’t want to tell him I had to pee. I preferred to just ask Bethy.She saw me headed her way alone and stepped out of Jace’s embrace and walked over to me.“Hey, you okay?”“Yes. I just need to pee. Where do we do that here?”Bethy grinned and nodded her head out to the water where people were splashing around and swimming in the waves.“In the gulf?” I asked confused.She nodded.Crap. I was in trouble.I walked back over to Woods who was watching me closely. I was going to have to tell him, as frustrating and embarrassing as it was. Maybe I could walk down the beach a way then pee. No one would see me get in and know what I was doing.A girl screamed that she had to go pee and ran out to the water. That was just gross.I stopped in front of Woods and felt my face heat up. Discussing bodily functions with guys was just not something I was good at.“What’s wrong?” he asked.I ducked my head and took a deep breath. “I have to pee.”He didn’t say anything at first and then he chuckled. “That’s why you ran off to find Bethy?”I nodded.“Why couldn’t you tell me?”I kept my head down. “Because.”He laughed harder and threaded his fingers through mine. “Did she tell you where to go?”I nodded again.He pulled me over to him. “Do you want me to take you home so you can pee?”I did. I didn’t want to use the ocean. But I didn’t want us to have to leave either.“Maybe I can go down the beach a ways and use it so no one sees me,” I suggested.“Can I come with you?” he asked.I shook my head. No way. That was just as bad.“Just let me take you home.”I could do this. “I’ll be back in a minute.” I assured him.“I don’t like the idea of you getting in the water by yourself in the dark,” Woods said tightening his hold on my hand.“But I need to pee. I’d be getting in by myself here and moving away from everyone if I did.”Woods didn’t let go of my hand. “I don’t like it.”I frowned up at him. “But I gotta go,” I told him.“Then I’m taking you somewhere. Either I get to go down the beach too or I drive you to a restroom.”I thought about it and decided I wasn’t going to be able to go out into the water and pee. I sighed in defeat. “Take me to a restroom.”He grinned. “The closest one I can get you into is the house.”“Then take me to the house.”