I had spent the rest of yesterday curled up in Woods’ lap while we sat on the front porch and watched the ocean. We hadn’t talked much. We’d just held each other. I’d tried hard to let myself believe him and he’d reassured me with words every once and awhile.
Today I’d set my alarm because I was on the schedule to work the breakfast shift and I wasn’t missing another day because Woods thought he needed to coddle me. I was a big girl and I could deal with things. He had brought me to work and kissed me several times before leaving me so I could go get ready in the kitchen. He was behind on work in his office and he’d promised me he would work in there today and not hover over me.
It had taken a lot of begging but he’d agreed. I walked into the kitchen to see a gorgeous blonde with a very pregnant stomach talking to Jimmy. He was rubbing her stomach and cooing at the baby inside. She lifted her eyes to meet mine and a sincere smile touched her lips. I was instantly curious.
“Hello,” she said and her voice reminded me of warm honey. It was smooth but had a southern drawl to it. I wasn’t sure which part of the south it was though. My eye caught the large diamond on her hand. She had to be a member here. But why was she back here in the kitchen with Jimmy?
“Hello,” I replied.
Jimmy glanced back at me and grinned. “Glad you’re back, girl. Yesterday went to shit without you.”
I returned his smile but my interest was right back to the blonde.
“Della, this is Blaire. She’s my BFF who ran off and left me for another man. One I can’t blame her for because he is one hot piece of ass. Blaire this is Della. She may or may not be boinking the boss.”
“Jimmy!” we both said at the same time. I couldn’t believe he’d said that. I didn’t know who this Blaire was.
“Woods right? That boss?” Blaire asked with a mischievous grin.
I liked her.
“Of course, Woods. The girl has taste. She ain’t gonna boink the old man.”
“Would you stop saying ‘boink’?” I could feel my face heating up.
“Jimmy shouldn’t have told me that but since he did, can I say, Woods is a great guy. If you are in fact… um… boinking him, then you picked a good one.”
I couldn’t believe we were talking about this. I forced a smile. “Thanks.”
The blonde beamed at me like she was truly happy to hear I might be doing it with Woods. I wondered if they were friends. I almost felt jealous until I remembered her very large stomach and very large diamond. She was taken. Very taken.
“If I don’t have this baby this week maybe we can get together and have lunch.” I glanced down at her stomach and then back up at her face. It was very likely she was going to give birth any minute. She was tiny except for that basketball in her stomach.
“Okay. That sounds good,” I replied.
“Della Sloane,” a hard voice called my name and I spun around to see a police officer standing at the entrance of the kitchen.
“Yes, sir,” I replied. The last time a police officer had come looking for me had not ended well. The fear that went along with that memory kept me frozen in place. I didn’t like police officers.
“You need to come with me, Miss Sloane,” he said as he held the door open for me to exit. I could feel every eye in the kitchen on me. I wanted to hide from them but I couldn’t move. “Miss Sloane, if you don’t come willingly I will have to go against Mr. Kerrington’s wishes and arrest you right here on the club’s grounds.”
Arrest me? My heart raced at the memory of handcuffs clicking around my wrists as the officer read me my rights. I had to fight this. Now was not the time to zone out. I couldn’t have an attack right now. I had to keep my head.
“What are you arresting her for? I sure as hell don’t believe Woods knows about this,” Jimmy said angrily, stepping in front of me.
“Mr. Kerrington does know. He is who sent me in here to escort a Della Sloane out of the building and then arrest her once I had her in the parking lot. However, if she doesn’t come willingly I will arrest her and anyone who stands in my way.”
He was going to arrest Jimmy for trying to help me. I had to go. I didn’t believe Woods knew about this. Something was wrong and Woods would find me. I would not have a panic attack over this. I would not.“It’s okay, Jimmy,” I said and stepped around him and went toward the door. I didn’t look back at anyone as I walked out the door and focused on getting out of the building. I was tempted to yell for Woods but I didn’t. I couldn’t get my mouth to move. I was slowly freezing up.Once I got close to the police car the officer shoved me forward causing me to stumble. I caught myself from falling and grabbed the front of the car. He began telling me I had the right to remain silent and I blocked him out. I tried not to think about the metal cuffs clinking shut around my wrists. If I thought too hard about it I would lose myself.The officer opened the door to the backseat, put his hand on my shoulder, and pushed me inside. I wanted to tell him to stop hurting me that I would go willingly but I couldn’t. My words weren’t working. I’d forgotten how to use them. The terror was starting to take over.I wanted Woods. I was scared. Tears trickled silently down my face and I focused on Woods. On his face this morning when he’d kissed me awake. I loved him. I’d never told him I loved him. I needed to tell him.The car came to a stop in front of Woods’ house. I was relieved. I wasn’t going to jail. I didn’t know why I was here but the relief pushed the other thoughts away.Two black Mercedes were parked in the driveway. The driver’s side door opened to the first one and out stepped Woods’ father. Something was wrong. Why was he here and why had he had me arrested?The police officer opened my door and jerked me out of the car when I didn’t move. I stumbled on the split brick road and managed to catch myself before I fell and the cop holding my arm jerked it out of socket.“Thank you, Josiah, for helping me handle this matter delicately,” Mr. Kerrington told the officer. He let go of my arm and nodded. He tossed a set of keys to Mr. Kerrington before stepping around me and getting into his car.We stood there in silence as the cop drove off with me still in handcuffs.“Hello again, Miss Sloane. I hope this time you can stay in your coherent state long enough for me to explain to you exactly what is about to happen,” he said taking a step toward me.“After our last encounter when you blacked out on me I had your background checked. I found out that my son is throwing away his future for a woman who is mentally insane. Or at least she will be soon. It apparently runs in your family. You’re already showing signs of instability. You are supposed to be seeing a psychiatrist three times a week but you ran off without so much as a word six months ago. You have been in jail for the murder of your mother, which you were proven innocent on because your alibi checked out. However, a track record of crazy is there. I can’t let the heir to the Kerrington name waste his life on someone like you. You’re not good enough for my son.”He pulled out a diamond bracelet that had to cost a fortune. “And to assure that you won’t be stepping foot back in Rosemary Beach ever again, I have evidence that you stole this bracelet from a customer. She dropped it while dining with us and you brought it back here and had it tucked away in your suitcase. She is willing to forgive you and let it be if you leave town. The officer who brought you to me has this on record and will arrest you and the victim of this theft will press charges if you don’t leave town immediately.”He pointed to the other black Mercedes sedan sitting in the driveway. “Your bags are inside. I trust you will willingly get in this car and let it take you somewhere far from here. Doesn’t matter where. Just go.”I stood there weighing my options. I didn’t have my phone. I wasn’t sure where it was. I’d left it in the house this morning. I still had handcuffs on and I was very likely going to jail for a crime because I’d been set up. Where was Woods?“If you love my son and I believe in that unstable brain of yours that you think you do, you will leave him alone. Let him go. He doesn’t need this or you. He needs someone who can give him healthy children. Someone he doesn’t have to take care of. Don’t you want that for him?”I did. I wanted all of that for him. I nodded.“Good. Then get in the car and leave Miss Sloane.”I looked up at the house that represented the man I loved and a tear rolled down my face. This was right. It was time I left.“Can I ask you to do one thing? Please tell him I left because it was what was best for him. Not because I didn’t love him. Because I do love him. I want him happy and I want him to have the best in life. I know I’m not the best.”Mr. Kerrington didn’t reply. He only stood there holding open the back door of the car waiting on me to get in.“Please, I don’t want him to think I didn’t love him. He doesn’t deserve that,” I begged.“Woods won’t care that you’re gone. Stop kidding yourself, girl. You are just a distraction for him.”I knew in my heart that wasn’t true but my emotions couldn’t take another hit. I was too close to shutting down. I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat. “Okay but what about my car?” I asked as I walked over to the sedan with my hands still locked behind me.“It will make its way back to you. But for now you’re leaving it here. We need to make sure you’ve not stolen anything else before we release it. I’ll leave the key to the cuffs with Leo, your driver. Once you are safely where you’re going he will uncuff you. It’s for his safety, of course.”I didn’t respond. I just crawled inside. When the door slammed closed behind me I laid my head over on the window unable to lean back because of my hands. I watched Rosemary fade in the distance as he drove away from the small town.“Where to, Miss?” Leo asked from the front seat.“Macon, Georgia,” I replied. It was time I went home.