Woods

I hadn’t slept all night. But I had figured out a few things. If Della had been forced to leave without time to think about it, the only place I could think of that she would go back to was Georgia and her friend Braden. That was the only person I knew of that she was attached to.

I’d called Josiah at six this morning and had him run a search for a Braden, female around twenty years old in Macon, Georgia. That was all I knew. Within ten minutes he had a name, phone number, and address. Braden Fredrick lived in Macon, Georgia with her husband Kent.

I called the number that Josiah had given me and I got the voice mail twice.

I dialed Josiah again. “Get me a number for Kent Fredrick. He has to work somewhere. There has to be a work number.”

“Okay. Give me a second,” Josiah replied without question. I heard the tapping of keys. “Ah, here it is. He’s a lawyer. Fredrick and Fredrick. It looks like his father is the other Fredrick. 478- 555-5515”

I wrote the number down. “Thanks,” I said and hung up to dial the new number.

“Fredrick and Fredrick attorneys at law. How can I direct your call?”

“I need to speak with Kent Fredrick,” I replied.

“Hold on just a second. I believe his line is busy. Oh, wait. It’s free. Just a moment and I’ll transfer you.”

I waited while classical music played over the line. I couldn’t stand still. I paced back and forth across my back porch. I was close.

“Kent Fredrick,” a man’s voice said.

“Kent. This is Woods Kerrington—”

“It’s about time Mr. Kerrington. I don’t like seeing my wife upset and when Della is upset so is my wife.”

He knew where she was. I stopped, almost afraid to hope. “Do you know where Della is?”

“Yeah, she’s at our house. Arrived yesterday in a complete mess. Your father needs his ass kicked. And the jury is still out on you.”

She was there. I began to move. I started walking around the porch and then broke into a run as I hit the steps and went to my truck.

“She’s okay? Is she hurt?” Josiah may have gotten me this number but if he hurt her I wouldn’t give a fuck.

“Wrists are raw because they left handcuffs on her for five hours while she rode in a car. But other than that it’s just her heart. She’s broken. But then Della has always been a little broken.”

Della and broken in the same sentence made me anxious. I needed to get her. “I’m on my way. Don’t let her leave.”

“You coming here to get her?”

“Yes,” I replied.“Well, I’m not so sure I’m okay with you taking her anywhere near that sorry ass father of yours. Who says he won’t hurt her again? Della hasn’t got any family. Braden is it for her. And when I married Braden I got Della too. I knew that going in. Those two are tight. I protect what’s mine.”I gripped the steering wheel. “Della is mine. Make no mistake about that. I’ll be there in five hours.” I hung up the phone and plugged the Fredricks’ address into the GPS.Three hours into the drive my phone rang and my father’s name lit up the screen. I thought of sending him to voicemail and changed my mind. It was time I dealt with the man. I wouldn’t be bringing Della back there. I couldn’t. He wasn’t going to accept her and I wasn’t going to live without her so there was no future for me with Kerrington Club.“What,” I said, deciding he didn’t deserve a proper greeting. I’d let him talk then I would tell him what I’d decided.“Where are you? I got a call from the club saying you didn’t show up this morning. They’re having issues with being understaffed in the dining room and two of the carts aren’t working”“Then fix it. It’s your club. I don’t care what happens to the place. You made sure to turn me completely against you when you sent Della away. They hurt her you dumb ass motherfucker. And now you’ve lost me. I want nothing to do with you, my mother who helped you pull this shit off, or that club. You can’t control me. I won’t let you. I’m walking away from it all. I have my grandfather’s blood in my veins and I can make something of myself. I don’t need you. I never did.” I didn’t wait for his response. I pressed end and smiled at the open road in front of me. I was going to get the one person who made me want to live and build a life for us. It wouldn’t be the pampered and privileged one I had been raised in but it would be one full of love and until Della that was something I’d missed.My phone started ringing again and the area code for Macon, Georgia appeared but it was a new number. Not the two I had saved in my phone.“Hello.”“Is this Woods Kerrington?” a female voice asked over the other end of the phone.“Yes it is,” I replied.“This is Braden Fredrick. I need to ask you a few questions before I allow you to come barreling back into Della’s life. I’m not as convinced as my husband that your coming here is a good thing.”I smiled at the protective tone in the woman’s voice. Della had a champion and I loved this unknown woman for that reason alone. Anyone who protected my Della had my complete respect.“Okay. Ask me whatever you need,” I replied.She paused. “Why’re you coming here?”“Because I can’t live without Della. I don’t want to. She’s the reason I get up in the mornings.”Silence. I wondered if she was going to say more. I waited.“Okay. Good answer. I might like you. Do you think Della is crazy or could possibly go crazy?”“No. She’s brilliant and full of life. She has issues to overcome but she is going to get better. I intend to help her and I believe that one day soon she won’t deal with any of the things that torment her.”There was a relieved sigh on the other end. “Last question. Why do you love Della?”I didn’t even have to think about it. “Until Della walked into my life I didn’t understand the idea of love. I had never been in love and experienced very little love in my life. But I’d seen it once. My grandparents had loved each other until the day they died. I thought it was a myth. Then I met Della. She got under my skin and then she began to open emotions in me I didn’t know existed. There is no pretense with her. She has no idea she’s beautiful and she’s completely selfless. But even if she weren’t all those things her laugh and the look in her eyes when she’s truly happy is the only thing that matters in life.”A soft sniffle on the other line surprised me. “Okay. Come get her. I approve.”I smiled at the small hiccup on the other line. “I’m almost there.”