My mother had called two of the board members my dad was closest to and told them that I was letting Della work at the club. Then she’d proceeded to tell them Della was mentally unstable and dangerous. She’d gone as far as to make up shit about Della trying to hurt her. My mother had lost her mind.
Jace walked into my office after I’d had a long meeting with the two men and lost my argument about Della. They wanted background checks on her. I knew what they would find and I refused to do it. She wouldn’t want that.
“You look ready to murder an entire village with your bare hands, bro. What’s up?” I stormed past him and to the stairwell. I needed to yell and hit a wall. That was the safest place to do it.
I ran up two flights of stairs before I stopped and slammed my fist into the wall, cursing everyone responsible. Della didn’t need this right now. She was doing so much better. How was I supposed to tell her about this?
“What happened?” Jace asked from behind me. I hadn’t realized he had followed me.
“My fucking mother happened. Her and Angelina. They’re evil and twisted. How is it that my mother is so damn screwed up? What happened to her and my father to make them such fucked-up individuals? To make them think they can control lives? They can’t! This club is mine and if I want to fire every motherfucker on the board that my father set in place, I will! It’s time for a new board anyway,” I snarled, taking deep breaths to calm myself down.
“I don’t know how you’ve dealt with the crazy as long as you have,” Jace said, sitting down on the steps and watching me pace.
“It was what I had to do. I couldn’t just let her be alone. But it’s affecting my work. At least when Angelina was here she helped,” I said.
“You need to keep your ass away from her insane shit. You have a corporation to run. Dropping what you need to do to deal with one of her batshit crazy episodes isn’t fair. You need to fix this problem,” Jace said, as if it were easy. How was I supposed to just turn away from my mother? I was all she had.
“I can’t. How the hell do I do that?” I asked, stopping my pacing and leaning against the wall. If it was a choice between Della and my mother, I would choose Della. If she forced my hand, I was going to have to turn away from her. First, I needed to decide about the board. I needed a lawyer. My own lawyer, not my father’s. I was done using the people he had set in place. Things were different now and I didn’t need a crazy-ass phone call from my mother sending board members to my office questioning my decisions.
It was time I made sure this place was run by me. My board would be made up of people I trusted and confided in. It was time for a new generation.
“Jace,” I said, turning to look at him.
“You ready to be a board member?”
Jace frowned. “What?”
“I’m getting a lawyer. I’m firing the old board and starting my own.”
A grin spread across Jace’s face. “Hell yeah,” he replied.
For the first time since I’d gotten the call earlier that day, I felt lighter. I wasn’t going to let my mother control me. I was in control. My grandfather had left it all to me. Even her home was now mine. If she wanted to fuck with my life I’d fuck with hers enough to make her stop. She was my mom, but Della was my life.
Four hours had passed since I’d left Della. Dammit. I’d lost track of time. Grabbing my phone, I headed out the door to my truck. My call went straight to her voice mail. Shit!
Della’s car was in the driveway. She was there. Maybe she’d been outside when I’d called her. I had promised her dinner tonight in Seaside. I was two hours late. This wasn’t fair to her. I couldn’t keep her here all the time. She was coming back to work with me. I needed her help. She was good at her job.
Opening the door, the smell of roasted garlic and tomatoes met my nose. I closed it and followed the smell to the kitchen. Della was standing at the stove with a black apron on from the club, stirring a pot.
“Hey,” I said quietly so I didn’t startle her.
She spun around and smiled at me. There was a sadness in her eyes she couldn’t hide. I’d made her sad. My leaving her here had upset her. She had wanted to go to work today. I would have to explain all that tonight.
“I decided to cook instead of us going out,” she said.
I walked over to stand behind her and wrapped my hands around her waist. “It smells incredible.”
“Good. I haven’t made lasagna in a long time. This sauce is hard to get right.”
Something was off in her voice. I hated that she was upset.
“I’m sorry about today.”
“Don’t apologize. Please, don’t. You had work to do. I know that and I’m okay with it.”
She didn’t want my apology. What was upsetting her then?
“You can come back to work tomorrow,” I told her.
“I don’t think I’m ready for that yet,” she replied.
She wasn’t ready for it? Today she’d tried several times to go back to work. What had changed?
“Why do you think you’re not ready? Did you have another episode today?”
She shook her head. “No, I think it’s just too much on me right now. I need to get a better grip on myself first.” She turned and looked up at me. “Let’s not talk about it tonight. I want to cook you dinner and enjoy being with you.”
I tucked my head in the curve of her neck. “Okay,” I replied. We would talk about it tomorrow then. “How can I help you with dinner?”
She turned and kissed my head. “You can slice the French bread, butter it, then sprinkle it with garlic powder. I need to toast it.”
“I can do that,” I said, stepping back from Della and reaching for the bread.