“You didn’t have to rent a car. I was fine with the bike,” I told Tripp again when we pulled out of the car rental parking lot.
“Yeah, I did. Trust me,” he replied with a smirk.
I was tired of arguing with him about it. He had been determined to rent the car and now it was too late to change his mind. I leaned back in the seat and stared out the window. I would be in Rosemary in five hours. I wasn’t sure if I would go to Woods’s house or if I would go to a hotel. Maybe I could call Bethy. There was always Tripp’s condo. I could ask him for one last favor. I’d asked him for so many already.
“Are we going straight to Woods’s place?” Tripp asked.
“Um . . . I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t blindside him. I could just go see him tomorrow while he’s in his office. That way I won’t have to just show up at his house in case . . .” I couldn’t bring myself to say in case he’s with someone else.
“What? You getting cold feet now? Can’t do that. You want to get your man, then go get him.”
“I’m not sure if that’s the way I should do it.”
Tripp shifted in his seat and cleared his throat. “Okay. Picture this: Woods is at his house with another woman. One he can’t love like he loves you. You haven’t been gone long enough for that. She’s gonna get to sleep in his bed, where you belong, tonight. Unless you march up to his door and take back your man.”
The idea of this faceless woman sleeping in Woods’s bed and touching him made me physically ill. No. He was mine. She couldn’t touch him. He was mine first.
“You’re getting fired up, aren’t you? Ready to take back what belongs to you? I think it’s about damn time. Shame to let him sleep with her another night when he would rather be with you. She’s just filler.”
He was right. Woods wasn’t in love with her. He had been in love with me. I could make him love me again. I could show him I wasn’t weak. I was worthy of his love. I was going to fight for it. I would get him back—no one was sleeping over there tonight except for me. She was leaving. I’d make her leave.
“Take me to Woods,” I told him.
Tripp let out a whoop and patted my leg. “Attagirl. You got this,” he said.
I sure hoped I did. If not, I might’ve been on my way to making a complete fool out of myself.
When we were ten minutes away, I started having second thoughts.
“Maybe I should just go to your place tonight.”
Tripp let out a short laugh. “Uh, yeah, no. Woods is already going to want to hurt me when he gets ahold of me. I’m not about to bring you back to Rosemary and take you to my place.”
“But if he’s with another girl . . .”
“Della, do I have to give you another pep talk? Because I will. You can do this. You came back here. You wanted Woods enough to come back and face this. It’s time to face it, baby.”
He was right. I knew he was, but I was scared of what seeing Woods with someone else would do to me. I’d come so far this week. I didn’t want to turn into a whimpering lunatic in front of him. I wanted him to see the new and improved Della. Not the girl he had gotten rid of.
“He’s gonna want to see you. I know you don’t believe that but he will. I’m a guy. I know these things.”
“He may want to see me, just not when he has another . . .” I couldn’t say it.
“Remember, you aren’t gonna let her have him tonight. You’re back.”
I nodded. Right. I was going to take back what was mine. Even if it wasn’t mine anymore, I was gonna fight like hell.
“Okay. Hurry before I change my mind again.”
“Two more minutes,” Tripp said with a smile.
Those two minutes felt like hours. When Tripp finally pulled into Woods’s driveway I almost wept with relief to see that his truck and my car were the only two vehicles there. That didn’t mean he was alone, though. He could have brought someone there. The “she” in my mind still existed.
Tripp squeezed my hand. “Go get him,” he said.
I couldn’t talk. I was too nervous. I just nodded and opened the car door and stepped out. I hadn’t even asked Tripp if he was staying and waiting on me or if he was going back to Macon to get his motorcycle. I couldn’t think about that now.
I closed the door behind me and moved toward the stairs.
Then he drove away. I turned back to see Tripp pulling back onto the street. He stuck his hand out of the window and waved good-bye before speeding off. He’d just left me there.
I looked back to the front door and took a deep breath. Woods was in there. I was going to plead with him for a second chance if I had to. I was going to make sure I was the woman in his bed tonight.
The lights in the house were off. All I could see was a dim light in the bedroom. It almost looked like candlelight. Please, God, don’t let it be candlelight. I gripped the railing as I walked up the stairs to the front door. He was never in bed this early. Maybe he isn’t here. Maybe he’s with Jace.
I reached the top step and stood there staring at his bedroom window. I was pretty sure that it was candlelight I was seeing there. It was flickering light. This was a bad idea.
He was mine, and I’d be damned if I was going to let some other woman have him. I would shove the candlelight up her ass.
I closed the distance between me and the door and knocked several times, then stood back and waited. If it took a while, that meant he had to get his clothes on.
The door swung open and there he stood. He had on a pair of khaki shorts and a white button-up shirt. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. I loved it when he wore white. His dark skin was startling in white. I sucked in a deep, fast breath at the sight of him.
He didn’t move. We just stood there, staring at each other. It had been almost three weeks since I’d left. It felt like forever since I’d seen his face.
“Hi,” I managed to croak out.
“Hi,” he replied, still standing in the doorway, looking like a beautiful fallen angel. Who had he gotten dressed up for? My nose caught a scent from inside and I stiffened. Someone was cooking. In the dark?
“Can I come in?” I asked.
He stepped back so I could enter the house. I didn’t see her yet. But I smelled the food. Maybe she isn’t here yet.
“Are you expecting someone?” I asked without looking back at him.
“Yes,” he replied. His voice was low. He didn’t want to tell me that. At least he was honest.
“Oh, I’ll—” I stopped myself. I almost told him I’d be quick. I almost apologized. I wasn’t going to do that. I was here to fight for him. Not lie down and let her have him.
“You should probably call her and tell her that your plans have changed,” I said, turning around and facing him.
Something flashed in his eyes but the stupid lights were off and I couldn’t see him well enough.
“Why’s that, Della?” he asked as he took a step toward me.
I stood my ground. He was hurt. I had hurt him but I was back. Dammit. I was back. “Because if she steps foot in this house I will have to kick her ass.” I snapped my mouth shut. I couldn’t believe I’d said that.
A grin tugged at the corner of Woods’s mouth as he took another step toward me. I didn’t move away. I wanted him close. I wasn’t going to run. “Hmm, someone’s jealous,” he said as he reached out and ran a finger along my jawline. I shivered.
“Very,” I admitted. I wasn’t ashamed of it. I was livid with jealousy.
“Why are you jealous, Della?” He took another step toward me, causing me to back up against the wall. His hands rested against the wall on either side of my head. “Who would you ever have to be jealous of?”
I was having a difficult time breathing normally. He smelled so good. The tanned skin of his throat was right there. I wanted to lick it. Taste him. “Anyone you touch,” I said breathlessly.
“Then you only have one person to be jealous of,” he replied, and lowered his head to nuzzle my neck. I trembled and reached up to touch his shoulders. I needed some support. There was someone else. He was admitting it. I wanted to hit him and scream and I wanted to grab his shirt and kiss him. Claim him.
“You left me, Della. You left me. You broke me,” he whispered against my skin, and then ran the tip of his tongue up my neck and took a small nip at my ear.
“Who is she?” I asked, needing to remind myself that he’d been with someone else.
“Who is who?” he asked, pressing against me as he continued his assault on my neck as if it were a delicacy he craved.
“Who have you . . . who are you cooking for? Who’s coming here? Who have you touched?” I asked, holding on tighter to his shoulders as my body went warm and weak.
“You. Always, you. Just you,” he said, lowering his mouth to my collarbone.
What did he mean “me”? “I don’t understand,” I panted breathlessly as he ran his lips over my cleavage slowly and murmured about how good I smelled.
“What don’t you understand, baby?” he asked as he moved his hand from the wall to cup my right breast.
I let out a strangled cry of pleasure. I wasn’t going to be able to think clearly if he kept this up.
“You said there was someone else,” I said as my body betrayed me and moved closer to him like a magnet.
“No, I didn’t. You asked if I was expecting someone. I said yes. I was expecting you. You asked who I touched. I said only one person. You. Always you,” he said, finally lifting his head to look at me. The heat I expected to see in his eyes wasn’t what I saw. His heart was in his eyes. He loved me. It was right there for me to see. He was showing me with a look that he hadn’t given up on us.
“You knew I was coming back,” I said, wondering if it had been Braden or Tripp who had clued him in.
Woods cupped my chin gently in his hand and ran his thumb over my bottom lip. “I’ve known exactly what you were doing every day since the day you left me. I’ve made sure you had money to stay in hotels that were safe and food to eat. How do you think I kept from going crazy? I had daily calls to tell me how you were. Where you were. I stayed away because I wanted you to come back to me. I wanted you to want me. To want us.”
He had been keeping tabs on me. He had cared. He hadn’t just let me leave. Tears filled my eyes and I didn’t care. I wanted to cry. I was happy. I was loved.
“Don’t cry,” he said as he began to kiss each tear from my face. “I can’t stand it when you cry. Please, don’t cry.”
“You love me,” I said, smiling.
Woods pulled back enough to look down at me. “Della. That should have never been a question in your mind. You should have known that. If you didn’t know that you had my soul, then I’m doing something wrong.”
I reached up and grabbed his face and kissed him. With everything I had, I kissed him. I didn’t have the words to make any of this right. So I showed him how I felt. How much he meant to me. His arms wrapped around me and he met each stroke of my tongue with his own. We stood there tasting and indulging in each other. It was perfect. I was home.
When I broke the kiss so I could catch my breath I reached for his shirt. I wanted that shirt off him. I wanted his clothes off. I wanted him inside me. “Now, I need you, now,” I told him as I began unbuttoning his shirt.
“I have food. I was going to romance you first. Convince you to stay with me,” he said as I pushed his shirt off his shoulders.
I caressed his chest. His broad shoulders always made me feel so small but safe. “I’m hungry and we’ll eat but right now I need you inside me,” I told him as my hands got busy with the buttons on his shorts.
“Then come to the bedroom,” he said, his breathing as out of control as I felt.
“No. I can’t wait.” I reached for my sundress and jerked it over my head. I started to push down my panties and Woods let out a growl and took over. His hands covered mine and he pulled them down, and then he ran his hands over my bottom and pressed kisses to the insides of my thighs. “Get inside me,” I begged. I wanted all the sweet kisses and I wanted to taste him, too, but right now I needed to be full of Woods.
“Fuck,” he groaned, and stood up, turning me around to face the wall. “You make me crazy, Della. I was gonna be romantic. You deserve romantic.”
“I want you to fuck me hard. Fill me up and remind me that I’m yours,” I begged.
Woods’s body shuddered behind me just before he grabbed my hips and entered me with a yell.
“God, yes! So tight. So hot. This is mine,” he said as he stopped and caressed my butt, then slapped it hard one time. “Mine. All this is mine.”
“Yes, it’s yours,” I told him, and pressed back against him.
He let out another animalistic grunt and began moving in and out of me. With each thrust I climbed closer to the release I knew would fill me with completion.
“No one touches my pussy. This is my pussy, Della,” he said in a growl before slipping his hand around me and running his fingers over my clit.
I went off like a rocket from his touch. “Yes! That’s it, baby, come on my dick. That’s my girl.” His words made me wilder. I bucked against him and begged him to keep fucking me.
My words caused his body to pause, then jerk again as he began chanting my name over and over. Each tremor through his body made me tingle.
“My Della,” he whispered as he rested his head on my back. I moved so that he came out of me, then I turned around and pulled him into my arms.
“Always your Della,” I told him.
He held me tighter and we stood there as our bodies hummed our pleasure and our hearts healed.