I sat in the window of Woods’s office and watched him read over some new contracts he needed to sign with a distributor that I had found for the clothing line in the clubhouse. What we had was for an older crowd. The members of the Kerrington Club weren’t all fifty and above.
He hadn’t wanted me out of his sight for longer than a few minutes. It had been two weeks since the funeral and he was still clingy. It was easing up each day, but he still needed me close by. We were also having sex more often than normal, and that was a whole lot of sex.
Blaire had called and invited me over for lunch today at one. That was Nate’s nap time, so she was hoping we could meet at her house. Bethy was also invited. She wasn’t working or showing up anywhere anymore. Blaire was worried about her and I was, too. Woods still wouldn’t talk about her.
“Blaire has invited me to lunch today at her house at one. Are you okay with me going?” Normally I wouldn’t have felt like I had to ask Woods’s permission to eat lunch, but with his need for me to be close to him at all times, I wanted to check and make sure.
He looked up from his contract and frowned. I could see the sadness in his eyes and I almost wished I hadn’t asked him and had just told Blaire no.
“I’m sorry, Della.”
I stood up. “For what?”
“For making you think you have to ask me to go somewhere. These past couple of weeks I’ve been needy, and I’m sorry I’ve done that to you.”
I pulled his chair back and straddled his lap, then grabbed both of his shoulders. “Do not apologize to me. Not for that. You needed me and I was able to be what you needed. I was the strong one this time. Not you. Me. I got to be the one to hold your hand. It was my turn to show you how much I love you. So, don’t apologize for that.”
Woods grinned. He hadn’t grinned since before the accident. He lifted his hand and traced my jaw. “You’re straddling my lap in a skirt. I want you to go but I’m also thinking about your panties and wondering if they’re wet, or if I can get them wet. Hurry and stand up and get away from me before I do something that changes your plans.”
Laughing, I jumped out of his lap. “Not that I wouldn’t enjoy you checking to see if you could get my panties wet, because I assure you that you could, but Blaire seemed to really want to do lunch.”
Woods nodded. “Go eat lunch with her. I’ll be fine.”
I blew him a kiss that he caught and pressed to his lips. Then I stepped through the door and closed it behind me.
“I heard laughter. It was nice,” Vince said from his desk.
I nodded. “He’s better,” I told him.
“Because of you,” he replied.
I just smiled because I knew he was right. I had helped Woods. It had been me.
Blaire opened the door with Nate on her hip. His small hand was fisted in her long platinum hair and he was tugging pretty hard on it.
“Come in,” she said with her head tilted in his direction. “Let me detangle myself and get this one in bed and I’ll be right back. There’s glasses and tea on the table in the kitchen. Oh! Nate, that hurts Mommy.”
I tried not to laugh but a giggle leaked out.
She grinned and rolled her eyes. “He likes my hair. I’m going to end up bald because he’s pulled it all out.”
“Go save yourself. I’ll get a drink,” I told her, and she flashed me an appreciative smile and headed for the staircase. It was a grand, elaborate set of stairs. The whole house was pretty fabulous. It had been Rush’s before Blaire. His dad had bought it for him when he was a kid. His mother used to live there when she was in town, but he wasn’t on speaking terms with her at the moment.
I walked through the house and stopped to look at the life-sized portrait of Nate above the fireplace in the drawing room. His hair was going to be as pale as his mother’s, or at least it looked like it now. The longer it got, the blonder it was.
The kitchen was at the other end of a long hallway with really high ceilings. There were framed photos of the three of them covering the walls. They weren’t professional pictures but casual family photos of them playing at the beach or opening gifts at Christmas. There was even one with Rush on a slide with Nate in his lap. He so didn’t look like the kind of guy to go down a slide.
Once I got to the kitchen, I fixed myself a glass of tea. The pantry door stood open and I walked over and peeked inside. I had heard about the hidden room under the stairs that you got to through the pantry. It had been where Rush had stuck Blaire when she first came to Rosemary looking for her dad.
Smiling, I wondered if they ever went in that room . . . to remember.
The doorbell rang again and Blaire’s footsteps echoed as she came down the stairs. I had wondered if Bethy would come. I hadn’t seen her anywhere else so I wasn’t sure she would show up, even though Blaire was her best friend.
Both women walked into the room and Bethy’s sad, empty eyes met mine. I set my glass down and went over to hug her. She looked like she needed a hug.
“I’ve missed you,” I told her.
She wrapped her arms weakly around me. “Thanks,” she sniffled.
“No crying. We’re going to eat the cookies I made and not think about calories, and we’re going to talk,” Blaire announced as she picked up a covered tray, walked over to the table, and set it down.
I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but Blaire looked pretty determined. I watched Bethy as she tried to gather herself and took a seat across from me.
“Okay, so maybe we need to cry first,” Blaire said as she saw Bethy’s face crumple. “Talk to us. We’re here to listen.”
Bethy lifted her eyes and shook her head. “No, I’m tired of crying. I’m tired of being sad. I just want to be able to smile again.”
“We haven’t lost the man we love but we both have lost people we love. I’ve lost my mother and my sister. Della lost her mother. We know it hurts and we want you to scream and yell, whatever you have to do to get it out. Then you need to eat cookies and think of funny stories that make you laugh. Think about things that Jace did to make you laugh. Remember him in the good ways. They will overcome the bad memory of that night. I promise you, they will.”