Della had finally given in and curled up against me. She’d been asleep within minutes. It was after three in the morning and they had Mom in a room under observation. Angelina was in the room with her. It was better that way.
I wasn’t stupid. I knew Angelina wasn’t helping my mother out of the goodness of her heart. She had no goodness in her heart. She was doing it to get to me. It wasn’t like my mother needed a live-in nurse. Just a friend, and Angelina was being her friend.
Della didn’t seem to mind. I had been watching to make sure it didn’t get to her. The moment it seemed like Della was upset about Angelina’s still being in our lives in this capacity, I would end all connection with my mom until Angelina left. She would eventually leave anyway when she realized I didn’t want her and nothing she did was going to change that. Della owned me. She always would.
Della started to whimper in her sleep. I pulled her into my lap, brushed her hair back off her face, and whispered in her ear. That always calmed her. She rarely had bad dreams anymore. I normally saw them coming on and stopped them before they could take over.
“I have you, I’m right here. You’re in my arms and nothing can touch you, Della. Nothing, baby. I won’t let it,” I assured her as her breathing returned to normal and her body eased back into a peaceful sleep. Smiling, I pressed a kiss to the side of her hair. I liked knowing I could fight off her fear. It was a powerful drug to know all she needed was me.
“Doesn’t that get exhausting? She’s like a helpless, needy child.” Angelina’s icy voice annoyed me. I didn’t look up at her. I’d rather have kept my focus on the woman in my arms.
“How’s Mom?” I asked her.
“She’s sleeping. She hasn’t been eating well. I knew that but I can’t force her to eat. I’m not a damn nurse. If you came to visit her more often she’d eat more. She misses you.”
My mother had never missed me. She was my father’s puppet. She wanted me around if he did. When she thought I was going to marry Angelina she wanted me around.
“You’re choosing her over your mother and it’s disappointing, Woods.”
I lifted my eyes from Della’s peaceful face. “No. My mother is choosing her wants over mine. I will not live my life the way she wants me to. I will love who the fuck I wanna love. She doesn’t control that,” I replied in a cold voice.
“You have the Kerrington Club to run, Woods. You need someone who can stand by you and help you. You have to take care of not only the club but her. She’s a weight on you, not a help. You can’t be a successful businessman with a burden like her,” she said, pointing at Della.
I held her closer to my chest. I could do anything if I had Della. Anything.
“What you’re not understanding—what my mother is not understanding—is I can’t live without Della. I can’t breathe. I can’t fucking concentrate. I need her. Just her. I can do anything if I have her with me. So take your snide comments and beliefs and leave me the hell alone. I know what I need and it will never be you. Did you hear that? Is it sinking in this time? It. Will. Never. Be. You.”
Angelina opened her mouth and snapped it closed again. The bright red color on her face said I’d gotten through. She was furious. Good. About damn time. I didn’t watch her leave. I dropped my gaze back down to Della. Just looking at her calmed me.
When the doctor came out four hours later to tell me that Mom was fine and wanted to see me, Della woke up and rubbed her eyes. I watched as the doctor looked her over appreciatively. I didn’t like it when men looked at her like that but it was pointless to get mad. She was beautiful and sexy as hell. I just had to remind myself she was mine.
“Go on in and see her. I’m going to find some coffee,” she said in a sleepy voice. “I’ll get you some too.”
I pressed a kiss to her lips because I needed to taste her and I wanted the doctor to see exactly who she belonged to. She immediately responded by wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me back.
“I love you,” I said against her lips as I ended the kiss.
“I love you,” she replied, then stood up.
She walked off in the short cut-off sweatpants she was wearing and one of my hoodies. She’d come with me in a tank top last night and gotten cold in the waiting room. I had gotten her a hoodie out of my truck.
“Is the woman in the room with your mom your sister?” the doctor asked. I glanced over at him. He was too young to be a doctor, wasn’t he?
“No,” I replied, and walked past him toward my mother’s room.
Angelina was sitting in the chair beside her bed looking at a magazine. She had stayed all night. Even after I’d said what I had. Either she was crazy or she really did like my mom.
“Hey, Mom,” I said as I closed the door behind me.
“Hello,” she replied. “Angelina said you stayed all night. You didn’t have to do that.”
I walked over and bent down and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Yeah I did,” I replied.
“Did you send the girl home?” The distaste in her voice wasn’t missed.
“She went to get coffee,” I replied. I wasn’t going to fight with her over Della. “You need to eat more, Mom.”
She sighed. “I know, but I just don’t have an appetite anymore. I miss him.”
He was an ass. He tried to control me and he lied to me. He also hurt Della and she knew about it. Forgiving those things was hard. The fact he’d hurt Della made it almost impossible. I couldn’t say anything. I had nothing to say.
“I need to get to work. When they discharge you, call me and I’ll come get you.” Getting out of there was best. She was my mother and I loved her, but there was so much between us that needed to be forgiven. I couldn’t stay there.
“I’ll take her home. You go work. You’re going to be exhausted since you didn’t sleep all night.” Angelina sounded so sincere. I didn’t trust that.
“Okay, well, call if you need me,” I said to my mother, and then turned and left the room.
Della stood outside the door holding two coffees. The concern in her eyes was the most sincere thing I’d seen that morning.
“Is she okay?” Della asked as she handed me a cup of bad hospital coffee.
“Yeah. She’s fine. Let’s go,” I replied.
“Why don’t I leave and you stay here? She’s your mom.” Della started to say more but I shook my head and stopped her.
“She’s fine. She needs to eat more. I want to leave with you.”
Della let out a weary sigh, then nodded her head. “Okay. If that’s what you want.”