I stared down at my phone after I hung up with Woods. He had called me four times today already to check on me. It had been this way all week. Since Angelina had attacked me he had been afraid to leave me. He had a country club to run but he kept calling me. I mentioned getting a job again and he panicked and begged me not to. He said he couldn’t focus on work if he was worrying about me.
We were at a standstill. This wasn’t healthy. He needed to be able to live without worrying over me. I needed to be able to live. His protective nature was starting to smother me and I loved him too much to hurt him by saying something about it. I was going to have bad moments. I was going to slip into my head sometimes and he couldn’t always be there for me. I just didn’t know how to get him to understand this and accept it. How could we make this work? This couldn’t be forever.
I wanted this forever but Woods deserved so much more. I was holding him back. This relationship would destroy him. I would destroy him. I felt sick to my stomach. I did this. I let this happen. I let myself fall so helplessly in love with him. I let myself believe he could fix me. That we could fix me. But it isn’t happening.
My phone rang and I looked down to see Tripp’s number. He hadn’t called in two weeks. I thought about telling Woods that Tripp checked in with me a couple times a month, but I hadn’t found the right words to explain that. Woods seemed jealous of Tripp. He had no reason to be, but he was. I didn’t want to give him something else to worry over.
“Hello,” I said as I stretched my legs in front of me on the sandy beach.
“How are things?”
“Good, I guess,” I replied.
“You guess? That don’t sound good.”
“Angelina beat me up and Blaire Finlay pulled a gun on her and scared her off. Woods is now more overprotective than ever and he’s always worried about me.”
Tripp was quiet for a moment. I let him digest my words.
“Holy shit. Blaire has a gun?”
I laughed. That was his response to what I’d just told him?
“Sorry. I don’t think that was the point. But damn, I can’t picture that hot little blonde with a gun.”
“Yeah, it was a shock,” I replied, smiling out at the water crashing against the shore.
“Jace said she was from Alabama. Maybe I’ve been looking for a woman in the wrong states. I need to try out good ole Alabama next.”
Tripp always managed to make me laugh, and he made me forget for a moment that my chest was about to explode from pain.
“Thanks,” I said.
“Making me laugh,” I replied.
We sat there again for a few moments in silence.
“Where are you at now?” I asked, knowing he was on a road trip.
“I’m in South Carolina at a place called Myrtle Beach. I like it here.”
“You like those beaches, don’t you?” I replied.
“Makes me feel like I’m home, in a way.”
“Will you ever come back here to stay?”
He didn’t respond right away. It made me wonder what kept him away. There were secrets that he wouldn’t share with me.
“Doubt it,” he finally said.
“I don’t think I can stay,” I said aloud for the first time.
“Because this isn’t working. I’m holding him back. I’m not getting better. This isn’t going away and he deserves more. He needs more. Someone strong to stand beside him.”
“He wants you, Della.”
“Sometimes what we want isn’t what’s best for us,” I replied.
“Yeah . . . I know that,” he said quietly. “But if you leave him it will break him.”
It would shatter me. But I loved him too much to ruin his future. “He will heal and then the woman who can be all he needs will walk into his life one day and he’ll be glad he didn’t make the mistake of staying with me.”
“Don’t say that. You aren’t a mistake. You underestimate your worth. You make him happy. Woods is happy with you.”
“For now he is,” I replied.
Tripp sighed. I was frustrating him, but he knew deep down that I was right. “When the time comes and you think you need to leave, just call me. Don’t go by yourself.”
“Okay,” I replied. I would call him when I needed to. He wasn’t tied to me. I didn’t control his actions and thoughts. I could travel with Tripp and not destroy his future. At least until I was stable enough to live alone.
“I think you need to talk to Woods about this first. Don’t blindside him.”
I wasn’t sure that was possible. He would never listen to me. “Okay,” I replied.
I stepped out of my car and waved at Bethy as she drove by in a golf cart toward the fifteenth hole. She was a cart girl at the Kerrington Club. It was how she had met Jace. He was a member here and I had heard them arguing over her quitting more than once. He hated seeing the men on the course flirt with her. That had been him once. She refused to change just because she was dating him. I think, deep down, he respected her for that.
After hanging up the phone with Tripp, I’d sat and thought a long time. Woods needed help and all I seemed to be doing was whining over not having a job and being a burden on him. I was stronger than that. Why couldn’t I help him? I could. He would have me close by and I would have a purpose. So, I’d gone back to the house and dressed up.
I was going to go apply for a job as his assistant. I could do the tasks that caused him extra headaches. I could handle the staff. I might have been dealing with some mental issues, but I wasn’t helpless. If I could prove to myself that I could do this, then I could prove to Woods and the rest of the world that I was healing.
Vince glanced up at me and smiled. “Go on in, Miss Sloane,” he said before going back to his work. Woods had informed him that I never needed permission to enter. I was free to come and go as I wanted.
I knocked, then opened the door.
“I realize that, but make it happen. I need the order here tomorrow, not Monday. I’ll switch suppliers if it doesn’t happen,” he said.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Kerrington, we will make it work,” the voice said from his speakerphone.
“Good,” he replied, then ended the call before standing up and walking toward me.
“I needed to see you,” he said, smiling as he pulled me into his arms. I put both my hands up to stop him before he could kiss me. If I let him kiss me I would end up forgetting my purpose here, and there was a good chance that we would be naked in minutes.
“I’m here to apply for a position as your assistant,” I said.
That stopped him. He gazed down at me, confused, and I used the opportunity to sell my idea. “You need someone to handle the staff and place orders. You have bigger things to deal with. I can handle the staff. I can put out the small fires and leave the big ones to you. I can place orders and I can help you. I can’t sit home alone and lost. I can be here near you and helping you every day.” I stopped and took a breath. He hadn’t moved, but I had his complete attention.
Finally, he stepped back enough so that he could see the pencil skirt and pair of heels I’d put on. I was even wearing a nice blouse and had pulled my hair up in a bun with chopsticks pushed through it. It was as professional as I could get with what I had to work with. A small smile tugged on his lips.
“Is this your interview outfit?” he asked.
I nodded and continued to watch him.
“You want to be my assistant. To help me. Looking like that,” he said.
Again, I just nodded. Then he chuckled and shook his head. “Baby, I don’t doubt that you would be able to help me, but if you intend to strut around here dressed like that, I’m going to end up fucking you every damn hour, or thinking about fucking you every damn minute.”
My stomach fluttered hearing him say he was going to fuck me. I had to stay focused. “I can wear something else,” I replied.
Woods studied me a moment. “You sure you want to do this?”
He wasn’t going to tell me no. I tamped down my excitement. “Yes. Please. I want to do something. You know I want a job, but more than that I want to help you.”
“Are you going to file a sexual harassment suit against me when I decide what I need is to touch you?”
I shook my head and grinned this time. “No. But that’s not what I’m here for. I want to take some stress off you,” I told him.
“Oh, that would take stress off me,” he said, putting his hand on my hip and pulling me against him. “You’re hired. But the minute you feel like it’s too much, you tell me.”
I squealed and reached up to grab his head and kiss him hard on the mouth. “Thank you, boss. I swear I’ll do a good job. You just have to swear to give me stuff to do. I want to take stuff off your plate.”
“You can take off my clothes,” he said against my mouth before tracing kisses down my neck. I arched into him. His tongue flicked over my skin, causing me to shiver. “You can start working for me after I’ve had you in this sexy little outfit. Then you need to change. Because I won’t be able to concentrate with you dressed like this. All I can think about is the way I want to be buried deep inside my new assistant.”
His hand slid up my skirt and slipped inside the crotch of my panties. “All wet,” he replied before sliding his finger inside me.
“Oh,” I cried out, and his mouth got hungrier.
“Unbutton this shirt,” he growled.
I did as he asked and his mouth worshipped the tops of my breasts as his finger continued to fuck me. “On my desk,” he said, picking me up and putting me on his desk, then shoving my skirt up.
I watched him pull my panties down. Then he fell to his knees and spread my legs, putting my feet up on the edge of his desk. “Fuck, you smell good,” he swore before his tongue began tracing circles around my clit, then dipping inside of me. All I could do was squirm and beg. He kept up the torture until I was chanting, “Please, Woods, please.”
Finally, his tongue flicked over my clit, sending me rocketing toward my release. Before I could see clearly again, Woods was over me and stretching me as he entered me. I loved it when he filled me up.
“Heaven. This is my heaven. All I fucking need to breathe,” he said as he shifted his hips, moving in and out of me.
I pushed papers out of the way and leaned back on my arms to brace myself. Woods’s shirt was still on and I wished it wasn’t. I loved seeing the muscles in his arms flex when he hovered over me. “You didn’t unbutton your shirt,” I said as a moan of pleasure escaped me.
He smirked. “You wanted my shirt off?”
I nodded and lifted my legs to wrap them around his waist.
“Next time, baby. I can’t stop now,” he growled.
I slid my legs up his back higher and he groaned, then threw his head back. I felt him grow inside me and I came apart underneath him as his hot seed poured into me.
I fell back on my elbows and gasped for air.
Woods’s head dropped onto my chest and he took several deep breaths.
“Best interview ever,” he panted out.
I let out a giggle that only caused him to laugh against my skin. I was going to make myself worthy of this man.