Simple Perfection

Page 25

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I walked over to the bar and took the glass of bourbon that Mitch, the club's bartender, pushed my way. It was after-hours and I was expecting someone. He'd texted me an hour ago.
Just as I lifted the glass to my lips, Grant walked in the door and scanned the room until he found me at the bar. He had been out of town more than usual this year. It was summertime. He should have been in his condo, living it up in Rosemary.
"Give me one of those, Mitch," Grant said as he approached the bar, and leaned against it before looking at me. "I'm back. What's up?"
"Where have you been?" I asked.
His mouth was in a firm, set line before he gave in and let out a sigh. "You don't want to know," he said, then took a long swig of the bourbon.
That meant he'd been with Nan. There was a story there I wasn't sure I wanted to know. Grant was Rush's best friend. They were like brothers. Rush's mom had been married to Grant's dad when they were kids. The marriage only lasted a few years but they bonded. What no one expected was for Grant and Nan, Rush's half sister, to do anything more than fight. They fought when they were kids and they fought now. Grant was a good guy. Nan was the world's second-biggest bitch. Angelina was the first.
"Nan," I said simply.
Grant took another swig and handed the glass back to Mitch. "Another," he replied.
"That's twenty-three-year-old Kentucky bourbon. It's meant to be sipped and enjoyed, not thrown back like a shot of cheap tequila," I pointed out.
"You're an elitist, Woods. Kiss my ass. I need more alcohol."
"Anyone who spends five minutes with Nan needs alcohol. The question is, why the hell do you do it?"
Grant threw back his second glass of bourbon and then looked over at me. "Not talking about her tonight. Why did you call me? What is going on?"
Good. I didn't really want to know about Nan anyway. If she came back to town, Rush was gonna be pissed. He loved his sister, but she hated his wife. So Nan had drawn a line and Rush had stayed on Blaire's side. Nan's coming back to Rosemary wouldn't be cool. I'd hoped she was staying in LA with her daddy. She'd recently found out the man she had grown up thinking was her father was not. Her real father was the lead singer of Slacker Demon. Apparently, Rush's momma liked sleeping with the band back in the day.
"I fired the board. I'm choosing my own. My father's board isn't for me. I want you on my new one."
Grant set down his glass and stared at me a minute. "What did you just say?"
"The club has a board of directors. The old one has been let go. Will you be on my new board?"
Grant motioned for Mitch to refill his glass. "Damn, I'm glad I'm back. Crazy shit happens here all the time. No place is as drama-ridden as Rosemary. Not even fucking LA."
"Does this mean yes, you will be on my board?" I asked, taking a sip of my bourbon.
Grant grinned over at me. "Hell yeah, I will."
I knew he would. That made four. I still needed to talk to a few more. "I have paperwork in my office for you to fill out. But tonight, let's drink. I need a distraction."
Grant pulled out a stool and sat down. "Where's Della?"
I had been expecting this question but hearing her name jolted me. She had met with her birth mother today. Braden was supposed to call me tonight and let me know how it went. I was anxious and needed to think about something else until I got that call.
"She left." I couldn't bring myself to explain anything else.
"She left? What the fuck did you do?"
"Screwed up. Missed some signs I should have noticed. Got too busy to see what she needed. Smothered her." There was a long list of things I had realized I was guilty of.
"Damn. Last I saw you two, you were worshipping at her altar. How the hell did it go south so fast?"
"It's not over. I'm waiting. She'll come back. I'm letting her decide if she can do this. In the meantime, I'm drinking a lot and living for phone calls from Tripp."
Grant put his glass down and let out a low whistle. "Ah, hell no. She left with Tripp?"
I just managed a nod.
"Shit, dude. I'm sorry. If you want my help kicking his playboy ass I got your back."
At one point that would have been exactly what I wanted, but not now. Tripp was taking care of her. He was making sure she was safe. It was all I had. I shook my head. "No. It's okay. He's keeping me updated. He's making sure she has what she needs to be free."
Grant frowned and leaned toward me. "Am I understanding you right? Your woman is off with Tripp and you're okay with this?"
"She loves me."
Grant nodded. "Yeah, she does."
"She'll be back. This hand isn't over. It can't be. I went all in."
I didn't have to explain that to Grant. He got it. He smiled and leaned back with his drink in his hand. "You got this one, Ace."
My phone rang and I pulled it out to see my mother's name on the screen. I stuck it back in my pocket. I wasn't talking to her. I was sure she was aware that the old board members had been released. She wouldn't be happy about that.
"Is Nan coming back?" I asked.
Grant held the glass to his lips a moment longer than necessary. He was stalling. I knew that move. When he finally set it down he turned his head toward me. "Yeah. She's coming back. I'm heading over to Rush's when I leave here to tell him. He needs to be prepared."
"You ask her to come back?" I asked. Grant's attraction to Nan made no sense to me. He had seen how evil she could be. He had seen her at her worst. How could he want that?
"Hell no. But she's coming. Kiro bought her a nice, big, fancy house. The light blue one that sits over the hill on the south end of the beach."
Kiro was the lead singer of Slacker Demon and Nan's father. "Damn. I like that house. How'd she get that out of him?"
"He's trying to get rid of her. She hasn't been easy to deal with. She gives him hell every chance she gets and he's pretty desperate."
"Can't say I blame him." I would have done whatever I could to get away from her, too, if I was him. Nan was dangerous when she wanted to be.
"I feel bad for her, man. She knows he bought it for her to move her as far away from him as possible. She just wants his attention."
"He's the lead singer in the biggest, most legendary rock band of our time. He ignored her for most of her life. He isn't daddy material."
Grant frowned and I could see he was dealing with something. "He has another daughter. He treats her differently. He's affectionate with her. He loves her. It's obvious. But she's not like Nan. She doesn't demand things and she's quiet. I think that's what he wants. A meek, sweet daughter. Nan will never be that."
"Another daughter? Really?" I'd never heard of Kiro having a daughter.
"Yeah. She lives with him, too. She has what Nan wants and will never get. Because Nan can't be her. She can't be what Kiro wants. It sucks for her. She's always just wanted attention. Both her parents denied her that. Rush is all she ever had and now he has Blaire and Nate. She lost him, too. I can't help but feel bad for her." He took a drink and set it down, then stood up. "I get that no one understands why I have anything to do with her, and I'll be honest: at times, I don't know either. She's all kinds of fucked up and mean."
I nodded, because he was right about that.

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