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I turned on the shower, then reached for Della. Streaks of blood were still visible on her face. She'd tried to clean it but she'd left some of the proof behind. A bruise was forming on her face and blades of grass in her hair clung to the tangled mess.
She wouldn't let me call the police. She'd cried and begged me not to. I was going to kill Angelina myself. She'd hurt the most precious thing in my life and she would pay for it. I'd make sure she paid over and over again. But right now I had to keep Della lucid and out of her head.
I reached for her shirt and had started to lift it over her head when she cried out in pain. I froze. "What's wrong, baby?"
"My ribs," she said in a tight whisper.
Fuck. I forced myself to calm down. The anger rolling over me was getting worse. I was going to snap. The tank top she was wearing was ruined. Blood and grass stains had made it unsalvageable. I reached up and grabbed the neckline, then ripped it in one swift move. It fell to the ground behind her and my eyes found the bruised skin. It was too much. Seeing the dark bruise covering her side broke me. I had let this happen to her. I had left her alone and let this woman into our lives. This was my fault.
My knees gave out and I fell before her. Knowing that she was hurting was too much. The sob that filled the bathroom was mine.
"Woods, please don't," her sweet voice begged. Della's hands caressed my head in her attempt to comfort me. Me. I wasn't the one who had been attacked. She was the one with bruises and covered in blood but I was the one on his knees, crying. "It's okay, I'm okay," she tried to reassure me. She was in pain and she was worrying over me. I was a man, dammit. I couldn't break apart on her. It was my place to take care of her, not the other way around.
I forced myself to stand up and focus on undressing her. I needed to clean her. I had to fix her. Make the pain go away.
"Woods?" Her voice was soft and unsure. I knew the tears were still rolling down my face silently. I couldn't seem to make them stop. I was trying. They weren't going away.
"I need to clean you. Let me clean you," I said, finally lifting my eyes to look into hers. She wasn't about to leave me anymore. The glazed look that I'd seen in her eyes earlier was gone. I had her back with me.
"Okay," she said simply, and stepped into the shower.
I undressed and followed her inside. She wasn't standing under the warm water.
"I need to wash your hair," I told her, moving close to her body and running my hands down her arms.
"Be gentle with my head," she said.
Her head? What the fuck did Angelina do to her head? "What's wrong with your head, baby?"
She dropped her eyes from mine as she stared down at the marble floor. "She pulled a lot of my hair out. It burns," she said so softly I almost missed it.
My body trembled. Holy hell.
"I will be gentle. But we need to clean it. Do you trust me?" I asked as she stared warily back at the water. Then she nodded.
I moved her under the water and pressed kisses to her lips while whispering comforting words to her as she winced.
Gently, I washed her hair, then moved to clean her body. She flinched as I touched the tender spots. Each flinch from her body caused my chest to constrict. Once she was clean I wrapped a towel around her and carried her to bed. I needed to hold her but first I wanted her checked out.
"I'm going to call a friend of mine. He'll come here and check you out. I need to know you're okay. Your ribs could be broken."
She started to shake her head but I couldn't give her this. I had to know she was okay. "Della, I have to. I can't not make sure you're okay. Please, baby. He's a sports doctor. We use him at the club during tennis tournaments. He's a friend. It's okay."
She finally nodded. "Okay," she agreed.
I didn't want to leave her in there alone but I wanted to talk to Martin without her hearing me. I didn't want to scare her.
"Hello," Martin said after one ring. I had his private line for emergencies. The club had been using him for over twenty years.
"Martin, it's Woods. I need you to make a house call. My girlfriend was beaten up tonight by my crazy ex-fiancée. I'm worried her ribs could be broken or she could be internally bleeding. I don't think Angelina is strong enough to actually cause internal bleeding but I still need Della checked out. She won't go to the hospital."
Martin let out a low whistle. "Damn, Woods. That is some fucked-up shit," he replied.
"Yeah, it is. Can you come check her tonight?"
"I'm on my way. I'll be there in twenty minutes. Are y'all at your house?"
"Yeah, thanks, man. See you in a few."
Della hadn't been thrilled about Martin checking her out but I'd held her hand while he felt her ribs. She was bruised but that was it. He'd left her some pain pills. They had successfully knocked Della out within thirty minutes. I wasn't going to be able to sleep, though. I had something I needed to do.
Jace arrived ten minutes after I called him. He didn't ask questions. He just agreed to watch Della and call me if she woke up. He seemed to understand that I wasn't ready to talk about this. I started for the door.
"Don't do anything that could take you away from her. Be careful how you handle this. Don't kill a bitch; I don't want your ass in jail. I would want revenge too. Just . . . just be careful. Use your head."
Rush must have told him. I didn't look back at him. I only nodded, then opened the door and headed outside. I was going to make sure Angelina understood that this was her only warning. She had one hour to get her shit and get on a plane and not come back. I couldn't beat the hell out of a woman but I could make her wish she'd never been born. She'd crossed a line.
When I drove up to my mother's house, Angelina's car was missing. She was hiding or she wasn't home yet. I took the stairs to my mother's house two at a time and knocked once before pulling out my key and opening the door.
My mother was walking down the staircase in her robe. "Woods? What are you doing here so late? You scared me."
"Where is she?" I asked, trying to control the anger in my voice.
"She left. What did you do?"
I let out a hard laugh. "What did I do? I just stood over Della as a doctor checked her for internal bleeding and broken ribs because Angelina beat the shit out of her. If Blaire Finlay hadn't shown up and pulled a gun on her crazy ass she would have killed Della. So tell me now, where is she!"
Mother covered her mouth with both her hands as her eyes went round in surprise. "What? That's . . . that's ridiculous. Angelina is a sweet girl. She'd never do something so awful. Della has lied to you."
"No, Mother. Rush and Blaire Finlay found them and stopped Angelina. I have witnesses. She isn't sweet, she was using you to stay near me. She's a fucking psycho."
"Watch your mouth in my house. I won't listen to this. The poor girl left here in tears saying you'd hurt her too many times. She wanted to stay with me but she was going home to her parents and starting over."
She was going to refuse to believe me. I shouldn't have been surprised. She had always chosen my father over me. Now she was choosing Angelina because she was my father's choice for me. What mattered was that Angelina was gone. The bitch was gone. She had better never come back.
"If you speak to her, let her know that if she steps foot in Rosemary again I will have her arrested. I have witnesses and I will press charges. I don't give a fuck who her daddy is."
I didn't wait for my mother to respond. I turned and left the house, slamming the door behind me.
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