Twisted Perfection
Author:Abbi Glines





A “Welcome Home Tripp” party wasn’t exactly something I wanted to attend. That was a shame really. I liked Tripp. He was a friend. My bitterness over the fact he was home and staying in his condo with Della was overriding everything else.


I was going so that I could get her alone and talk to her about this. I didn’t want her to feel like she had to stay here if she was uncomfortable. I’d give her a fully furnished condo to stay in if she wanted it. She didn’t have to stay with Tripp.


I knocked once then walked on in. No one was going to be able to hear me over the noise anyway.


The place was packed. I scanned the crowd for Della.


“Woods, about damn time you showed up,” Tripp called out over the music that was pumping through the condo’s built in speaker system. He was sitting at the bar with Jace, Bethy, Thad, and some unknown female who was sitting in Thad’s lap. Della wasn’t anywhere in the room. Dammit.


“And he’s back,” I said, forcing a smile.


“Just for a visit. Can’t stay long. Dad will try and get a monkey suit on me if I do,” he joked. But the words were too close for comfort. I knew what it felt like to have your father’s claws imbedded deep.


“I’m trying to get him to stay. But he has it in his head he’s only visiting before his next adventure,” Jace said. I knew he was trying to ease my mind about Tripp being here. I could tell by his tone of voice. Right now, I just wanted to find Della.


“Where’s Della?” I asked, unable to pretend like I wasn’t here for her.


Tripp’s eyebrows shot up and his gaze narrowed. I ignored it and looked directly at Jace.


Jace rolled his eyes and shook his head at me.


“She’s in her room. Why?” Tripp replied.


“Why is she in her room? Is she okay?” I asked looking back at the hall that led to the two bedrooms in the condo. Both doors were shut. Which one was she staying in?


“She had a phone call and went in there so she could hear. Again, why do you care?” Tripp asked.


I wasn’t going to answer him. This wasn’t his business. He was stopping through. He said so himself.


“Woods and Della met when she passed through a few months back. They uh… they uh… hooked up. They’re friends now. He’s a little protective,” Jace explained.


“You’re engaged,” Tripp said as if I needed reminding.


I leveled my gaze on him. “I wasn’t when Della and I met. And it doesn’t stop me from caring about her. I need to make sure she’s okay,” I said, before moving across the room toward the hallway.


I opened the first door and the lights were off. I closed the door and opened the next one. Della was sitting on the bed with her legs crossed and a phone pressed to her ear. Her eyes lifted to meet mine and they widened with surprise.


She was okay and I should close the door and walk away. But I didn’t. I stepped inside and closed the door behind me.


“Uh, yeah. I need to go. I’ll call you later,” Della said into the phone as she watched me warily. “I’m fine. I just had company walk in and I don’t want to be rude. Okay. Yeah. I love you too. Bye.”


She pressed the end button on her phone and slowly lowered it to her lap. “Woods?” The rest of her question was left open.


“You weren’t out there.” I nodded my head toward the door. “I wanted to check on you.”


Understanding dawned on her face and she gave me a small smile that made my chest feel tight. “Thank you but you know you don’t have to worry about me. I’m fine. Really I am.”


She wasn’t fine. I wasn’t sure she’d ever been fine. I walked across the room and sat down beside her on the bed.


“I’ve wanted to come check on you since Friday night. You know you can call me if you ever need me.”


She turned her head just an inch so that she could meet my gaze. “You were busy with your fiancée this weekend. You don’t have time to worry about me.”


I had only been with Angelina today at lunch. “I’ve hardly seen Angelina this weekend,” I replied, hating saying her name to Della. It seemed wrong.


Della dropped her eyes to stare down at her hands. “I saw the two of you when I got off work today.” She didn’t say more. I thought back to the disaster of a lunch we’d had with our parents and the fight we’d had on the ride over to the club. Then I’d apologized because Angelina had been right. I was torturing us both by being an ass.


“We had lunch together,” I explained. I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to explain but I did.


“You fought and you made up. I don’t understand how you can ever be happy, Woods.” Her honest reply caused the tightness in my chest to ache.


“Me either.”


“I can’t let myself care about you anymore. I’m afraid of how I feel about you and I don’t want to get hurt.”


She was making it hard to breathe. The soft pleading in her voice was going to break me.


“I would never hurt you,” I swore. I could never hurt her. I just wanted to protect her.


“But you do. Every time I see you with her it hurts. That’s not your fault. It’s mine. I cared too much too fast. And Friday night didn’t help. It only made me care about you more.”


We had barely even had a chance to be friends. She was already putting space between us. I couldn’t let her do that. I needed her. She was the only bright spot in my life right now.


“What about our being friends?” I asked.


She shrugged and then squeezed her hands together tightly in her lap. “I don’t know. I don’t think I can. When you’re… when you’re sweet and caring like you were the other night… no one’s ever been like that with me. At least not a guy. I can’t seem to control my emotions.”


Fuck. I couldn’t lose this… this thing between us but I also didn’t want her hurt. I’d do anything to keep her from getting hurt.


“I want to be there for you when you need someone. Please don’t push me away.”


Della let out a sad laugh. “That’s just it. You can’t be there for me when I need someone. It makes my heart hurt just a little more each time. I’ll be leaving soon. Let’s just keep our distance until I go.”


Hell no. I started to tell her just that when the door opened and Tripp stepped into the room.


“You okay?” he asked Della without looking my way. I didn’t like the way he looked at her. The concern in his eyes pissed me off.


“We were just talking about my leaving soon,” she replied without looking up at him.


“You’re not leaving,” I argued. If she wanted to have this conversation in front of Tripp then we’d fucking have it.


“I can’t stay here,” she replied.


“Yes you can.”


“She doesn’t want to, Woods. And why the urgency to get her to?” Tripp said taking another step in Della’s direction.


“Stay the fuck outta this conversation, Tripp. You don’t know anything about her.” Della stood up and held up her hands to stop me from saying anymore. “Stop it.”


I looked up at her and the sadness in her eyes tugged at me. I liked seeing them twinkling with laughter. Not like this.


“You need to step back and think about this bullshit you’re doing. The Woods I remember wasn’t an insensitive jerk. Della doesn’t deserve this. You’re engaged. Whatever you feel for Della has to end. She’s leaving with me in a couple of weeks. We’re going to travel together. Why don’t you let this go, huh?”


She was leaving with him? The refusal to believe Della was going to leave with Tripp pounded in my head. Yet there she stood not denying it. Only looking sad and beaten down. Fuck this. I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. She wasn’t staying here. I had no future with Della. And if I didn’t marry Angelina I had no future in my father’s company. Tripp’s hand slipped over Della’s shoulder and he squeezed it. That was all I could handle. I stood up and stalked out of the room. I didn’t look back. I didn’t say goodbye to anyone. I just left.








“You shouldn’t have told him that,” I said without turning around and looking at Tripp. I shrugged his hand off my shoulder and walked over to the window. Woods had been so tormented. I could see the indecision on his face. I wanted him to choose me. But what would he be choosing? I wasn’t a choice for anyone.


“He’s engaged. He has no right coming in here and playing with your emotions like that. I saw the pain in your eyes. Whatever happened between the two of you is still there and he isn’t letting it go. That’s not fair to you.”


Maybe it wasn’t fair. But it wasn’t fair to him either. His choice had been made for him. He was unhappy and I hated that. I wanted to leave knowing he was happy.


“He’s my friend,” I replied. That was the only truth to all of this.


Tripp let out a heavy sigh. “Yeah, he’s my friend too…. Or he was. I think he’s considering murdering me the first chance he gets. But he could leave this behind. He could have chosen you.”


“I’m not a choice,” I replied.


My words were followed by silence. I stood there looking out over the ocean. I could feel Tripp’s gaze still on me. He was thinking about my words. I wouldn’t explain them. He’d understand them soon enough.


“Not everyone sees you the way you do. Sometimes our imperfections are what makes us special.”


I didn’t reply. Because he was right that was the case with many people. However, not with me. It wasn’t my imperfections that I was worried about. It was the terror that twisted everything in my life and that kept me apart from everyone else.


Instead of saying anything more the door softly closed behind me. He was leaving me alone. Good. I wanted to be alone.


“Do you know why I sent you here?” Tripp’s voice startled me and I spun around. He was sitting on the edge of the bed. He hadn’t left.


I shook my head. I had no idea why he’d sent me. We’d barely known each other.


“Because you looked as lost as I felt. I had been watching you for weeks. You’re hard not to watch.” A crooked smile tugged at his lips. “And you didn’t seem to know where you belonged. Neither do I. Since I left this world behind I’m just been drifting. I’m tired of being alone. I saw a kindred spirit in you and I sent you here to keep you until I had the guts to come back and face this place.” He paused and ran a hand through his hair. “I planned on spending time with you and getting to know you better. But this isn’t exactly something I was prepared for. Woods.” He shook his head. “You had to go and get mixed up with Woods. Of all people. Someone just as screwed up as I once was. Problem is he isn’t going to run. He wants this shit for life our parents forced on us. He is becoming a motherfucking puppet. You can do better than that Della.”


I swallowed the nervous knot lodged in my throat. I wasn’t sure what all Tripp planned on saying but I didn’t want to hear anymore. He was right. Woods wasn’t someone I needed to waste my time wanting. But forgetting him and moving on was easier said than done.


“Tonight I just need to go to sleep. I don’t have my sights set on Woods if that’s what you’re thinking. We had sex. That’s all there is between us.”


Tripp stood up. “I’m sorry about tonight.”


I was too. I was sorry about a lot of things. “It’s okay. I’m just tired.”


Trip nodded once then left the room.


I sank down on the bed and covered my face with my hands. I was more lost now than I had been three weeks ago.


“Were you outside, Della? How could you? What do I have to do to get it through your head that you can’t go outside? It’s dangerous out there.” The shrill screech of my mother’s voice was nothing like the searing pain from the leather belt that she slashed across my legs. I knew not to cry out in pain. She’d only get angrier. Sneaking out of the house always sent her into a tailspin.


My knees buckled as the tender skin behind my knees tore open from the continuous hit of the leather.


“Diseases. There are diseases out there that you could bring into this house. You’re not only being reckless you’re being selfish,” she yelled and I was thankful that it muffled the sound of my cries. I wasn’t able to hold back anymore. The pain was too much. Sometimes I wondered why I even came back after I snuck out. Why didn’t I run? Keep running until I was free of this. Of her.


But I couldn’t. She needed me. I would never be free. I couldn’t leave her. She was my mother. She was all I had.


“Do you think of me? NO! Do you think of your brother? NO! This upsets him, you leaving the house. How could you?” She yelled as another slash sliced open the backs of my legs. I would start wishing I was the child that was dead when the beatings were this bad. The pain was too much.


The scene changed and my mother was no longer looming over me with her crazed, fearful face as she beat me. Instead there was no life in her eyes as she lay in a pool of blood. I started to scream.




“Shhhh, Della, it’s okay. I’ve got you. Shhhh.” The voice was far away but I heard it. The images of my mother’s death slowly faded as I focused more on the voice. The sobs were mine. I recognized them.


“That’s it. You’re okay. I’m here,” the voice said gently.


I opened my eyes and as they came into focus. I realized the voice was Tripp’s. The fear on his face said enough. He was holding me in his arms as he rocked me back and forth saying soothing words. He hadn’t been prepared for what he’d just seen. I could see the questions in his eyes.


“I’m sorry,” I managed to croak out. My throat was raw from the screaming. It always was when I woke up like this. Braden had been the first person ever to experience this with me. My psychologist had said it was a night terror. That my trauma was being expressed while I was asleep and my guard was down. Unfortunately, nothing I’d done had helped this. When I slept, my mother always came. Then the memories came with her.


“Hush,” he said, putting his finger over my mouth and shaking his head. “Don’t. I can’t deal with you apologizing right now.”


I didn’t say anything more. I moved out of his lap and back over to the side of the bed I slept on. Tripp didn’t move. He stayed where he was.


“Do you do that often?” he finally asked.


“Yes,” I replied. Because it happened most nights. But normally I woke up on my own once the images of that night when I’d found my mother came back to me.


“And you deal with that alone, every night?” he asked.


I nodded.


“Fuck,” he whispered and stood up. “Della why are you alone? You shouldn’t be alone! How the hell have you managed this long?” He rubbed the palms over his eyes and then ran his hands over his hair in a frustrated gesture. “That was intense. Do you even know how scary that shit is? God, Della, you can’t stay alone.”


I pulled the covers up to my chin and leaned against the back of the bed. This was where Tripp realized traveling with me was much more than he had bargained for. I knew this already and it had only been a matter of time.


“I’m fine. Someone being with me doesn’t make the dreams go away. I have them anyway. I’ll leave in the morning.”


Tripp shook his head and walked over to sit down in front of me. “You aren’t going anywhere in the morning. Whatever is running through your head you’re wrong. This isn’t a deal breaker for me Della. I just wasn’t prepared for it.”


I wasn’t sure I believed him but I nodded anyway.


“In the morning I’m taking you golfing. Then we’re going to have lunch together. It’s time the two of us got to know each other better.”





I hadn’t been able to sleep. I’d sat out on my balcony all-night and stared at the waves while I faced several facts. The first one I finally accepted was that I would never be happy married to Angelina and neither would she. The second one was that I was going to have to let go of my dream of taking over Kerrington Club one day. My dad wasn’t going to forgive me for not doing his bidding and marrying a Greystone. And then the reason I even made myself face the truth- Della. I wanted her. Maybe it wasn’t forever but for whatever length of time I had with her I wanted her. I couldn’t keep thinking about her and torturing myself with the idea of not getting to have her.


My future was about to be completely thrown off track because Della Sloane was under my skin and I had to have her. I couldn’t ignore it anymore. It wasn’t just the sex with her. It had been in the beginning but not now. I’d gotten close enough to her to see deeper. I knew she was selfless and thoughtful. She didn’t expect anything from me and was just happy to be alive. She was wounded but still fought hard to make it past that. No sob story. It was all part of her beautiful package. Had I ever known a girl like that?


The relief that came with the acceptance that I wasn’t going to give up something that could be the best thing I’d ever found in order to fulfill my father’s orders was incredible. I could take a deep breath with ease.


I picked up my phone and asked Angelina to meet me in my office at eleven. That would give her time to sleep in and get dressed. Then after that was over I was going to find Della and get on my knees and beg if I had to.


Leaving her with Tripp last night had been the slap in my face I needed. This farce of a relationship I didn’t have with Angelina was ridiculous. She knew it too. We were both so power hungry to take the places that were rightfully ours in our fathers’ businesses that we were willing to forego love. Even if Della hadn’t walked into my life and forced me to walk away from my dad’s demands, I wouldn’t have been able to walk down the aisle and say ‘I do’.


The swift knock on my office door came before Angelina opened the door and stepped inside. Her long blonde hair was pulled up in a twist with curls cascading loose from the top. Her short purple linen dress was without a wrinkle and I was willing to bet her matching heels cost more than the average person made in six months. The diamond ring on her left hand mocked me as the sunlight pouring in through the window reflected off it and danced around the room. It was as perfectly polished and set as the woman’s hand it adorned. Angelina had always been beautiful and elegant. She’d been raised to be her father’s pawn. The young girl I’d once cared for was underneath all that facade somewhere.


“Don’t do this,” she said, stiffening her spine and reaching out to grasp the back of the chair beside her. I hadn’t said a word but she already knew. That should be confirmation enough for both of us.


“We can’t do what they want us to. I let him force my hand this far but I’m done. I can’t.”


Angelina’s eyes flashed with anger and disgust. She didn’t understand. I’d thought maybe she would thank me but I could see that wouldn’t be happening. She had been prepared to go through with this. Why? Her father would find someone else. Possibly someone who could love her. Who wouldn’t just be marrying her for her father’s name and fortune.


“You’re making the biggest mistake of your life,” she said through clenched teeth.


I walked over to the other side of my desk and sat down.


“Marrying you would have been the biggest mistake of my life. We would have hated each other. I can’t let my father keep controlling me. If he doesn’t want me to have this business, then fine. At least I will have made my own decisions.”


Angelina rolled her eyes as if what I was saying was ridiculous. “Listen to yourself. This world is all you’ve ever known. This life you are so willing to toss away because you don’t want to be told what to do, is ALL YOU’VE KNOWN. You’re acting as if marrying me is the worst possible thing you could ever do. We were close once, Woods. We were friends. We could have that again if you would just accept this and be open to it.”


We had been two kids whose parents had left us alone all the time. We’d shared the same screwed up life. She’s right; we’d been friends. But I’d never wanted anything more.


“Because we were friends once, I refuse to let us both be forced into something we didn’t choose. You have never been given another choice. Since we were kids your parents shoved me down your throat. There is someone out there that will love you. They’ll want you for you. Don’t settle for less. Life is short and I’m tired of wasting it.”


She threw her hands up and let out an aggravated growl. “Fine. Whatever. I’m not begging you. It isn’t like I can’t do better. I just figured marrying you would be the best for me. You know me and we have a history. But I won’t keep this up. I have pride and I won’t stand here and beg.” She slipped the diamond off her finger and slammed it down on the edge of my desk. “Take it. We both know I don’t need it.”


I started to say something more. Apologize or at least try and ease her mind but there was nothing else I could say. I needed to count myself lucky that she hadn’t hurled anything at my head.


“Goodbye, Woods. I hope this was worth it to you,” she spat then stalked out of my office.


I waited until she had time to safely get out of the building before I left. I had to go find Della.