Never Too Far (Chapter 16)
The first day back at work and Woods assigned me to the dining room. Breakfast and lunch shifts. Not good. I stood outside the kitchen mentally preparing myself not to think about the smell. I'd woken up queasy and forced two saltine crackers and some gingerale down but that was all I could manage.
The moment I walked into the kitchen the smell would hit me. The bacon… oh god, the bacon…
"You know sweet thing you have to actually go in there in order to work," Jimmy drawled from behind me. I spun around, startled from my internal battle to see him smiling at me with an amused grin. "The cooks aren't that bad. You'll get over the yelling in no time. Besides, last time you had them wrapped around your pretty little finger."
I forced a smile. "You're right. I can do this. I'm just not ready for people asking questions, I guess." That wasn't exactly the truth but then it wasn't a lie either.
Jimmy opened the door and the smell slammed into me. Eggs, bacon, sausage, grease. Oh, no. My body broke out into a cold sweat and my stomach rolled. "I, uh, need to use the restroom first," I explained and made my way to the employee restroom as fast as I could without breaking into a run. That would look even more suspicious.
I closed the door behind me and clicked the lock into place as I fell to my knees on the cold tile.I grabbed the toilet as everything I'd eaten last night and this morning came back out.
Several dry heaves later I stood up still feeling puny.I wet a papertowel to clean my face up. My white polo shirt was clinging to me from the sweat that had broken out all over me. I needed to change.
I rinsed my mouth with the mouthwash on the counter and straightened my shirt the best I could. Maybe no one would notice. I could do this. I would just hold my breath while I was in the kitchen. That would do it. I'd breathe deeply before going in each time. I had to figure this out.
When I opened the door my eyes locked on Woods. He was standing against the wall facing the restroom with his arms crossed over his chest studying me. I was late.
"I'm sorry. I know I'm late. I just needed to take a quick break before I got started. I promise this won't happen again. I'll stay late to make up for it – "
"My office. Now," he snapped and turned to stalk down the hallway.
My heart sped up and I followed quickly behind him. I didn't want Woods to be mad at me. This job had been my answer for the next few months. Now that I'd talked myself into staying here and figuring out what to do I really didn't want to leave. Not yet.
Woods opened the door for me and I stepped inside.
"I really am sorry. Please don't fire me yet. I just – "
"I'm not firing you." Woods interrupted me.
"Have you seen a doctor? I'm assuming it's Rush's. Does he know? Because if he does and you're here working for me in this condition I'm personally going to go break his fucking neck."
He knew. Oh no, oh no, oh no. I shook my head frantically. I had to stop this. Woods could not know. No one was supposed to know but Bethy. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Woods cocked an eyebrow. "Really?" The disbelief in his voice was unnerving. He wasn't going to fall for a lie. But I had a baby to protect.
"He doesn't know." The truth fell out of my mouth before I could stop it. "I don't want him to, yet. I need to find a way to do this on my own. We both know Rush doesn't want this. His family would hate it. I can't have my baby hated by anyone. Please understand," I begged.
Woods muttered a curse and ran his hands through his hair. "He deserves to know this, Blaire."
Yes, he did. But when this baby had been conceived I'd not known just how tainted our worlds were. How impossible it would be for us to have a relationship. "They hate me. They hate my mom. I can't. Just, please give me time to prove I can do this without help. I'll tell him eventually but I need to be stable and ready to leave after I do. This time my wants and his wants don't come first. I am doing what is best for this baby."
Woods' frown deepened. We stood in silence for several minutes.
"I don't like it but it isn't my story to tell. Go change and head out to see Darla. You can do cart rounds today. Let me know when the kitchen smell isn't so much of an issue."
I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him. He wasn't forcing me to tell anyone and he was giving me an out on serving breakfast. I used to love bacon but now… I just couldn't deal with it. "Thank you. Dinner isn't bad. It's just the morning and sometimes the afternoons."
"Noted. I'll only put you on evening shifts in the dining room. This week you just work the course. But don't get overheated. Keep some ice or something to cool you down. Can I tell Darla?"
"No," I replied before he could finish. "She can't know. No one can know. Please."
Woods sighed then nodded his head. "Okay. I'll keep your secret. But if you need anything you'd better let me know… if you're not going to let Rush know."
"Okay. Thank you."
Woods gave me a tight smile. "I'll see you later then."
I was dismissed.
The schedule for the rest of the week had me working the beer cart. There was a tournament a week from Saturday and I was down to work the entire day. I couldn't be happier about it. The money would be great. And although the heat was intense out on the course all day it was better than being in the air conditioning smelling bacon or any greasy meat and running off to vomit.
It had progressively gotten busier since I'd left. According to Darla, the members who only came during their summer vacations were all now in residence. Bethy and I ran two different carts in order to keep the place hydrated. Woods was rarely on the course so I didn't have to worry about his prying eyes. He was busy working. Jace had told Bethy that Woods was trying to prove to his dad that he was ready for a promotion.
After restocking my cart for the third time today, I headed back to the first hole to make my next round. I recognized the back of Grant's head right away. He was playing with… Nan. I'd known this day was coming but I hadn't been prepared for it. I could always skip this hole and let Bethy catch them on her next round but that would only be putting off the inevitable.
I pulled the cart up and Grant turned in my direction. He looked like he was in a serious conversation with Nan. The frustrated frown on his face wasn't comforting. He smiled but I could tell it was forced.
"We're good, Blaire. You can go on to the next hole," Grant called out. Nan's head jerked around at the sound of my name and the hateful scowl on her face had me shifting the cart in reverse. Maybe my first instincts had been right. I shouldn't have stopped.
"Wait. I want something." At the sound of Rush's voice my heart did a crazy little flutter thing that only he could make happen. I turned my head toward the sound of his voice to see him jogging toward me in a pair of pale blue shorts and a white polo shirt. It never ceased to amaze me that he could look so ridiculously good in such a preppy outfit. Boys in Bama did not dress like this for anything. They played golf in their jeans, baseball caps and whatever lucky t-shirt or flannel shirt made it out of the dryer that day. But Rush made it look like something mouthwateringly sexy.
"I need a drink," he said with an easy smile once he got to my cart. He stopped right in front of me. I hadn't seen him in a couple of days. Not since our road trip.
"The usual?" I asked stepping out of the cart only to be even closer to him. He didn't back up and our chests were close to brushing against each other. I glanced up at him.
"Yeah. That'd be great," he replied but didn't move. He also kept his eyes locked on mine. One of us was going to have to move and break this staring contest. I knew it should be me. I couldn't lead him to believe anything was different.
I scooted past him and walked to the back of the cart to get him a Corona. I bent down to pull one out of the ice and I felt him move in behind me. Dangit. He was not making this easy.
Straightening up, I didn't look back or turn around. He was too close. "What are you doing?" I asked quietly. I didn't want Nan or Grant to hear us.
"I miss you," was his simple response.
Closing my eyes tightly I took a deep breath and tried to calm the frenzy he was sending my heart into. I missed him too. But that didn't make the truth go away.
Telling him I missed him wasn't smart. I didn't need to let him believe things could go back to the way they were.
"Get your drink and come on," Nan snapped from behind him. That was enough to make me move. I wasn't up for a Nan verbal attack. Not today.
"Back off, Nan," Rush growled and I shoved the Corona at him and moved quickly back to the driver's seat. "Blaire, wait," Rush said, once again following me.
"Don't do this," I begged. "I can't handle her."
He winced and then nodded before backing away. I tore my eyes off him and put the cart in drive. Without looking back I headed to the next hole.