Make Me Whole, page 1part #1 of Callaway Series
Make Me Whole Copyright © 2015 by Kaithlin Shepherd
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Make Me Whole is a work of fiction. All names, characters, events and places found therein are either from the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to persons alive or dead, actual events, locations, or organizations is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.
For information contact the publisher, Hot Tree Publishing.
Editing & Formatting: Hot Tree Editing
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
ISBN 13: 978-0-9944079-0-0 (eCopy Edition)
About the Author
This book is for anyone who has ever been broken.
“I’m going to die here.” Jamie looked at the four walls of her cell and watched all hope of ever going back home slowly fade away. She’d lost count of how many days she had been held hostage; she had no idea where she was imprisoned, and the thought of returning home, the one thing that had kept her strong throughout this ordeal, no longer held hope. She had been beaten and tortured. They had broken her, deprived her of any dream that someone would come and rescue her. Her body was brutalized. Cuts were infected, as were the bullet wounds, which seemed to be her new accessories, and blood… there was blood everywhere. Cradled in the corner of her cell, unable to move, she was ready to die.
The sound of gunfire and yelling told her something was going on. The place was usually so quiet she could hear a pin drop, but right then, screams filled the air. She didn’t know how much time passed before the gunfire stopped and the door to her cell opened as five Special Forces soldiers walked into the room. A large man slowly headed toward her as he put his gun behind his back and held out his hands to her. He dropped to his knees in front of her and took her hands in his, slowly assessing her injuries. Finally, he locked eyes with hers and said the words she had been praying to hear, “Ma’am, I’m Sergeant Cassidy, and I’m here to take you home.”
“You know what I remember most about what happened over there?” Jamie sat on the sofa in her therapist’s office looking out the window, seeing the images of her worst nightmare play again in her head. The last six months had been a harder fight than she had expected; not only was her physical recovery taking longer, too, but she was still a long way from getting her field clearance back. All her life, she had worked toward the ultimate goal to make a difference in the world. It all seemed like a distant wish as she remembered what had happened during her captivity.
“What do you remember most about what happened?” She had to give it to Courtney for digging and never giving up on her. It had been a little over six months since her first therapy session with her, and she’d come a long way since that first appointment. Talking about what happened during her captivity was getting easier, and coming to terms with the trauma finally seemed within her grasp, which was something she’d never thought would happen. Jamie knew she was still a long way from a full recovery, both physically and emotionally, but finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel was a small comfort she cherished.
“The gunshots from the night they rescued me. After weeks of brutality and torture, the one thing I choose to remember is the sound of the gunshots as they came in to save me. It’s the only memory that allows me to cope with what happened.” The day Sgt. Craig Cassidy rescued her, was the day hope took its rightful place back in her heart. She had tried to contact him time and time again to thank him for saving her life, but the military wasn’t too keen on her making contact with a member of a Special Ops team. She understood the reasoning behind their decision, but still, she wished she could thank the man who’d saved her, the man who’d given her hope.
“That’s a normal memory to hold on to, Jamie. You have to remember that you are stronger than what you went through over there. What happened to you does not define you as a human being, or as a woman.” Jamie watched the emotions dancing across Courtney’s face. When the time had come for Jamie to start therapy, she had insisted her best friend, Emilia, take the lead, but Emilia had refused, concerned their friendship would risk her professional integrity. Jamie respected her wishes and after one session with Courtney, a referral from Emilia, Jamie felt confident that Courtney was the right match for her. The progress she had made in the last couple of months was astonishing, or so Courtney told her. All she really knew was her road to recovery was still a long one. She’d admitted though, after Courtney had pushed her to see it, that the light had returned to her life, which was a big step forward.
“I know you’re right, but it’s just so hard to get past that. To have intimacy with a man is something I want, but I just can’t seem to let myself be that vulnerable.” The assault she’d endured during her kidnapping in Darfur, left her fearful of any male contact. Finding a man she was comfortable with was a harder task than she’d ever thought possible, and finding someone who understood what she had been through was almost impossible. She loved her job and she knew the risks when she signed up for the humanitarian mission, but she’d never expected that one mission would change her life the way it had.
“When you meet the right guy, you’ll know, Jamie. You just have to give yourself time to heal.”
She almost laughed out loud because the simple idea of bringing up what happened to her to a potential date, made every part of her skin start to crawl. How did you go about telling the person you’re dating that you were kidnapped and tortured for days? When was the right time in a relationship to bring something like that up?
“I know.” Jamie’s words echoed throughout the room, and it was obvious Courtney wasn’t buying that last part. Jamie didn’t blame her for calling her out on her bullshit. Peeking at the clock, Jamie noticed they were out of time. Usually, she wouldn’t mind going over her session, but she had a physical therapy session right after this and she didn’t want to be late.
She grabbed her purse. “I have to get going. I have a PT appointment with Becca in half an hour,” she said, walking toward the door.
“All right, I’ll see you at our next session.” Courtney walked over and gave her a hug. Even at this stage in her recovery, Jamie still felt like she wasn’t healing fast enough, concerns she’d voiced to Courtney, who’d insisted she was doing great and that recovery didn’t have a timeframe. It wasn’t because she didn’t want to get better, because she did; she just couldn’t get past this rut she was in. Courtney and Becca had been encouraging her to try something different, but she couldn’t see herself sharing what she’d been through with others just yet. She had fought so hard to be comfortable enough with Courtney to share her story, and the thought of adding another person to her recovery process scared her. That was a step she might never be ready for.
One of the things Jamie loved about her two appointments was that their offices were with
She soaked in the fact that she was blessed with a great support team to help her through recovery. Jamie was also grateful she could open up about her trauma, and that her friends didn’t try to baby her. It was one of the things she couldn’t handle when she got back, the look of pity in people’s eyes. Seeing that look was worse than any pain from her injuries.
She waved to the staff and headed to Becca’s office. When she opened the door, she heard Becca yelling on the phone and stopped in her tracks, not wanting to interrupt the conversation.
“I am not coming back…. You don’t understand…. I can’t face him again. I just can’t do it, Andrew. I won’t do it.” Becca hung up the phone and released a heavy sigh. Jamie knew her brothers had been pressuring her into coming home for the holidays, and Becca’s reluctance didn’t escape anyone. Whatever, or whomever, she was running from, it was obvious she wasn’t ready to face it just yet, something Jamie understood better than anyone.
“You okay?” At the sound of Jamie’s voice, Becca turned around and gave her best fake smile, which Jamie chose to ignore for the time being.
She could see that Andrew had said some upsetting things. She watched as Becca took a sip of water as if she were trying to gather her thoughts. It was clear Becca hadn’t expected a call from her brother turning up the guilt factor for her to come home. “Oh, I’m fine, just a little family drama. How did your session with Courtney go today?” She took the bottle of water Becca handed her, opting not to push the conversation about her friend’s heated phone call.
“It was good. Gruesome and exhausting as always, but good.” They both appeared to have a lot on their minds because their usual conversation about hot men and their day-to-day chitchat was absent. In all the years she’d known Becca, she’d never seen her look so defeated.
Their session was brutal, to say the least. Every inch of Jamie’s body was on fire, and the pain soaring in her shoulders and her legs was almost unbearable. “Come on, Jamie. Just one more set and then we're done. Don't quit on me now.” She looked up at Becca, who was smiling down at her. Sitting on the bench seat, Jamie had to fight her body to finish the set.
“I'd like to see you down here, trying to lift this thing over your head after your shoulder had been crushed by two bullets.” Ever since the beginning of her therapy, Becca had put her through a challenging physical therapy plan. Jamie had made progress, but she was a long way from a full recovery. Her shoulder still killed her when she extended her arm above her head, plus her knee, which had to be surgically replaced, didn’t allow her to do anything more strenuous than walking, and only on a good day. Overall, her body was a mess, and while she had moments of being emotionally wrecked, her head and her heart were healing, slowly. “You give me that nonsense and you’ll be doing another rep,” Becca said to her, laughing.
Forging friendships wasn’t something Jamie did easily, but she’d been friends with Becca since college and it was comforting to have friends who weren’t afraid to kick her ass when she needed it. Wondering how much longer she would need therapy and not hover on the edge of falling apart occupied her daily thoughts, but she was grateful to have Becca and Courtney to help through the rough patches.
Jamie stood to grab a bottle of water then lay down for Becca to ice her body. “Becca, what’s got you on another planet today?” she said a little out of breath, sipping on her water, and trying not to cringe at the pain that accompanied every small movement she made.
“You know, we’ve been at this for two months. You’re not progressing as well as I would have liked you to and I think you know that. So I thought maybe we could try something new for the next eight weeks.” Jamie knew Becca was right and welcomed changing things up, even if it made her a little uneasy.
“If it gets me there faster, you know I’ll try anything. What did you have in mind?” Jamie asked.
“Well, you know my brother Cole, right?” Becca asked as she applied ice to Jamie’s shoulders. Jamie couldn’t put her finger on what Becca had up her sleeve. She didn’t know much about Cole, except that he was a retired Marine who ran a clinic for wounded vets back home.
From past conversations with Becca, Jamie knew Cole’s rehabilitation after coming back had been difficult, but her knowledge of Cole Callaway started and ended there. It was hard for her to guess what Becca was getting at but whatever it was, Jamie had a feeling it was going to change everything. “I’ve never met him, but you talk about him a lot. He’s in Montana, right?”
“Yep, that’s the one.” Becca helped her position the ice packs over the sorest spots.
Jamie shifted on the table, trying to better position herself to avoid pain. She then turned her head to address Becca. “Cole was a medic?”
“That’s right. When he got discharged, he was a little… lost.” Jamie could sense the pain Becca felt for her brother. She knew firsthand what it was like to be out there in the world and then suddenly find yourself homebound, unable to do what you love.
“Well, anyway, now he runs the clinic and he’s really good at it. He works with soldiers who have been seriously wounded, and he puts them back together. With the winter coming, he usually closes down, but I told him about you and asked him if he would be willing to give your therapy a shot…. I hope you’re not mad that I didn’t talk to you first.”
Jamie liked working with Becca, but she didn’t know how she felt about working with someone new, especially someone she knew nothing about. The idea of being away from home, away from her friends and her support system, scared her. Jamie had become so comfortable in her own surroundings, the idea of not only changing therapists, but going to another state, was unsettling. But she also trusted Becca to do what was best for her recovery and to not put her in a situation that would make her uncomfortable. Jamie lifted the ice to get up, but had to sit a minute because every muscle and bone were screaming at her.
“If you think working with Cole is the best thing for me, I trust you.” Then it hit her; Becca had said Cole usually closed down the clinic for the winter months, and there was no way she was going to be an intrusion into someone’s life like that.
“Wait, I can’t be an imposition to your brother, when he should be closed having a break.” Jamie gathered enough strength to get up and walk over to where her duffle bag was sitting, then turned to face her friend when she spoke up.
“I already talked to Cole and he said he was more than happy to work with you. Plus, it gives him someone to nag, which saves the family from having to deal with his cranky ass.” There was something in Becca’s eyes which told Jamie that Cole hadn’t really been given a choice in the matter, and she didn’t know how she felt about it. The last thing she wanted to be was someone’s pity patient.
Jamie hesitated, trying to make sense of her emotions. When she sensed Becca’s hand on her forearm, she looked up into Becca’s eyes as her friend spoke. “Cole is a grown man; if he really didn’t want you there, trust me, you wouldn’t be going.”
“Do you think it’s honestly going to make a difference?” At this point, Jamie was ready to try just about anything to get past the rut she was in.
“I really do. I think he’s exactly what you need.”
She opted not to overanalyze Becca’s words later as she drove home. Walking into her house, she leaned against the door and sighed. She couldn’t believe she’d let Becca convince her to do therapy with Cole for the next two months; she didn’t even know the man. She wondered how badly Becca had to guilt him into saying yes. If there was one thing Jamie hated, it was being someone’s charity case, but she also knew Cole specialized in injuries like hers, and God knew she needed all the help she could get. Maybe going to Montana wouldn’t be all
Jamie made herself a cup of tea before sitting down at her desk to buy the plane ticket and make all the arrangements for a rental car before calling Cole. Becca had given her his number and told her to give him a call to confirm that she was going to see him. After entering her credit card details for her plane tickets, she looked at her cell. Picking it up, she took a deep breath and dialed his number.
“Callaway Ranch.” The man who answered had a deep, masculine voice, which carried strength and power through the line.
“Hi, could I speak to Cole Callaway, please?” Her voice was shaky, her nerves threatening to get the best of her. She’d handled heads of state and warlords, but calling one man made her more nervous than she’d been in her whole life.
“Sure thing, honey, just let me get him for you.” Jamie heard the man call for Cole and a few seconds later, she went weak in the knees at the sound of a man’s voice.
“Cole Callaway.” His voice was rich and deep, sending shivers up and down her spine. Who would have thought a man’s voice would give her the chills?
“Hi, my name is Jamie Caldwell. Becca gave me your number.” She prayed that Becca hadn’t forgotten to tell her brother she would be calling, because how embarrassing would it be if the man didn’t know who she was?
“Hey, Jamie. You calling to confirm or back out?” The man was bold, she had to give him that.
Jamie sensed no hesitation on his end, just pure control and complete attention to the conversation. “Becca said you were really good at what you do, so I want to give it a try.”
Cole was mesmerized by the voice on the end of the line. When Becca had asked him to do her a favor and work with Jamie, he wasn’t sure it was such a good idea. He was used to military guys; he knew their thought process, knew how to talk to them, but dealing with a civilian who had gone through what she’d been through, was definitely something he wasn’t familiar with. But there was something about the woman’s voice that was drawing him in and suddenly, he wasn’t worried about anything other than just helping her out.
KAITHLIN SHEPHERD SERIES:
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