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Make me whole, p.12

Make Me Whole, page 12

 part  #1 of  Callaway Series

 

Make Me Whole
 


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  “Do you believe her?” His voice was calm, but there was no doubt that he was angry. The way she avoided looking at him and kept her eyes on the ground told him she knew exactly what he was feeling. He hated that they had been forced to have this conversation, but he couldn’t deny that it felt good to make his intentions clear.

  “No, no, I don’t.” Her voice was shaky, filled with fear and sadness, things he never wanted to hear in her voice as she spoke to him.

  “Why?” He didn’t move from where he was standing, didn’t trust himself to remain calm. Adrenaline pumped throughout his body and the knowledge that Sandy had done something like this to the woman he was in love with made him sick.

  “She’s been in love with you for a long time and seeing me with you can’t be easy for her. Plus, I talked to Josh and he helped me understand some things. He’s a very smart man.”

  He needed her to feel their connection, to understand he wasn’t going anywhere.

  “Jamie, can you look at me?” He had a pretty good feeling as to what she’d realized, talking with Josh. He made a mental note to get Josh a top-shelf bottle of whiskey for stepping in if this was heading where he thought it was. She looked so vulnerable sitting in front of him. She still refused to look at him and he couldn’t have that. He needed to see her, needed to look into her eyes.

  He got down to his knees and took her hands in his. “Jamie, what did Josh say to help you understand?” He traced circles with his thumb over her pulse, feeling it beat faster.

  She took a deep breath before speaking. “That I have to trust you, us.” Reacting without thought, their hands were everywhere, desperate to feel skin on skin, when they heard someone coughing.

  They both looked up to see Kathy standing in the doorway, smiling widely, with John, Nick, Andrew and Becca behind her, laughing and grinning. “How long have you guys been standing there?” Cole lifted himself off the sofa, fixing his shirt.

  “Long enough.” Kathy smiled at her son and Jamie, who was standing beside him smoothing out her dress. “I’m happy you two finally came to your senses. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s been a long day and I’m exhausted.”

  When the room cleared out, Cole carried Jamie to bed and slowly helped her out of the dress she had been teasing him with all night. Then he showed her exactly how much he loved her.

  When Cole woke the next morning, he reached for Jamie but she wasn’t there. Pulling the covers off the bed, he grabbed a pair of sweat pants and headed downstairs, hoping to get some alone time with the woman he loved before things got too crazy. He was becoming increasingly used to thinking of her in such a way. It was barely 6:00 a.m. and the house was relatively quiet, but he heard voices coming from the den, which he recognized as his sister’s and Jamie’s. He followed the sound and stood on the side of the doorway.

  “Bec, you can’t just run from your problems. Running away from Josh, from the memories, is not going to make them go away. Josh is a good guy, you know that. You both deserve the chance to talk it out, to explain the choices you made years ago.” His woman held a fragile Becca in her arms, and he could hear the sadness in her voice.

  “He hates me, Jamie. I can’t stay here. My brothers will hate me when they realize Josh and I had a relationship.” After watching his best friend and his sister go at it the night before, he knew there was a whole lot more to the story. It all made sense—why his sister had left so abruptly before college, why she barely came to visit. She was avoiding Josh. It made his heart ache for not seeing it earlier.

  He was about to walk into the room to knock some sense into his sister when he heard Jamie utter the words he wanted to say. How could she even think they hated her? “Now, if you really believe that, Rebecca Callaway, you’re in for a rude awakening. Your brothers love you and they have been worried sick about you. For you to sit there and say they wouldn’t support you through this is just wrong and you know it. You both made mistakes, and you both have been paying the price ever since. You have to woman up and stop running.” Jamie’s voice was stern and steady, and he imagined that at one time or another, Becca had spoken to her the same way.

  Becca was crying, but knowing his sister, there was no way she was giving in. “I’ll be back for Christmas, but right now, I have to go. I can’t be here. I just can’t.” He watched Becca grab her overnight bag from the floor and walk to the kitchen where he was standing, holding her hands in front of her body in surrender. “Don’t, Cole. I can’t.”

  “Becca, if you’re running away, you better be running away from Josh and not from us. We’re family, Becca.”

  “I love you, Cole, but I can’t stay here. I have to get myself together, and I can’t do that here.” She gripped her bag and Cole watched her head out the front door, paralyzed by what had just been said. How could she think they would not be there for her?

  Before Becca made it to the car, Cole caught a glimpse of his mom running down the stairs toward her, and his heart broke at the sadness and worry in her eyes. “Baby, you don’t have to go. We love you, and we want to be there for you.” His mom cried as she tried to talk some sense into Becca, but Cole could see the resolve in his sister’s gaze from the porch and knew there was no one who could convince her to stay.

  “Mom, I can’t. I just can’t, and I need you to respect that, okay? I’ll be back for the holidays.” Cole watched his mom fight back the tears as she watched her daughter climb into her car. He wanted to shake the hell out of his sister for acting like she didn’t matter to them.

  As Becca drove away, Jamie wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed her face to his back. She didn’t say anything, just held on to him until the tension slipped away from his body. Her fingers linked with his, helping him get back to the present. “She’s strong, Cole. She’ll be all right. Her heart will heal eventually.”

  He kissed her briefly. “You’re right. How about we have a session? Get our heads straight?”

  She kissed him before smiling at him. “Okay. I’m going to go get ready.”

  When she got to her room to change into her workout clothes, she tried to wrap her mind around what had unfolded. She grabbed her phone to call Emilia before meeting Cole at the clinic for her therapy session. Jamie needed to make sure Becca would have someone to lean on when she got home, someone who could be there for her.

  “Hey, Em.” She tried to keep her voice steady and calm, but she was worried about Becca. As much as she wanted to be there for Cole, she knew Becca would need a friend.

  “Hey, you, what’s going on? How’s therapy going?”

  “It’s going really good. I’m feeling 100 times better, both physically and mentally. I didn’t think I would ever feel like this again.” Guilt simmered in her stomach for being so happy, especially with Becca at the end of her rope.

  “I’m so excited to hear that. Does Cole have anything to do with your emotional overturn?”

  “Maybe. Okay, yes, he does. I love him, Em.” Her words spilled out with ease, and they both laughed at how much she sounded like a lovesick fool. But as good as it felt to laugh, Jamie had to focus on the task at hand. This wasn’t about her. It was about Becca. “Listen, Becca is going to need you today when she gets back, and you can’t let her close down.”

  “What happened?” Emilia’s voice shifted from carefree to concern and Jamie understood the reaction, the instinct to protect her friend from harm. She didn’t know how Becca would handle seeing Josh after several years, but she did know she shouldn’t be alone. Since she couldn’t be there herself, there was no one better to help Becca through this storm than Emilia.

  Aware that it wasn’t her place to share the story, because if their situations were reversed, she wouldn’t want anyone else telling her business, she simply answered, “It’s not my story to tell, Em, but just go to her, okay?”

  “Okay.”

  “Thank you, Em. Oh, and by the way, thought you might like to know Nick asked about you.” She didn’t miss her friend’s g
asp on the other end of the line, and she made a mental note to revisit this matter.

  “Oh. Well… oh.” She was pretty sure Emilia had turned all kinds of red at the mention of Nick’s name. Emilia was the sweetest person she knew and also one of the shyest. It wasn’t due to lack of confidence or some deep-rooted trauma. Emilia was just timid. She wasn’t a very social person, preferring her close circle of friends, she was always more comfortable with her nose buried in books than flirting, which was the strangest thing since men noticed her all the time.

  “I’m not even going to ask.”

  “Probably best.” Emilia’s laughter was a clear sign she was uncomfortable talking about Nick, so Jamie let it go for the time being, but she would get to the bottom of that story soon.

  “I have to go. I’m going to be late for my session, but you let me know how she is, okay?”

  “I will.” Jamie put her phone back on the charger and grabbed an elastic band for her hair, ready to start her session. She had been making a lot of progress lately and Cole was pushing her further every day. She was starting to feel it throughout her body.

  Jamie made her way downstairs to grab a muffin before meeting Cole and noticed John sitting in the main office, looking through an old photo album. She didn’t want to intrude, but before she could walk away, he glanced up and saw her. “Hey, Jamie.”

  “Hey, John. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude. I was just getting a muffin before my morning session and I saw you in here. Are you all right?” She didn’t move into the office, didn’t want to overstep or interfere with what he was doing.

  “You’re not. After what went down last night with Becca and Josh, I just really missed my dad, and this is where I come when I miss him most. Most of the things in here belonged to him.”

  “Your dad must have been a great man because you’re all amazing people.” She gave him a sincere smile.

  “He would have liked you. You’re exactly what he would have wanted for Cole. You bring out the fire in him, yet you ground him as well. You would have reminded him of our mom when they first met.” John’s emotions were high and tangible.

  Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks listening to John speak, and she wasn’t sure what to say. “I love your brother, John. He’s a good man. I never thought I would find someone like him or that I would get to feel like this again. He saved me.”

  John walked to her and pulled her into a hug. “Welcome to the family, Jamie.” He pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head and strode away, leaving her with raw emotions she wasn’t sure she knew how to handle. Jamie wiped the tears away, which had finally spilled, from her face and went to take a closer look at a photo on a mantle of the five kids, Kathy, and their dad. She smiled at the little Callaways staring back at her, and with one hand over her heart, she promised to let herself be loved by this family and love them back with everything she had.

  Cole was angry at himself for not seeing what was going on with his own sister. What kind of brother didn’t see that his sister was heartbroken over his best friend? When he arrived at the clinic, he headed for the boxing gym he’d set up the previous winter. He gloved up, desperately needing to hit something to expel his anger before Jamie came in. He was hitting the bag when the door of the clinic opened and she walked in.

  Jamie saw him in the corner hitting the bag and, instead of coming to him, she dropped her things to the floor and went for her yoga mat. This woman was too good for him. She knew he needed this, that he had to get it out of his system. When was the last time a woman got him like that? He couldn’t remember if he had ever been so lucky as to have that kind of support in his life, but he finally had it and there was no way he was letting go of that.

  After a gruesome day of physical therapy, Cole told Jamie to head for the hot tub. Cole had pushed her hard and he had no excuse for it. They relaxed into the Jacuzzi and he carefully watched her body’s reaction to the water and to the heat.

  “Are you doing okay? You seemed like you were in pain during dinner.” He braced his hands on the edge of the tub, looking at her face for any signs that she wasn’t okay. He glanced down her body and noticed she was stiffer than usual. Why had he pushed her so hard?

  “Oh, yeah, I’m all right. I was just a little sore but now the jets are helping. You were right.” He knew she was trying to downplay the pain she was in and he hated himself for causing it.

  He wrapped his hand around her body and pulled her back into his chest. “Did I push you too hard?”

  He felt her hesitate, and he already knew the answer. Never had he let his personal feelings come in the way of his professional responsibility, but with Jamie, everything got crossed and he didn’t know how to separate the two.

  When she spoke, her voice was soft, almost like she was trying not to make him angry, and he hated that. “Hmmm, maybe a little, but I didn’t say anything so it’s not your fault.”

  He kissed the top of her forehead. “You have to tell me, Jamie. I’m sorry I worked you so hard.” He knew she was doing the best she could and he couldn’t fault her for that. The day’s session was all on him. He might have exercised her too hard, but he could make it right later tonight.

  “I know. I just wanted to keep going. I didn’t want you to think I couldn’t do it.” He knew she didn’t want him to see her as weak or to feel like she wasn’t doing enough, but the progress she’d made was spectacular and he needed her to know that.

  “Jamie, you don’t have to prove anything to me. You’ve made amazing progress since you’ve been here.”

  “Thank you for that.” She dropped her head back against his shoulder, the tension slowly leaving her body, and sighed. “This is nice.”

  His hands rubbed her shoulders, digging into her tight, sore muscles. “I really overworked you today. I’m sorry, baby.”

  “It’s okay. I should have told you I needed to stop.” With one hand at the base of her neck, he pushed her head forward, making it easier for him to massage the muscles along her shoulder blades. “Cole, are you okay?”

  “I won’t lie, seeing Becca like that really did a number on me. She’s my baby sister, and I had no idea what was going on in her life. I can’t help but feel responsible for her and feel like I messed up as her brother.”

  Jamie straddled his hips, seemingly as desperate as he was to feel the connection they shared.

  “You’re a hell of a woman, Jamie, you know that? You being here with me, seeing you with my mom and watching you with my brothers, it’s made me realize how perfect you are for me. I know everything happened really fast between us, but I feel like you’re the gift I’ve been waiting for my whole life. When I got back from Afghanistan, I thought I would be broken forever, but when I started the clinic, I found myself beginning to heal. I thought I was finally whole again. Then you pulled up to my house and when I saw you for the first time, I knew right then and there I wasn’t whole because I didn’t have you in my life. Now that I have you, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let you go. I love you, Jamie.”

  She raised her hands to his face and traced his jaw with her fingers. “I love you, too, Cole. I love you so much it scares me. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before and, to be honest, I didn’t think I would ever have the chance to love a man and be loved back, but you gave me that. You are giving me everything.”

  His lips came crashing down on hers and she was right there with him, feeling the raw emotions that had left them bare to one another. She wrapped her arms around his neck and opened her mouth up to him. Their kiss was wild and passionate with a hunger they hadn’t shared before then. They were moaning and getting lost in each other when the sound of someone coughing had them pulling apart, again. It was becoming a common occurrence. Cole rested his forehead on hers. His hands were on her ass, holding her close to him, and the next thing they knew they were both laughing hysterically.

  “Sorry to interrupt the party, kids. Didn’t know you two were in here.” Nick stood in f
ront of the hot tub with a huge smile.

  “We got a bit carried away, sorry about that.” She laughed and settled back against Cole’s chest. He wrapped his hands around her waist, keeping her as close as he could as he listened to her speak to his brother. Nothing had ever felt so good.

  Jamie woke up cradled against Cole’s warm body, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. “Hey, sleeping beauty.” His sleepy voice sent chills down her body. It didn’t matter where they were; he always made her hot for him. A man’s voice had never been something she considered erotic before Cole, but it didn’t surprise her since everything about the man was erotic in some way.

  “What time is it?” she asked him, still half-asleep, her head still on his chest.

  “Seven-thirty. I want to take you somewhere today.” It was obvious to her Cole was more than a little nervous, which made her extremely curious. He was always so confident, seeing him so unsure told her whatever he had planned meant a lot to him.

  She rested her elbows on his chest. “Where do you want to go?” Her eyes sparkled with a combination of excitement and a million questions.

  “I can’t tell you, but will you come with me?”

  Jamie wasn’t particularly a fan of surprises, but Cole looked so excited about whatever he had planned she couldn’t deny him. “Hmmm…. I guess I could be convinced to go with you with the right incentive.”

  “Is that so?” he replied in a playful tone. She loved how she could just be herself with him. He accepted her for exactly who she was, and that was a gift she would treasure forever.

  “Hmmm, yes. And I think my enticement is up for the task.” She circled her hand around his hard length, stroking him up and down, her hand tightly fisted around him. When she moved down to lick the pre-cum off the head, he hissed, bucking his hips, urging her to take more of him in her mouth.

 
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