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Make me whole, p.15

Make Me Whole, page 15

 part  #1 of  Callaway Series


Make Me Whole

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  “I wasn’t that strong. Hell, I’m not strong enough now.” Emilia shook her head and Jamie’s heart ached for her. She knew exactly what she was feeling.

  “But, honey, you are. Don’t answer me, but just think about this: do you still love Nick? Because if you do, you owe it to yourself to be happy and to explore whatever you guys could have. Nick is a great man. If you love him, give him a chance. Give yourself a chance.”

  “When did you get so smart?” Emilia said through her tears.

  “I have a great, smart friend who I listen to.” The two laughed. When Jamie felt comfortable enough with Emilia’s state of mind, she headed back to the ranch to help Kathy in the kitchen, and gave Emilia the extra time to think.

  Cooking for a big family was a lot of work, but she loved every second of it. It was early afternoon by the time they got around to organizing dinner. Kathy peeled potatoes while Jamie cut apples. She felt so at home, and couldn’t help but smile.

  “What’s got you smiling like that, honey?” Jamie lifted her eyes from the counter and saw Kathy looking at her with a softness that brought tears to her eyes.

  “I was just thinking about how much this feels like home. Is that crazy?” She didn’t know if it was because of how they’d all accepted her the minute she walked onto the ranch or if it was because of what she felt for Cole, but this house, this ranch, felt more like home than any other place in the past.

  Kathy dropped the potatoes on the counter and walked to where Jamie stood. “Oh, honey, not at all. This is your home, and I think you’ve known that since the first day you got here. Sometimes, life just has plans you don’t see coming.” Kathy pulled her in for a hug and before she knew it, Jamie was wiping away tears from her face.

  “Cole asked me to stay here in Montana with him.”

  Kathy didn’t look surprised at Jamie’s confession, which obviously meant she already knew.

  “How do you feel about that?”

  “A little scared, to be honest.”

  “Nothing wrong with being scared, Jamie. What you and Cole have is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love, and that is the scariest one of all because it means you take the risk of losing everything. But it also means it can give you everything you’ve ever wanted and everything you’ve ever needed.”

  “That’s what scares me.” Jamie got back to baking and, to her surprise, the mood between her and Kathy was lighter, as if sharing her fears with Cole’s mother had lifted a weight off both their shoulders.

  It was late afternoon by the time everyone settled down in the living room, drinking and telling stories before dinner. To her surprise, Jamie saw Emilia talking and laughing with Nick, which eased her heart and made her smile. Maybe this was exactly where she should be after all. Kathy’s voice brought her out of her thoughts. “Honey, would you mind going to look for Cole? I forgot to ask him to fix that shelf. I wouldn’t want it to fall and hurt someone. I think he went in the hot tub. His back was bothering him. He chopped some wood for me, and I think he might have pulled something.”

  “Hot tub while we’re cooking? Oh, man.” She laughed, grabbed her jacket and stepped into the cold Montana night. “Cole, are you out here? Your mother needs you inside.” She wrapped her jacket tightly around her. The wind had picked up, bringing the temperature down.

  Jamie turned the corner of the house, heading toward the hot tub, and heard a woman’s laugh. She stiffened. The voice sounded extremely familiar, but it couldn’t be, could it? She picked up her pace, feeling the desperation taking over her body. This couldn’t be happening.

  She rounded the corner and lost the ability to move when her eyes landed on Cole and Sandy in the hot tub. Sandy was topless, sitting on top of Cole, who had his hands on her lower back, almost groping Sandy’s ass. Jamie stood there, unable to move or speak. Watching the man she loved more than anything in this world getting hot and heavy with another woman, her world came crashing down.

  “Jamie, did you find him?” John’s voice came up from behind her and brought her out of her haze. Cole must have heard his brother, because he lifted his head and his eyes landed on her.

  She fought the tears, but she couldn’t hold them back. “What the hell is going on here?” John stood beside Jamie, looking at his brother like he was the biggest idiot on the planet. But in all honesty, that title belonged to her for thinking a man like Cole could ever really love someone like her.

  Cole threw Sandy off him and was out of the hot tub before Jamie could blink. “Jamie, this is not what it looks like.” He reached for her but she took a few steps backwards, creating a wall of distance between them. Seeing the tears in her eyes was breaking his heart and watching her retreat into her shell was his undoing. One minute he was in the hot tub alone and the next thing he knew, Sandy was climbing in, taking off her top and straddling him as he tried to push her away. It was a nightmare. The pain filling Jamie’s eyes had him reaching out to her, but before he could say anything else, she ran back to the house, crying.

  “What the fuck is going on here, man? I know you enough to know you would never cheat on the best thing that’s ever happened to you.” John pinned him against the wall as Sandy climbed out of the hot tub, grabbing her discarded clothes with a smile on her face that made him sick.

  “Nothing is going on, man. Sandy showed up out of fucking nowhere. I was trying to push her off when Jamie walked up, but she kept coming at me. Fuck, I have to go after her.” Cole grabbed his robe and ran as fast as he could, hoping to catch up to Jamie before she got back to the house.

  He walked into chaos. Jamie was nowhere to be seen. “What the hell is going on?” Nick was pissed off, and Cole couldn’t blame him.

  “Where is she?” His voice was a clear indication that now was not the time for anyone to push.

  “Upstairs with the girls. She’s packing her stuff. She’s leaving, man. What the hell happened out there?”

  “Sandy happened. Fuck!” He climbed the stairs and cursed himself for being so stupid. Cole stood outside Jamie’s room within seconds, his heart beating wildly and nausea swirling in his stomach. He could hear his sister’s voice from inside the room over the sound of Jamie’s tears. A piece of him died as he listened to their conversation.

  “Jamie, you can’t leave. It’s Christmas Eve. This is crazy! Cole would never cheat on you. He loves you.” The pleading in his sister’s voice gave him a fraction of hope, but he knew what the situation looked like and Jamie was so hurt she wouldn’t listen to reason. How the hell had he let Sandy fuck everything up?

  “Jamie, think about what you’re doing.” Emilia tried to reason with her too, but Cole knew it was no use.

  “Think about what I’m doing? The man I love was getting it on with some blonde trash in the hot tub. Don’t you dare tell me to think about what I’m doing. I’m packing my stuff and I am leaving. Getting involved with Cole was a mistake. I should have never let it happen. How could I have been so fucking stupid?”

  “You can’t drive in this state, Jamie. Where are you going to go?” Cole could hear the pleading in his sister’s voice.

  “Anywhere but here. I can’t stay.” Cole’s heart clenched as he listened. This place had felt like a home to her. He had ruined everything. She couldn’t even stand the thought of staying in the place that was as much her home as it was his.

  “We’re coming with you.” Cole knew Becca and Emilia would never let Jamie be in danger, but they wouldn’t stop her, either. That was all up to him.

  “No, you are not. This is my mess, not yours. I will not let this ruin your Christmas. Both of you are staying right here.”

  When the bedroom door opened and Jamie saw him standing there, she broke down and fell to the bed. The only thing he wanted to do was go to her, but he knew doing that would only make things worse. “Girls, could I have a minute with Jamie?”

  “I have nothing to say to you. I don’t want to look at you. I don’t want to talk to you, and I sure as hell don’t want to li
sten to anything you have to say. You and me, Cole, we were a mistake. I should have never let myself believe what we had was real. I was a fool for falling in love with you and for thinking we had a future together. We’re done.” She grabbed her suitcase from the bed, brushed by him and stormed downstairs. He followed her down.

  Cole could see the confusion in his mother’s face as she watched Jamie cry. He had to make Jamie see that nothing had happened, make her hear what he had to say. “Jamie, stop. You can’t leave like this.”

  “Shut up, Cole. I don’t want to hear another word from you.” She dropped her suitcase by the door, grabbed her jacket by the mantle and walked to where Kathy stood, her hand over her heart. Cole didn’t know if he could survive this.

  “You have no idea how thankful I am for everything you have done for me. You welcomed me into your home like I was a part of this family and for that, I’m so grateful.” She choked back a sob. “Your boys are lucky to have you, Kathy, and you’ve made me a better woman.” Cole watched her hug his mom and the tears on both of their faces broke him.

  “Honey, you’re always welcome in this house. You’re family.”

  “Jamie, don’t do this. Don’t leave like this. Let him explain, honey. It’s not what you think.” She shook her head and squeezed John’s hand before turning around, heading for the door.

  “Jamie, it’s a shit storm outside and it’s Christmas Eve. Just stay until morning, at least.” Becca’s voice barely registered over the noise in his head.

  “I’ll be fine. Don’t you worry about me. I love you, all right?” Jamie hugged Becca before zipping up her jacket.

  She grabbed her bag as Cole grabbed her wrist, knowing he had to try and stop her. “Jamie, don’t do this.”

  “Do not touch me, Cole.” She pulled her arm out of his reach, the action hitting him like a slap in the face.

  “You’re just going to pack up and leave, is that it? I didn’t think you were a coward, Jamie.” His tone was harsh and resentful.

  “You’re an asshole, Cole, you know that? I gave you everything, and you just threw it all away when you let Sandy climb in that hot tub with you. You gave me everything but then you took it all back, and you have no idea how much that hurt. I was broken when I came here, but now I’m shattered. I can’t do this with you.” She was in her car before Cole had a chance to say anything else.

  Everything had gone to hell in a matter of seconds. He knew Sandy was vindictive, but he never thought, not in a million years, she would sneak onto his property and climb into his hot tub in order to seduce him. He went to the stables and when he saw the punching bag, he stripped off his shirt and started punching his anger away. But no matter how hard he hit, the pain wasn’t disappearing.

  Chapter Eleven

  Cole had never felt so alone in his life. Even after coming home from Afghanistan, he hadn’t felt this lonely and this broken, but Jamie had been gone for five days—five long days—and no one had heard from her. He hadn’t slept since the night he’d watched her drive away from him. The minute he closed his eyes, all he could see was her smile and then her face when she’d cried because of him. He was in his clinic, drowning in whiskey, like he had been every day since he watched her drive away, when Becca stormed in.

  He watched his sister kneel beside him and snatch the bottle out of his hand. “That’s enough, Cole. You need to get a grip on yourself and start thinking about fixing what’s broken.”

  “Becca, give me the damn bottle. I’m not in the mood to fight with you.” He knew that no amount of fixing could ever repair the damage he’d caused and he hated himself for hurting Jamie.

  “No? Then what are you in the mood for? Because for the past five days, all anyone has seen you do is drink your liver away instead of trying to get her back.” Becca’s stern voice matched her fierce glare, and he could tell she wasn’t going to back down from whatever mission she had in mind. The last thing he wanted to do right then was have his head torn off by his sister.

  He pushed off the wall and stumbled to his feet. “She left me, not the other way around. She told me we were a mistake, didn’t let me explain what she saw, and she stormed off. It’s been five days and no one has heard from her. Hell, Becca, she could be in a ditch somewhere, or worse, and that’s all because of me.”

  “First, she loves you, Cole, and that’s why she ran. She’s so in love with you that she let her guard down and when she saw Sandy all over you, it all came crumbling down around her. Second, she is fine. She probably just needs time to process everything that happened. Third, this is not all on you, Cole. It’s also on her for leaving like she did and not talking to you about what took place. But now is the time when you need to pull yourself together and figure out how to get her back.” Just as fast as she had stormed in, she stormed out, leaving him alone with her words weighing on his mind.

  “Shit, you’re right.” Cole needed coffee, then a shower, and then he was going to figure out a way to get the woman he loved back, come hell or high water.

  As he let the warm water wash away the past five days, an idea took shape in his head, and he knew he would do whatever it took to get her back. He wasn’t letting Jamie go, not without a fight.

  For the last couple of days, Jamie had been ignoring every single call and text. She couldn’t deal with any of them until she could deal with herself. When Jamie stopped her car in the parking garage of her apartment complex, she let out a sigh before climbing out.

  She didn’t bother unpacking or checking her mail, just grabbed a beer from the fridge and crashed on her bed. Looking at her cell phone flashing on the bedside table, she reached over and listened to her voicemails.

  “Jamie, it’s Becca. Listen, I’m worried sick about you. You left over two hours ago and no one has heard from you. Damn it, Jamie, I’m worried. Call me back.”

  “Jamie, it’s Emilia. We’re going crazy over here. We haven’t heard from you since last night. We’re worried about you, so just let us know you’re all right.”

  “Jamie, please let me explain what happened. It’s not what you think…. God, I miss you so much and I love you. I love you, Jamie, and I’m not letting you go.”

  “Jamie, it’s John. Listen, it’s been days since anyone’s heard from you and we’re all going a little nuts. I know that what went down looks bad, but you have to give Cole a chance to explain. Becca is going out of her mind thinking the worst. Just let someone know you’re alive and okay.”

  “Jamie, it’s not fucking funny anymore. It’s been four days, and not a word. If you don’t call me back, I swear to God, I will drag your ass to hot yoga for a whole year and not feel bad about it.”

  “Jamie, I know you’re pissed at me, okay, but everyone is going crazy. My mom is calling all the hospitals from here to Texas, worried sick. Just call someone, please.”

  Jamie felt like the worst person on the face of the earth as she listened to the messages. She had been so far gone in her own misery, she let everyone who cared about her think the worst. By the time Jamie got through all thirty-five voicemails, she was crying like a baby, curled in a ball on her bed. How inconsiderate could she be, going off the radar for five days and not letting anyone know she was alive? She hated that she was responsible for causing them so much worry, but she honestly hadn’t had the energy to talk to anyone about anything. She wiped her tears and blew her nose before dialing Becca’s number.

  “Are you out of your goddamn mind? What is the matter with you, Jamie? You storm off in the middle of the night and no one hears from you for five days.” Becca screamed on the other end of the line and it reminded Jamie why she had been avoiding everyone.

  “I’m sorry. I didn’t think anyone would worry. I drove back down to Austin and I didn’t want to talk to anyone.” Jamie left out the part where she drowned her pain in every bar along the way.

  She heard Becca sigh and took a deep breath, waiting for the next blow. “Oh, so because your stubborn ass didn’t want to talk to an
yone, we had to almost die with worry over here. Cole is out of his mind, going crazy with worry, my mother is calling every hospital from here to Texas, and John is checking the morgues. The morgues, Jamie.”

  “I said I was sorry, okay? What more do you want from me?” As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t stay calm. Jamie just couldn’t do it. Didn’t Becca understand what she was going through? She needed time and possibly a time machine.


  “No, what more do you want from me, Becca? I’m barely hanging on by a thread over here, so excuse me if I didn’t want to talk to the family of the man who broke my fucking heart into a thousand pieces. It’s not all about you, Becca.”

  “I’m your best friend, Jamie. And what about Emilia? She’s not related to Cole, last time I checked.” Leave it to Becca to find a way to make her feel more guilty than she already did about going off the reservation.

  “I’m not in the mood, Becca. I called to let you know I was alive, and now I’m hanging up.”

  “Open your goddamn door, Jamie, or I swear to God, I’ll break it down.”

  It took Jamie a few seconds for Becca’s words to register. Open her door? What the hell did she mean by that…. Oh, no. She prayed Becca hadn’t come home from Montana because of her.

  She didn’t have the energy for a face-to-face confrontation. “What are you talking about?”

  “Just open your goddamn door!” She got out of her bed, dragging her feet as she walked down the hallway. And that was when she heard the knock on the door. Jamie opened it to Emilia and Becca standing in her doorway with a bottle of whiskey in each hand.

  “You’re lucky we love you, you know that? Because I could kill you for shutting us out like you did.” Becca stormed inside her apartment and Emilia followed, looking just as angry.

  “Come on in, guys…. Please,” Jamie mumbled under her breath, closing the door. When she walked into her kitchen, she saw three glasses on her counter filled with whiskey. Becca and Emilia each took one, so Jamie stepped forward and grabbed the other. Without talking, they drank their glasses and slammed them down on the counter.

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