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Make me whole, p.16

Make Me Whole, page 16

 part  #1 of  Callaway Series


Make Me Whole

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  No one said anything for what seemed like an eternity, until Becca broke the tension. “Are you ever going to let him explain what happened that night?”

  “There’s nothing for him to explain, Bec. I saw it with my own eyes, remember? I was standing right there.” Jamie knew she couldn’t avoid the conversation forever, but she wasn’t ready to have it just yet.

  Emilia grabbed her shoulder, and Jamie could see the compassion in her eyes. “Jamie, it might not have been what you think. Listen, we’ve talked to Cole and he told us his side of the story. Honey, I wouldn’t tell you this if I didn’t believe him. You really need to talk to him.”

  “I’m not interested in what he has to say, Em, and nothing you say is going to make me change my mind. Now, are we going to drink or am I going to have to ask you to leave? Because I’m not talking about Cole Callaway anymore.” They drank until the bottle was empty and when Jamie stumbled into her bed, all she could think about was how empty she felt without Cole sleeping next to her.

  The next morning, Jamie was barely able to move, feeling like she had been hit by a truck, or like someone who drank a bottle of whiskey the night before. She dragged her feet to the kitchen, desperate for some coffee, when Becca walked into the living room looking as bad as Jamie felt. Her face was filled with panic, and Jamie felt her own start to build. “What is it, Becca?”

  “My mom. She had a heart attack.” As she said the words, Becca fell to the floor and Jamie sat down beside her, holding her in her arms. She saw Emilia on the phone from the corner of her eye and knew she was already taking care of booking flights back to Montana.

  “Okay, Becca, it’s going to be all right. Emilia is checking on flights for you two to go back to Montana. Your mom is one of the strongest women I know. She is going to be all right. She is going to make it through this. You have to hang on to that.”

  “You’re not coming back?”

  Jamie could hear the sadness in Becca’s question, but she couldn’t go back to Montana. She couldn’t see him. She hated herself for being so selfish and not going back to see the woman who had welcomed her into her home with open arms, but just the thought of seeing Cole made her stomach ache. “Bec, I can’t. God, I just can’t.”

  “You’re a coward, you know that, Jamie? I am your best friend and my mother, who loves you like a daughter, just had a heart attack and you’re telling me you’re not coming with me!” Becca was screaming at her and Jamie got where her friend was coming from, but no matter how bad she felt about letting her down, she just couldn’t do it.

  “You don’t understand. I can’t see him. I just can’t.”

  “I don’t understand? Who do you think you’re talking to here, Jamie? There is a lot more to the story than you will ever know, Jamie. I have to live every day of my life dealing with what happened between me and Josh, but if any of his family needed me, I would be there in a heartbeat because that’s what friends do. But apparently, you don’t have that kind of compassion.” Becca’s words stung more than she cared to admit, sending her already spiraling emotions over the edge.

  “Fuck you, Becca. You know nothing about what I’m feeling. You’re not the one who walked in on Sandy on top of Cole, topless, with his hands on her ass. Do not fucking patronize me.”

  “Okay, guys, why don’t we all take a minute to breathe and think about what we’re saying. Both of you have gone through hell and back in the past few weeks, days, and hours, so let’s just take a deep breath.” Emilia broke the argument and Jamie did the only thing she could do as a friend: be there for her.

  “Book me a flight, Em.” Jamie didn’t say anything else. She walked to her bedroom and packed a carry-on. With an aching heart for her friend and her own pain, Jamie bit back her desire to protect herself, knowing she had to be there for Becca. She was a fool to think she wouldn’t be. When she got back to the living room, the girls were ready to leave. She and Becca didn’t speak a word to each other on the drive to the airport or on the plane.

  The flight back to Montana was spent in complete silence. Jamie didn’t talk to Becca at all. Instead, she focused on being brave for what was to come the minute they all landed back in the place she thought she would grow old in. In the car on the way to the hospital, Jamie reached for Becca’s hand. “She’s going to be fine.” It didn’t fix what had been said back in Austin, but Becca was still her best friend and needed the reassurance, something Jamie could give her.

  When they arrived at the hospital, Cole, Nick, Andrew and John stood in the waiting room, looking defeated and broken. The urge to go to Cole and take him in her arms, telling him everything was going to be okay, was hard to fight. Standing there waiting for news on Kathy had to be one of the worst moments in her life; watching the family go through the worst possible scenarios hit a little too close to home for Jamie. She’d hated hospitals ever since her mom had died, and waiting in a room with the entire Callaway clan to hear whether or not Kathy would be all right brought back way too many emotions for her to handle.

  Jamie stood and excused herself, desperately needing air. When she stepped outside, she realized she hadn’t grabbed her jacket back in Austin, but she couldn’t go back inside just yet. She was leaning against the wall when Jamie felt a jacket being put over her shoulders. “It’s freezing out here.” Nick stood beside her, reaching for two hot coffees on the bench next to them. She knew Cole had probably sent him down to check up on her.

  Nick handed her one of the cups before sipping on his. “This has to be the worst coffee ever.”

  “Hospital coffee is always the worst.” She leaned against the wall, her eyes on the ground as she spoke to him. Jamie wished she could take the uncertainty from his eyes. She knew too well how helpless he was feeling right then, how Cole must be feeling.

  “It must be hard for you to be back in a hospital.” She looked up at him and was touched by his concern. His mother was in the hospital, yet he was thinking about how it made her feel. This was why she’d wanted to stay away; this family had a way to make her feel like she belonged with them, and right then, it was too much to take in.

  “I just needed some fresh air. I was flooded by the memories of waiting at the hospital when my mom died, and I just needed to get myself together. I’ll be fine.” She was trying to convince herself a lot more than him. Being in the hospital was one of the worst experiences for her, but being there with Cole and his family was making this her very own horror story.

  “My mom is going to be happy when she hears you’re here. She was worried sick about you.”

  Jamie cringed at how bad she felt about making everyone concerned about her. “I’m sorry about running off like I did. I feel terrible that I made everyone anxious.” She looked up at him and saw understanding in his eyes. He didn’t hate her; he understood her reaction, which was comforting.

  “You have nothing to apologize for, Jamie. Anyone would have reacted the same way.”

  “Wow, you’re not going to try and convince me to talk to Cole?”

  “I figured everyone else already had a go at it, and if you want to talk to him, you’ll do it when you’re ready—or when he’s finally had enough of waiting around for you to come to him and you don’t have any other choice.”

  Jamie couldn’t handle that part of the conversation. “You want to go back in? There might be news.”

  “Sure thing.” They walked back inside together and she appreciated Nick for not pushing the issue on her, but she still couldn’t get his words out of her head.

  What did he mean by, ‘When Cole finally had enough of waiting on you and you don’t have a choice?’ Would Cole really force the conversation she was so desperately trying to avoid? Jamie had a feeling that if she didn’t get out of Montana soon, she would find out just how far Cole would push her.

  Back in the waiting room, they found out Kathy was awake and she would be fine. The heart attack had been a minor one and shouldn’t leave any permanent damage. John went in to see her fir
st and Jamie made herself small in the corner as everyone talked over each other, trying to figure out the next move to take care of their mother once she was back home.

  John walked over to where Jamie was sitting and sat down beside her. “Jamie, she wants to see you next.”

  She was shocked but as she looked around the Callaway family, no one else seemed the least bit surprised that Kathy wanted to see her. “Me? But I’m not even family. Someone else should go.”

  John glanced at Cole then he looked back at Jamie. “Jamie, she asked for you, so walk your fine little ass down to that room before she sends a search and rescue team out here for you.”

  She took a deep breath before walking down the hallway, hesitating for a few minutes before pushing the door open.

  When Jamie saw Kathy in the hospital bed, hooked up to all the machines, the tears came down her face and she couldn’t hold them back. “Jamie, come here. Honey, don’t cry. I’m going to be just fine. Now, sit down and tell me how you are, and don’t lie to me.”

  “I’m holding it together, Kathy. I’m not good and I’m not bad, either. I feel numb, which I guess is better than being angry or sad,” she managed to say over the tears. She sat in the chair beside the bed, trying to keep it together. Words always spilled so easily whenever she spoke to Kathy.

  “Have you talked to him?” Jamie wanted to lie and say yes, but she couldn’t deceive the woman who had done nothing but treat her like family.

  Jamie shook her head. “I can’t, Kathy. I just can’t. It hurts too much.”

  “Honey, whatever you think he did, trust me, he didn’t do it. But you’ll never really see that as the truth unless you talk to him. Don’t you think you owe that to yourself, to him, to each other? I see the way you look at him and the way he looks at you, and honey, that kind of love, it only comes around once. Don’t let that go without hearing him out.”

  “I’ll think about it.”

  “That’s good enough for me. Now, how about you go back out to the ranch and shower the whiskey off you.” Kathy laughed and Jamie remembered they hadn’t showered before getting on their flight.

  “I have a room at the motel in town. I can’t stay at the ranch, Kathy.” It was the one thing she hadn’t budged on about coming back. There was no way she could stay at the ranch and not lose it altogether.

  “Fair enough, honey. Go on then, go shower and grab something to eat. I’m not going anywhere. Now, send that daughter of mine in here.”

  “Yes, ma’am.” Jamie squeezed her hand before heading back to the waiting room. She wiped her face, trying to hide the evidence that she’d been crying, but when she saw Cole’s eyes on her, she knew she’d failed.

  “She wants to see Becca. I’ll be at the motel in town if anything changes, so if you can let me know, that’d be great. I’ll be back in the morning.” Jamie grabbed her things and rushed down the hallway to the elevator.

  As she waited for the elevator, Jamie felt him behind her, but she didn’t turn. She didn’t think she could handle looking him. “Jamie… thank you for coming.” He sounded sad and broken, which was only fair since she felt the same way.

  “I didn’t come for you. I came for your mom and your sister, even if she thinks I’m the worst person on the face of this earth.”

  “What? She loves you like a sister. What happened—”

  She interrupted him before he could finish his sentence. “Just leave, Cole, please.”

  “Please just talk to me, Jamie. Please.”

  The elevator doors opened and she stepped inside, turning around to face Cole. He looked exhausted and beaten down, and she wanted to hold him more than anything, but that wasn’t possible.

  “There’s nothing to talk about.” Jamie watched him slowly disappear as the elevator doors closed and she leaned back, needing the wall’s support to keep upright.

  Desperately needing a drink, Jamie walked down Main Street to the bar where she and Cole had gone on their first date, trying to lock down the feelings and the memories of that night. Everyone seemed to know who she was and what had happened, making her rethink the idea of drowning her pain with more alcohol.

  She was about to leave when Josh sat down next to her. “Jamie, you look like shit.”

  “Always nice to see you, Josh.” She didn’t look at him, just kept sipping her drink, feeling the buzz of the whiskey through her blood.

  “You think there’s enough whiskey in the world to fix it?” Josh signaled to the bartender for two more drinks. He took in the sight of her. Her hair was in a ponytail. Her face was as white as a ghost with dark circles under her eyes, giving away her lack of sleep, and she was wearing an old pair of jeans and a loose knit top.

  “I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to try and find out.” Jamie’s liver would end up hating her, but she didn’t care. She took another sip of whiskey, glancing over to the pool tables where she and Cole had played, and had to hold back the tears.

  “I didn’t think I’d see you back here.” Josh looked as beaten up as she did and she wondered if he and Becca had talked at all since the blowout, but Jamie didn’t have the energy to ask him.

  She just wanted to be left alone and drown her sorrows, but apparently that was too much to ask. “I’m only here because of Kathy and this is the only bar in town. I’m not in the mood for company, Josh.”

  “You’re not staying at the ranch, I take it?” She laughed so loud people stared at her, but she didn’t care. They probably all knew the story anyway; this town was like Mayberry. “You should have been a comedian, Josh, you know that?”

  “Someone’s a little edgy.” She gave him her best evil look, knowing she probably looked more crazy than scary, but she just wanted to drink in peace.

  “Josh, I’m really not in the mood, all right?” She slammed her drink down on the bar, proving her point. The last thing Jamie wanted to do was make small talk with Cole’s best friend.

  “Fine with me, you can just listen. For someone who is so smart, you are equally stupid if you believe even for one second that Cole would ever cheat on you. That’s not who he is and, deep down, you know that or it wouldn’t hurt you the way it does. If you even think Cole has it in him to break you like that, then you don’t know him at all, honey. He is crazy about you. He would move mountains for you and that’s saying a lot because, before you came along, he was closed-off and broken. You’re the one who put him back together.”

  “I take it that you haven’t talked to him, because if you had, you wouldn’t be here drinking cheap whiskey with me. You’d be in his bed. So let me give you a bit of advice, Jamie: talk to him.”

  “Josh—” Before she could say anything, Jamie felt a hand on her shoulder and when she turned around, she saw red—or rather, blonde.

  Sandy stood beside her with a huge smile on her face. “Well, well, well. I guess you just didn’t get the message, did you, darling?”

  “Walk away, Sandy.” She wasn’t in the mood to deal with Sandy right then. She wasn’t a violent person by any means, but the urge to punch her was getting stronger.

  “Or what, honey? There’s nothing here for you, so pack your bags and get out of town, or do you need another visual of me riding Cole’s dick?”

  Before she knew what was happening, her fist connected with Sandy’s face and the blonde stumbled backwards.

  Jamie heard Josh in the background, saying, “Jamie, she’s not worth it,” but she didn’t care. When Sandy came back at her, Jamie threw another punch and the bimbo was on the floor with a broken nose.

  The next thing Jamie knew, she was in the back of a police car, handcuffed and on her way to the station. As if her life couldn’t get any worse, she was going to get charged for assaulting the whore who had stolen her man.

  Cole was still reeling from the wave of emotions seeing Jamie had caused. Between his mom and Jamie, he was hanging on by a thread, and the only person who could help him keep it together didn’t want anything to do with him. He c
ouldn’t blame her. Over the last couple of days, he’d put himself in her shoes a thousand times, and every time he remembered the look on her face, he hated himself.

  He was about to call it a day when his phone rang and Josh’s name flashed on his screen. He ran his hand through his hair, desperate to avoid whatever conversation Josh wanted to have tonight. “Thompson, what’s up?”

  “You know, your girl has one hell of a right hook, my friend.” Cole didn’t miss the humor in Josh’s voice.

  “What the hell are you talking about?” There was no way Jamie could ever physically hurt someone; she just didn’t have it in her.

  “Sandy just had a little face-to-face blow-out with Jamie, and let me tell you, my friend, Jamie can sure as hell throw a punch.”

  Cole choked on his drink. He couldn’t believe his woman would ever hurt someone without being provoked first, and he knew Sandy must have pushed Jamie’s buttons. “Jamie punched her?”

  “Twice, man. She broke Sandy’s nose.” Josh laughed like a kid pulling a prank and strangely, Cole felt a wave of hope storm his body.

  “Where is she now?”

  “Police station, so if I were you, I’d get my ass down here.”

  Cole broke every speed limit in town driving to the police station from the hospital. How the situation had gotten so fucked-up was beyond him. One minute, they were talking about their future and starting a family and then, bam! She was storming out of his life, cutting him out completely. He had to figure out how to make her listen to his side of the story. He had to make her see the truth, that he loved her.

  When Cole pulled up in front of the police station, he saw Sandy leaning against the wall, holding tissues over her nose. She must have heard him approach, because she lifted her head and threw her arms around him.

  “That woman is crazy, Cole. She broke my nose.”

  He fought the urge to shove Sandy off him. How could she stand there and tell him Jamie was the crazy one? He had heard enough.

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