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Make me whole, p.3

Make Me Whole, page 3

 part  #1 of  Callaway Series


Make Me Whole

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  “Lucky for us then, ’cause you are one beautiful woman.” She turned around, startled when she heard a man’s voice coming from the bedroom door. The man, who she assumed was one of the Callaway brothers, was breathtakingly beautiful. Suddenly, Emilia’s words about the Callaway men being hot made sense. Cole was gorgeous and whoever this brother was, he was right there with him. She wondered what the others looked like. “Nick Callaway. Nice to meet you, ma’am.”

  Jamie walked to the man, seeing a striking resemblance to Cole. The eyes and the hair were the same, but this brother had to be much younger than Cole, judging by how soft his features were in comparison. No matter how strikingly handsome Nick was, she couldn’t stop thinking about Cole and the way his body would look naked. She stopped her train of thought before it got out of hand. “Jamie Caldwell. Nice to meet you, Nick,” she said, shaking his hand. It was rough from manual labor.

  “Becca had it right; you are beautiful. Too bad you’re thinking of Cole right now,” he said with a wink, making her blush from head to toe. Was she that transparent?

  Straightening her shirt, she tried to rally her brain around what Nick had said. “I am not thinking of Cole!” she shouted, making it sound like she was trying to convince herself more than Nick, which made him laugh.

  He leaned against the wall with a smirk on his face that told her she wasn’t fooling him. She just hoped she could fool Cole enough to get through the next eight weeks. “We Callaway brothers, we have this thing about being able to tell which one of us women will go for, and you, my darling, have Cole written all over your face.”

  “I do not! I just met the man; plus, I’m here to get better…. What makes you say that?” She was angry, standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips like a five-year-old getting ready to throw a tantrum, which probably didn’t help her case.

  “You just wait and see. Come on, darling, dinner’s ready.” He grabbed her hand and led her down the stairs.

  Maybe Jamie should have listened to Cole about drinking whiskey before dinner, because the Callaway bunch were something else all right—fighting over chores, dinner, women, anything and everything. They talked to her about the ranch, and John volunteered to teach her how to ride. She swore she saw a hint of anger and jealousy in Cole’s eyes. They shared embarrassing stories from their childhood. Listening to them all talk and share stories, she felt like a member of their family. All of the fears she’d had before coming to the ranch had vanished during dinner. They made her feel at home and comfortable.

  Jamie helped Kathy with the dishes after dinner while the brothers went over some paperwork for the ranch and the clinic. She didn’t understand much about running a ranch, but from what she could gather, it was a lot harder than anything she could have imagined.

  “So, Cole tells me you’re an aid worker? That must be hard.” The compassion in Kathy’s voice sent a shot of warmth to her heart.

  Jamie didn’t want to be rude to the woman who’d opened her home to her, but she didn’t feel like going into details, so she opted for a vague answer that would hopefully get her off the hook. “Some days are harder than others, but I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives, so it makes it all worthwhile.”

  “I can imagine it does. Your parents must be proud.” Jamie glanced at Kathy, and tried to blink away the tears forming in her eyes. She missed her mom so much, but in a way was thankful she hadn’t witnessed her only daughter battered and damaged.

  Jamie took a deep breath before speaking. “My mom passed away when I was in college and my dad was never around, but I know if my mom were here, she would be proud. Well, at least I hope she would be.”

  Kathy pulled Jamie into a hug. When she released her, she smiled and softly said, “I’m sure she is, honey.” How these people managed to make her feel like family the minute they met her baffled Jamie, but that was exactly how she felt.

  After talking with Kathy, Jamie understood where Becca got her sweet yet straightforward attitude. After the dishes were done, she walked over to the clinic where Cole had said he would meet her. She waited inside, smiling as she thought about their family dynamics and how different it was from anything she’d ever experienced. She hoped that one day her kids would have that kind of love.

  “What’s got you smiling?” She jumped, so lost in her thoughts she hadn’t heard Cole come in.

  “Oh, I was just thinking about your family and how nice it must be to have that connection.” Why did she have to go and say that? She was there to get better, not to get personal with her physical therapist.

  As if he sensed her discomfort, he went straight to the heart of the matter with his next words. “Becca says that physically, you’re healing fine, even if the recovery is lengthy. Your shoulder, knee and lower back are the target points, so that’s what we’ll focus on. One thing you need to get straight: I’m not Becca. Courtney sent over the CliffsNotes version of your psych file, so I have a better idea of what’s going on in that pretty little head of yours. You have to trust me 100 percent to know what’s best for your recovery.”

  She knew Cole wanted to make sure she understood he didn’t use the same approach or techniques as Becca, and she respected that. But it didn’t mean she wasn’t a little overwhelmed by his speech. “Becca says I can trust you so that’s enough for me, but if I’m not comfortable with something, I will tell you.” She smiled and he laughed, which had to be one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. She understood what Cole was doing—giving her a chance to walk away if she didn’t feel she was up for his kind of therapy.

  “Good, I wouldn’t expect anything less. We need to be able to trust each other and communicate. My methods are different than the ones Becca uses. I’ll push your limits, but I won’t hurt you. You need to be able to get out of your own head in order to recover, and that’s the hardest part of the road ahead.” He smiled at her and she knew he could see the fear in her eyes. She wasn’t scared of him, not in the least, but this was the first time she was trying something different, which had the potential to help her get to the end of her recovery. As much relief as that brought her, she was also scared because if she were being honest, she had no idea what she was going to do after she was whole—if that were even possible. There were so many unknown factors at play, but she had to remember that if Becca had made this happen, this was exactly where she needed to be.

  “Cole, the last thing I need is for you to be gentle.” She needed him to be hard on her because she was at a crossroads. Deep down, she trusted Becca’s judgment about sending her there, but it was scary to let a stranger push her beyond her comfort zone.

  “The last thing I plan on being is gentle. You’re here to get results, and that’s what I intend to give you.” She knew Cole didn’t mean anything by it but when she looked at him, she couldn’t hide her flushed face and the desire his words sparked in her. She had an overwhelming need for him to show her just how rough he could really be. Those thoughts about a man hadn’t entered her mind in a long time and being this close to him, seeing a reflection of her desire in his eyes, she almost forgot about why she was really there. Then reality hit her. She needed to focus on getting better, not getting naked with Cole.

  Jamie’s temperature rose. She needed to create some distance between them before she took this therapy between the sheets, against the wall and anywhere else she could get him. “Well, now that we have that settled, I think I’ll head up and get some rest. It’s been a long day,” she said hastily.

  “We’ll start early tomorrow morning so I can make a proper assessment.” He took her hands in his and locked his eyes on her. “Jamie, it’s all going to be okay.”

  She knew he was talking about the therapy, but somehow found comfort in his words beyond their meaning. So many people had told her those exact same words, but she never believed them. Right then, looking at Cole, she believed every word.

  She walked toward the door, turned around before stepping outside, and said,
“Thank you for doing this, Cole.”

  Cole woke up in the middle of the night to Jamie’s screams. The minute he ran to her room and saw her tangled in the sheets, crying out and covered in sweat, his heart broke. “Hey, man, is she okay?” Cole turned at the sound of Nick’s voice. The straight answer would be, “No, she’s not okay,” but Cole couldn’t muster the words because he felt like he was looking at a past version of himself.

  “I’ve got her,” he told his brother before walking into her room. Seeing her like that brought him back to a time in his life when he couldn’t find peace. Watching her relive the worst time in her life made him realize how much she needed him, even if she didn’t know it.

  “All right then,” Nick said before heading back to his room.

  Cole crouched down beside the bed and started lifting the covers off Jamie’s sweat-soaked body. When he managed to untangle her, getting punched a few times in the process, he pinned her arms over her head with very little pressure to keep her from hurting herself, or him, in the process. Ensuring his hold was loose enough so she knew she could break free of his hold, Cole called her name until she woke up.

  “Get off me…. Get off me…. No…. Please…. No!” she screamed, fighting the weight of his body. She pleaded with him to stop. He remained calm despite his heart picking up speed at her anguish. He couldn’t even begin to imagine the images playing through her head.

  He had read the psych report Courtney had sent him, but that never did anyone justice. He slowly shook her out of her dream. “Jamie, it’s me. It’s Cole. Calm down.” He didn’t move, just waited for her to regain her senses and come back to reality. He needed for her to see that she was safe, and that it was all a dream.

  Her body stopped shaking, but fear filled her eyes, which quickly turned into guilt when she realized what had just happened. “Oh, my God, I woke you. I’m so sorry.” The expression on her face almost broke him.

  “Don’t worry about it. Do you want to talk about it?” he asked, letting go of her hands.

  “Not really,” she said in a broken voice. He could tell she felt embarrassed that one of her nightmares had woken him up. In all the training given before going out in the field, the one thing they didn’t tell you about was the nightmares, and that was something Cole could relate to more than most.

  “Okay then, let’s get you into the shower and back to bed.” He knew she didn’t have the energy to argue with him, which was good because he wasn’t leaving until she was okay. She got up and went into the bathroom. Her skin was damp, her hair was scattered everywhere and her face was so pale he thought she might pass out.

  When she closed the bathroom door, he settled in the corner chair and remembered how beautiful she’d looked standing in the middle of the room earlier with the sun bouncing off her hair. He couldn’t get the sight of her out of his head. It had taken every ounce of his self-control not to push her against the wall and show her exactly how he would take her. The memory of that sigh made him hard as a rock, and damn if he wouldn’t be taking care of himself later that night thinking about her sighing beneath his tongue and fingers. He shifted uncomfortably, trying to control his erection before Jamie stepped out of the shower.

  He must have fallen asleep while she was in there because the next thing he knew, he felt her hand on his forearm and slowly woke up. When he opened his eyes, he forgot how to breathe. She looked so beautiful with her wet hair falling down to her shoulders, her face fresh and glowing, and right then he knew he was too far gone to ever come back.

  “You can go to bed now. I’ll be fine.” Her voice was sleepy as she spoke and damn if he didn’t want to crawl in that bed with her.

  “Are you sure?” he asked, his voice just as sleepy as hers.

  “Yeah, I’m sure. Thank you, Cole,” was all she said before she climbed back into bed and drifted off to sleep.

  Chapter Three

  After a night of tossing and turning, Jamie made her way downstairs to the kitchen, hoping for some much needed caffeine to help her get through this first day of therapy with Cole. All night, her thoughts were of Cole taking her against the bedroom door, making her scream his name, and as if that wasn’t enough, the moment she stepped into the kitchen, she ran straight into a six-foot-one wall of stone.

  To keep from falling down and humiliating herself, she grabbed Cole’s shirt and was surprised when he maneuvered around, standing behind her, holding her upright. For a moment, she let herself enjoy the feel of Cole’s body surrounding her and the heat that rolled off him. When he put his hands on her waist, his fingers tightened on her skin and for a brief moment, her head dropped back to his chest.

  Startled back to reality by voices coming closer, she pulled away from him. “Thank you for not letting me fall. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”

  Before Cole could answer, Nick, John, and Andrew walked into the kitchen, and boy were they ever a sight. Jamie took a step back, watching all four brothers interact with one another.

  They were each wearing worn-out jeans—the kind that gave women heart attacks—with old plaid shirts, and for the first time, she noticed how different the brothers looked. Nick was the tallest one with light brown hair and green eyes, and a body to die for. John was the quiet, reserved one, although you could see his brothers’ charm was definitely rubbing off on him. Andrew was a beautiful specimen of a man, with dark brown hair and blue eyes; she couldn’t help but wonder how many broken hearts he’d caused over the years. And then her eyes landed on Cole. The man was absolutely gorgeous. His body was well trained and it was obvious that he loved his family so much. She wondered why a man like him wasn’t married; surely, it wasn’t from lack of offers.

  Before she got further lost in her thoughts, John interrupted her daydream. “Good morning, Jamie. You look amazing today.” She looked at John properly for the first time, and realized how much he looked like the pictures of their dad scattered around the house. Out of all the brothers, he was the one who bore the most striking resemblance to the man Becca had talked so much about over the years. Before she knew it, Cole all but barked at his brother, “Give it a break, John. You wouldn’t know what to do with her.”

  Reaching for a cup in the cupboard, she heard John mumble, “And you do?” She smiled at the dynamic between the brothers. They might fight and argue, but they still loved each other, and nothing could change that. She envied that. Growing up as an only child, she’d always wondered how it would be to have brothers or sisters.

  Jamie walked over to John and said, “Any chance there’s coffee, because caffeine would be a gift right now.” Hoping this would diffuse any tension in the room, she took a seat at the breakfast bar.

  “Here you go, sweetheart. There’s always caffeine in this house,” John said as he handed her a cup.

  Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, no makeup, and the jeans she was wearing yesterday were replaced by yoga pants. She noticed Cole looking at her, and briefly wondered if she should have dressed in something else. She was used to wearing simple workout clothes with Becca, but maybe he preferred his patients to wear something else. “I didn’t know how you wanted me to dress for our session, so I hope this is okay.” She turned toward Cole while taking a sip of coffee.

  He must have felt her eyes on him because he turned to face her and, when their eyes connected, the world stopped turning. The look in his eyes was doing things to her no other man had ever managed to. Her skin flushed and she couldn’t stop the roll of images playing in her head of Cole showing her all the ways he wanted her.

  She didn’t know how much time passed before he spoke, his voice deep. “What you’re wearing is fine. As long as you’re comfortable in it, that’s all that matters.” She smiled at his words. He appeared genuine.

  “How about some breakfast? I want to take it easy today, get to know each other and just get a feel of where you are.” She noticed how tight his face was, and she found a little solace in knowing she wasn’t the
only one affected by what just happened.

  “Sure, breakfast sounds great,” she said, gripping her cup of coffee like she was holding on for her life. She sat down at the kitchen table beside Cole and Nick, and took a look at the breakfast before her. Pancakes, eggs and bacon. She didn’t care about the calories or about what people would think if they saw her eat, so she just dug right in.

  “So, Jamie, you know Emilia, too, right?” Nick’s question brought her out of her food daydream. She looked up at him, and the emotions in his eyes gave him away. She remembered how sad Emilia had been for weeks following her return from Montana, but had never mentioned anything about it.

  “Yes, I do. We met in college, same as Becca,” she said with a smile that told Nick she knew there was more to his question than he was letting on. She might not be a trained psychologist, but she was a woman and she could read interest when she saw it.

  “How is she doing? She was great with Cole when he got back,” Nick asked, and his brothers all looked up at him with a million unasked questions.

  “She’s great, working hard and trying to stay focused. She doesn’t go out much; well, none of us really do. We’re all too busy.” That was the best way Jamie could think to tell him that Emilia wasn’t seeing anyone without raising any flags.

  “Good to hear.” The rest of breakfast was spent talking about ranch business, and Jamie found herself paying close attention to what was being said.

  Nick, Andrew, and John went off to get their chores done and Jamie helped Cole clean the kitchen. She was overwhelmed by the realization that this was something she could get used to. “Your brothers are very nice,” she said as she washed the breakfast dishes as she had offered Kathy. It was her way of helping out since she had been an unexpected guest.

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