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Make me whole, p.4

Make Me Whole, page 4

 part  #1 of  Callaway Series


Make Me Whole

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  “Don’t let them fool you. We gave my mom more than a few gray hairs when we were younger. So did Becca. Actually, I think she was the worst. Being the only girl, I think she felt like she had to do more to prove herself, which always got her into more trouble.”

  She smiled at how happy Cole seemed to be, but she also saw sadness in his eyes. If she had to hazard a guess, she would say he missed his sister. “It’s hard to think of Becca as a hell-raiser; she’s so grounded now.” Becca was so committed to her work, it was difficult to picture her as a troublemaker. She never went out, didn’t date much. Becca had told her about how her heart had been broken and how she would never let herself get hurt like that again. Jamie had never gotten the full story out of her, but she knew it was the reason she didn’t want to come home.

  “When she left for college, something happened that changed her. She never said what it was, but she doesn’t come home often and, when she does, she’s not here for very long.” Cole’s concern for his sister was touching, just another reason she didn’t know if she could resist him much longer—even if she knew she should.

  Jamie reached for his arm, and jumped at the electricity she felt soaring through her body when she touched him. She pulled her hand back. “Becca doesn’t really talk about why she left. She talks about you and your brothers a lot, and about your mom, too, but she doesn’t talk about much else.”

  “Don’t believe everything she tells you.” And just like that, the conversation had shifted to a lighter subject they both felt more comfortable with.

  “Oh, no? So I shouldn’t believe that you’re the most selfless, giving, brave and courageous man Becca knows? Because that’s how she describes you.” Jamie made him blush, and she giggled at his uneasiness. So the man didn’t like being paid compliments. That didn’t surprise her because Cole didn’t come off like the type of man who would do something hoping to get something in return.

  Cole had to focus like hell on the job at hand, but watching Jamie stretch and pull was testing his self-control. She was way more tense than he could have imagined, and all he could think about during their therapy session was massaging the tension out of her body. They went through a series of basic exercises so he could assess her mobility and see how much pain she was in. He wanted her to push herself, but witnessing her level of pain reminded him why he didn’t get attached to patients. It made his heart ache to be causing her pain, but he couldn’t soften the therapy simply because he wanted to protect her.

  He had to stay professional and keep his hands off her, because this was not about the sexual needs she was bringing back to life, but about helping her make a full recovery. He was worried about some muscle atrophy and some joint inflammation, probably from her overdoing it outside of her therapy sessions. She didn’t complain once, even if pain was written all over her face. He admired her for that; she was doing all she could to get better and she wasn’t taking no for an answer.

  From the bench where she was lifting light dumbbells, she looked up at him. “Cole, I can’t do any more. I feel like my shoulder is going to rip from its socket.” He could tell she really wanted to impress him and he respected her for that, but the last thing he wanted was to push her too hard, too fast. He knew his approach was definitely a different therapy workout than anything Becca had ever thrown her way. He involved more weights and included some yoga training to stretch her muscles, which he guessed Becca didn’t use.

  “That’s all right, don’t push it. We’re just going through it today so I can evaluate and see what the best way forward is. You can put the weights down and come lie down so I can see what the tissue and muscle feel like.”

  Cole noticed Jamie limping and decided the afternoon session was going to be a little easier on her. She made it to the table and he watched as she lay down on her stomach. He had to bite back a curse at how sexy she looked.

  “Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but the top has buttons in the back if you need to open it,” she told him, almost sheepishly.

  His hands started to shake at the thought of touching her bare skin, and he laughed internally at how juvenile he was acting. They both chuckled at how strange the situation was as Cole undid the buttons on Jamie’s top. With all the buttons undone, he opened the top and put his hands on her shoulders. He hadn’t seen the scars yet and the moment he saw the one on her shoulder, he wished he could go back and take the bullets for her.

  “The scar healed well,” he said, massaging her shoulders. “The tissue itself is scarred, so we’re going to have to work on that, and the muscles are tight and contracted, so that’s going to require a lot more stretching, ice and heat.” Cole kept massaging her shoulders long after he should have stopped, but she had so much tension he couldn’t help himself. The scars were healed up, but seeing them for the first time felt like he was experiencing them himself.

  The location of the wounds had been selected to inflict maximum pain. How she’d survived was a miracle. “Cole, you don’t have to keep doing that. The pain stopped.” She started to sit up but Cole gently pushed her back down. And that was when he noticed her breathing was shorter and her skin was covered in goose bumps, telling him more than he needed to know with his control barely hanging on.

  “Did anyone ever tell you that you’re stubborn as hell? Lie down and don’t move. You’re not going to get any kind of sustainable results if your muscles are this strained.” If he were being honest with himself, he knew he didn’t have to keep massaging her, but her skin was so soft and when he started to feel the tension evaporate, he just couldn’t bring himself to stop touching her.

  “Cole, really, you don’t have to do that.” The more he touched her, the more he found himself never wanting to stop. He watched her body’s response to him and smiled when he noticed her trying to keep herself from squirming, but she couldn’t control her reactions to him.

  “Are you always this difficult?” He smiled, aware he was getting to her by the way she shivered. He wasn’t immune, either; the moment his hands touched her, he’d become rock-hard. He couldn’t remember the last time he had an erection from just touching a woman.

  Before she could answer, the door of the clinic swung open and his mom was there. For a moment, she just looked at him and he didn’t miss the smile on her face. He was almost on top of Jamie, which probably didn’t look professional, not by a mile, but she just smiled and said, “Sorry to interrupt, kids, but lunch is ready.”

  Jamie took the opportunity to sit up on the table, her back to him as she kept her top in place with her hands. “Cole, could you button me up for lunch, please?” It took him a minute to assess the situation, but once he gathered all of his thoughts, he buttoned her shirt as quickly as he could, desperate to get away from her before he did something stupid.

  Jamie walked out of the clinic first, giving Cole time to calm his erection before he went to have lunch with his mother. Reacting like that to the woman he was supposed to be helping was not a good sign. Hell, it was downright unprofessional and broke a bunch of ethical rules. Sighing at his dilemma, he locked her files in his desk, but before he reached the door to step outside, the clinic’s phone rang. When he answered, he smiled at the sound of his baby sister’s voice. “Hey, big brother.”

  “Hey, sis, how are you?” She sounded tired, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something going on with her.

  “I’m good, you know me…. So, how’s our girl doing?” He held back a smart-ass comeback. If there was one thing his sister didn’t believe in, it was coincidence, so whatever she thought would come out of sending Jamie to him must be pretty big.

  “She’s good. We just had our first session. Mom’s really taking a liking to her and the guys are all drooling over her, so overall, I’d say we were doing well.” His sister laughed on the other end of the line and he found himself smiling with her.

  “How about you? Are you drooling all over her?” Cole didn’t miss the mischief in her voice, nor did he mi
ss his body betraying him with thoughts of Jamie half-naked on his table.

  “I’d have to be blind not to, but you knew that already, didn’t you?” If there was one thing his sister excelled at, it was being sneaky about doing things she knew would be good for him. Sending Jamie his way had to be one of the best things she’d ever done for him, no matter how it turned out.

  “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Okay, I have to go since my patient just walked in, but you take good care of her, you hear me?” Leave it to his sister to drop a bomb and leave just before the question time.

  “Don’t worry, I’ve got her.” Strangely enough, he knew he did. He felt a connection to someone for the first time in a long time, and he wasn’t ready to let that go.

  “I know you do. Love ya. Give Mom my love.” And just like that, his sister hung up, leaving him to wonder about how much of this she’d planned. After all this time, Cole felt like he could make someone else happy, that he could give Jamie what she’d been missing all her life, and it scared him more than he’d ever admit, because this meant she had the power to break him.

  Nick, Andrew, and John worked through lunch, leaving her alone with Cole and Kathy. “I made soup for lunch. Jamie was nice enough to offer to help me cook while she’s here. I told her the patients usually have time to make a menu selection, but since this was a bit unexpected, we’ll just have to adjust.”

  “Kathy, anything you make is going to be delicious. I realize this wasn’t planned and that I’m an imposition, so please don’t go out of your way for me. I’m a pretty good cook actually, so if I can help, I would be happy to.” Jamie sat down at the table and Cole sat across from her, looking at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the world. For the first time in a long time, she let herself feel that.

  “She’s beautiful, smart and she can cook—now, honey, why’re you not married yet?”

  She let her thoughts wander back to the studio a few minutes earlier. Her skin caught fire when Cole had touched her, and she didn’t know how to feel about it. Having Kathy walk in on them in that position had been embarrassing, but God, his hands felt good. Breaking out of her reverie, Jamie realized she hadn’t answered Kathy’s question yet, so she took a spoonful of her soup then said, “I came close once, but it didn’t work out.”

  “His loss.” Jamie blushed at Cole’s words, not knowing what to say. They ate in silence, apart from some chitchat about Jamie’s therapy and Cole’s work on the ranch. Jamie loved how welcoming this family was, and she had a feeling that Becca had somehow planned this whole thing, and it was as impromptu as she’d made it out to be. After lunch, Jamie offered to do the dishes, explaining it was the least she could do for all the trouble she’d caused. She and Cole were in the kitchen—she was washing and he was drying—and she smiled, feeling content, happy in the simplest of moments.

  “So, almost married…. What happened?” Cole asked as she put the plates away in the cupboard.

  Avoiding making eye contact, Jamie kept her head low as she answered him. “We should finish up here,” she said, pulling her body away from his. She knew they were on the edge of sharing something important, and there was no way she was allowing herself to go there with him, so she willingly decided to avoid his question, feeling thankful when he didn’t push it.

  For the second half of their day, Cole took her out for a tour of the ranch. It wasn’t as physically demanding as what she could have been doing in the clinic, but she understood that sometimes you just had to think outside the box to get to the bottom of someone’s fears.

  “So, what made you want to become an aid worker?” Cole asked her as they walked side by side away from the main house. She wasn’t shocked by the question, but she still debated between telling him what she told everybody and telling him the truth. She wasn’t the most interesting person in the world, and she didn’t want Cole to see her as boring. Jamie kept on walking, keeping her eyes forward, paying attention to the ground so she wouldn’t make a fool of herself and fall flat on her face.

  When she finally spoke, she had a hard time constructing full sentences. “You know, I really don’t know. I just always wanted to help people and it just seemed to happen,” she said softly.

  “A master’s degree just doesn’t happen, Jamie. You must have really wanted to do this if you put so much effort into it.” His words took her by surprise and when she looked up at him, she saw the honesty in his eyes.

  She smiled at him and said, “No, I guess you’re right. My mom was big on education and helping others, so to me, it just always made sense I’d be doing what I do… or used to anyway.” At that moment, she regretted saying all that, giving too much of herself away, but to her surprise she continued talking, the words just spilling out. “And then this happened and now I’m not sure of anything anymore, except that I want to get back to 100 percent. Now, whether I end up going back out there or not is another story.”

  When they reached their destination, Jamie understood why Cole had asked her to change into her swimsuit. They were standing a few feet away from a large hot tub, covered to protect them from the elements, surrounded by nature. “Wow, this is beautiful,” Jamie said as she took it all in.

  When Cole said, “It sure is,” he wasn’t looking at the setting before him but at her, and she couldn’t do anything except blush. The man just got to her. She knew it was wrong considering their relationship, but she couldn’t deny the pull she felt toward him. How could someone she barely knew make her want things she hadn’t thought about in years? He evoked such passion in her, it was throwing her off-balance.

  Seeing Jamie’s face light up when she saw the little oasis was the reason Cole had brought her there. He could kid himself by saying this was about getting her in the water to lower the burden on her muscles, but in reality it was all about seeing that smile of hers. As they walked down to the spot, he found himself hanging on to her every word and the more he listened to her tell him about her life, the more he wanted to know.

  For a moment, they just stared at each other, neither of them moving, just taking each other in. He swore something almost magical happened in that moment; it was like a current had passed between them, something he’d never experienced before. Before he did something he would regret, he took off his shirt, looked at her and said, “Well, let’s get you in the water and see what we can do.”

  When he turned to look at her, he caught her staring at him and God, did he like the way she devoured him with her eyes. “Jamie, you’re staring at me again,” he told her playfully, not wanting to embarrass her.

  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare.” Her voice shook and her eyes never left his body, making him hard. She really didn’t have any idea how much she affected him.

  “Don’t apologize, but, honey, I’m just a man. Now, what do you say we get into the water and work that lower body?” Cole stepped right into the steamy hot water, wishing it was a cold shower instead.

  He needed to cool off, and fast. The way she’d looked at him when he took off his shirt was too much to bear. It was almost like she wanted to lick him up and down; hell, he was more than happy to let her have her way. He watched her as she carefully removed her clothes, until she was standing there in nothing but a polka dot bathing suit, and he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. She was all curves and all woman, and damn if he didn’t want to feel her come undone around him.

  When she spoke, he realized he’d been staring at her. “Okay, let’s do this. I love the water.”

  Her comment snapped him right out of his daydream. Damn, the woman had curves that were making him think all sorts of dirty things, like getting out of the water, laying her on the cold ground and driving into her until they both came so hard the earth shook.

  They worked in silence for a little while, but when Jamie’s body tightened up after one of the exercises, Cole eased her out of his hold and sat her down on the bench on the side of the hot tub. “Are you okay?” he asked, rubbing her
left thigh.

  “Yeah, I think it was just a spasm.” Cole’s hands started digging into her muscles, trying to relax the contractions. After a few minutes, when he was satisfied it had passed, he backed away from her and sat down near one of the jets.

  “Are you feeling better?” he asked, running his fingers through his hair. He hated that he didn’t know her body well enough yet not to push her.

  “Can we do this every day?” she said, smiling up at him as she floated on her back, enjoying how wide the hot tub was.

  “Easier on the pain, isn’t it?” Cole had her legs in his hands, feeling how relaxed she was even if they were working her muscles; that was the state he always wanted her in when they worked together.

  “I could stay in here all day and I wouldn’t feel an ounce of pain.” She looked so at peace then, that he would do anything to put that look on her face every day.

  “We’ll do this more often.” Cole had gone over Becca’s files about Jamie’s therapy and noticed she enjoyed anything that had to do with water. He didn’t bring patients to this side of the house—they had a small pool in the clinic—but he wanted to get Jamie to feel comfortable and he wanted to share some of the things he enjoyed with her.

  “I’d like that.” She tilted her head and smiled at him. Right then, he knew it was only a matter of time before he lost all self-control and took what he so desperately wanted. And, most importantly, before he gave her his heart.

  The rest of the afternoon went by like a flash. They managed to make big progress in the water and Jamie noticed she didn’t limp back to the house. She stopped dead in her tracks. Cole stilled right away and asked her what was wrong. “Nothing is wrong. I’m not limping. Did you see that?” She smiled.

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