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Bad For Me(102)

By:Codi Gary

No, not cloth. It was a wool coat. Dragging it off the fence, he tucked it under his arm and climbed back up onto the road.

“So what was it?” Larry asked.

“Looks like a woman’s coat.”

Larry looked at him like he was crazy, which was probably true. As Carlos finished up and handed him the paper to sign, he shifted the jacket up over his shoulders and could have sworn he smelled the sweet scent of Callie on the wind.

CALLIE CURSED THE large snowflakes covering the windshield. They were falling faster than her wipers could clear them, but she only had half a mile more to go. She had taken Highway 84 back home since the plows were out and working on the main roads first.

She still hadn’t been able to get ahold of Everett, but Justin had agreed to stay with Fred so she could see if he was home yet. Valerie had been watching for him, but with the whiteout so thick, she couldn’t see very well across the farm.

As she pulled up in front of his house, she threw the Jeep into park and climbed out. She could just barely see Everett’s porch light through the blizzard and ran up the steps to begin pounding on the door. When he didn’t answer right away, she tried the knob, but it was locked.

“Everett!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, banging on the door with all her strength.

Please be here. Please be okay.

Suddenly, a light came on inside, and she thought she heard someone running. The front door swung open to reveal Everett in a pair of sweats and a T-shirt, looking rumpled and so beautiful that she didn’t hesitate to throw herself at him, causing him to stumble back into the house.

“Callie! Jesus Christ, you’re freezing.” He wrapped an arm around her and shut the door behind her.

Callie was so relieved to see him that she didn’t care that she was probably strangling him. “Oh my God, I thought you were dead! I went to pick up your dad and I saw your truck, and I thought you were trapped, so I broke the window to get you out—”

Everett took her shoulders. “Wait—you broke my window?”

“Yes, but I put the jacket up so your truck wouldn’t get ruined, but then your dad was vomiting blood—”

“What?” Everett’s eyes bugged out of his head, and he started to head for the door, but she grabbed his arm.

“But he’s okay; it was just his pancreatitis flaring up.” Unable to control herself, she started giggling as she said, “The doctor said he should really stop drinking. What an idiot, right?”

When she finally sobered, she continued. “Then I couldn’t get hold of you, and I tried to call, and I heard your voicemail—”

Everett actually flushed. “I dropped my phone during the accident, but I couldn’t find it when we went back to tow the truck.”

“So your brother’s staying with your dad until he can be discharged, and I raced here to find you because Val couldn’t see your house through the storm.” She didn’t think she’d ever spoken so fast in her life.

“It sounds like you had quite the night.” His voice began shaking with laughter, and just that short burst showered her with warmth.

“The point I was trying to make is that I love you. I love you so much that if I lost you, it would kill all the beauty left in this world. Because you were the one who showed me that the world could be beautiful again. That love could be amazing and real.

“I’ve been working on myself, actually. I restarted the Twelve-Step program and have been trying to make amends with people that I’ve hurt.” Her throat squeezed so tight, she could hardly get the words out. “Like you. I know all you ever wanted was to love me and be there for me. I know I shut you out and hurt you, but I’ve been trying to learn healthy ways to communicate. I’m seeing a counselor twice a week, and she’s really helped me learn how to forgive myself. What happened wasn’t my fault, but blaming myself gave me a sense of control in situations where I had no control whatsoever. It’s a work in progress, and I’m learning to love myself . . . but I’m ready.

“Fate brought you to me,” she said, sobbing now, “and I won’t give you up without a fight.”

Everett stared down at her thoughtfully, and just when she was sure he was going to tell her it was too late, he smiled. “But you don’t believe in fate.”

“But you do,” she said, hope warming her like sunshine. “And I believe in you.”

Before she could say anything else, he lifted her against him and wrapped her legs around his waist, taking her mouth with his.

Callie held on to the back of his head, opening her mouth wide. The kiss was messy, their noses bumping and teeth clacking, but neither of them could stop devouring the other.