*~* DAY 31 *~*
-A Standalone Novel-
Copyright 2017 © Kane Caldwell
Everything I’d planned on giving up was taken from me in an instant.
I felt responsible.
I tried moving on. Looking for light on my darkest days. But I just couldn’t handle the demons inside. Out of despair, I tried ending my life. But just like protecting what was mine, I failed.
I was sent to the mental ward.
Thirty-one days in, they put me in a new visiting program.
I didn’t think anyone could reach me.
Then her sweet fucking gaze hit me.
My life revolved around one thing, the church.
That’d been until I found countless shady documents the deeper I dug into my father’s office. When I got to the end of the rope and my questions hadn’t been answered, I took the next step.
I signed up for the visiting program, one prayer was answered when I was assigned to him.
I had Thirty days with him to find the answers I’d been looking for.
But nothing went as I’d planned when his powerful gaze hit me.
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Copyright 2017 © Kane Caldwell
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locations is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the US Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior express, written consent of the author.
This book briefly mentions suicide and mental health topics. If you’re in immediate danger, please call 911 or go to your nearest ER. Or you feel you are in crisis or someone around you is, you may want to contact your local crisis hotline, community mental health center, private practitioner or clergy. If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is there to help!
This book is recommended for 18+ due to the mature content
-Notes from the Author-
I’ve had this story running through my mind for some time and fought with myself whether I should write it as I tend to shy away from certain subjects. With that being said, there were times I walked away from this story because I thought I couldn’t give it the justice it deserved. But many kept pushing me along. When I received notes from both my editors (to which, neither knew what the story was about) how proud they were that I wrote the story and how great they felt it turned out, was when my mind had finally eased.
Thank you for your purchase and I hope you enjoy Callen and Noelle’s story.
Dr. Meyers had been the one to take my case. I don’t remember much of the first week being in the hospital, but what I do remember is his filing a court order that I stay for two more weeks in the hospital’s psych ward. I’d played nice and did what I had been told. As I approached closer to my time of release, Dr. Meyers then put in for another court order for me to be enrolled in his new program. When he sat there expressing to me and my family how helpful his new program would be for me returning to civilization, I watched my mother fall for his bait. I hadn’t. But what did I care? I had no life to go back to so what was another thirty days. So, they moved me after spending three weeks in the psych ward to Mountains Bay mental health facility where I started his new Visiting Program.
*~* DAY 30 *~*
I lay in my bed.
A bed consisting of an old wood headboard and metal frame with a cheap single mattress filled with a million fucking springs that ate at my body every night. Staring up at the white ceiling for the past week had been wearing at my sanity. If I hadn’t been already fucked in the head, this place would provide that service for me. They could decorate the outside with as many fucking flowers, detailed landscapes, and water fountains as they wanted, but society knew what lay behind the blue-painted facade of the huge Victorian home at the end of the dirt path.
The same thoughts that’d haunted me every night snaked their way to the forefront of my brain, causing me to squeeze my eyes shut. The rush of scorching blood began to stream through my veins, escalating my temperature and causing my body to become damp with sweat.
It was everywhere.
In my mind, behind my eyes, crawling underneath my skin, deep down in the depths of my bones. Anger, rage, a hate for life.
Still, even eight months after her death, no one knew the truth. Not even the doctors, nurses, and therapists who’d probed me with endless questions here at Mountains Bay Mental Health Facility (aka, the nut house) knew the facts. For fucks sake, my family didn’t even know. My brother, my best friend and confidant, had no fucking clue either. They all thought I’d lost my mind, tried to end my life because my wife died in a freak accident. Freak accident my goddamn fucking ass.
That wasn’t it at all.
The failure of not being able to keep and protect what was mine was what’d consumed my mind. The lies behind the fake facade of a happily married couple. The utmost betrayal that your spouse could commit ate at my insides, sucking the life out of me like a fucking parasite. It’d been the combination of it all that had me succumbing to a bottle of pain pills.
“Cal,” Aaron called from my doorway.
I ignored him, lost in my own head, where I wanted to be, but he didn’t let up.
I leaned up on an elbow and pierced him with my green eyes, my lips pressed together, nostrils flaring.
Aaron raised his hands. “Fuck, you’re such a cranky bastard.” When I didn’t respond and rose from my position to sit at the edge of the bed, he blurted out quickly, “Doc called a last-minute group meeting.”
Once he’d relayed the message he took off down the hall. I stood, cracked my neck left then right, rolled my shoulders, and made my way to the room that held group therapy.
“I think it’s going to be a very successful program in preparing each one of you in the process of getting back into the routine of everyday life.”
I kept my eyes on the large window, watching the raindrops beat at the glass. My mind was not in the room and not on what Dr. Meyers was saying. He’d been informing the five of us of this new program all week. There I was, a grown fucking man having my life decisions made by my doctor and my parents. The doctors felt I wasn’t making significant progress in communicating with others and that the program would help me.
“Dr. Meyers?” Steven, another patient in the new visitor program, called out.
Oh, fucking joy, Steven has a question.
I moved my eyes from the window to the short balding man standing at the front of the small room, and he nodded to Steven, who was sitting in the front row like he always did.
“Are we going to be able to pick who our visitor is?”
Asshole. He’s been telling us all goddamn week that we’d have one assigned to us.
The doc smiled Steven’s way and told him gently, “No, Steven, one will be assigned to you.”
“Feel sorry for the person assigned to Cal.” Danny snickered and slapped his knee from the row in front of me.
“Fuck off,” I growled.
“Gentlemen!” Dr. Meyers berated.
All the snorts and giggles lulled to silence.
“We’d originally planned for you to meet your visitors in the common room, but after a few consultations with the other doctors and therapists, we’ve decided that your first meeting will take place in your room. You’ll spend an hour alone with your new company and get to know each other one-on-one. Show them your living space and the things that occupy it that make it yours. You will meet with your visitor at the minimum three times a week. It may be on designated or random days, depending on what works best with their schedule.” Doc took a breath, looked around the room, and pointed to Aaron who had his hand raised high. “Yes?”
“I don’t like people in my room,” Aaron told him quickly.
Jesus, Aaron, shut the fuck up so I can go back to my damn room.
“I am aware of this, Aaron, and Ms. Wilson will be accompanying your visitor to your room and staying with you.”
Aaron nodded swiftly while mumbling, “Okay.”
“Anyone else have any problems letting a stranger in your room?” Dr. Meyers asked, addressing the room of only five patients.
“Whatever.” Samantha waved her hand in a dismissive manner.
“Okay then, after five meetings with your assigned guest, they will be asked a series of questions. And if we see fit and your visitor feels comfortable, we’ll start slowly and you’ll be able to leave the grounds for two hours at a time with my approval. The success rate of your trips will determine whether your time off the grounds will increase.”
Samantha shot out, “We can go wherever we want?”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Samantha mumbled, defeated.
“No, you cannot go wherever you like,” Dr. Meyers announced to the room. “All off-grounds trips will be requested by your visitor, documented, and must go through my hands before actually taking place.”
I’d only known Steven, Danny, Samantha, and Aaron for a week, and that was a week too fucking long.
Steven was in his midtwenties, suffering from severe anxiety, and bugged everyone nightly at dinner for their pudding. Even though I never ate mine, I never gave it to him. Samantha was in her early thirties, newly married, and suffered from depression, keeping mostly to herself with her nose always buried in a book. Danny was a mixture of Steven’s and Samantha’s issues and wrapped tightly with a neurotic bow. Aaron had been a drinker at one time, which had gotten him into too much trouble, and the courts had demanded he be put into a mental health facility for evaluation. It came out that he was depressed and trying to drown it with alcohol. I understood that because I’d tried it myself but had been more successful about no one finding out.
I huffed and shook my head.
“Do you have something to say, Callen?” Dr. Meyers called me out.
“Not a fucking thing,” I deadpanned.
He pierced me with his beady brown gaze but moved them when I held his stare, never backing down. Once he started talking again, I tuned him out and went back inside my own worst enemy, my thoughts, waiting to be dismissed so I could go back to the confines of my twelve-by-twelve room, hoping the demons would let me sleep through the night.
“Olivia?” I called to her when she slipped into the walk-in closet.
I took a deep breath, trying to keep my anger at bay. “When did you plan this?”
“The other day,” she said nonchalantly as she emerged from the closet with a little black dress dangling from her fingers.
“And you didn’t think to fucking inform me about it?” I asked firmly.
She folded the material neatly and began tucking it into the suitcase. “You’re the one that moved us here, Callen, wanted us to start a new life.” She gestured in the direction of the luggage. “So, this is me starting.”
“And who’s going on this girls’ trip?” I questioned when she didn’t divulge any information.
“Some of the women I met at the gym,” she told me as she went back inside the closet.
“You joined a gym?” I asked, following her into the massive closet.
She huffed as she began going through her bikinis, inspecting every one as she held them up. “Yes, Callen, but you’d know that if you weren’t working all the time.”
“Baby.” I wrapped my arms around her waist, hugging her from behind, but she didn’t reciprocate as she tossed a few bathing suits aside. “I told you the hours would be long for the first couple of months.”
She shrugged out of my hold and left the closet, leaving me standing there completely lost.
I woke with a jolt, eyes springing open, and glanced around the room. Grabbing my watch off the nightstand, I noticed it wasn’t even midnight yet. Turning over, I rubbed my face, trying to remove the leftovers of the dream and find sleep again.
With my chair in the middle of the room, back to the door, I sat staring out the one large window in my small room, watching the morning sun flicker off the water in the bulky fountain on the back terrace. It was starting to become one of my favorite pastimes, gazing out the window, watching the days pass by. The sun rose, patients moved around the grounds, we had group, and then the sun set. The same fucking shit took place daily.
I wasn’t certain whether I’d put my back to what lay behind me or any who entered my room, clearly expressing that I had no interest in conversation, or if I’d faced the window on purpose, looking for the day I reclaimed my freedom. Either or, it ate at my insides with the rest of the demons, feasting on the disgust I had for life. My life, and what I’d let it become.
I stretched my legs out, crossed my ankles, put my elbows on the padded metal arms of the chair, and folded my hands over my stomach while taking a deep breath. Trying to tame the rage that began to boil inside as I thought about having to spend twenty-nine more days in this hellhole.
I should start doing fucking puzzles all day, or grab a book to read. Then maybe, just maybe, my fucking thoughts wouldn’t occupy my mind as much.
Raising my hand, I slid the dark gray beanie over my eyes, hoping to squash the asinine thought. That’s when I heard them, footsteps. Two sets, and quiet voices talking. The footfalls didn’t stop, so I knew they were heading to my room.
I had the last room in the long hallway. I’d learned very quickly that if the shoes pacing on the wooden floors didn’t stop at a certain point, they were coming to me.
And… then they stopped.
Right outside my room.
“Callen?” Judy, the therapist, called softly. “Your visitor is here.”
Then it hit me.
Like a goddamn fucking Mack truck going a hundred miles per hour.
It felt as though all the air was sucked out of my room and filled with pureness, causing my breath to hitch. Her virtue skated across my skin, leaving a warm flush in its wake. Her innocence clung to the demons inside my body, making every muscle tighten and forcing me to clench my fists. I involuntarily shivered as my body tried to purge itself of these new sensations.
“Yeah,” I grumbled.
As they made their way into my room, Judy spoke. “Your visitor is here.”
The footsteps stopped and I sensed her close to me, very close. Standing to my right, her scent was strong and as it drifted up my nose, I immediately knew what it was: lavender.
After the tragedy, there were times I needed to escape, get away from everything, and I would go for a long drive to my grandparents’ old boarded-up farmhouse on the outskirts of Savannah. They’d both passed decades ago, but my mother didn’t have it in her heart to sell the place, so it just sat on acres of land in the mountains, rotting away. I’d wind up an acre away from the house in a small field of wild lavender, soaking up the serene scent.
I shook those thoughts from my mind and turned my head to my right. Lifting the beanie from my eyes, I blinked, and she came into view. I couldn’t take my eyes away from her.
She was small, so fucking petite, a strong gust of wind could probably fucking snap her in two. I stood slowly, entranced, and her clear blue eyes rose, keeping her gaze locked to mine. My six-two stature towered over her tiny frame. She had shoulder-length, wavy, pale, blond hair that was pulled back from her face with a pink crocheted band of little flowers crisscrossing together. As my eyes wandered down, I saw that her T-shirt was the same pink, with a large red heart in the center of it. Her faded blue jeans led down to Chucks on her small feet in the same shade of pink. A simple gold cross hung from a delicate chain around her slim neck, and there were small gold hoops in her ears.
Jesus Christ, she looks like she’s young enough to be in fucking high school.
Fuck, is she?
“Callen, this is Noelle Anderson. She’s been assigned to be your visitor for the next four weeks,” Judy said with enthusiasm.
Noelle smiled, and it was so bright I thought I might go fucking blind. She opened her mouth to speak, but I growled, “How fucking old are you?”
“Callen!” Judy snapped.
Noelle quickly closed her mouth and abruptly turned her head toward Judy, the faint rosy glow of her cheeks turning crimson.
“Well?” I barked impatiently.
“There is no need to be so harsh with your tone, Callen, and—”
“You gonna answer me… Noelle?” I said slowly in a deep, rough voice, accentuating her name.
Before I even finished, her blues came back to me and then… she fucking spoke.
“I’m twenty-two,” Noelle told me in a gentle, sweet tone, with a kind grin.
Her voice was so soft and sweet.
Jesus, I hope they know what the fuck they’re doing.
I scoffed and turned toward Judy. “What the hell are we supposed to do? Talk about Britney Spears shit?”
“Callen, that’s enough,” Judy bit out.
I moved my heated gaze back to Noelle and grated out, “Where the fuck are our outings gonna be? Toys “R” Us?”
My chest tightened as her grin faded and she bowed her head. Her hand lifted, fingers grabbing the small cross, and she began rubbing it gently.
“Mr. Westbrook, am I going to have to call Dr. Meyers to come talk with you?” Judy threatened in a hard tone.
“No, Ms. Wilson,” I said, glaring at her. “You can leave us now, ma’am.”
Judy turned to Noelle and put her hand on her arm. My fingers flinched to grab Judy’s hand. “Noelle, honey, you okay?”
Noelle raised her head, looked to me, then over to Judy. “Yes, Ms. Wilson. Thank you,” she told her softly.
Fuck. So fucking sweet.
Judy looked to me, narrowed her eyes, and informed me, “Don’t forget, Callen”—she waved a hand to the ceiling— “cameras.”
With that, she left the room.
“Mr. Westbrook,” Noelle called, but I kept my eyes to the door. She tried again. “Sir?”
My eyes darted to her as my cock twitched at hearing her sweet voice calling me sir.
“If you’d like me to leave, I—”
“Sit,” I ordered, cutting her off, jerking my head toward the matching chair in the corner.
And, Jesus, she obeyed immediately.
Fuck, I really hope they know what the fuck they’re doing with this program.
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