Olivia would pound on this door until either Noah answered or the door caved in. It had been five minutes since she’d stormed up the steps and started banging on his front door, and she wasn’t going anywhere until she got answers.
“Noah, answer the fucking door! I know you’re in there!”
She stopped for a second and listened. There were no sounds coming from inside the apartment yet, but his truck was in the driveway and apparently he didn’t have anywhere else to be right now. So she knew he was in there.
Olivia rapped on the door again. “Noah,” she repeated, trying to keep the anger that was coursing through her from making her voice shake. “Noah, come on.”
She thought she could hear something on the other side of the door, so she paused. But the door remained shut.
“NOAH!” she shouted over the sound of her own fists pounding on the door in a noisy, uneven pattern. “NOAH, WHAT THE FUCK?”
Unlike Noah, Olivia did have somewhere to be. But she still had two hours until she needed to leave for what was now going to be an even more hellish shift over at Keegan’s. She could stand here and hit his front door for that long.
And if he was hungover and she was hurting his head, all the better.
Frustrated tears were building in her eyes as she pounded on the door. She had told herself she wasn’t going to cry when she confronted him. She was going to be cold and rational as she faced her best friend and demanded answers.
That had lasted about until she’d gotten Mia into her room with some toys, then made her way up the dim stairs. And now here she was, uselessly wiping at furious tears with one hand as she hammered on his front door with the other.
“I can stay here all day!” she called in, pounding louder.
A second later, she felt the door shift under her hand as it swung open, nearly taking her down. Noah stood there, one hand on the doorknob. He smelled like whiskey and sweat and he blinked at her in the dim light.
“What?” he asked, as though she hadn’t been hammering on his door for the past ten minutes.
“What?” she snapped. “WHAT? How about telling me why the fuck you quit Keegan’s without telling me?”
He looked at her for a long second and the longer he did, the longer the fury boiled in her stomach.
“So you heard,” he said finally.
“Yup,” she snapped. “I heard. I heard from Bret, actually. Who says you showed up hungover and told him to fuck off when he called you out on the bar being sloppy.”
“Bret’s a dick.”
“No shit. But you walk out? You fucking selfish child. I had to find out from Bret when he called to yell at me. You couldn’t even tell me yourself.”
Noah rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry.”
He went to close the door and she stuck her foot through to block him. “What happened to you?” she asked, disappointed in herself as her voice cracked. “I don’t even know who you are anymore.”
Noah looked at her for a moment and she wiped furiously at the tears now falling down her face. Then, without a word, he closed the door and she heard the sound of the deadbolt sliding into place.
Finally finished puking for now, Noah laid down on the bathroom floor. After locking the door in Olivia’s face, he’d somehow remembered not to turn on the light when he staggered in and collapsed to his knees in front of the toilet. But the darkness didn’t help the pounding in his head. Nor did it erase the image of her devastated expression as he’d closed the door.
This needed to stop. He still had a chance to fix things if he wanted to. He just needed to quit drinking. He’d done harder things than that before.
An image of his father’s wake flashed through his mind. The waxy look on his dad’s dead face as he lay in the coffin. The way Olivia had stood with him the whole four hours as the endless train of mourners had come through to shake his and Erin’s hands.
His mother had been in that line of visitors, he remembered. She’d given Noah and Erin brief hugs, then walked away.
But Olivia had stayed. She’d stood next to him in uncomfortable shoes, then lay beside him on the couch all night, watching westerns until Noah had cried himself to sleep.
And two and a half years later, this was how he was repaying her.
His stomach turned again, but he had nothing left in him to throw up. So instead, he lay on the linoleum and waited for the nausea to pass.
He could get clean. Noah was tempted to go to the fridge and get one last glass of whiskey to help him get started with a clearer head. But no, he didn’t need to do that. He’d just get some water, get in bed, and try to ride out the withdrawal symptoms. He wasn’t that addicted, he could quit.
He’d just keep it quiet and stay up here until the worst of it was over. No one needed to know how close he’d come to ruining his life.
Noah could fix this. He’d sober up, patch things up with Liv, and make up the Keegan’s thing to her. It’d be okay. They’d get past it.
He just needed to sober up first.
That was all.