New Winslow S3E38
Olivia had to work that afternoon. At three o’clock, she walked into Keegan’s in a daze. It was stupid, but she half expected Noah to be there when she walked in, setting up the bar with an easy smile and some crack about her work ethic.
Which, considering she’d dropped him off at the Central Mass Recovery Center all of six hours ago, wasn’t likely. But that didn’t stop her from almost seeing him out of the corner of her eye multiple times.
Stop, she told herself firmly as she was startled by tall shadows for a third time in twenty minutes. He’s not dead. This is a good thing.
Olivia gasped and jumped, dropping the bottle of cooking oil she was holding. Hugh was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, looking concerned.
“Olivia, are you alright?” he asked. “I’ve been trying to get your attention, and you seemed a million miles away.”
She nodded rapidly. “Yeah,” she said. “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry, just distracted.”
“Anything I can do to help?”
He walked in, letting the door swing shut behind him. “There’s no customers,” he said before she could even open her mouth. “Seriously though, how can I help?”
Olivia sighed, leaning over to pick up the bottle, which thankfully hadn’t broken. “I just had a really bad night last night,” she said. “And I drove my best friend to a rehab clinic this morning.”
“Shit,” Hugh said.
She laughed as she felt the tears building in her eyes again. God, she was so sick of these tears.
“Yeah, shit,” she agreed. “I know it’s a good thing. He needs help and he’s finally willing to get it. It’s just…it’s a whole month.”
A small sob escaped her, and she wiped uselessly at her eyes. “It’s just been a lot,” she finished.
Hugh moved toward her, arms out to hug her. Then he paused. “Is this alright?” he asked.
She nodded, knowing full well both that it was a terrible idea and that she didn’t care right now. He wrapped his arms around her and she leaned into his embrace.
Even over everything else, she couldn’t help but notice how good he smelled.
“You did a good thing,” Hugh said. “You might have saved his life.”
She nodded. He was right, of course. And she knew it. But after nearly a year of Noah pushing her away, she was having a hard time convincing herself of that.
And now she was crying, aware of the fact that she was soaking his work shirt in her tears. But he just held her tighter and she let him. It felt safe here with him.
The door creaked behind them. “Hey – oh.”
Charlie was standing in the doorway now. Olivia expected Hugh to jump away from her and pretend nothing happened, but he stayed where he was.
“Liv, what’s wrong?” Charlie asked.
She reluctantly untangled herself from Hugh’s grip and wiped at her eyes again. “Noah went into rehab this morning.”
Were those tears in Charlie’s eyes too? He looked away for a second, cleared his throat, then looked back at her.
“Good,” he said stiffly. “Good. That’s good.”
Yeah, those were definitely tears.
“Is he going to come back when he gets out?” Charlie asked.
“One thing at a time,” Hugh said, and Olivia was grateful for him answering.
After was something that had never really occurred to her.
Another exhausting day of deliveries done. Cleo’s car was making some noises she wasn’t loving, but she tried to ignore them as she pulled onto Route Two and started heading west to Edie’s house.
This was it. She had to send her lease back in tomorrow with a yes or a no. And first she needed to see if Edie’s offer was still available.
She hoped it was, but she didn’t want to assume. Not after she had all but rejected it the first time. Edie hadn’t brought it up since, very obviously been giving Cleo space to make the decision. They weren’t subtle about it, despite their best attempts to be. But Cleo appreciated the abrupt changes in conversation all the same.
It would be nice to live together.
No, scratch that. It would be amazing to live together.
She thought about it as she stopped and started among the traffic lights that littered this stretch of the highway. Living with Edie. They wouldn’t have to make a conscious effort to see each other. They’d wake up together every morning. Go grocery shopping and poke fun at each other’s weird tastes in food. Take long, luxurious baths in Edie’s ridiculously indulgent bathtub.
They’d spent enough nights together that Cleo thought she had an idea of what living with Edie would be like. Edie was a little cluttered, but clean. They liked their home to be a sanctuary, and all of their splurges seemed to be on things for the home. Their apartment was bright and happy. And Cleo would be a part of all of it.
In Fitchburg. That was the only pang. This was saying goodbye to Boston. Probably permanently. She couldn’t imagine moving away from Boston again only to come back a third time. This was it. She wasn’t a bright-eyed twenty-something trying to make it in the city. She was in her thirties, trying to make a career, and she needed to make some permanent decisions as to how she was going to do that.
Fitchburg seemed fine. It was a city after all, even if Edie’s apartment was in a more rural area of it. It was quieter than she’d ever imagined for herself. But there was still plenty to do and it wasn’t like she took advantage of living in Boston these days. Not with the hours she needed to drive if she wanted to pay her bills.
Cleo was so lost in thought that she was almost startled as she found herself pulling off the exit to Edie’s house. Nerves that she hadn’t realized were there began sparking in her stomach. Maybe it was too late. Maybe Edie had realized that Cleo was too indecisive, too in love with a city that didn’t love her back.
Edie was on the porch when Cleo pulled up, drinking a cup of tea on the stoop. They stood as Cleo parked and got out of the car.
“Your car sounds like it’s having a rough day,” Edie commented.
“What’s one more thing?” Cleo said.
She walked over to Edie and kissed them. Then she pulled back and looked at them, suddenly nervous again.
“Um,” she started. “Is the offer…”
She cleared her throat. “Is the offer to move in with you still open? I understand if it’s not, but I just-”
She was cut off by Edie kissing her again, cupping her cheek with a cool hand. They pulled back and looked at her.
“Of course it is.”