New Winslow S6E52
Roman had never been to an AA meeting outside of New Winslow. But despite his nerves, the group in Petersham had been a good one. Noah went with him and between his presence and the familiar setup of the meeting, Roman had almost felt comfortable enough to talk.
Not quite, but he was almost there.
“Want to come back for a cup of coffee?” Roman asked Noah as they were making their way through the small dirt parking lot toward their trucks.
“I can’t,” Noah said, grimacing apologetically as he pulled out his car keys. “I promised Liv I’d be at the Limerick tonight. Not that I’m any help whatsoever with the cooking, but we had shipment come in and I’ll be unpacking that until I die.”
“Weren’t you working at my shop this afternoon?” Roman said. “What the fuck were you doing that for if you’ve got your own to worry about?”
“Because the delivery money is good. And Charlie’s running the place more smoothly than anywhere else I’ve ever worked.”
“No kidding?” That didn’t surprise Roman, exactly. He’d always known Charlie was a smart kid. But it was comforting to know that both the House of Pizza and Celine had that kind of support.
“Yeah, he’s great. But I’ve got a ton to do, sorry.”
Roman laughed through his disappointment. “Have you ever been?” he asked.
“What, up to a weird man’s hotel room? Plenty of times.”
“Fuck off,” Roman said. “I mean The Countess.”
“Oh, no,” Noah said. “I’ve seen signs for it, but I’ve never been in. How is it?”
“Nice,” Roman admitted. “The women who run it are good people. And as long as I keep to myself, I don’t need to think too hard about the weird shit that happens there.”
“Another night,” Noah promised. “Hey, I’m really glad you came with me today.”
“I needed it,” Roman admitted without thinking.
“That bad, huh?”
“Not usually,” he said. “But it’s just a lot. I’m getting better, but I’m not where I want to be. And we still have no idea what got me out, so I’m just looking over my shoulder all the time. It’s exhausting. And I want to go home.”
Now Noah looked surprised, and Roman’s laugh was bitter. “Is that not the stupidest fucking thing you’ve ever heard?” Roman asked, glancing longingly back toward the doorway of the church, where someone had just lit up a cigarette. “I was there for over twenty years trying to get out. And now I’m out, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I miss my kids.”
Noah seemed unsure how to answer that and Roman was fine with it, since he wasn’t really looking for an answer. “It’s okay,” he said. “We’ll figure it out. And get Andrew out too. But it’s just…”
“Are you good alone?” Noah asked.
“I won’t be, Celine’s going to meet me later tonight,” Roman said. “The kids might be there too. Don’t worry.”
Noah nodded, but he didn’t look fully convinced. “Go,” Roman said, holding up his own keys. “I’m going too, I promise.”
Cleo’s mother was sitting on the couch, watching TV when Cleo got to her house. She was still jittery from the traffic she’d been dealing with since leaving Fitchburg, and New Winslow was the last place she wanted to be tonight. But she tried her best to keep a smile on her face, making it as real as possible. As she stepped into the living room, her mother turned around.
“We’re moving,” she said.
Cleo paused where she was, one hand on the back of the couch. “What’s that, Mom?” she asked, barely daring to breathe.
“We’re moving,” her mother repeated. “It’s time.”
Despite the choppy way she was talking, she seemed perfectly coherent as she looked at Cleo. “I’m not safe here anymore,” she admitted, lowering her eyes. “It’s the…” She trailed off and Cleo waited patiently while she searched for the words. “Assisted living.”
“That’s great, Mom,” Cleo said, coming around the sofa to sit down beside her. “It’ll be a really good thing for you. And me and Dad won’t be too far away.”
“I don’t want you to worry about me anymore,” her mother continued, playing with the old green blanket she’d draped over her lap. “And I’m scared something will happen again.”
Cleo took her mother’s hand, surprising them both. “I think that’s a great idea,” she said. “Dad mentioned it a couple days ago, but we didn’t want to push.”
“We’re going tomorrow to see it. I’ll be closer to you in Boston.”
“I’m not in-”
Cleo paused as it sank in. Her mom was officially leaving New Winslow. Which meant Cleo was no longer obligated to be here. She and Edie could move when the lease was up. They could truly start planning that.
Hell, they could leave as soon as her parents did. She’d pay Elvis whatever fee she needed to.
“Yeah,” she said to her mom, straightening the blanket which was now sliding toward the floor. “Yeah, you’ll be closer to me.”
A noise behind her made her turn. Her father was standing in the doorway to the living room, wearing his coat and holding a briefcase. He gave Cleo a small smile, then slipped out of the house.