New Winslow S6E61

The next day, Olivia woke up with the same thought. “I can’t do this.”

Yesterday was a fluke, she knew it. Everyone that had stopped by had done so out of pity and no one actually liked her cinnamon rolls. She was going to get there today, open the doors, and nobody would come in. They’d all laugh or feel sorry for her for thinking this was possible. Then she’d have no choice but to shut down and Andrew would want her to pay him back for the money he lost and she wouldn’t be able to and…


Get a grip, Olivia told herself. It’s the second day. Yesterday was good. Today will be slower. It will be fine.

She couldn’t protect them from everything, including business dipping. It felt silly to have to tell herself that in such deliberate terms, but after her fights with Andrew and Noah, she had to. She also needed therapy, though she had no idea where to even begin with that right now in a way that wouldn’t require her to flat out lie to a therapist. Something that would be completely useless according to Noah, who told her he knew from experience.

If things go bad today, then they go bad, she thought, trying to take deep, steady breaths. Mia was asleep on the trundle bed beside her and Olivia was going to have to wake her up up soon. She’d be with them for the first part of the day at least. Then either Olivia or one of the others would take her home when things, in theory, slowed down.

A few minutes later, Olivia was making coffee as Mia blinked sleepily in her booster seat. The clouds hung heavy outside the kitchen window. Hopefully it wouldn’t rain. She had been so busy she hadn’t checked the weather, but rain would definitely slow down business.

“Good morning.”

Andrew looked exhausted as he walked into the room. She poured him a cup of coffee without asking and he took it automatically. “Are you alright?” she asked.

He nodded. “Just didn’t sleep well.”

Olivia laughed and took a sip of her own coffee. “Same,” she said. “I dreamed that the front of the building fell off. Like, right into the street.”

Andrew laughed. “I dreamt it flooded,” he admitted. “But I didn’t sleep enough to make that a major part of the night. So I wrote down some marketing ideas.”

“I’d rather you slept.”

“So would I,” Andrew said, and she realized he was holding a small notebook. “But hang on, there were a couple good ones.”

He set his coffee down on the counter and adjusted his glasses as he opened the notebook and scanned a couple pages. “No,” he said, face dropping. “Never mind. They’re all terrible.”

“They can’t all be terrible,” Olivia said, motioning for the book.

He held it tight. “Oh yes, they can,” he said. “These don’t even make sense. Like this one. Shades. I don’t even remember writing that.”

“New shades for the windows,” she shrugged. “That’s not the worst idea.”

“Seasonal pie.”

“I’ll make pie.”

“I’m not sure this one is a word.”

She was about to pry the notebook out of his hands when the front door opened and she heard Noah walk in. “Morning!” she called.


He didn’t sound much better than either of them. “So what destruction visited the Limerick in your dreams last night?” Olivia asked, trying to keep her tone light.

Noah blinked at her. “What?”

“We both had nightmares about the shop falling apart.”

Noah laughed quietly as Olivia handed him a cup of coffee. “That’s my waking hours,” he said. “No, I dreamed about…”

He paused. “Nothing.”

She wasn’t going to pick a fight about him not telling her his dream. “How are you?” she asked instead.

He shrugged, sitting next to Mia and stroking her hair. “Fine.”

He didn’t look fine, but neither did she or Andrew so she let it go. “I’m going to head over to meet the order,” she said. “She’s doing an extra shipment this week, since we don’t know what demand will look like.”

“Want me to stay here with Mia and get her dressed?” Andrew asked.

She glanced at Mia, who was now happily and messily eating her oatmeal. “Do you mind?” she asked.

“I offered, didn’t I?”

Fair. “Thank you,” she said. “I’ll get things started there.”

“I’ll come too,” Noah said.

Andrew tugged on Noah’s arm, motioning him closer. Olivia tried not to feel left out as Noah leaned in and Andrew whispered something in his ear. But then Noah was looking at her with a smirk and she knew she was in deep shit.

“No wonder you’re so eager to meet the delivery.”

Her face went hot. “It’s our second day!”

“She is cute though,” he added.

“You met her?”

“Yesterday,” Noah said. “She dropped off the order while I was fixing that fucking sink. Oh yeah, she said to say hi.”

And now Olivia was blushing even more and his grin went even wider.


Despite teasing her at breakfast, Noah was silent on the ride to the Limerick. Olivia glanced over to see him staring out the window. “Are you alright?” she asked yet again.


Again, and maybe unnecessarily, that familiar fear squeezed down on her heart like a vice, just for a second. She tried to tell it to leave. He said he was fine, that meant he was fine. “Right,” she said, voice smaller than she would have liked.

She focused on the road, again deliberately trying to let things go. As they pulled into the small lot behind the Limerick building, Noah sighed. “I’m sorry,” he said. “That was shitty. I’m fine, I just didn’t sleep well. I sleepwalked and tripped over a laundry basket.”

He gave her a smile, and she tried to return it. Of course he was fine. “When did that happen?” she asked.

“About forty minutes before I came downstairs.”

Now she did laugh and he looked relieved when she turned to him. “I brought a first aid kit,” she said. “It’s in the back room.”

“I’m good, but thanks.”

That feeling she was pushing, clamping down and trying to keep everyone to impossibly safe standards rushed back in, and she tried to swallow down the shame. “Let’s go in,” she said, fishing out her key and opening the car door.

The order arrived about five minutes after they did, the scratchy doorbell ringing far too quietly through the back room. “Add that to the list,” Noah muttered as he went to open the door.

Isabel was standing there, shivering in a sleek black coat. “Good morning,” she said, her eyes moving from Noah to Olivia.

God, Olivia hadn’t stopped blushing since she woke up this morning. “Morning,” she said. “Want a coffee?”

“I have one, but thanks.”

She needed to get her feelings under control if that was going to feel like a rejection. Noah glanced at her and she realized she hadn’t answered. “Right, um, no problem.”

She moved aside so that Isabel could slide the order off of the truck and into the door. It was easy enough to fall back into old movements at this point as she picked up yesterday’s pallet where Noah had left it tipped against the wall. She handed it to Isabel and her fingers brushed Isabel’s gloved ones.

Noah took the clipboard to make sure everything was there and Isabel turned to Olivia. “So, how was the first day?” she asked.

“Busy,” Olivia said.

Isabel grinned and her breath caught. Shit, maybe she needed to stop teasing Noah about picking people up at work. Because she now had a history and, right now, she definitely wanted to kick him out and make Isabel late for her next delivery.

“All set,” Noah said, breaking through her thoughts.

Isabel scanned the clipboard and tucked it under her arm. “Great,” she said. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”


Olivia hurried over to the counter, where a stack of muffins she’d made at the end of the day yesterday were wrapped in plastic. She slid one out, got a to-go bag from the opened box still sitting beside them, and quickly packed it as she went back over to Isabel. “Blueberry.”

Isabel’s face lit up as she took the bag. “Thanks,” she said, her eyes locked on Liv’s.

They stayed that way for a brief moment. Then Isabel looked down at the clipboard under her arm. “I need to go,” she said. “Good luck today.”

She left a second later, the door closing heavily behind her. “Damn, Liv,” Noah started as she went over to the tray of muffins, which actually did need to go out into the display case.

She knew it wasn’t going to happen, not right now. But she couldn’t help the goofy smile on her face as she went up front.




Leave A Comment

3d book display image of The Vanishing House

Want a free book?

The Northern Worcester County branch of the Foundation for Paranormal Research is one of the organization’s top investigation and cleanup teams. So when a case comes in involving a century of mysterious disappearances, they figure they’ll be done before their lunch break is supposed to end. Investigators James and Amelia go to the site while their coworkers remain behind. But in seconds, Amelia vanishes in the cursed house and the others are forced to find her with no help from their bosses. Will they be able to get her back or will the house claim one final victim?

Get Your Copy Today>>