New Winslow S6E68
Noah hated city driving. He hated driving in Worcester, but oh, he hated driving in Boston even more. He didn’t even really like being in Boston. It was too crowded, too stuffed full of buildings and people and noise and things. He could see why Andrew loved it so much, but it just exhausted him. And after yesterday’s events and the intensified nightmares he’d had all night, he probably should have been avoiding exhausting tasks.
But he and Cleo were doing Andrew a favor today, so here he was, trying to navigate his old truck down an impossibly crowded road in the center of Boston. People kept stepping out in front of him, other cars tried to squeeze in, and he thought the anxiety might actually make his heart explode.
“So the storage center should be here somewhere,” Cleo said from the passenger seat, looking down at her phone. “They’ve got a couple locations in Boston and he had the movers take everything to whichever one was available. But of course when I asked, he couldn’t give me an address.”
She rolled her eyes, and Noah laughed. “Yeah, that sounds right,” he said, stopping short at a green light as a car rolled through the intersection, nearly clipping his fender.
The first place they went to turned out to be a bust. So moments after getting out, they were back in the truck and heading toward the second location, which was in Allston. Noah had never been to Allston, and it still sucked to drive in, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Beacon Hill had been.
They pulled into the storage center’s parking lot and he shut off the car. “You guys did that every day?” he asked, slightly breathless as the adrenaline continued to race through him.
“Oh God, I barely drove around here until I started doing delivery,” Cleo said with a laugh. “It’s a whole lot easier if you’re walking or taking transit.”
“I didn’t even think of that,” Noah admitted.
“Want me to drive from here?” Cleo asked, concern apparent on her face even as she tried to keep it casual. “You drove here, I have no problem driving back.”
Noah shook his head, though he was dying to accept her offer. But he’d already accepted too many offers for help. They all had better things to do than work around him, plus he was the one who had offered to come out in the first place.
They got out of the truck and started walking toward the storage center. It was a large, blocky building with maple trees all around it. The trees were starting to bud, the tiny splashes of red and green bright against the gray of the front wall. As they made their way to the entrance, a couple of bookish looking college students were walking down the sidewalk toward them. One very blatantly checked out Cleo as they passed.
“You’ve got an admirer,” Noah muttered as soon as they were out of earshot.
“What can I say? I’m a celebrity out here,” Cleo said with a laugh.
“I’ll get your autograph when we get out of town.”
There was a small lobby right inside the entrance and a young woman sat behind the desk. “Hi, folks,” she said with a cheery smile.
Noah smiled easily at her, somewhat back in his element. “Hey, we’re just here to get some things out of my friend’s unit,” he said.
“You got his key?”
Cleo fished into her pocket, then pulled out a metal key ring. “Right here.”
“Great,” the woman said, motioning for the key.
Cleo handed it to her and she scanned the barcode on the keychain. “Alright, all set. It’s just out this door, two rows down.”
They thanked her and walked toward a side door Noah hadn’t seen when they first came in. It opened into a cement pathway surrounded by mulched flowerbeds and a high fence, leading to a yard of storage units.
“Two rows down…” Cleo said as they walked. “Aaaand…”
She started down the row and Noah followed her, counting units as they went. At the fifth one, they stopped.
“Here it is,” Cleo said. “We’re just bringing everything back, right?”
Noah nodded as she put the key in the lock, then rolled the metal door up and out of the way to reveal the contents of the unit. There wasn’t as much as he expected in here. It’d be a crowded drive home, but they could clear it all out in one trip. The thought of driving back to Boston for another round had haunted him since he’d picked up Cleo this morning, but he’d tried his best to keep from borrowing worries until he knew for sure.
He’d failed, of course. But now he didn’t need to stress.
Andrew’s belongings were neatly boxed and stacked, with gaps where Cleo had taken things to him previously. A small sofa sat against the wall. The sofa was the reason that Noah had offered to use his truck. Originally, Cleo had planned to get everything herself. But the sofa obviously wouldn’t fit in her car, so Noah had found himself volunteering before he realized what he was doing.
Cleo took out a list of things Andrew was pretty sure were in there and scanned it. “Oh God, not that lamp,” she muttered. “I’m going to toss it out of the truck halfway home and tell him it was stolen.”
Noah laughed. “That bad?”
She grimaced. “That bad.”
He was tempted to peek into some of the boxes. This was Andrew’s life over the past decade, all neatly stored away until he could return to it. Even if they were taking it all out now, at some point he would go back. And when he left, he wasn’t coming back again. For all his promises and remaining connection through the Limerick, Noah knew it wouldn’t be the same after the curse lifted. But it was what Andrew wanted, and he didn’t deserve to be trapped in a town he hated for the rest of his life.
“I can’t believe he’s moving in,” Cleo said as she stepped inside and made her way toward the first stack of boxes. “Buying the building with you guys made some kind of sense, but I never expected him to move in.”
“Yeah…” Noah was half-listening as he noticed a guitar case in the corner. Had Andrew learned how to play at some point in that decade apart?
“Everything okay?” Cleo asked.
Noah shook himself. “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry, just thinking.”
Cleo nodded, but still looked a little uncertain. He smiled, trying to seem secure, sober, and like absolutely nothing to worry about. “It’s fine,” he repeated. “Just trying to figure out the best way to strap the sofa into the bed of my truck.”
“Okay,” she said, but it sounded less convincing than she clearly wanted it to.
She looked at the guitar and laughed. “Shit, I had a feeling I left that at this house.”
Noah turned back toward the stored boxes and tried to ignore the sinking in his stomach as he got to work.