New Winslow S7E17
Noah had been out in the parking lot for a while now. The Limerick was quiet today, probably because they’d been closed for three days in a row and people didn’t know if they were open or not. Olivia tried not to stress herself out with that, though. They’d only been open for a little while and every small business had hiccups when they first started out. Even if their hiccup was more related to a variety of clueless magic users than a damaged water pipe, she could still convince herself that it fit under the same umbrella. But they’d had a few customers today and nearly all of them had come in during the time between Noah saying he was taking out the trash and her realization that he hadn’t returned.
It had been less than twenty-four hours, but it was his idea to go back to work. She’d readily agreed, maybe a little too eagerly, since they did need the money. And that anxious part of her that was still coming down from the fear of the past few days wanted to keep him close. To the point that she’d nearly gone up to his apartment last night to just make sure that he was still there, that he was still breathing. And when he’d come downstairs that morning, she’d held him for a little longer than normal.
But now she was thinking maybe she should have pushed for him to stay home one more day before coming back.
Olivia put the service bell on the counter and went out back, past the messy kitchen and toward the back door. Andrew was still at work at Iris’s shop, but his apartment door was unlocked. Maybe Noah had gone up there for some reason?
No, there he was, standing by the dumpster outside in the small lot behind their building. She walked out, careful to prop the back door open as she went. “Hey!”
He looked at her and for a terrible second, she thought he was drunk. The thought had been on her mind, even before Celine’s attempts had succeeded, that this was all a very likely trigger for a relapse. But then Noah shook his head and smiled back at her. “Sorry,” he said. “I brought the trash out and got distracted.”
“It’s fine, it was slow.” Olivia said. “Are you hungry? Want some lunch?”
He was about to say no, but she was already on her way in to make them both some sandwiches. Unlike back at Keegan’s, the ingredients here were actually fairly fresh. She threw together a couple sandwiches, then brought them into the back hallway, where she’d set up a small work table with an easy view of the counter. Noah was washing his hands nearby, but to her relief, he came over to the table after without an argument.
They ate in a silence that she was continuously tempted to break. But he looked like he preferred it that way for now and she wanted to give him a little time. Not forever, she was going to have to push the issue if it came to it. But right now she was also just happy to have him back. She hadn’t realized how sure she was that he was gone forever until he’d come back, both mentally and physically.
And now they were jumping right back into their new routine. Mia was starting daycare soon, a gift from her mother for both of their birthdays (as though she hadn’t spoiled Mia rotten and wasn’t going to do the same on Liv’s upcoming thirty-fifth) and that was going to give her a lot of time to really focus on the business. So once Noah was feeling up for it, they could really get moving again.
Celine woke up to a quiet room. Laying there with her eyes closed in the pile of pillows, she could hear the soft scratching of a pen on legal pad over by the window. But she knew immediately that the kids weren’t there.
“Kids are in the yard,” Roman said before she even mentioned she was awake. “Jamie offered to take them outside.”
Celine stretched and yawned under the soft sheets, sitting up to see Roman looking at her over his little reading glasses. They were a new addition, something he’d finally caved on after he started picking up most of the office work for the House of Pizza. “How are you?” he asked.
He handed her a water bottle and waited patiently while she drained it. “It went well,” she said. “But wow, it was intricate. I sewed up the tear she made when she wiped his energy. Rome, she tore right through it. This woman is far too confident for her own good.”
“You could kill her,” Roman suggested.
Celine laughed, leaning back against the wooden headboard. “There’s an option.”
“How much of your own energy did it take?” Roman asked.
“Surprisingly not as much as I would have thought,” she said. “His energy was torn, it was a matter of stitching the edges back together, not replacing anything. Contrary to what she said, she’s not actually capable of breaking the laws of physics to that extent. But it was a lot, obviously. I’m not even sure what day it is. But they kept me stocked with sugar while I was working.”
He laughed, his eyes soft. “You’re like a hummingbird,” he teased.
“And this hummingbird is hungry again.”
“Just be careful,” Roman said. “I know-” He held up his hands before she could call him out on his hypocrisy, “And I know this isn’t Georgia Thornton again, but we’re older now and I don’t want you getting hurt.”
Georgia Thornton had been a supposed friend back in Celine’s early thirties, one she did her best not to think about often. The friendship had ended very badly, with Georgia casting a spirit into Celine’s body, then pulling it right back out to prove a point. What that point was supposed to be, Celine wasn’t exactly sure because she never spoke to the woman again. But if she were to be possessed by a spirit again, or be taken advantage of when her guard was down, it could be disastrous. That amulet she’d given to Olivia had been made by a friend of hers when she was pregnant with Aidan, meant to provide further protection in case the pregnancy made her even slightly more susceptible to possession. Celine knew it was serious, and she knew that Roman knew she took it seriously.
“I promise,” she said. “I know how important the curse is, but I won’t risk my life for it, alright? Not when I have the kids, especially. What time is it?”
“Wake me up when you guys want to get dinner.”
She rolled over and went back to sleep, the spring breeze drifting through the window.