New Winslow S7E37
It was about nine o’clock when Olivia went into the kitchen to put some water on for tea. She had to be at the Limerick around five the next morning, so she was going to drink some chamomile, then curl up in bed and read for a little while.
Mia was sound asleep and had been since her mother left. Andrew was still over, napping on the couch after his own long shift. She knew he had the flat above the shop completely set up by now, but he’d come straight back here after his shift ended, as though by habit. They’d finished up the catering order and come back, then he’d showered and gone straight for the couch. She hadn’t even questioned it herself until about a few minutes ago when she was getting ready for bed.
It was fine, he had a key. He could lock up when he left.
She put the water on to boil, then went over to the cabinet where some of his good teas were still stocked. But before she had pulled it open, Olivia noticed that the cabinet door beside it was swinging open. Not that she was particularly fastidious about her cabinets, but that one usually stayed closed. And she’d made a point of closing it tightly two nights ago because there was an unopened bottle of wine on the bottom shelf and she and Noah had been eating dinner together. She hadn’t touched it since.
And now her stomach dropped as she looked inside and saw the bottle was gone.
The excuses and possibilities were already building their way up in her head as she turned the burner off. Maybe she’d forgotten and put it in the fridge. Or Andrew had a glass when she was in the shower earlier. Or maybe she’d just planned to buy it and never actually did.
She looked in the fridge, and of course it wasn’t there. She hadn’t drank any, let alone all of it. Andrew hadn’t either. And she’d definitely bought it, she’d been thinking about having a glass with some cookies tonight when they got home, before she realized tea sounded much more appealing.
She debated waking Andrew up, then decided against it as she walked past him and slipped out into the hall. Noah’s truck was still in the driveway when she peeked through the small window on their front door, which made her feel both better and worse about what she knew was about to happen.
She walked up the stairs, heart pounding, and opened the upstairs door with a shaking hand. Noah’s kitchen light was on and Gray Lady immediately tried to sneak past her to run downstairs. Olivia caught the cat with an open palm, gently nudging her back into the apartment.
“Noah?” she called softly, closing the door behind her.
She moved through the dark living room, noticing that his bedroom door was closed. Maybe he was asleep and there was a reasonable explanation for why her wine was missing. But then she heard a raspy cough and the splash of someone vomiting.
The bathroom door was half open and she could see Noah was leaning over the toilet. She couldn’t tell if he’d heard her come in and didn’t want to scare him. “Noah?” she called gently as she walked toward him.
He looked at her, face red and sweaty and miserable. The wine bottle was in the hallway and she accidentally rolled it with her foot as she walked toward him.
“Go away,” Noah said, then turned and vomited again.
She wasn’t going to do that, and he knew it. But she stepped back out to the kitchen, both to get him a glass of water and to compose herself for a moment as panic settled in. It wasn’t that she expected this, but if it was going to happen, why hadn’t it happened after Celine had helped him get his memory back? She’d braced herself for it that night, not almost a month later.
She got a glass out of the cabinet and filled it with water, taking a deep breath. This wasn’t the end of the world. It was a relapse. Relapses were part of recovery. And now he had coping techniques he hadn’t had before, so he could get back on track tomorrow. And she had to tell herself that because there was no way she was going back to how things had been before.
As she went back toward the bathroom, the only sound was Noah’s ragged breathing. He was slumped on the bathroom floor as she rounded the corner, his head against the wall and his eyes closed. As she moved toward him, he looked at her.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he whispered, his eyes glassy.
She wanted to make a joke, but that wouldn’t make him feel better. So instead, she sat down next to him, awkwardly balancing half her ass on the doorway threshold. He was shaking, but so was she as she took his clammy hand.
“It’s alright,” she said softly.
“No, it’s not.”
“Was it just the wine?”
Noah shook his head. “A nip,” he said. “I thought I could just…”
A nip of what she assumed was whiskey and a full bottle of wine over the course of maybe three hours. Based on his schedule, he hadn’t beaten them back by much more than that. And after nine months, his tolerance had to be wrecked, which meant the night was going to get even worse.
Olivia squeezed his hand. “We’ll fix it,” she said.
She handed him the water, and he took a few sips before setting it down beside him. “You should go,” he said.
“I don’t want you here.”
He actually laughed slightly at that. They sat quietly for a moment, then the silence was broken as Noah bolted toward the toilet to throw up again.
Olivia was just about to say he should go to bed when she heard the front door open and footsteps come across the kitchen floor. “Are you guys up here?” Andrew called.
Noah was crying as he sat back up and Olivia wished wildly for a way to keep Andrew from coming in. But before she could even try to stop him, he had come around the corner, stopping as soon as he saw them. She caught his eye as he took in the scene and she could see him silently begging her to tell him that it wasn’t what it looked like. She gave him a sad smile as Noah slid down against her, his head against her upper arm.
“I’m so sorry,” he choked out.
“We’ll figure it out,” Olivia said again, pressing a hand to his overheated forehead.
Andrew came slowly toward them as Noah cried. The shattered sound and the scent of alcohol on his breath broke her heart. “I fucked up,” Noah said through tears, looking up at Andrew, who was standing cautiously in the doorway. “I love you and I keep doing this.”
Andrew took a breath, then crouched down and took Noah’s other hand. “Relapses happen,” he said evenly, even as she saw the devastation on his face.
There were so many things going through Olivia’s mind right now that it was almost a relief that she couldn’t focus on any of them. They couldn’t leave him alone up here. Their café was opening in about ten hours and at least one of them, preferably all of them, should be there. But there was no way Noah was going to be in any shape to work by then and she knew that if they left him alone, there was a good chance he’d hurt himself.
But if they said fuck it and didn’t open tomorrow, that was a full day of money they actually needed gone. They were still in the early stages and those were the kinds of things that ruined businesses.
What was she doing thinking about that right now? But of course she was thinking about that, she had to. There was no right answer, so no matter what they did, they’d be wrong. Right?
At some point during her internal panic, Andrew had gotten up and moved further into the bathroom, wetting a facecloth. He came back and tilted Noah’s face toward him, wiping softly at the sweat and tears streaked across it.
“Finish your water,” he said. “You should go to sleep, then we’ll talk tomorrow.”
Olivia expected Noah to argue or try to kick them out again, but she could see he was fighting to stay conscious as Andrew cleaned his face. Andrew’s face was grim, but his movements were gentle as he finished, then pulled Noah to his feet.
“I’m sorry,” Noah murmured again.
“It’s alright,” she heard Andrew say as he steered Noah into the hallway.
Olivia followed them, but Andrew seemed to have it under control as he brought Noah into his bedroom. Noah clumsily pulled off the sweat-soaked t-shirt he was wearing, but didn’t bother with his work pants as he sat unsteadily on the side of his bed. “You should go,” he said.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Andrew said, holding him up by his arms.
Olivia saw him run a gentle thumb over the tattoo on Noah’s arm as he helped maneuver Noah down. She motioned toward the bathroom and Andrew nodded as Noah stared at the floor.
Olivia slipped out of the room, stepping on a little plastic bottle as she did so. She scooped up that and the empty wine bottle in the hallway, getting rid of them before giving the bathroom a quick wipe. It still smelled like wine and vomit, but at least it looked better when she was done.
Andrew came out of Noah’s bedroom as Olivia was washing her hands. She was caught off guard as he came straight over and wrapped his arms around her. He didn’t say anything, but he was shaking as he held her just a little too tightly.
Finally, he let go. “I’m going to stay tonight,” he said. “I’ll open tomorrow, but I don’t…”
He didn’t need to finish. “Are you sure?” she asked. “I’m scheduled, you’re not on until eight. I can stay if you want to go downstairs.”
She wouldn’t dare suggest he leave the house. And Noah was supposed to be at the Limerick tomorrow too, but neither of them mentioned it. Andrew looked back toward the bedroom doorway, then at her. “I think it would be better if you’re here in the morning,” he said. “He might talk to you.”
She doubted that. “Is he awake?”
Andrew shook his head. “He was barely with it by the time we got him in there. I just stayed and talked to him for a few minutes.”
He looked helplessly around the apartment. “Liv, I don’t know what to do.”
“We wait until tomorrow,” she said. “I’ll talk to him. I don’t know, I expected this last month, not right now.”
He nodded, then looked back toward the bedroom again. “I think I’m going to stay in there with him,” he said. “Just for a little while. I can wash up before work easily enough and unless he vomits up the rest of that bottle later, I’ll be gone before he wakes up.”
“Hey, he said that to me too,” Liv said. “It’s not just you, it was going to be anyone who was in here.”
Andrew nodded a little too quickly, then picked up the water glass from the floor and refilled it. “Go get some sleep,” he said. “Your girl is going to be up far too early, we both know it.”
Olivia laughed reluctantly, but headed downstairs with one last look at the bedroom doorway.