New Winslow S7E41

By the time they closed the Limerick up that evening, Cleo was exhausted. But she knew she was far from the only one. Noah had tried to tell her to leave, that he had everything under control. But he was so shaky and green when he started working that she thought having him up front or anywhere near the customers might actually lead to some problems. If someone thought he had the flu, that would be dangerous for business. And if she told him that, he was just going to start feeling guilty and apologizing all over again. So he had been in back stocking and prepping while she and Andrew took the customer service.

It was nice being here, despite everything. The conversation with Edie lingered in her mind all day, of course, but she was busy with Andrew and she’d seen that Noah was alright again. And as much as she tried not to listen earlier when Andrew was tearing into him out back, she hadn’t been able to avoid hearing some of it. But Noah seemed to have taken Andrew’s words to heart because he wasn’t trying to make everything his problem in an attempt to earn forgiveness. At least for the six hours Cleo was working with him.

Liv had only been scheduled for the morning while Mia was at daycare, so she wasn’t able to come in at all. That was another reason for Cleo to stay and maybe she jumped on it a little too quickly. But the day was over and now she just had to hope that New Winslow let her out.

Finally the shop was closed, everything was cleaned up, and she had a moment to call Edie. Edie hadn’t texted her all day, so Cleo was more than a little nervous as she ducked into the back hallway and called them.

“Hi, Edie,” she said.


Fuck, this wasn’t good. “We’re, um, we’re wrapping up,” she said.


“I’m going to head home from here.”

“Are you?”

“Yeah. I’ll be home in an hour and a half or so.”

“If you get out.”

“Yeah,” she repeated. “Yeah, if I get out.”

“I’m going to bed in thirty minutes.”

“I’ll be home after that.”

“I know.”

There was a silence that stretched on uncomfortably long as Cleo gazed at the wooden walls around her, wishing she hadn’t called yet and things still had a chance to be fine. “Will you leave the latch off?” she asked.

Edie sighed. “No,” they said softly, as Cleo’s heart dropped. “No, Cleo, I can’t do this anymore.”

This couldn’t be happening. Not over the phone, not right after they’d moved, not after everything was alright. “Are you- Edie, are you breaking up with me?”

Another painful pause. “Cleo, I just…” They cleared their throat, but their voice was thick when they continued. “I love you, but I can’t do this. You told me you would only go into New Winslow for your mother, but then you were there for your friends too. And I love your friends, I really do, but they don’t need you. Not like that. And I know they’ve told you so too. And then when your mom got out and we moved, you said you wouldn’t go back. You went back last month, and I didn’t say anything because I knew it was important. This wasn’t important, Cleo. At least, not that important.”

“It was…” she started, but there was nothing to say to that.

Was it important? Important enough to risk coming here and risk getting trapped? After all the others had told her multiple times that she didn’t need to, that they would remain friends from afar, that she didn’t need to come here, even when things were bad. But when it came down to it, it was her decision.

And this was her home. Even if she hated it.

“It was,” she said, her voice shaking. “Edie, I’m sorry, but it was important. For me.”

“More important than me. Than us.”

“Where was this a year ago?” Cleo demanded suddenly. She had let it go last time this had happened, that night she’d been at Noah’s house and Edie had gotten upset. But now she couldn’t help herself. “I told you about the curse. I told you over and over and you kept asking me to bring you here. And when I had an emergency – an emergency that had nothing to do with you, by the way – you came because you loved me. That went against everything I had asked of you. And you said it was fine, and I kept believing it because you believed it. And then, what, once you got stuck you realized it was real? It was real before that. Andrew’s been here a year. Roman was here twenty fucking years, Edie. It didn’t just start being real because it hit you.”

She was nearly shouting by the end of this outburst she hadn’t expected, tears streaming down her face, probably smearing her definitely not waterproof mascara.

She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Me too,” Edie answered, also clearly crying.

She had a quick glimmer of hope that was immediately dashed as Edie said, “I’m going to go. We’ll…we’ll figure out the apartment.”

“You really mean it.”

“I do,” Edie said. “I’m sorry, but I’m never going to win. Not against your friends and not against New Winslow. And I won’t keep fighting. Good night, Cleo.”

She swallowed hard. “Can we talk later?”

“Not about this, I made my decision. Goodnight.”

They hung up and Cleo was left alone in the back of the Limerick, sitting down hard on the bottom step of the staircase upstairs. Andrew was somewhere in the building, probably Noah as well. She had no idea where, exactly. And she didn’t want them to walk in and see her like this. But she couldn’t make herself get up as she stared at the floor and let the tears fall.

“Cleo, what’s wrong?”

Andrew found her immediately, of course he did. He stepped into the hallway, holding a trash bag that he set down as he sat beside her on the stairs. “Edie broke up with me,” Cleo said dully.

And then she was crying again, Andrew pulling her against him as she sobbed into his shoulder. He didn’t ask anything, just let her cry as he ran a hand through her long tangled hair, softly shushing her like a child. She didn’t know how long they were there for until she finally felt her breathing even out and was able to talk again.

“I don’t know what to do,” she whispered.

“I know you don’t want to live here,” Andrew said, “But I have space. You’re always welcome with me.”

That set her off on a fresh wave of crying. She heard footsteps coming through the back hallway. “Andrew, Cleo, are you back here?” Liv called. “I stopped by to get the order for tomorrow and…Cleo.”

She didn’t have it in her to repeat what had happened, but Andrew quietly told Liv over Cleo’s head. And then Liv was squeezing onto the step on Cleo’s other side.

“You all told me,” Cleo said.

“Listen,” Liv said. “Noah isn’t here, so you can answer honestly. If you could change what you did today and not come, would you?”

Cleo tried to think honestly about it. Andrew would have been alone here, but no one would have died. But at the same time, one of her best friends was going through a terrible time and needed support. The ones who were here to support him would, but they would also be spread too thin and need support of their own.

Plus, in the end, it was her decision whether or not she came here. Not Edie’s, not any of them. Just her. And she had to live with that.

“No,” she said, shaking her head against Andrew’s shoulder. “No, I would have still come. And they still would have broken up with me.”

“Are you going home tonight?” Liv asked gently.

“They said they won’t keep the latch off.”


“No, it’s fair,” Cleo said. “We have a deadbolt, but I don’t blame them for feeling safer with the door latched too. And they have a point. Even if I wouldn’t have changed what I did, they have a point.”

“So you’ll stay over at my house tonight,” Liv said.

Cleo glanced at Andrew, who shrugged. “Honestly, I was considering staying at Liv’s tonight too,” he said.

“Where is Noah, anyway?” Cleo asked.

“I swapped with him,” Liv said. “He’s watching Mia for a few minutes while I’m here. I’m heading back now.”

She stood up, knees cracking, and pulled Cleo to her feet. “Come on,” she said.

It wasn’t like Cleo had a lot of options. She could afford a hotel for a night, but not one much closer to home. “They said we’ll figure out the apartment tomorrow,” Cleo said as they made their way through the darkened shop and into the evening air. “I just moved back, we moved there to be closer to my mother and I’m trying to find a job to help pay for her care. And no one is getting back to me.”

“We’ll figure it all out,” Olivia said.

She sounded so sure that Cleo almost believed her.




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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?

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