New Winslow S7E56

Andrew was still reluctant to give Noah his blessing to try again, but he eventually agreed after a morning of convincing. After work, they went straight over to Iris’s shop. Iris – who had taken significantly less coaxing than Andrew – was thankfully taking a different tack from last time. But the soft glow of the neon and the scent of essential oils in the air were too familiar for Andrew to be completely comfortable with this plan.

Noah continued to insist it would be fine, he’d even given Andrew his truck keys to hold. Which didn’t fix all of Andrew’s concerns, but it did help. So he tried to put everything that had happened before out of his mind and be supportive now.

Who knew, maybe Noah was right and this was what would reach Billy.

Instead of having Noah sit in the metal chair again, Iris had him lie on the floor on a yoga mat with the lights dimmed. Andrew could see he was nervous as he laid down and followed her instructions, but it had worked when he was tense last time. So maybe it would be fine. Especially since Noah wanted this to work so badly.

This time, Andrew stayed close by as they began. Noah closed his eyes and Iris led him through some guided imagery techniques as he lay still on the ground, his chest slowly rising and falling. Andrew could see the tension leave his face as they worked and figured at any rate, this got Noah to relax some. But just as Iris was describing a curving staircase she wanted him to visualize, Noah gasped and opened his eyes.

“Are you alright?” Andrew demanded, his own heart leaping into his throat.

Noah nodded, looking up at him. “Sorry,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe a muscle spasm or something. Let’s keep trying.”

He looked at Iris, who nodded and motioned for him to close his eyes again. He did so and for a few minutes, everything seemed to be working fine. Then he gasped again, grasping for the yoga mat beside him as he sat straight up.

“What’s happening?” Andrew asked, hurrying to kneel beside him on the floor.

“It’s fine, it’s nothing,” Noah said. “I don’t know, it’s like…you know that feeling when you’re almost asleep and then you get that sensation like you’re falling? It’s like that.”

That didn’t sound particularly promising, and glancing at Iris, she seemed to agree. But Noah laid back down. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m fine, I promise. Let’s try again.”

This time, he made it two steps down the imaginary staircase before the same thing happened. Noah snapped awake, gripping the yoga mat tightly in both hands.

“Break time,” Andrew said.

He helped Noah up, sitting down beside him on the mat. Iris was the one in the metal chair this time and Andrew briefly envisioned chucking the damn thing out the window.

The chair, not Iris. But she also looked concerned as she looked at them.

“This isn’t working,” she said. “Is there something going on?”

“No,” Noah said, shaking his head firmly. “I’m fine, I want to do this. We need to do it if Billy isn’t coming through any other way.”

“Okay,” Iris said. “But do you have a headache or a stomachache? Anything that might be making it difficult to relax?”


She nodded thoughtfully, looking around the space. Andrew would have rather just given up and gone home, but that feeling of screaming anxiety he remembered from last time wasn’t as loud right now. So if Noah wanted to keep going, he wasn’t going to fight it. At least for now.

“Alright, if that’s not working, we can try another approach,” Iris said. “Have you guys ever seen a stage hypnotist?”

“Not in person or anything,” Noah said.

Andrew nodded. “Yeah, I went to a show in uni, the guy came in and made people do silly tricks. Quacking like a duck, or thinking they won a dance competition, those kinds of things.”

“Exactly,” Iris said. “Their approach is a little different, but I did some training on it with some other practitioners a while back. Maybe if I try a quick induction, we can get around whatever’s causing you to snap back up. Here, stand up.”

Noah got to his feet slowly. “I’ll try something that will hopefully just bypass that,” Iris said. “Here.”

She held out a hand, as if to shake. Noah looked at her. “Take my hand,” she prompted.

“I shouldn’t stand,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to catch me if I fall. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“No, you have to be off balance,” she said. “Andrew’s here. Don’t worry, it’s safe.”

Noah glanced at Andrew, who nodded. “I’ve got you,” he said.

Noah looked at Iris’s outstretched hand again, then clasped it on his own. Iris gripped his hand and tugged him forward with her other hand reaching up to the back of his head. Noah went with it for just a second, before jolting back. “No!”

He was wide-eyed for long enough that Andrew could see it as he moved from fear to frustration. Iris let her hand drop from his head, though still held his hand in her other one.

“It’s all right,” she said, her voice shockingly gentle.

And then it clicked for Andrew with that mix of heartbreak, compassion, and frustration he frequently felt when it came to Noah. Of course it wasn’t working, Noah was terrified. And he could try swallowing it down all he wanted, but none of this was going to work when he was scared to let go.

“I’m sorry,” Noah said, shaking his head as he pulled his hand out of hers. “Give me a moment, I’m fine. I just need to…be fine.”

He shook out his arms then smiled at Andrew, all bravado that Andrew could see through immediately. But it faltered when he realized Andrew knew what was happening.

“Let’s give it one more try,” Iris said, her voice confident in a way Andrew knew was an act. “Come here, let’s try this.”

She stood in front of Noah again, taking his hand and putting it on her shoulder. She whispered something to him, just softly enough that Andrew couldn’t hear. But Noah nodded, and she held out her hand again with a gentle smile.

This time, he took it and Iris lifted her other hand to his eye level, fluttering her fingers in a dizzying pattern. Noah looked up from their joined hand and focused on the movement, which kept going for a moment until Iris tugged hard on his hand. “Sleep!” she said firmly as he staggered forward.

Noah fell against her chest and Iris stumbled back under him, whispering in his ear as Andrew hurried in. Hope filled him, but it only lasted for a few seconds until Noah gasped and his eyes flew open again. He stood up straight, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Sorry,” he muttered.

“Let’s call it for tonight,” Iris said. “Maybe we can try something else tomorrow.”

Noah nodded, clearly embarrassed. “I need to go back to the Limerick,” he said to Andrew. “I left my wallet there.”

“I’ll walk with you.”

Nobody was going to attack them in the fifteen minutes it would take to get from one shop to the other. And Andrew wasn’t being overprotective following Noah. He did live at there, even if it still didn’t quite feel like home.

But that was the point, right?

They said goodnight to Iris, then stepped out of the store. “I’m sorry,” Noah said as they started walking toward the Limerick.

“It’s fine,” Andrew said, resisting the urge to take his hand. “It’s no big deal, we’ll just keep trying other methods, like she said.”

Noah said nothing as they crossed the street. The shops were all dark by now, and he knew that Noah was as alert as he was for anything out of the ordinary. “I don’t blame you for being afraid,” Andrew said after a little while of silence.

Under the streetlight, he could see Noah clearly about to deny being afraid. But Andrew just looked at him and he sighed. “I should be able to do it,” he said. “I mean, I want to. It worked last time.”

“And last time was really fucking scary,” Andrew said as the Limerick came into view. “So…”

He shrugged, and they were quiet for a little while longer. When they reached the front door of the Limerick, Andrew unlocked it, then quickly reset the security system as Noah closed and locked the door behind them.

“Where’d you leave your wallet?” Andrew asked.

“Out back, on the desk.”

The café was silent and dim, the emergency lights providing just enough lighting to find their way without turning anything else on. There was still a muffin sitting in the pastry case and Andrew realized he had completely forgotten to wipe that down before he left this afternoon. He made a note to do that in the morning, as well as pull out the frozen pastries Liv made earlier in the week so they could thaw before opening. Or maybe he should do it tonight. He wasn’t too tired, he could also get a head start on that autumn marketing plan he had in mind. Liv was talking about pumpkin scones, which sounded pretty grim, but people here would probably like them.

“There it is.”

Noah picked up his wallet where it was sitting on top of Andrew’s laptop and slid it in his back pocket. He looked awkwardly at Andrew. “I guess I’ll head home,” he said. “You gonna be good here?”

“Yeah,” Andrew said, as though all he wanted in life was to be in this empty building with all the ghosts he didn’t want to talk to, and none of the ones he did. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be totally fine.”

He looked at Noah for a moment. He looked so lost in the dark, just for a second. “You, er, want to stay?” Andrew asked, screwing up all his courage.

Noah looked at him in surprise, just enough that Andrew immediately thought he’d misread their entire relationship. “Yeah,” he said after a beat. “If you want me to, yeah.”

“Of course I do.”

He took Noah’s hand. “Listen,” he said. “There are other ways. We’ll find them.”

“I’ll work it out.”

Did Andrew want to have a fight or did he want to fuck Noah, then hold on to him all night? Simple question to answer, so instead of responding, he just led the way upstairs.




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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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