New Winslow S8E13

Noah woke up slowly. The sunlight was coming in the window, streaking through the purple curtains as he sat up and looked around the otherwise empty bedroom. His head pounded and, for a second, it was a hangover. He must have drank or taken something. Because he’d absolutely lost his mind in Olivia’s living room yet again.

But then reality began to filter in. He hadn’t caved and gone to get drunk, though he did ask Liv to buy him liquor. So that was pretty bad. But he hadn’t drank and he hadn’t hurt any of the others this time. So while he didn’t feel good about what happened, this wasn’t the worst scenario.

He was alone in Mia’s nursery, on the daybed that was far too short for him. From the open door, he could see Andrew was asleep on the couch beneath the living room window, one arm tossed comfortably over his head as he rested against a bright green throw pillow. His glasses sat on the coffee table beside him. Those hadn’t been there last night. How long was everyone else awake and planning while Noah had been passed out in here, dreaming of storms?

He sat up, mouth tasting like ashes as a steady throb moved through the entire left side of his head. Noah wasn’t sure how he was going to face any of them when they got up. But if he went up to his own apartment now, he could at least put it off for a while. That screaming urge to get blackout drunk had quieted down to a dull roar and he could handle that on his own.

He stood up as silently as possible and walked out of the nursery, eyes on Andrew the entire time. If he woke up, he’d try to make Noah stay here with him. And as much as Noah loved Andrew, he couldn’t. It wasn’t a good idea. If something in his brain was Andrew’s way out of danger, then they needed to access it now. And as long as he was with Andrew, he couldn’t do that.

The front door creaked slightly as Noah opened it and he caught his breath, looking back toward the living room. Liv’s bedroom door was still closed. Andrew hadn’t moved, breathing softly on the sofa. He was going to be so angry when he woke up, but it beat him trying to protect Noah.

Or Noah having to face his humiliation after that display last night. 

He closed the door behind him, finally letting out a breath, then made his way up the stairs, avoiding the squeakier ones as best he could. He got to the front door, opened it, and slid inside without anyone downstairs following after him. For a second, Noah considered sliding the bolt, but decided that would cause trouble. But he was up in his own home. Now he could call Iris and get to work.

That was when he turned around and saw Cleo sitting at his kitchen table.

“Good morning,” she said with a smile. “I like your coffee maker.”

“Fuck!” Noah exclaimed, hand flying to his chest. “What are you doing up here?”

“Liv kicks in her sleep. And you’ve got a long sofa up here. I’m too tall for the shorter one downstairs and wasn’t going to ask Andrew to swap.”

He waited for her to apologize, but she just looked at him. “I made coffee.”

Short of kicking Cleo out, there went his plans. And while Noah was tempted to kick her out, a part of him he was trying to ignore was very grateful for her presence. So instead, he went over to the coffee maker and poured a mug.

“Thanks,” he said quietly.

“Come sit down.”

He reluctantly took the other mismatched kitchen chair at the tiny table. “You okay?” Cleo asked, setting down her own coffee and looking at him.


Maybe if he said he was going back to bed, she’d go downstairs and leave him alone. “We’re going to make an actual plan,” Cleo said. “I know you want to help Andrew, we all do. And we all get how much things have changed this week. But we have to do this together. If you hurt yourself, that’s not going to make things any better. So can you just give it a little more time?”

Noah nodded as though he wasn’t going to call Iris the minute he was alone in here.

“And I’m so sorry about the Limerick. I don’t think I said that yet.”

He shrugged, but something broke a little more at the look on her face. “It was Liv’s dream,” he said.

“I know,” Cleo replied. “It’s… I’m really sorry. I hope it can be salvaged.”

“The building can’t,” Noah said, taking a sip of coffee. “The county fire already told us that. The whole thing needs to be demolished. But we need to rebuild somehow.”

As tragic as it was, this kind of conversation was stable ground for Noah. One step, then another, then another. Andrew owned the building, so the insurance was under his name while all the business information was under all of theirs. The business plan that they’d drawn up (well, mostly the other two. Noah had tried his best to contribute, but they had the brains here.) hadn’t talked about what to do if a town councilor burned down the location. But they could figure that out together. 

Once the danger had passed, though. Because there were more important concerns for now.

He knew that the story going around town involved pinning the blame on him. Like he’d snapped at Liv, (he cringed at the memory) he wasn’t stupid. Noah knew the drunk handyman was convenient. And he couldn’t blame anyone who believed it. His alcohol problem hadn’t exactly been private over the past several years and he knew he fucked up his reputation. And he’d have to live with that too. But maybe he could just focus on the next steps from here.

Like getting over to Iris’s shop without anyone stopping him.


When Andrew woke up and saw the empty daybed in Mia’s room, he panicked just long enough to almost miss the notification on his phone.


We’re upstairs

He wanted to run up there and join them, but all evidence lately had shown that if Noah was going to talk to anyone about whatever the fuck had happened last night, it was going to be Cleo. And while that stung, Andrew would prefer that to Noah refusing to speak to anyone. 

Which was still a very likely possibility, but less definite than it would have been if Cleo wasn’t around. He knew she wouldn’t be here much longer, but hopefully she could get through to him while she was in town.

She had another job interview today. The privileged part of Andrew that had always gotten hired with ease was stunned that someone as brilliant as Cleo was struggling to find work. But the much more aware part of him knew that his experience was not the norm. Someone would have to hire her eventually, but if she wanted to stay in Boston, she’d have to find something soon. And way off in the future, in that foggy future that was starting to feel more real now, he would have to as well.

Speaking of work, he actually had a shift today at Forest Charms. And, as ridiculous as it felt to do something so mundane in the exact place where he had to focus on the horrific and the miraculous, he did sign up for it.

As long as Iris let him sit all day behind the register, Andrew would be fine to work his shift. So it was time to very gingerly get himself up off this couch and go get ready.

When he got to Forest Charms, the front windows were boarded up. Noah and Cleo must have helped Iris with that when they were here last night. In Sharpie, Iris had written WE ARE OPEN in big block letters across the wood. Andrew reckoned it was worth a try. He opened the door and stepped into the strangely darkened store.

Iris was at the counter, looking exhausted. “Hey Andrew,” she murmured, lifting her head from where it was propped on her hand.


“No customers so far.”

She’d only opened twenty minutes earlier, so that wasn’t entirely unusual. “I need to talk to you,” Andrew said.

She looked at him warily. “What’s wrong?”

“If Noah calls you, please do not work with him to contact Billy on your own.”

She looked offended for a moment. “Andrew, I’m able to-”

“Please, Iris, it’s not you that I’m concerned about. Just tell him no.”

Understanding dawned in her expression and the relief he felt at not having to argue any further was nearly overwhelming. “We’ll all figure out a plan together. But he was hellbent on having you use him as a vessel for Billy to contact Ro- Samuel. And he doesn’t care if it kills him.”

Iris looked at him for a moment, then nodded. “I understand,” she said.

“Thank you.”

He smiled and she almost looked startled, then smiled back. “So, Samuel, eh?” Andrew said, sitting on the stool that was parked across the counter from her.

“I feel like a fucking idiot.”

“Nah, you couldn’t have known. Well, you could have, I suppose. Because he told you a year and a half ago.”

She glared at him and he laughed, feeling just a little of the stress from the night before fall away at last. “Alright then,” he said. “While we wait for customers, let’s discuss options. We were talking last night and still reckon that if anyone is going to be able to contact Rosalind and get her to lift the curse, it’ll be Samuel.”

“This is assuming Rosalind set the curse,” Iris said. “But I agree. The thing is, Samuel wasn’t answering last night, even with the wards lifted. I know he could have. He was there, he threw rocks at me.”

She lifted one of her sleeves to show him a wide, developing bruise on her bicep. “Shit,” Andrew murmured.

“He didn’t seem to be aiming for my head and he wasn’t throwing them hard.”

“How considerate. Are the wards back up?”

“Yes,” Iris said. “But I know he’s still around. Did you see the graveyard vandalism?”

“No,” Andrew said slowly. “I didn’t come that way.”

“There are gravestones knocked over in the town cemetery,” Iris said grimly. “Some of them were torn straight out of the ground, it’s bad. Celine called me a little while ago and I went over to check. It’s definitely Roland again.”

Shit, Noah’s father was buried there. Andrew would have to check on that when he left. But he’d wait until he knew anything before telling Noah anything.

“Thomas Kelly’s stone wasn’t harmed,” Iris said distractedly as she searched under the counter for something.

“Don’t read my mind,” Andrew snapped.

“I didn’t, I can’t do that,” she retorted. “But when you scream your worry out into the ether, it’s kind of hard not to hear it.”

She had a point, but still. No one needed to be listening to any of the mess inside his head. “So let’s take a step back further,” Iris said. “If Samuel is our connection to Rosalind, then Billy is our connection to Samuel.”

“Okay,” Andrew said. “But is there another way? Can spirits, you know, talk to each other? Like sit down for a chin wag on the spirit plane?”

“Not according to Harbinger,” Iris answered. “They might not even be aware of each other’s existence. Spirits are on a different plane from us, but they are also often on different planes from each other.”

“Right,” he said, the memory of that particular conversation settling back in along with the disappointment. “So you need vessels on this plane for that. But why not use a spirit board then?”

“Not for two way communication between spirits,” Iris said. “You’ve seen how shaky the spirit board is, and there’s no guarantee you’re speaking with the spirit you think you are. Plus Billy stopped answering at all on the spirit board. The only stable option would be to use a pair of psychic mediums, once we have Billy on our side.”

“Is that something you would feel comfortable doing?” Andrew asked.

“Of course,” Iris said, and he resisted the urge to roll his eyes, knowing it was less her confidence that was grating him and more everything else in the world. “It’s basically possession, but more controlled. It requires the medium to give the spirit control over your body. So it wouldn’t be like when they’re still on their own plane, contacting you. Like when you see spirits or when Billy contacted Noah.”

“I don’t see spirits,” Andrew said, perhaps a little too obviously. 

“I know that, sorry. But if we were to use Noah, for instance, it would be different. That’s what I mean. It wasn’t as though Billy’s memories drifted over and physically entered Noah’s brain through the air. The energy wasn’t physical contact and we’d need that contact for this to work. So it’d be intense. I can ask around, but it’ll be tricky to find someone who can handle it.”

They were obviously both thinking about Liv again, but he had to appreciate the fact that she wasn’t going to say it. Then the phone rang and he and Iris looked at each other. She looked wary.

“Might be a real customer,” Andrew pointed out.

“For once,” she muttered, then went over to where the phone was hanging on the wall behind her.

“Forest Charms, this is Iris,” she greeted pleasantly. Then her face fell. “Hi Noah.”

Andrew was going to fucking kill him. He motioned for the phone. “Um, no,” Iris said, looking extremely uncomfortable. “No, I don’t think we should. I know, but-”

“Iris, give me the phone.”

She handed it to him. “What are you doing?” Andrew demanded.

“Look,” Noah snapped. “I know you don’t want me to, but it’s the fastest way.”

“It’s not- No. You know what?” Andrew said, his eyes stinging. “Noah, this is addict behavior. You need to- you need to call Roman, alright?”

“This has nothing to do with-”

“Yes, it fucking does,” Andrew cut in. “You think I didn’t hear you last night?  Listen, I love you. And I don’t know how many times we have to have this conversation, but I’ll keep having it if you put the work in too. You aren’t going to die for me, I’m not going to fucking let you. If you’re doing something for me, then you’re going to have to suck it up and stay alive. For both of us. So hang up this goddamn phone and call Roman.”

There was quiet on the other end. Then Noah took an unsteady breath. “Alright.”

“Alright,” Andrew echoed, softer now. “It’s okay, yeah? Just call him. I’ll see you later.”

“I-I- yeah.”

Noah hung up and Andrew sighed, passing the phone back to Iris. Everything hurt even more now. “You can go home if you want,” Iris said. “I don’t think anyone’s coming in today.”

“Did you have a vision?”

“Yeah, of my boarded up windows,” she said sadly. “I just fixed them and now I have to do it again. I’ll pay you for the full shift. But you should go.”

“Are you alright?”

She shrugged. “Are any of us? I’ll ask around. Once Noah’s feeling better, maybe Billy will talk to me if he’s just here in the room.”

It didn’t sound likely, but they could hope. Andrew just didn’t want Noah risking his mind or his life just to relive Billy’s trauma and not actually move forward.

“I’m going to go home,” he said. “Thanks, Iris.”




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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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