In Your Arms

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Chapter 11- Haven

I ran back to my house, tears running down my face. I didn’t feel the anxiety coming over me, but I just felt stupid. Plain old stupid. I hate that I’m so damaged. I hate that Charlie did this to me. As badly as I want to feel safe with Noah and trust him, it’s just too soon.

I jog up my driveway, up my front steps and walk inside. The house is still pretty scarce of furniture. I only have a mattress and now a couch to my name, along with some bowls and cups I snagged at the local dollar tree. I walk up the stairs and plop down on the mattress, untying my sneakers. I wipe my eyes.

Noah was so sweet and patient. Noted two weeks isn’t enough time to know a person, but we’ve spent every morning together, plus we work together. We’re always talking with light conversation, like our favorite seasons, what our dream careers used to be, our high school experiences. Nothing heavy, no pressure to talk about my panic attacks.

The thing about Noah is as much as I had to hide, I could tell he had a lot to hide as well. I remember asking him why he stayed in New York for only five months. He gave me a dry response saying something about how he just took a small hiatus from life. Just like he knew when to not push with me, I knew not to push him. I know something happened to him. Something hurt him deeply. I’ve seen how some people who’ve come into Ava’s greeted him and they’d say things like ‘Good to have you back’ or ‘how are you man?’. They seemed to be regular greeting starter questions, but they had an underlining tone to it. I noticed it bugged him, but it was a topic I knew was going to come up when my past would come up.

I undress and quickly shower. I have to get ready and go to Ava’s. I feel awful that I just left Noah hanging the way I did. That’s what I do, I run away. I ran away from Charlie, my mom and now Noah. I finish my shower and I walk to my open suitcase throwing on my undergarments. I also pull out blue skinny jeans and my black vintage Johnny Cash t-shirt and put it on.

I’m glad that I was able to pack my clothes. It’s literally the only thing I have left from New York. I left everything else though. My home, my credit cards, even my cell phone. I didn’t have much of a life but everything I know is gone. Yet, I have all of the emotional baggage here in this unfamiliar place.

Once I’m dressed, I throw my hair into a ponytail and apply some chapstick. I grab my wallet, that carries my license and some cash. Since working at Ava’s I’ve made some good money, with tips and pay I’ve been able to save. Soon, I’d be able to get a cheap car to drive around in. I grab my keys, heading back down the stairs and out the door. Town is too far of a walk from the cabin.

When I arrive at Ava’s I only see Autumn and Drew, but no Noah. Instead of showing my concern I work the lunch shift. It’s been a pretty steady day. Most of the people are here to eat lunch with a beer instead of taking shots. That crowd comes after my shift, luckily. Once I know all my customers are satisfied, I decide to help Autumn clean the bar and prepare for the night shift. We don’t talk at first, but Autumn is such a social butterfly she can’t help but ask me questions. Tonights conversation is jump started with a ‘how am I holding up in Waterston.’

My response is, “I’m doing alright. Still getting used to the town. Actually, know where I can get furniture in this town?” She laughs shaking her head as she’s cleaning the shot glasses.

“Girl. It is a mission to get anything in this town, if you need stuff, I’d say take the drive down to Savannah, it has so much more options. This town only knows small shops, grocery stores, and dollar tree. Man, I don’t know why you’d choose this small place over New York.” She laughs, continuing to clean more glasses. I smile at her.

“Well, I have to return my car anyway, so I’ll do just do that.”

“Oh yeah? You’ve been driving with a rental?” I nod. “You know, I don’t know how much help he’d be, but Noah has this truck. He barely uses it because he has his motorcycle. You should speak to him though.”

“Oh, yeah maybe I will,” I place the final glass I was cleaning down and turn towards Autumn. “Speaking of Noah, he’s off today?”

“Oh yeah, we settled on today being his day off, because you know boss needs his time off. Speaking of time off, I spoke to Drew, he wanted to discuss a schedule for you since training is over.” Autumn says placing her rag on the counter, while nodding her head in the direction of the kitchen. I nod my head.

After about another hour of making small talk, taking care of customers, and cleaning, it’s my time to clock out. I head to the kitchen that is playing Opera loud enough to fill the kitchen alone. I head into the office and there’s Drew in his man bun, sitting at the desk doing some paperwork. I knock on the door, alerting him that I’m about to enter. He looks up from his paper, smiling.

“Haven, what’s going on?” He says placing his pen down.

“Hey Drew, just wanted to clock out, my shift is over, and Autumn said something about you wanting my schedule.” I put my hands in my front pockets. He looks at his watch.

“Man, it’s 5 already? Time sure does fly, huh?” He chuckles pulling out a post-it note form his drawer. I nod, giving him a small smile. “Right well, you can just write down your availability for me and I’ll make up a schedule for you. Tomorrow you can have the day off. Sound ok?”

I walk to the desk and grab the pen that lay next to the post-it. I write down my availability and place it back in front of Drew. He looks at it nodding his head.

“Okay, looks good. So I’ll see you in a couple days.” He rolls up his sleeves, adjusting himself in his chair. I go to the I-pad on the wall to punch out. Before I start to head out the door, I hear Drew calling my name. I look back towards him.

“Yeah?”

“I just want you to know, you’re doing a great job,” He says sitting back in his chair with his arms folded over his chest.

“Wow, thanks Drew. That means a lot,” I say giving him a small smile.

*********

Coming out of Ava’s I look out to the water. The sun is still shining, making the water glisten. I’m thinking back to two weeks ago, when I first got here, this is where Noah and I spent walking that one night together. Since meeting Noah, he’s been nothing but sweet, kind, and patient. I mean he has never even pressured me to tell him anything. I lean against the railing, staring at the people scattered on the beach. Everyone seems to be packing their stuff up to head home. I see a couple just hanging out, laughing as they’re watching the sunset. I so desperately want that. I’m so afraid of giving in, afraid to let Noah know my brokenness. I don’t think it’s time to share the details of my past, but I think having Noah as a friend wouldn’t be so bad. I wish I had a friend to vent to. To turn towards during times like this. But, I’m alone. I actually have a choice to not be. Maybe I can tell him a little. Maybe he won’t take pity on me or think I’m a total nutcase.

I start walking towards my car. I don’t know what I’m going to do about Noah. Give in. Not give in. Just quit the bar job and avoid him forever. That is something I can do, but it’s not what I want to do. I can’t keep running from my troubles every time. It was more sensible with Charlie because it was life and death, but I don’t want to continue shaping my life around Charlie. I find my car, hopping in and turning on the ignition. I have this sudden urge to look for Noah. To apologize. To tell him I want to be friends. To start over. Next thing you know, I’m driving to the place that I left Noah this morning. The dock.

I’m currently sitting down at the edge of the dock as the sun is going down, the air is starting to get cool. I had dropped my car off at the cabin and walked the way over here. I fold my legs, criss cross style. I don’t know if he will be here. The chances are super slim, I’m still grateful for the peace that’s surrounding me right now. I think for the first time in the last 10 years of my life, I feel happy. Not safe just yet, but I feel myself getting comfortable. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I’m not going to focus on that for once.

I hear footsteps behind me. I knew it. I turn around slowly and see Noah. He was so handsome, his skin glistening in the orange light coming from the setting sun. I give him a small smile as he looks down at me returning my smile. He walks over taking a seat beside me. He doesn’t say anything.

“I knew you’d come,” I say almost as a whisper. I find a small leaf under my foot and begin to twirl it in between my fingers. I hear him take a deep breath in.

“How so?” I hear him say. I continue playing with the leaf. I shrug my shoulders.

“Call it a lucky guess,” I say, still not looking at him. We go silent again.

Haven just say something, give him something. I take a deep breath trying to gather all my courage. I throw the leaf in the water, bringing my knees up to my chest and look at Noah. He was staring out at the water. “I know I keep pushing you away.” My words feel as though they’re being pulled out of me. I keep my eyes on him. He looks over at me. His grey eyes had a hint of sadness in them. The guilt was growing in me. I close my eyes, knowing this is the only way I can say everything I want to.

“I don’t want to keep pushing you away. Believe it or not you’re the only thing that has made me feel sane.” I open my eyes, releasing tears I hadn’t realized I gathered. Noah is just looking at me. So, I continue, “I’m scared, Noah.”

“Haven, you have nothing to be afraid of,” he quickly says. I look away from him looking back to the water, I wish that were true. ”I don’t know why you came here, why you’re so closed off or anything really about you, but I just know that I want to be here for you.” I close my eyes.

“Noah,” I say, opening my eyes, “I don’t know what to say.” He nods.

“That’s the thing, I don’t expect you to say anything. I have scars that run deep too. So believe it or not I understand why you don’t want to open up. Trust me of all people I understand.” He takes a deep breath in. I smile shyly. “It’s clear that we both have a past that neither of us are ready or willing to share.” I nod. “Only time will heal, right?” I wonder what hurt him so bad. I want to know, but I don’t think I’m ready for my pandora’s box to be open.

“So can just tell me this?” I look at him suspiciously. “So, do we have to stop running together?” He cracks a smile, and this causes me to laugh. Next thing you know, we’re both in a laughing fit together. Once we finish, he gets up, holding out his hands to help me get up.

We start walking back to the wood trail. I hadn’t realized how dark it had gotten, with the sun completely set. Noah grabs a hold of my hand to keep me close as we walk through the woods. I don’t mind it. After about 5 minutes of walking, I see a trail that is lit up from little lights that were in the ground. We still have 10 minutes to go.

I can’t believe I’m trusting this complete stranger in the dead of night right now.

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