Chapter 13- Haven
“Haven, we’re here.” I open my eyes and look up to see my head was on Noah’s shoulder and we were still holding hands. I look out the front window of the truck and see we are in the car rental return lane at the airport. I look at Noah, looking down at me with smiling, his grey eyes piercing mine.
“I think we should pull to the side and detach the car, so they don’t think anything happened to it,” I say letting go of his hand and moving to the other side of the truck. He nods doing what I suggested, pulling to the side and leaving the truck to get the car off the grappling hooks. The beginning of the ride was a nice moment between Noah and me. I can feel us getting closer. I can feel myself wanting to tell him more and more about myself. About my past. As scary as it may be to open up to him, I feel myself being able to trust him.
He comes around my side of the truck, opening up the door for me to get out. I look at him confused.
“What?” he says, returning my confused look, “Don’t tell me no one’s ever opened a door for you?” A sad feeling comes up in my chest, I feel as though my throat is swollen. Instead of indulging my feelings I ignore it, shake my head and give him a small smile that I know he can see is a mask to hide my shame. He clears his throat, “Well, I’ll wait for you in the truck, over by the exit over there while you do your thing.” I nod, smiling at him. He goes back around the truck, pulling off to the side by the exit lane. I go to the rental car and drive it to the entrance of the building. I see another lady, different from last time. I see her name tag, it says Lisa, an older woman about 50 years old. She hasn’t noticed I’m here yet, so I tap on the glass panel window that separates us. She looks up and smiles.
“Oh hi, how may I help you dear?”
“Hi, I’m returning a rental I got a couple weeks back,” I say sliding the key under the small opening on the bottom of the glass. She takes it and types on her computer the code that’s on the key. She nods and does the transaction for me.
“Well, it’s all done, I just need to look over the car, make sure theres no damages and all that stuff.” She opens the door of her small cubicle and shuffles out, past me to the rental car. She looks it over and smiles nodding. Noah at this point, comes to me.
“All ok?” He asks me and I nod telling him everything is fine. Lisa comes over smiling.
“Okay, car is in great condition, you are all set,” she says, then she looks at Noah, getting a bright smile. “You two make a beautiful couple, bless you,” she says. Her smile does not fade.
Instead of denying anything I thank her for her help and smile up at Noah who also thanks her. We turn around walking to the truck and once again he opens my door for me, and then walks around to his side. Once we’re inside, we both are just glancing at one another smiling like a bunch of teenagers. Noah shakes his head and drives out of the exit.
“So?” Noah starts, “You wanna head back or stay in Savannah and have a tourist day?”
“Actually, can we go to a furniture store? I really need some furniture, my place is empty,” I say, looking at him as he drives us out of the airport highway. He nods.
After about half an hour of driving on highway, we finally go to an exit and I see a shopping center. It looks like an outlet, like the ones I’ve seen in New York. It was just outdoor shops all ranging from different stores.
Once we go into the entrance of the shopping center, we find a place to park and we both get out of the truck at the same time.
“You know, they have shopping centers like this in New York?” I say as we walk out of the parking lot to the stores.
“Oh yeah? I think my cousin told me something about it, but I never got around to go, it has a name for it right?” He asks, subtly taking my hand. I let him, liking his small touch.
“Yeah, it’s called the outlets.” He nods, in understanding and with that we continue making small talk.
We talk about our favorite places to shop for clothes, shoes, accessories as we walk towards the furniture store. I may not have gone anywhere when I was with Charlie, but I sure did shop. That was him and my mom’s way of keeping me “happy”. Mainly Charlie did it as a way to say “I’m sorry for beating the shit out of you the past couple of days, but here’s something nice for your troubles.” I shake the memory away from my mind, not wanting to break into a panic attack in the middle of Raymor and Flanagan.
We look around for a while, I was able to find a nice small round glass table as a dining table. I also found a black coffee table, but everything else was out of my budget. When Noah and I leave the store, we have a trolley cart lugging around my new tables in the cardboard box. We push the cart to the truck to load the tables and then Noah puts a truck bed cover so no one tries to take our stuff. Once everything is done, we go back into the shopping center.
“You hungry?” Noah asks, as we spot a Panera Bread. I nod and we go to the restaurant. We order our food and sit at a booth, waiting for the food to be ready. Noah looks at me across from him. “So, Ms. New York, how you liking Savannah, North Carolina so far?” I smile.
“Honestly, I love it. So happy I got something for the house, been needing to do this for a while,” I say, putting my hands together.
The buzzer for our food rings and Noah gets up to get it. He returns with my salad and soup and his sandwich and soup. We eat together, not really talking, just enjoying one another’s company. When we both finish, we get up dumping the plates and utensils in the wash basin they leave out by the trash. We leave the store.
When I open the door, the door hits a girl who is with a guy. Noah, who is right behind me, hasn’t noticed yet, because he was holding open the door for an older couple that was walking in.
“Oh, I am so sorry,” I say quickly, apologizing for not seeing the girl before opening the door.
“Oh, that’s ok,” the girl says. She quickly glances behind me and her face drops. It was as if she saw someone coming back to life before her very eyes. I quickly glance at Noah, who is now beside me. He too, looks as though he is watching a ghost coming down from the sky. I look back to the girl. She’s beautiful. Tall and slender. She has long, straight brown hair. Her face is covered in freckles. She also has these piercing green eyes. She was with a guy, who looked so awkward and uncomfortable.
I look to Noah. He must’ve forgotten where we were, because we’re standing literally in the middle of the Panera Bread entrance. I decide to save Noah from this moment, as confused as I am.
I clear my throat, no one moving. Then I look at the girl who is just staring at Noah and I smile even though she isn’t looking at me.
“Noah,” I hear the strange girl say quietly. It’s as if Noah snaps back to reality. He looks down at me and grabs my hand.
“Let’s go,” he says and next thing you know we’re walking away from the couple. It was the most strangest interaction. Even though we’re walking away, I look back and the girl is still looking at Noah’s back. Her boyfriend grabs her hand and she looks at him giving him a small smile. They walk into the Panera Bread. I return my focus to Noah, who’s walking fast, back towards the truck. I just follow. He’s still clutching my hand guiding me away from the spot we were just by. We walk past all the stores out the entrance, to the parking lot. He opens my door for me, not even focusing on what he’s doing. It’s as though he’s moving without focusing . He makes his way around the truck, hops in, turns on the ignition and drives off.
I don’t question anything, because I’m still processing what is even going on. Noah leaves the parking lot and once we hit the open road, he’s speeding. He’s driving so fast that I clutch the armrest under the window. I look over at him and he looks so angry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so mad before.
I keep looking back at the road then him. The road is open and there aren’t much cars, but you know a driver is speeding when he reaches the car in front of him that was what seemed like a mile far from us. Noah’s catching up to the cars and going around them in a matter of 2 minutes. I glance at the speedometer, 85 mph. I look at Noah once again.
“Noah, slow down,” I say still clutching for dear life. It’s like he doesn’t hear me because he doesn’t even glance my way. I look at the speedometer again, 95mph. “Noah, slow down,” I say again. Again he doesn’t hear me, the speedometer now reading 100mph. All of a sudden, Noah is trying to get around another car but he can’t. He blares the horn, then goes in the opposite lane. A truck is coming right in front of us. “NOAH!” I scream. The truck blares his horn as it comes closer and closer to us and in a matter of a second, Noah makes his way around the car that is now blaring its horn at us. Instead of Noah continuing to drive, Noah pulls off to the side to a complete stop. The car that was just beeping at us passes and I see the image of a driver flicking us off, but continues to drive off.
Noah is breathing heavily. I look at him, unsure of what the hell just happened. I feel the adrenaline in my body pumping through my blood. I can almost hear my pulse. I’m clutching so tightly to the armrest that I know if I let go my hands would be shaking. I keep my eyes forward, afraid to see what Noah is doing. All of a sudden Noah starts hitting the steering wheel. I flinch at his movements and remain as close to the door as possible, as if I was trying to shrink into nothing. He stops hitting the wheel and I hear a small voice coming from him saying ‘I’m sorry’ over and over. I look over at Noah and he’s looking straight ahead at the road. My body finally calms and I release the armrest. I can see Noah has tears in his eyes, but they haven’t fallen down his face yet.
I turn my body towards him and move over slowly, not wanting him to be angry with me for anything. Noah doesn’t look at me though. He just remains where he is. So, giving him a second after each movement, I finally am next to him. I bring my hand to his face and turn it so he looks at me. His tears are finally falling down his face. Instead of saying anything, I bring his head to my chest and hug him. With a quick response, he hugs me back and breaks down saying louder, “I’m so sorry, Haven. I’m so sorry.” I shush him and lay my face against the top of his head. I rub the back of his head. This goes on for about 5 minutes. When I feel him begin to stir, I let go, but remain close to him. He raises his head and leans back against the seat of the truck not looking at me.
Whoever those people were, they made Noah react in a way I had never even imagined Noah to react. Let’s just say they must’ve done something really horrible to him to take him out of character that way. After about another 5 minutes of us sitting on the side of the road I cough to break the silence. Noah doesn’t look at me, so I just speak.
“Why don’t I drive back? It’ll give me some time to get used to the truck,” I suggest, not wanting to bring up the obvious reason I’m suggesting to drive. Noah nods and immediately walks out of the truck. I slide over to the driver’s side. I look in the rearview mirror and see Noah just standing behind the truck, looking up with his hands in his jean pockets. The windows are up, but I swear I hear him cursing. I don’t want to intrude on his moment, so I just look down at my hands and wait for him to come back in the truck. After another five minutes, Noah comes in the passenger side of the truck. Without saying a word, I take the truck out of park and drive back on the highway, back to Waterston. The radio is the only thing filling the silence. I don’t try to speak, and Noah definitely doesn’t say a word. This is what occurs the rest of the ride back.
We finally make it back to my cabin. It was a brutal hour back. Straight silence.
I put the truck in park and turn off the ignition. Noah gets out the truck and takes off the truck cover to take out the boxes. I hop out the truck, opening my front door. Noah takes the boxes inside one by one, not going all the way in the house, but placing it against the wall next to the door. His mind is clearly clouded, so he doesn’t say anything or even acknowledge his surroundings. He just goes in and comes out. He’s doing what he did before, just moving without thinking. It’s like his subconscious knows what to do, but his conscious is not registering what is going on. He’s still distracted from the events from earlier. I just stand outside, waiting for him to finish bringing in my last box. Once he does, he sits down on my steps. I follow suit.
We sit in silence for a bit. However, I decide to break it.
“Thanks again for today and the truck. I don’t know how I’ll repay you,” I say hugging my legs. He doesn’t say anything. I’m not sure what to do. I’m honestly a bit nervous to say anything wrong. I don’t know what to say, how to react. Nothing. Do I bring it up? Do I leave it be?
I was just really caught off guard by Noah’s reaction today, seeing him get so angry and upset.
It’s weird because I’m not afraid of him. Usually with Charlie I’d be shaking with fear and anticipating being hurt. But with Noah, it wasn’t like that, I knew I was safe even in a moment like before. I feel like if I had seen him behave his way when I first met him, I would’ve definitely wanted nothing to do with him and I would’ve been very fearful, but Noah acted out of character earlier. As I stated before that couple from earlier must’ve really done a number on Noah. He’s so sweet, caring and tentative to me, a stranger. I can’t imagine him treating anyone else in a bad way.
Without warning he stands up, he doesn’t walk off, but he gets off the steps, and turns back around to face me, putting his hands in his front pockets. I remain where I am.
“I’m so sorry Haven, but I just really need to clear my head. This has nothing to do with you, I promise. I just can’t process anything right now.” I nod, not saying anything. Without another word, he turns around and goes to his bike. He hops on, takes out his keys from his pocket and once the ignition is on, he speeds off. I stand up once he’s out of sight and head into the house. I close my door behind me.
What the hell did this day turn into?