Chapter 16- Noah
Haven fell asleep on my couch.
I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve been too busy kicking myself in the ass because I kissed her without her consent. The attraction is strong between us, but I was overwhelmed talking about Olivia and Haven just being there and listening was something I needed from someone who wasn’t my sister or mom.
Staring into Haven’s eyes in that moment, it just felt right. I didn’t even think about her panicking or freaking out. I completely forgot. I feel awful. It’s been two hours since she fell asleep, making it 2am. When she fell asleep after her panic attack, I just covered her with one of the throw blankets on the couch and sat by her on the floor, stroking her hair behind her ear. Every time I look at her, I feel guilty. I shouldn’t have crossed that line. Even though there’s an obvious physical attraction, I know that Haven is cautious.
I can’t stay here all night, but I also can’t sleep. I get up and quietly walk to the kitchen to make myself some hot chocolate. This was always a comfort drink for Ava and me.
Whenever we were sad, mad, or just having an off day, mama would always give us hot chocolate. It was comforting. It calmed the nerves, and the hot drink would honestly help us go to sleep. I pour some milk in a pot and let it boil.
I don’t think of Haven, until I hear one of the stools being moved and I turn around seeing her wrapped in the knit white blanket. I’m shocked to see her, as she was just sound asleep a minute ago.
“Hey sleepyhead,” I say softly, not approaching her. She gives me a smile. Her eyes are puffy from her crying earlier, so she looks extra tired.
“Hi,” she says in a raspy voice, brushing some hair behind her ear.
“Did I wake you?” I ask, afraid I did something to disturb her further. She immediately shakes her head.
“No, I’m just a really light sleeper. I hear any movement and I just get up.” I nod and give her a small smile, turning back towards the pot turning off the stove and taking out a mug to pour the hot chocolate packet into it and then the milk. I turn to her holding the packet.
“Want some, helps you go back to sleep,” she smiles at the hot chocolate packet and gives me a small nod. I turn back taking an additional mug out splitting the hot chocolate packet between the two.
“I can feel your eyes judging me,” I say smiling, even though she can’t see me. “My mom uses to make Ava and me hot chocolate all the time whenever we couldn’t sleep, or we were having a bad day. I never let go of the habit.” I hear her chuckle lightly.
I finish combining the packet and milk in both cups and stir everything together. I then hand Haven one of the mugs. We both take a sip and set down the cup at the same time. She keeps her eyes on the cup. The silence is heavy between us.
“I’m so sorry Noah,” she says her voice breaking. I immediately put my cup down and go next to her, putting my arm around her and bringing her side to my chest. She doesn’t look at me.
“Hey hey, you have nothing to be sorry about. I’m the one who should be apologizing. I should’ve asked you if you wanted me to do that.” She brings one of her hands up to her face and wipes her eyes. She then lets out a sob. “Shhh, don’t cry Haven. It’s okay.” I rub her arm up and down.
“Noah, it’s not you. You did nothing wrong. I gave the signals for you to do it. I wanted you to kiss me,” She says looking up at me, her eyes are dark and red. I look at her confused, brushing away any hair that’s on her face.
“But still Haven, I should’ve asked. I was just overwhelmed. I’m not mad that you freaked out.” With that she gets up, dropping the blanket that was around her and walking away from me. I continue to look confused. Her body language is screaming that she’s frustrated. “Haven?” She turns around and looks at me. I’ve never seen her so distraught before. I approach her slowly with my palms out, “Haven, talk to me, what’s going on?” I walk closer, until I reach her hands, grabbing them. I’m trying to look at her, but she doesn’t give me eye contact.
“Noah,” she finally looks up at me, her eyes are bloodshot red. She’s sobbing. I bring both of my hands to cup her face, trying to wipe most of the tears that are streaming down her face with my thumbs.
“Haven, you can talk to me,” I say, looking her in her eyes. She closes her eyes, more tears falling. She doesn’t open them.
“I’m married, Noah,” I look at her confused, not letting go of her face. She opens up her eyes, revealing her bloodshot hazel eyes once again.
“What?” I ask quietly. She looks away again.
“I’m married Noah,” she repeats. It sends a sting to my chest, but I don’t give her any reaction. I just allow her to continue speaking. “I came to Waterston to escape my life in New York,” she nudges her face away and my hands fall down to my side. I watch as she backs away to the wall.
“Why would you need to escape?” I ask.
“I- I was in an abusive relationship,” her voice cracks. I can feel myself getting angry at her words. To think that someone, a man, would harm Haven in any way. I don’t say a word and I do everything I can to not show her any emotion, even though she isn’t looking at me. She continues, “It was awful, and I had no one. My father died when I was 13. My mom lived off of his insurance money, because we were well off. But she just decided to look for men that had money. We met my husband at a charity event. She pressured me to date him and eventually he proposed, and I had to say yes, because I wanted to please her. I tried going to her and telling her what happened, but she’d manipulate me. She’d make me feel like I deserved the things he did to me,” she starts to break down and plops herself on the floor. I immediately go to her and plop down also, embracing her. She lets me but continues to speak.
“He was so cruel to me,” she covers her face with her hands, her mouth is still revealed as she continues to speak. “I had no friends, no one to turn to. I was never allowed to go out. If I did, he’d know because he had told our neighbors that I had a mental illness and I couldn’t leave the house alone, so whenever they’d see me leave, they would call him,” she cries harder at the last words. My heart breaks at her words. I want to drive up to New York and beat the shit out of this lowlife. The fact that he could hurt her. “He controlled what I wore, who I saw, every asset belonged to him,” she sits back and looks at me. Her pain was clear as day to me. I understand now.
“That’s why you had the black eye and cut lip?” I ask quietly. She looks down, ashamed. I grab her face. “Haven, none of that is your fault. You did not deserve that treatment, I don’t care who told you otherwise,” she continues to cry. I bring her closer to me, hugging her tight.
“Noah, I’m so damaged,” I hear her say. I hug her tighter, I want to desperately change her thought.
“No, you’re perfect.” I say and repeat this a couple of times and I lean back and look at her in the face again, cupping it. “You deserve the world Haven. You made a choice to leave a terrible situation with terrible people, you know why?” She doesn’t say anything, she just wipes her eyes, “because you know deep down that isn’t at all what you deserved. You’re so strong Haven. And brave. And just beautiful,” I bring her in for a hug, this time she’s hugging me back sobbing against my chest. I kiss the top of her head, allowing her to cry in my arms, not caring about the tear stains.
After about 10 minutes, Haven’s crying subsides, her breathing steadies. I take this chance to get up and help her up, picking her up bridal style as she curls against my chest. I walk to my bedroom and lay her on the bed. I take off my jeans and throw on a pair of gym shorts. Haven is awake, but she remains still. I take out one of my t-shirts and sweatpants. I lay it on the bed next to her.
“Go ahead and change into something more comfortable. I’ll step out of the room, ok?” She sits up, looking at the clothes. She shakes her head.
“No, it’s fine. I’ll change quick, ” I hesitate, but decide to walk over to my side of the bed, not turning around. I hear her shuffling and hopping around. I’m so tempted to turn around and see Haven’s perfect body, but I don’t. I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable. “I’m good,” I hear her say and with that I lay down in the bed and turn sideways to her. We’re face to face. I bring my hand up to her face and brush some hair behind her ear. She brings her hand to my hand, keeping it on her face.
“You’re so beautiful,” I whisper to her, looking her in her eyes. She closes her eyes as if she’s soaking up my words as a sponge does with water. She looks back up at me.
“Can you kiss me again?” She whispers in a very small voice, but loud for me to hear. I take a second to look at her, making sure I heard her right. Her eyes begin to close slowly, and I move in slightly eventually closing the space between us.
Our lips touch. It’s a simple kiss, but perfect. I don’t want to overstep with Haven because I know this is a big step for her. I press my lips against hers with slight pressure. The kiss lasts less than a minute. I back away slowly and her eyes are still closed. When they finally flutter open, I see little tears escape her eyes. I wipe them, moving closer to Haven so that we are nose to nose. I close my eyes, feeling myself getting tired finally.
“I will never, ever hurt you, Haven,” I say, keeping my eyes closed.
“And I will never hurt you, Noah,” I hear her say back.
With that she moves her body into mine, snuggling close to me. We finally fall into a deep sleep side by side.
The sun is hitting my face, waking me up. I turn over on my back, opening my eyes. Memories of the early morning flood my mind. Haven’s confession. My confession. I quickly look next to me and the bed is empty. I look around, confused. I don’t see anything. The aroma of coffee brewing fills my nostrils. I get off the bed and walk out the room.
I see Haven in the kitchen making breakfast. She’s humming to herself. She was still wearing my t-shirt and sweats, which were so baggy on her, but I loved seeing her in it. I quietly approach the kitchen. Haven is in her own world and doesn’t hear me. I make my way around the island and wrap my arms around her waist from behind. She jumps slightly, but quickly relaxes. I kiss her on her head. She looks up at me smiling.
“Morning gorgeous,” I say hugging her tight.
“Good morning,” I let her go and walk back to the island. She turns around and places a cup of coffee in front of me. “I don’t know how you like it, but here you go. I hope it’s okay, but I went in the fridge and made omelets for us.” I chuckle taking the coffee.
“Of course, it’s okay Haven and I like my coffee with 2 sugars and light milk,” I say going to grab the stuff to add to my coffee.
“Noted,” she says drinking her cup and sitting down to eat. Her eyes are still puffy from crying so much last night. Memories of what she told me flood my mind. I get sad thinking about everything she must’ve gone through all alone. I look over at her eating peacefully. She looks happy today. The first time I’ve seen her look happy since meeting her. She looks over at me and smiles. “What, do I have something on my face?” She covers her mouth and I smile.
“No,” I say chuckling.
“Then what?” she says smiling back. I shrug my shoulders.
“I’m happy that we spoke last night or early this morning,” I fold my arms and look at her, admiring her. She blushes twirling around the fork in her hand. I move my hand over her hand and she looks up at me then back down again. “Haven you don’t have to be ashamed of anything.” I look at Haven, who’s still looking down. She takes a deep breath in.
“I don’t know why I do. I guess it’s because I feel guilty for staying with him for so long. You know why I was able to come to Waterston?” She looks up at me and I turn my body to face hers, I shake my head. “My dad left it to me in his will. The lawyer was only allowed to disclose the information to me, alone. My dad bought the cabin for me. Funny how he knew I’d need to get away from my mom someday,” she scoffs.
I stay quiet, not wanting her to cry anymore. I feel like it’s good for Haven to speak about everything because she’s been isolated for so long and holding everything in too. She hasn’t been able to do much of anything until now. I look at her face. Knowing her past now, I just feel like she’s more fragile. I lift my hands to her face and lift her head up. She looks at me and I lean in to kiss her ever so lightly. I back up so we’re eye to eye.
“You never have to worry about any of that again,” she looks at me, not giving off any emotion. So, I kiss her forehead and bring her in for a hug.
I will always be here for her!