Chapter 21- Haven
I wake up with Noah nuzzled into my side. Last night Noah and I said, ‘I love you’. I stayed over and my mind drifts back to last night’s events.
Noah said he loved me. I said I loved him. We hung around with Ava and Drew for a little while longer. When we finally said goodnight, Noah led me to his apartment. When the door clicked behind us, he didn’t wait to push me up against the wall to kiss me. His act was desperate, like he needed to make sure I was still willing to kiss him in this moment. He began to wander. His hands gripped onto my hips feeling his way up and down them. The feelings that erupted out of me were foreign. All of my sexual experience came from Charlie, which wasn’t good at all. He took my innocence and proved to be a selfish lover. Only adamant on pleasing himself. He never cared for foreplay or me feeling satisfied. Thinking of him, the fear settles in me. I can feel my mind touching on the dark, forbidden areas, where the bad memories are locked away. All while Noah is kissing me. I can myself getting hot wherever Noah touched, even with all the layers I had on. Mindlessly Noah scooped my legs up and my body instantly reacts by wrapping them around his waist. He leads us to his bedroom.
We reach his bed, and he lays me down, all while kissing me. He hovers over me. I mindlessly keep thinking back to Charlie and how he demanded sex from me. His kisses were rough. The sex was all the same too. Missionary. Hand job. Then he’d leave elsewhere. There was no spark. No fire. Not like it is with Noah. I am brought back to my senses when Noah begins to trail kisses down my neck. He’s gentle. Patient. Savoring the moment of each touch. My body reacts and loves his touch. His citric aquatic scent surrounds me causing the desire for him to grow more. My hands tangle in his hair and make way to his neck. His hands roam my body finding the end of my sweater and slowly my shirt makes its way up and over my head. I gasp at the coolness and feel the immediate goosebumps erupt on my skin. He then brings his hand up to my breasts squeezing and massaging them. Everywhere he touched was like a trail of heat. Our lips meet again. My hands grip his hair and rub the nape of his neck. Our breathing is heavy, ragged. I embrace the warmth radiating off of his body. Soon his lips leave mine and he shuffles to take off his shirt. Shortly after his lips capture mine once again. Our tongues inviting one another into each other’s mouths.
I start to feel his hands slowly trailing down my side, and then traces the waistline of my leggings. I can feel my heart begin to race. My mind thinks back to Charlie, when he’d force my pants down. Just like the first time Noah and I kissed, my surroundings changed and I’m no longer kissing my sweet Noah. I feel his lips against mine. I feel his hands holding me down and my hands were no longer cradling Noah’s face but trapped against my sides. Noahs citrus scent is replaced with the familiar gross earthy woodsy scent. The harshness of the scent filled my senses. I am back to the man that I hated. The man who robbed me of anything good. My breathing becomes scarce. I feel myself struggling to clear my airway. I feel my body stiffen against the sheets beneath me. I feel Charlies hands roughly touching and claiming. I’m not in Noah’s apartment, but back at the mansion. The coolness of the sheets I once felt reminded me of the marble floors I always found my back laying against. The weight, the unbearable weight of the man who was so much taller than me trapped me in his legs.
All of a sudden, that familiar wind against the nap of my neck allowed me to regain focus. As though I was in a deep tunnel surrounded by darkness, the light shined bright at the end. I can see myself walking towards it and the closer I got, the more I heard Noah’s voice. His comforting words saying, “I’m here, I’m here.” I focused on that, but I continued to struggle to breath. Then his voice said again, “Just breath Haven. You’re safe.” My eyes were clouded, but I focused on his words and kept repeating to myself through my breaths ‘I’m safe, I’m safe.’ As the wind continued against the nape of my neck and I continued to focus on that. As though nothing happened my senses regenerated. I realized once again, my fucked-up brain tricked me into thinking Noah wasn’t real and I’ve been with Charlie all along.
When Noah realized my breathing was regulated, I realized he was hugging me tight. The wind on my neck was him blowing air against me, to refocus me back to the moment. Somehow this always worked. I was crying but had no idea until I felt my face damp. Now, I am currently crying consciously. Crying because I am so damaged. Too damaged. Noah just held me, whispering ‘I love you’, ‘It’s okay’, ‘You’re safe.’ We fell asleep in his bed with him just cradling my head into the crook of his neck and kissing my forehead.
I look down at his face, he’s peacefully sleeping, still holding me as he was laying on his stomach and I sat up with his head resting on my lap. The feeling I have with him is pure bliss. A deep sadness settled in me. As much as I want Noah, I don’t think my mind is ready to process doing that. Sex has never been good for me. It was forceful. Unpleasant. I know Noah would never hurt me or force me and his actions last night, putting his wants to the side to comfort me only strengthened my knowledge of that. I know with Noah I’m okay.
Thoughts flood my mind of his family. I love him so, it’s not surprising that I love the people that grew up with him and raised him to be the man he is today. His mom was such a funny, kind soul. Just having the conversation about my future and her telling me that I can do more gave me so much motivation. I was never pushed to do better. My dad was the only person that told me ‘Being a princess is great, but it’s okay to settle for being a hard worker.’ My mom always pushed ‘rely on a man for your future to be set’ and I always wanted to please her, but I never pleased me.
I went to online school and got a degree in interior design. Funny enough, Charlie never checked his credit card statements. His firm just paid for whatever was charged on the card, so Charlie never knew I got my degree, perks of being a stay-at-home wife. He didn’t care what I did either way. As long as I was in the house and attending to his things.
It was time I begin to plan for my future. Away from the Charlie mess. I hope I’m not getting ahead of myself, but I want Noah to be a part of that future, even though I have a lot of growing to do. In order for me to truly be rid of my past I have to take action. I have to go back to New York and file for divorce. I have no idea how to even begin that process or who to go to. I know it’s something Noah and I have to discuss. My heart races in anxiety just thinking about the endless ways all of this can turn into.
I smile down at the handsome man that clung to my waist as he slept peacefully. I feel transformed. I am no longer Haven Matthews, the used and abused wife to Charles Matthews. I’ve never thought about my birth name. The name of my Father. Haven Hart. I remember as a small girl, my dad would say:
“Havey, a man’s name is a powerful thing. Brings meaning and value to the family. In old days a man’s name was his legacy. Don’t ever forget, Hart holds power.”
“What do you mean, daddy?”
“Hart is the name that holds our legacy. It means strength and bravery. You know to have heart in all that you do. Be brave always, Havey. It’s our legacy.”
Tears sting my eyes remembering my Fathers words. Strength, bravery. Something I’m trying to get back. Thanks to Dad for giving me my fresh start and to Noah for putting hope in me. Of course, I know I would’ve been fine without a man, but having someone knowing my past and pushing me to grow and blossom into the woman I can be. It just sped the process up much faster than if I did it without a man.
Noah begins to stir, indicating he was beginning to wake. His eyes flutter open, those captivating grey eyes. My eyes are holding a sadness in them. I feel awful for not being able to be the woman to meet his needs. Am I just holding him back? Maybe he can find another woman, less broken.
“Good morning Gorgeous,” he says interrupting my thoughts, sitting up on his forearms and planting a kiss on my cheek. I smile at his first words to me.
“Morning,” I smile sadly, but try to diverge the subject of last night. “You’re a cute sleeper.” He chuckles, sitting up and pulling me over to him.
He kisses my forehead and draws circles mindlessly with his finger and his other hand caresses my hair down. I sigh. I truly love this man and as if he was reading my mind he whispers in my ear, “I love you.” This causes me to turn my head and look at him and of course I reply back that I love him too. He kisses me. His grey eyes settle on my hazel ones. “Are you ok to talk about last night?” he asks. I feel a sting in my chest. Just like our first kiss, as much as I hate to bring up Charlie in front of him, I know he deserves to understand what happened last night. I nod slowly in response, my fingers finding each other and fidgeting.
“Haven, look at me baby,” I glance up at his words and I feel the butterflies in my stomach flutter. His eyes are expressing something to me, but I can’t pinpoint it. As much as I’m dying to look down again, I wait for him to talk. His hand cups my face. “Baby, I love you. So much. My feelings aren’t changing. I need you to know that I don’t need sex. We will go on your own timing, okay?” I allow his words to sink into me. He loves me and he’s willing to wait for me. I feel tears sting my eyes as I nod in response to him. I left out a shaky breath and dart my eyes down. His hand loosens on my face and I no longer have to look at him.
In a whisper I ask, “Can I ask you something?”
“Anything,” he responds, kissing my temple. I take in another shaky breath and nod.
“I was thinking...” I start to say but stop out of fear of the next thing I’m about to ask. He patiently waits for me to continue, “I was thinking of going to New York and getting a divorce from Charlie.” I slowly look up at him and I can feel him tense up at the mention of my husband’s name. After a minute, he takes a breath.
“Are you ready for that, really?” I don’t respond. “I just mean that you’re just getting back on your feet, building a life without him. I just don’t want you to lose all the progress you’ve made. ”
I think about Noah’s words. He’s right. I just began to get my life together. A little over two months ago I was living in fear and I was suffering from anxiety attacks, make that still suffering from anxiety attacks. Those things are still with me, but I have changed so much. I know that the only way I’ll ever be able to move on I’m going to have to cut my ties. Charlie and my mother’s hold on me must be gone. They have no control. Without Noah coming into my life, I would still be in fear, never embracing the women I’ve always been but had forgotten. I look at those kind beautiful grey eyes.
“No, I’m not ready to face him, but I am ready to divorce him and close that chapter in my life.” He looks up at the ceiling, clinging me to his bare chest as if he were afraid, I’d fly away. He lets out a breath. He then looks back down at me and offers me a soft smile, brushing the hair away from my face.
“Okay.” I raise my eyebrow in surprise. “I don’t like the idea of this guy knowing anything about you but I’m going to be by your side through this. Every” He kisses my lips. “Step.” Then my cheek. “Of” Now my other cheek. “The” My nose. “Way.” Back to my lips. This causes me to smile so bright. He leans over and gives me one final passionate kiss as we continue our morning cuddling and talking about our days plan.
“Here,” Noah hands me a small black box. It’s been a couple of hours since this morning’s talk and I’ve been watching T.V while eating a bowl of cereal. I look at him suspiciously, muting the show and then look down at the black box. He’s leaning against the counter smiling, waiting for me to it. I do what he expects, and I see it’s a cellphone, specifically an iPhone X. I had left my phone, along with everything back in New York because I didn’t want to be traced back here. I push the phone away and look at Noah as though he’s a crazy person, because he is.
“Noah...” He leans forward and pushes the box back towards me.
“Haven,” he smiles and looks at my lovingly. I love hearing him say my name so softly. “Look it’s just Ava’s old phone. You need it, okay. I already have everything set for you.” My heart flutters at his gesture. As much I’m defeated by his kindness. He makes his way over to me just as tears sting my eyes. I shake my head, putting my face in my hands.
I’m such a crybaby.
He takes my hands away from my face, cups my cheeks and kisses my lips. I’m pulled into his embrace, his citrus scent surrounding me.
“You really didn’t have to,” I say into his chest. “You gave me your car, now a phone,” I lean back to look at him, “it’s too much, Noah.”
“Uh, yeah I did have to. I can’t keep dealing with not having a way to contact you when we’re not together.” I giggle through my tears. I myself cannot believe I’ve went this long without a phone, but it’s been nice breaking away from the world and focusing on myself. “I also know, no social media and all of that, it’s just to make sure you’re okay. Okay?” he says, I nod looking at the phone sadly. “The phone, the truck, these were things just sitting in a drawer or a barn not being used. And Haven,” He lifts my chin with two fingers, so I look up at him. “That’s what they are, just things. If I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t.” He bends down and kisses a tear that just fell on my cheek.
“I’m sorry by the way” Noah looks at me quizzically. “For not being able to post me on social media,” I look down at my hands sadly.
“Baby, baby, no. You have nothing to apologize for. I don’t care about any of that, as long as you’re safe and I have a way to contact you, that’s all that matters to me. You are all that matters to me.” His lips meet my forehead and I close my eyes at the immediate comfort I feel. “So, let’s book us some flights to New York, shall we?” He walks around the island, to the kitchen. I see him whip out his phone. All of a sudden, the phone in the open box, lights up. I smile and grab it seeing his name pop up on my phone. I open the message.
Noah: ... I love you....
I look up and he’s looking at me smiling. I hear another *ding* and his name pops up again.
Noah: You look very sexy by the way.
I look up at him and shake my head. I see a devilish grin appear and he leans over the counter.
“I mean it too,” I shake my head and playfully push him back.
I never thought it possible to love someone like this, to feel appreciated and loved just by someone saying my name or doing little gestures. I never thought the day would come. I came to Waterston thinking I was going to have to always look over my shoulder. But Noah came in my life and all of those things happened.
I love him.
Now it’s time to make way for him in my future and rid of Charlie for good.