Chapter 23- Haven
I desperately wanted to get out of the city, but Noah convinces me to go eat first before going back to his cousin Julian’s apartment.
The diner was scarce of people. There were some seniors having their coffee and a young couple sat at a booth a couple seats from ours, having milkshakes and fries. It was a dingy little spot, but one of those places you know had been serving their customers faithfully for generations. A sweet old waitress takes our drink orders. When the waitress leaves, Noah takes both of my hands in his. I look up gratefully and smile. He was amazing through the meeting, just being the strength, I needed to go through with it.
“How are you feeling baby?” He looks at me with his almond shaped grey eyes. He was dressed casually wearing all black. Black t-shirt, black jeans, and black Doc Martins, along with a black bubble jacket for the cool New York weather. His stubble is growing creating a 5’0 clock shadow, but it doesn’t hide his defined jawline. I feel the weight of his words, picking at the weight in my chest, tears stinging my eyes making my vision blurry, but I fight them off.
“I don’t know,” I respond, shaking my head, trying to shake off the emotions, slowly caving in on me. Then the waitress comes, interrupting our moment. She sets down our drinks, awkward silence filling the air between us three. He quickly mutters that we’ll just take two western omelets. The waitress turns on her heels walking back down the aisle into the kitchen. I pull my focus back to my cup and take a sip. Noah once again reaches his hand across the table. His lips meet the top of my hand. I look up at him, our eyes meeting.
He takes a breath, “Haven listen, I know there’s nothing I can truly say to you to help you. All I can do is be here for you. It kills me that you feel the way you do, but I’m here.” I sniffle at his kind words. He doesn’t pressure me to respond, just gives my hand one more kiss and the waitress finds her way back to our table, placing our meals in front of us.
Once we finish, we decide to map our way to Central Park to enjoy the city for a little bit before having to leave tomorrow. Noah grabs a hold of my hand as people walk quickly down the path, some on their phones, some with their kids, others just sitting on the benches in the cold weather. I beam at the lake on our left watching the small fountain spew out water in the center of it.
“Oh, my goodness! I cannot believe I’ve never been here!” I see a family ducks swimming in the lake that immediately brings a smile to my face. “Look at the ducks Noah! Aw, I hope they aren’t freezing.” He chuckles at my childish claim, slinging his arm over my shoulder. I feel so happy to take a break from my reality a bit.
“I’m sure they’re fine babe,” he says, kissing the top of my head. After strolling for a few minutes my eyes land on him. I stop abruptly and gasp. The familiar disheveled dark blonde hair, the dark blue trench coat, the briefcase I bought him last Christmas slinging on his side. His familiar brown eyes were focused on his phone. I feel my face drain of color. I’m at a loss for words. Tears immediately sting my eyes, the happiness I just felt completely robbed.
Noah bends down to see me at eye level, but my eyes remain focused on him. I hear Noah ask, “Haven! What’s going on?”
My eyes finally shift over to those safe grey eyes, but my voice is not found. “Just breath baby. What is it?” He straightens up his back and looks in my line of direction to see what it was that I saw. Instead of allowing Noah to analyze the situation, I tug him to go back to the direction that we were walking in. Without question he follows my direction. All I can think is to get the hell out of there.
Through the train ride, I held in all of my emotions. I have no idea how, but I did. It wasn’t until we safe in Julian’s apartment that I finally break down. It can’t be true. It cannot be my luck that I see Charlie in the first place that Noah brings me to sight see. My breathing accelerates. His face re-etched into my brain. Every terrible thing he’s ever done that I have allowed myself to push to the side is resurfacing. The crippling fear I’ve tried so hard to not feel, so I can live my life, has resurfaced once again.
What if he saw me? Did he? Did he see Noah? Would he find my home? Would he come for me?
So many of these questions are racing through my brain. I didn’t realize they spilled out of my mouth as well because I feel Noah grab my hands, making me face him.
“No, he isn’t going to find us. He doesn’t even know my name and I don’t even think he saw us.” I shake my head, bringing my hand up to my temple, rubbing it and I start to pace in the room. This can’t be happening, so soon. It’s all my fault.
“Noah, that’s the problem. We think. We don’t know if he saw us or recognized me at least. I should’ve listened to you. I wasn’t ready for this, to face him. I’m not ready to be found. He’s going to find me and finish me once and for all. I’m going to die, surely, I am.” The words tumble out of my mouth before I could think about what I was saying.
All of a sudden, I hear a loud bang breaking me away from my thoughts. I look up abruptly and see that Noah has punched the wall in the hallway, putting a dent in it. I cower at the motion, seeing the same anger and rage come out of him the day he saw Olivia. I hated seeing him like that then and the feeling has not changed now. I fall to the ground, hugging my knees to my chest, hiding my face in my knees. I hear him pacing back and forth and I shut my eyes tighter, wishing I could disappear in this moment.
“I hate him,” I hear him finally say. I look up and see his hands fly up to his neatly kept hair, disheveling it. “I hate this asshole! He just ruined your fucking life!” With that he punches the wall again, deepening the dent into a hole. My tears turn into sobs. I never feared him before, but in this moment I do.
“Noah!” I hear another man’s voice scream and I see Julian running up to him holding him back. I put my face in my knees again, trying to hide from all of the chaos. “Noah, stop man!” I hear Noah yell out of frustration and footsteps walking out of the apartment, with a door being slammed. All of a sudden, I feel a pair of hands gently wrap around my arms. I look up with my tear-stained face expecting Noah but seeing Julian instead. He has kind brown eyes, reassuring me I’m safe. His curly hair splayed against his forehead; he had a soft, sad smile on his face. He lifts me up to my feet. “I’m sorry about that,” he starts, bringing his hand behind his neck. “He isn’t normally like this. I mean, I’ve seen him get like that a bit when he used to live here, I guess I’m just sorry you had to him that way.” He looks around the apartment at the damage Noah left behind. I take the time to swipe at my eyes trying to wipe away the constant tears spilling. Julian turns back to me, “Are you alright?” I nod, just wanting to get away from everything and be alone.
“I’m going to just head to the room, if that’s okay,” I bite my lip to hide it’s trembling waiting for Julian to respond. He just nods, rubbing the back of his neck again. I quickly walk around him and scurry off to the room. As soon as I close the door behind me, I turn the lock on the door with one hand, while the other flies up to my mouth, muffling the sobs that could no longer be held back. The events of the day pooling over me. I feel as though I’m drowning. I turn around, my back against the door and slide down to the floor.
My mind rakes through the day’s events.
I went to a divorce lawyer, I saw Charlie today, Noah disappeared and I’m in a strange place with his cousin. Alone. I always end up alone. I’m trapped in my own personal hell, left to deal with my mother alone, left to deal with Charlie alone, now to go through this divorce alone. I crawl over to the side of the bed staying in the pitch black silently crying. I barely got to land on my two feet before having to face the mess I ran away from not too long ago. It was all my fault. Like everything. I should’ve listened to Noah about holding off. I just wanted to be rid of Charlie once and for all. I couldn’t take being tied to him anymore, being held back by him.
It isn’t fair to Noah to deal with this mess. My mess. I always felt like our blissfulness wasn’t going to last. The bubble of safety that Noah offered, always felt to me like it was going to pop at any point but I felt it was due to my past with Charlie. That may still be true, but Noah is already going through a lot emotionally with his breakup with Olivia. I don’t want to add on to that emotional weight. I cannot try to comfort Noah, while I’m dealing with Charlie. Realization hits me, I know what must be done despite how I feel about it.
I wipe my eyes and get up crawling over to the bed allowing the darkness and the distant movements of Julian, walking around the apartment to surround me. Soon I feel my tears dry, my eyes swell up, and sleep consuming me.