In Your Arms

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Chapter 29- Noah

“Hey Noah,” I look up and see Autumn come into the bar kitchen. I see her usually spunky platinum hair pushed to the side revealing a freshly shaved head underneath the hair. I give her a curious look. “Haven stopped by,” I immediately drop the spatula in my hand and begin to walk through the doors to see my girl, but Autumn stops me before I can get to her. “She already left, said to find her once you’re done with the shift. I just wanted to let you know because she doesn’t look good Noah.” I look at Autumn and nod my head, touching the hat on my head.

“Alright, thanks Autumn. I’m pretty much done anyway, just have a few orders left. Do you know where she went?”

She nods and gives me a small smile, “she said she’ll be outside.” I smile and thank her, finishing up my duties in the kitchen.

Once I do, I unwrap the apron around me and head out the kitchen and am immediately met with Drew’s back. I slap my hands his shoulders and squeeze.

“Hey,” he says, laughing pushing me off of him. “You finished back there?” I nod and clap my hands together.

“Yeah, yeah. I was hoping you’d let me take a break, actually,” I smile goofily at Drew. He looks around the bar and then back at me.

“You know what Autumn and I got this actually. You go on ahead to Haven. I’ll see you at home,” he says as he takes a swig of his beer that was on the counter and nods reassuring me it’s okay to go. He knows everything that happened and has seen the shift in Haven. He knows how worried I’ve been. Hell, this past month, I’ve leaned on Drew and Ava more than I ever have before. I don’t hesitate and quickly walk out of the bar. I’m met with crowds of people talking, smoking and drinking. The heated lamps make the cool night air bearable. I make my way through the small crowd onto the boardwalk. I go to the railing separating the beach and look out. I see a couple of stragglers walking the beach. My eyes land on the familiar long black ponytail flailing in the night wind. I smile towards her even though she can’t see me yet.

The past month has been difficult, ever since the situation with Charlie and Haven’s mother. Haven has been very distant. I had to turn to Ava for help, she offered Haven to stay in their guest bedroom so she can feel safe. She was terrified to go to her house and also to sleep with me or even in the basement. I tried to give her the basement, but Haven insisted on me staying in the basement. Although Haven knows she can come to us, she hasn’t. She’s been very stoic, unemotional and distant. The first couple of days, I slept in front of her door and yet I heard nothing. So, I gave her the space she needed. It killed me; it still does. The life that I fought so hard to bring back in her has left and I can’t do anything to bring it back. Not this time.

Ava, being a health professional did encourage Haven to do a rape kit even if Charlie didn’t succeed. Haven did and has not said anything about pressing charged, which I’ve been waiting to tell her that I think she should. We have so many pictures of the state of her house after the incident. The lamp was shattered, in the front of her steps, there was dried up blood from me pounding Charlie’s face in. Ava took Haven’s ripped skirt and underwear and put them in a Ziplock bag. We had to take photos of her injuries also because she had a black eye, finger marks from being squeezed too hard on her wrists and waist, and her legs had scratches from nails. She really went through a lot and I hate that I couldn’t keep her safe from those monsters.

I hop over the railing, landing on the sand. I take my time walking to Haven. As I get closer to her, I can hear her sniffling, as though she’s been crying. I take a seat next to her and she looks at me in a panic, but immediately calms realizing it’s me. I give her a small smile as she wipes her face.

“Hi,” I say to her looking out at the waves crashing just a couple feet in front of us.

“Hi,” she says in a raspy voice. I can tell she’s been crying all day, the way her cheeks are extremely flushed and under her eyes, even in the dark, I see bags under her eyes. Instead of talking, I allow silence to fall between us. Only the sound of waves surrounds us. The moon is full and glistening above us. I sense Haven folding her legs criss- cross. After a few moments, she breaks the silence. “Noah?” I look at her immediately, giving her a small, concerned smile. She puts her head down, more tears spill out of her eye, something she hasn’t done in a while. “I’m sorry.” As soon as the words leave her lips, she breaks down completely, hiding her face in her hands.

“Hey, no, no, come here,” I pull her into me and kiss her forehead. She cries into my chest. This is the closest her and I have been together since the incident. My heart thumps against my chest at the feel of her near me. I rub her back, allowing her to sob into my chest. “You know I love you Haven. So much. You need healing and I want that for you.” After a few moments she pulls away and as much as I hate to let go of her, I do. She wipes her face and sniffles.

“I’ve had this guard up with you- ” she begins and just as I’m about to interject she shakes her head, “let me say this, please.” I nod and look at her bloodshot eyes. “I’ve had this guilt for the past couple of weeks and-and anger. I’m mad at myself for leaving you in New York. I was the reason Charlie found me. I feel like everything is my fault and that I deserved what happened,” as the words leave her trembling mouth I interject.

“No,” I say firmly, as she puts her face down. “I won’t hear that because nothing, and I mean nothing was your fault. You hear me? What happened between us a couple of months ago, that was needed, for you. You took a moment to get to know Haven, without anyone influencing you. You found a job, you were getting a routine and I will not accept an apology from you for that,” I grab her fidgeting hands, causing her to look at me with her sad puppy dog eyes. “Nothing was your fault, you hear me. Your piece of shit mother and ex-husband are the problem here. Not Haven. Not my beautiful, perfect, sweet, kindhearted Haven,” I caress the side of her face and all the fear from her eyes is gone. The love is back and the safety. I give her a small smile and wipe a tear that’s slowly falling down her cheek. Her eyes shift upward to mine, and more tears well up. She opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out, so she shifts her eyes downward. “What?” I ask her softly.

“I just-” she starts, wiping her face again with her sleeve, “thank you,” she says.

“For what?” She gives me a small smile, another sight I haven’t seen in a while.

“For everything,” I don’t respond and look at her quizzically. She sighs, “For pushing me, encouraging me, reminding me my worth. For being you.” She smiles softly as tears continue to slide down her face. I smile, squeezing her hand and look up at the moon and stars. She follows my line of view and takes a deep breath in. We sit in silence for a bit, listening to the waves crash against the sand. “I’m such a mess Noah,” I hear her say quietly. I glance over at her and without a word stand to my feet. I reach my hands down to her. She looks at my confused but takes my hands anyway. I lift her to her feet and pull her close to my chest.

“I’ll always be here to pick up the pieces Haven,” I say against the top of her head. She wraps her petite arms around my chest and squeezes tightly. We walk along the coastline side by side, in silence. The natural noise has been a great filler between us, but I feel the topic that I’ve been weary to mention to Haven. “Haven?” I ask calmly, keeping my eyes ahead of me.

“Hmm?” She questions in response.

“I have to tell you something, and I don’t think you’re going to be happy about it,” I look over at her and she stops in her tracks.

“Okay?”

“I went to a lawyer about pressing charges on Charlie and your mom.” She lets go of my hand and folds her arms over her chest.

“Noah…” I hold my hands out in front of her.

“I know, I should have asked you, but I reacted, and I want both Charlie and your mom to pay for what they’ve done. Listen, we don’t have to move forward if you don’t want to, I mean technically we can’t unless you decide to move forward, but I thought I’d start it, so it won’t be too late.” She looks away, scoffing. “Are you upset?”

“Yeah Noah,” she says harshly. “That is such a curveball.”

“Haven, I’m sorry.”

“Today is day one of therapy for me Noah, I’m nowhere near ready to face those people. I just feel like you’re angry for me, and like I said in New York all those months ago, I can’t deal with yours and my emotions,” she turns away from me abruptly looking out at the water. I feel taken aback by her outburst. I walk around her to face her once again.

“Of course, I’m fucking angry Haven. We didn’t speak for months. The first day we reconnect, you’re running into my arms blood on your forehead, your skirt ripped,” she closes her eyes tightly. “I fucking love you Haven!” I grab the top of her arms and she looks at me with tear filled eyes. “I get it, you have a hard time understanding the extent of my feelings, but I’m not sorry for loving you or wanting you to get justice for this horrific thing that happened to you.” The tears fall down her eyes as she bites her trembling lip, causing my heart to sting, but I continue talking. “I won’t apologize for wanting justice for you because you deserve it. Fuck Charlie. Fuck your mom. Forget about what they can do, they haven’t seen what you can do.” She turns her face up to look at me, tears are continuously falling down her face. Her lips continue to tremble.

“I’m scared, Noah,” she says quietly. She wipes her face clean, but it just causes her to face to turn more red. I bring my hands up to cup her face.

“Of what?” I whisper to her. She closes her eyes tightly, releasing her lip.

“Of everything.” I pull her into my chest, and whisper against her head that ‘I’m here for her’ and that ‘she’s safe’. She releases her arms and wraps them around my waist. We stay like this for a while. Her crying and me caressing her. I finally step back, when I hear her sobs stop completely. However, her grip on my waist does not loosen.

“Haven?” I ask her. She looks up to me curiously. Instead of saying anything I lean down and give her a passionate kiss. Our lips mend together. I taste the saltiness from her tears. After a long minute we separate, both of us catching our breath. I lean my forehead on hers, closing my eyes taking in her natural scent. We hold one another close, enjoying the safety in each other’s arms. As much as Haven wants to feel safe, I want it just as much for her and myself. “I love you,” I say one more time, my eyes still closed. I open my eyes and Haven’s doe eyes are looking at me. I can see the puffiness around her eyes and the once white part of her eyes are bloodshot red. Her eyes shift back and forth, from one side of my face to the other. She moves one of her hands from my waist to my face and caresses my cheek. She gives me a small smile as a single tear slides down her cheek. She takes a deep breath in and says,

“I love you too.”

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