Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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30. ⪻ 30 ⪼

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2 Weeks Later.

“Happy lunch, Annabelle.”

The best part of my day, with the exception of either talking with or seeing Harry, is my lunch break at work. I’m finally free from my boss, usually, and am able to relax a bit. Victoria and I get to take our breaks at the same time, whilst our new intern watches our post for us… poor girl.

Around a week ago one of my tasks was to reach out for a new intern for Ms. VanCarlton. She claimed that she needed extra help with things but really the woman just wanted another person to do her dirty work. Even with the new hire, my workload remains the same, plus some.

I’m constantly running errands for my boss, teaching the intern how to do what I do correctly, sitting in on meetings with Ms. VanCarlton, and even doing some of the work that should be done by someone more qualified. So when it comes to relaxation during the day, it’s either during my lunch break or the moments that I find myself crying in the toilet.

“Thanks Victoria.” I say with a light chuckle as I take my lunch from the refrigerator and sit down across from my workmate in the break room. Just as I’m digging my fork into the salad I made myself this morning, I see Victoria smiling over at me from where she sits.

“How was your weekend? Do anything fun with your boyfriend?”

I’ve grown quite close to Victoria over the course of my working here and I’ve learned she’s quite the curious one. It’s nice to have another girl to talk to and though she doesn’t know as much as Niall or Harry, I still consider her a friend.

“He’s not my boyfriend, yet. And no actually; Harry had to work all weekend. Poor guy worked nearly thirty hours.” Victoria stares shell-shocked over at me.

“Yikes, I can’t imagine.” She exclaims, taking a bite of her food. “Could you imagine working for Ms. VanCarlton for that long?” She questions after she’s swallowed her bite of food.

“I can barely handle eight hours.”

“Tell me about it.” She mutters, glancing to the door at our side.

I wouldn’t be surprised if our boss stormed right in to scold us about us speaking badly of her behind her back, she’s crazy like that. Though, I don’t think she’d ever step foot in this room; I’ve heard her claim that the spotless break room is too dirty for her to be in. Again, she’s crazy.

“So, I spent my weekend with my brother, just relaxing. It was actually really nice. How about you?”

She goes on to tell me some story of her and her girlfriends going out, club-hopping on Friday, which I was invited to but politely declined. Apparently, they got kicked out of one club for dancing drunkenly on the bar. Victoria and I are opposites, but they say opposites attract so maybe that’s why we get along.

“How was your date with that girl?” I wonder, remembering her mention something about a date on Saturday night, that is if she wasn’t too hungover to go. Her smile glimmers at my mentioning of the date, so apparently it went well.

“It was great and I took your advice about that pub, she loved it! Kudos to Harry for taking you. But, I really like her, so hopefully she doesn’t end up like my ex; he was a nightmare.” I nod my head, agreeing with her in a way.

I told her in short about Taron, simply mentioning I had been cheated on. Crazy enough, her ex boyfriend cheated on her as well; sadly we could bond over that fact. Instead of never dating again, she just decided to explore her sexuality a bit more. She’s told me on more than one occasion that she loves who she wants to love, because her love is gender free (Anne-Marie’s Perfect, anyone?).

Right in the midst of Victoria’s story of her date and her getting crazy in her car, my phone begins vibrating excitedly against the breakroom table, causing me to nearly jump in my seat. I can’t say that I’m entirely upset that it interrupted her story.

“Ugh, who needs me now?” When you spend most of your day on the phone, you really don’t like spending your free time on one as well.

Looking at the caller id I see it’s from an unknown caller. After a few moments of debating whether I’ll get it or not, I go ahead and answer.

“Hello, this is Annabelle Chambers.” I answer, stuffing a bit of spinach and lettuce into my mouth as soon as I’m done speaking. This phone call isn’t going to get in the way of my lunch, nothing can get in the way of food and I.

“Hello, dear. You don’t actually know me, but my name is Maria Grey and I believe my husband and I moved into your old home, in Northwich.” My heart nearly drops in my chest upon hearing where she’s from.

Honestly,I haven’t given my old home a thought since we moved, the thought alone making me quite sad. If I think about Northwich, I think about the house. And if I think about the house, then I think about my parents. And if I think about my parents, I think about how they’re buried six feet under in a small cemetery. And if I think about the cemetery, then I think about how guilty I feel for moving us away from them.

“Anyhow dear, normally I’d never phone the old tenants, or even have access to their numbers, but I felt this were important to call you.”

“Um,” I clear my throat, trying to get my lost voice back, “what can I help you with?” My curiosity, along with my anxiety, spikes.

“My husband found this envelope in the attic that was left behind.” Envelope? What envelope?

“What is in it?” I wonder.

Our attic, before Edward and I cleared it out, was a home for unwanted things, holiday items, and old family memories. Most of the unwanted things, like my old Spice Girls memorabilia and teenage items, were thrown out with our waste; whereas the family memories and holiday items were sitting, collecting dust in storage. I can’t exactly think of what this important envelope could be, as a lot of our important items were in a safe located somewhere else in our house.

It’s probably just old photos that fell out of a box.

“I didn’t really snoop too much, dear, but it does look important. Now, I can pop it in the post if you’d like or -” My mouth shoots out an answer before my brain has time to react, causing me to curse myself internally.

“Actually, do you mind if I stop by?”

“Oh, I don’t mind at all!” She exclaims happily. She quite a bit older than me and I can only imagine an elderly woman clapping cheerily at her expectancy of a visitor. “It would be lovely to meet you.”

“You as well.” I say, clearing my dry throat. “I get off work around half-four, I can be there about an hour after then. Is that alright?” With nervously tapping fingers I await her response, my brain already trying to figure out if I should bring Edward along or not.

“Sounds wonderful! I look forward to seeing you then.”

“Alright, bye.” I try and sound a tad cheery as I hang up my phone, but I know that I’m anything but cheery. I don’t know why I agreed to return to my childhood home when I can’t even think about it without getting choked up. How on earth am I to actually step foot in the house?

“You alright?” Victoria asks softly from where she sits. She has her phone out now, but her attention is all but directed to me. I give her a swift nod and a small smile, not wanting her to get too suspicious.

“Yeah, just an odd call.” I assure her as I stand to my feet. “Sorry, I need to make another call.” I tell her as I walk towards the edge of the room, where a large window faces out to the city around us. It’s quite gloomy out, the rain falling in a manner that would otherwise be relaxing if it weren’t for that phone call.

I make the decision that I won’t be bringing Edward with me to Northwich. I fear that if I bring him back, he’ll spiral again and I won’t know how to handle him. I fear that I’ll spiral as well, but there’s nothing I can do about it now.

Since Edward’s not coming along, I dial a familiar number on my phone and bring the device up to my ear, praying he’ll answer.

“Hello?” His voice is groggy and sounds as if he just woke up. I can’t deny the fact that his sleepy voice is incredibly attractive, with it being about an octave lower and than usual and holding more rasp than usual.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you?” I ask him, nibbling on my bottom lip.

“Yes, but it’s alright.” I hear him say as there’s shuffling on the other line. “I’d rather talk to you than sleep. How are you?” Even half-awake Harry’s more considerate than anyone I know.

“I’m good.” I say in short. After the phone call I just received I’m really not in the mood to talk to anyone anymore. “Listen, I hate to ask this of you, but can you pick Edward up from school today? I have to run some errands after work.”

I don’t know why I lied to him. It’s not like I’m going off to do something incredibly suspicious or dangerous. I know that if I told him the truth he’d want to tag along and I just don’t know if I actually want that right now. Sometimes you just have to do things on your own.

“Of course I can.” He answers, making me sigh lightly. “Do you want to borrow my vehicle? If these errands have to do anything with that witch I’d rather you drive than have to carry whatever God awful things she wants you to grab.” I smile at Harry’s words, even though a small amount of guilt rises within me at lying to him.

It’s not like it’s a big lie. I’m simply picking something up from my old home and then erasing the memory of ever returning.

“That would be lovely. I hadn’t even thought of that.”

“I’ll drop vehicle off with you at about…?”

“Four.” I answer, giving him enough time to drive to my place of employment and then pick Edward up from school.

Thank God for after school programmes and his counseling with Kate on certain days. With this job there would be no way I could get to the school by last bell at three-fifteen. I’m barely out of work by four-thirty.

“I can do that for you.”

“Thank you so much. Again, sorry I woke you.” I tell him, biting down on my lip and letting my eyes wander the city of Manchester through the window.

“Love, don’t worry about it.” Harry says and I can practically see the grin on his soft lips. He seems to want to talk a bit more, but I just don’t have it in me to continue the conversation on.

“Okay. I’d love to talk more but i’ve got to get back to work.”

“I’ll see you at four then.” He confirms and I try to smile to myself. Something tells me that if I continue speaking with him I’ll spill the true reasoning behind my departure from work to run “errands”.

“Bye.”

And with that, I hang up, leaving Harry in the dark.

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