Noah was definitely in love. He’d woken up from his impromptu nap when they arrived home. Elliot had immediately been regaled with every detail of his morning.
It warmed Olivia’s heart, watching them interact. Elliot had always been good with kids. But Noah was different.
He was hers.
“We’ve checked out the building and your apartment.” Mark distracted her from her thoughts. He’d gone up with his team first. “Your security is seriously lacking. We’ll come back later to install a better system along with a few cameras in the hallway.”
“You’re welcome. We’ll leave you in Stabler’s capable hands.” He was gone before she could respond, leaving her beside a grinning Elliot and her son.
“Mommy. ‘mergency man was a marine.” Noah pointed to the tattoo on Elliot’s arms. “Let’s go home. I’ve gotta show him my Lego robots.”
Olivia followed behind them while Noah dragged Elliot by the hand toward the elevator. “You’ve made a friend for life.”
The ride up to her floor was filled with Noah’s cheerful chatter. Olivia listened to the conversation while leaning against Elliot’s side. She was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to pass out in bed for a week.
It had triggered a lot of buried memories. She made a mental note to call her therapist’s office. It couldn’t hurt to have someone to take everything over with.
“Mom?” Noah tugged on her sleeve. “Mommy? Are you okay?”
Olivia blinked a few times, realizing Elliot was holding the elevator doors open while she’d been staring off into space. She rested her hand gently on Noah’s head and ruffled his curls. “I’m fine, sweet boy. I’m just very tired.”
“You can nap while ‘mergency man and I play with robots.” Noah nodded firmly. He led her down the hall with his little hand on her jacket. She’d given up on trying to get him to call Elliot something else. “And we can make you lunch.”
“Can you?” Olivia chuckled.
He turned inquisitive eyes towards Elliot. “Can you cook?”
“We’ll figure something out,” Elliot promised. He had a hand on Olivia’s back to offer support. She knew he sensed how close to physically collapsing from exhaustion she must be. “Where’s your keys?”
While Elliot held her bag, Olivia dug around to find her keys. She couldn’t recall the last time she felt so tired. Sleeping while tied to a chair had been nearly impossible.
Thank everything they’d at least given her bathroom breaks.
Not complete bastards.
Once inside their apartment, Olivia motioned for Elliot to leave her bag wherever. She gave Noah one last smothering hug and kiss then trudged toward her bedroom. She didn’t even bother to kick off her shoes, falling into bed with a groan.
When Olivia woke up, the curtains were closed and lights off. She’d been covered with a blanket and a pillow had been placed under her head. Her shoes and jacket were gone.
Rolling onto her back, Olivia rubbed her eyes and tried to clear the sleep out of them. She peered blearily at the clock on her nightstand. Seven? Elliot had obviously made the decision to let her rest.
The apartment was relatively quiet. She wasn’t overly concerned. Elliot had plenty of experience corralling multiple children.
One was likely a breeze.
Olivia sat up and noticed a glass of water plus several Advil on the nightstand. Elliot. Her partner. Always looking out for her. Always going above and beyond to take care of her.
“Liv? You up?”
She glanced over at the door when it cracked open. They’d always had a sixth sense about each other. “I’m up.”
Elliot stepped into the room and eased the door shut behind him. “I’ve got Noah watching a movie on your iPad, figured one wouldn’t destroy his brain. We had spaghetti for dinner. Plenty of leftovers.”
“Thank you.” Olivia finished drinking the water then got up to walk over to him. She looped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his chest. “Thank you for everything. Hope Noah wasn’t too much trouble.”
“He’s perfect, Liv.”
“My brave little miracle boy. I’ll never forget finding him.” She sniffled a little, trying to control the swirling emotions. She was safe. Home. Noah had developed a connection with Elliot. What if he left again?
“Liv? What’s wrong?” He gently eased her back enough to search her face. His fingers came up to brush tears from her eyes. “What did I do?”
“When do you have to leave?” When are you going to break my heart?
“Leave?” Elliot tilted his head to one side, sounding completely confused. “I told you. I’m not going anywhere. I’ve already talked to Mark. They’re reassigning me to the New York office. I’m staying. For you. For Noah. For my kids.”
“Staying?” Olivia swiped impatiently at a second flood of tears. “Sorry. I think I’m still a bit out of it.”
His arms came up around her again. He offered such a warm shelter from the past few days. “You and me, Liv.”
“Partners for life.”