It seemed like the night started winding down shortly after that. Cleo and Andrew sat at a high-top table a little ways away from the bar, nursing beers while Olivia stopped by to see them every chance she got. The bar gradually began to empty and even though the jukebox was still going strong, the music was quieter.
Eventually, Cleo got up and approached Olivia, who was standing at the end of the bar.
“Hey, Liv, we have to get going,” she said. “But I’ll be in town tomorrow if you want to get lunch or something.”
Olivia grinned. “Sounds good,” she said. “Are you staying at your mom’s?”
Cleo shook her head. “Not this time,” she said. “She’s a little tight on room. So we’re going to get a hotel room a little ways out of town.”
Olivia frowned. “Really?” she asked. “Where are you staying? I don’t think there’s anything within forty minutes of here.”
“Wait, what?” Cleo said, her heart suddenly pounding. “But-”
“Yeah, Cleo, there are no hotels between here and, like, Orange,” Olivia said. “I mean, apart from the creepy bed and breakfast in Petersham that’s always booked. Is that what you were thinking of?”
“Fuck,” Cleo muttered, closing her eyes. “Are you sure?”
“I run the local townie bar,” Olivia said. “Trust me, I’m sure.”
Andrew approached them before Cleo could reply. “Ready to go?” he asked.
“Andrew, we have a problem,” Cleo said, dreading every word. “There’s, um, actually not a hotel around here.”
She watched his face as her words sank in. “Seriously?” he said. “Nothing? Wasn’t there a place in Petersham?”
“It’s that creepy bed and breakfast,” Cleo said. “I don’t know how I possibly forgot that.”
“I told my mom we were fine,” Cleo said. “She’s probably asleep, but I guess I could call her and say our plans fell through. Or we can just go stay at the old house and bundle up.”
“Come stay at my place,” Olivia said.
“What, no,” Andrew said before Cleo could answer. “Thanks, Liv, but we couldn’t possibly-”
“Seriously,” Olivia said. “You’re not going to find anywhere tonight, it’s almost midnight. And you’re not staying somewhere without heat.”
Cleo tried to keep her despair hidden. “She’s right,” she told Andrew.
Andrew sighed, and Cleo avoided looking at him. As nice as it had been to reconnect with Olivia, she’d promised they wouldn’t have to stay in town.
“Thanks, Liv,” Andrew said after a moment. “We really appreciate it.”
“No problem!” Olivia said enthusiastically. “It’ll be nice to have you guys. I’ve got plenty of beer in the fridge and Mia will be asleep, so we can hang out for a while.”
That actually did sound pretty nice to Cleo. “Stick around while me, Noah, and Charlie close up,” Olivia said. “Then we can head over. Last call is coming up, so go grab a drink from Noah while you wait.”
Some guy flagged Olivia down from his table, and she walked away. Andrew turned to Cleo. “I guess that’s our plan gone to hell,” he said.
“It’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Cleo said, though she was trying to convince herself just as much. “Besides, it’ll be nice to get a little extra time with Liv.”
Andrew shrugged. “True,” he said. “But I swear to God if we get stuck here…”
Cleo winced. “Come on, let’s go grab those drinks.”
They approached the now-empty bar where Noah was drying glasses and humming to himself. He looked up as they got closer and grinned.
“Hey, you guys want something before I pack it in? Oh, first! Shots! A welcome home shot!”
Before either of them could react, Noah had three shot glasses on the bar and was filling them with whiskey. He set one down in front of all of them, still not making anything more than polite eye contact with Andrew. They all picked up their glasses, clinked them together, and took the shot.
“Whew,” Andrew breathed, putting down his shot glass. “I think that’s good for me.”
“Same,” Cleo said.
Noah laughed. “You’re getting old,” he said, pouring himself another shot and tossing it back. “Alright, I’m going to go wash these dishes real quick.”
“You’re only three months younger than -” Cleo sighed as the door swung shut behind him.
Cleo and Andrew waited outside of the bar as the staff finished closing up. Olivia had offered them the option to stay inside, but both of them agreed that they needed some air. So now they stood out by the rental car, watching customers gradually file out of the building.
“I can’t fucking believe this,” Andrew said.
Cleo flinched. “I should have checked,” she said. “I’m sorry, I had it in my head that there was at least something nearby.”
Andrew looked like he was about to say something, but then just sighed. “I did the same thing,” he said. “So it’s not like I can get mad at you. I’m just…ugh.”
“At least we don’t have to stay at the old house with no power?” Cleo said. “And Liv’s cool. Maybe it’ll be fun to hang out at her house for a few days.”
Cleo sighed. “It’ll be fine. Maybe we can, like, test it every day or something. Drive over the line and make sure we’re still good.”
Andrew shrugged. “Yeah, I suppose that’ll work.”
They stood silently for a moment, the scent of cigarettes wafting toward them. Andrew hadn’t smoked in two years, but suddenly all he wanted was one of those cigarettes.
“Noah seemed happy to see you,” Cleo said.
Andrew laughed a little. “He was being polite. He couldn’t have been less interested in talking to me.”
Cleo grimaced, but didn’t disagree. She glanced at her phone, which had no service. “Liv should be out any minute,” she said. “She said she walked here, so I told her we’d drive over together.”
Before Andrew could answer, the bar door opened and Olivia and Noah walked out. They stopped for a moment as Olivia locked the door, then turned and started walking toward the car.
Olivia waved. “Hey, sorry to keep you waiting,” she said.
“No problem!” Cleo said. She turned to Noah as she opened the driver’s side door. “Are you coming too?”
“If you don’t mind giving me a ride.”
“Not at all,” Cleo said. Noah smiled at her, then climbed into the backseat.
Andrew quickly slid into the front seat next to Cleo, and Olivia followed Noah into the backseat. They were silent as Cleo pulled out of the parking lot and started driving through town.