If it weren’t for the fact that Andrew wasn’t there, Cleo could almost believe that her time in New Winslow had never happened. She’d been back in Boston for several days now and had fallen back into her old routine.
At least to some extent. Her boss was none too happy that she’d missed an extra week of work and had brought her in for a talk that led to her quitting the job before leaving on tour.
She knew leaving the job was a gamble, but thankfully she had enough money saved up to buy her a little time to find something new when she got back. That – plus the vacation renters that were staying in her place while she was gone – made the decision a little easier.
Jenna, on the other hand, was still something she was struggling with. Noah’s words about it not being worth the wait were still ringing in her ears. But then, so was the message she’d received when Jenna got home safely. And the sweet little texts she’d sent throughout the extra few days Cleo had been in New Winslow. So maybe, in this case, waiting was worth it.
The night before Cleo left on tour, she and Jenna were in her apartment, watching Netflix. After a week on Olivia’s slow satellite WiFi, Cleo was never taking Netflix for granted again. She and Jenna were curled up on the couch, watching a standup special, eating sushi, and drinking wine.
“I’ll miss you,” Cleo said suddenly, the wine making her feel a little braver than normal.
Jenna smiled. “I’ll miss you too,” she said, laying a soft hand on Cleo’s knee.
Cleo gazed around the apartment. “It’s so weird to think that someone’s going to just be living here while I’m gone. Like, just hanging out on this couch and sleeping in my bed.”
“Hmm…” Jenna agreed, watching the comic on TV as she stomped around the stage.
“I might have to go back home for a bit though, once I get back.”
This got Jenna’s attention. She turned to Cleo. “Really?”
Cleo nodded. “I, um, you know. Depending on how Andrew is doing.”
“Oh yeah,” Jenna said, her voice dismissive as she turned back to the TV. “I forgot. He’s still hurt?”
“He is,” Cleo said.
“Well, I guess you could just rent this place out again if you really need to,” Jenna said.
Cleo looked around at the wall hangings and furniture, everything so carefully chosen. She loved this apartment so much. But she couldn’t stay without a pang of guilt at the thought of Andrew sleeping on the couch at Olivia’s house.
“I might be gone until almost the end of the semester.”
Jenna leaned over and picked up her chopsticks. She picked up a piece of sushi, dipped it in soy sauce, and tossed it in her mouth. Then she chewed and swallowed while Cleo watched.
“That’s true,” she said finally.
“Will you still be here when I get back?”
Maybe Cleo was a little tipsier than she had thought. But the words were out before she fully considered the consequences of them.
Jenna was silent, and Cleo immediately regretted saying anything at all. She took another sip of wine and waited for Jenna’s reaction. Finally Jenna sighed, her blonde hair falling in her face. “Cleo…”
“I know,” Cleo said quickly, feeling huge and clumsy. “I’m sorry.”
“You know I’m not sure where I’m going from here,” Jenna said.
“It’s not that I don’t-”
“Yeah,” Cleo interrupted her.
She stood up. “I’m tired,” she said. “I’m going to go to bed.”
“Cleo, wait,” Jenna said.
She stopped. “Look, just because we don’t know that we have forever doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the time we do have, right?” Jenna asked.
“Yeah,” Cleo said. “I guess. It’s just that, how long do you expect me to wait?”
Jenna blinked. “What?”
“Nothing, nothing,” Cleo said quickly. “Nothing. It’s fine, it’s nothing. I’m just going to bed. Goodnight.”
Jenna nodded slowly, suddenly looking uncomfortable. “Um, goodnight. Do you…do you still want me to stay over?”
Cleo shrugged. “Up to you,” she said.
She knew the words sounded harsher than she meant them to, but she genuinely didn’t know. She suddenly felt a weird longing to be back in Olivia’s apartment with the others.
Jenna lowered her eyes. “Okay,” she said. “Um, goodnight then.”
She looked like she was about to say something else, but then didn’t. Cleo nodded.
“Goodnight,” she said, trying to soften her voice.
She smiled at Jenna, who smiled back a little uncomfortably. Then she turned and walked into her bedroom, closing the door behind her.
She climbed into bed, shut off her light, and sighed. Tomorrow at this time, she’d be in a shitty motel somewhere in New York. And Jenna and everything between them would be miles behind her.