New Winslow S2E14
Jenna was there in the morning when Cleo woke up. Blonde hair tickled her neck and she ran a sleepy hand down Jenna’s warm arm as she gradually opened her eyes.
Cleo carefully climbed out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make coffee. The winter sunlight in her kitchen was crisp and beautiful as it streamed in the windows, and she felt a pang at the idea of leaving it, even to go on tour.
They were meeting in Allston at eight and leaving from there. A glance at the clock showed Cleo that it was only six now. She had plenty of time to drink her coffee and her bags were already packed.
She sat on the couch, idly looking at her phone as she sipped her coffee. Every few minutes she’d look at the bedroom door, waiting for Jenna to come out. She wasn’t sure what she’d say though. Or if she really even had anything to say. Maybe she’d said too much last night.
Clearly Jenna wasn’t mad if she’d stayed over. But now that Cleo had finally broken the seal and said what she’d been thinking (albeit in a harsher, tipsier way than she had ever intended,she assumed they would have to have this conversation. It wasn’t like she could leave for five weeks, then who knows how many more in New Winslow, without actually talking about it.
It turned out she could. By seven-fifteen, Jenna still hadn’t woken up and Cleo had to go. She crept into the bedroom and shook Jenna softly.
“Jenna?” she whispered. “Hey, Jen?”
Jenna opened her eyes and smiled. “Hey, Cleo,” she said sleepily.
“I have to get going,” Cleo said, still whispering. “I’ll text you on the road.”
Jenna nodded. “Yeah, if you’ve got a chance, that sounds good.”
“I’ll see you soon.”
Jenna leaned over and kissed her. Her lips were warm and her breath was slightly stale, but Cleo committed the feeling to memory as she kissed her back.
Jenna broke away and smiled at her. “Lock the door when you leave,” Cleo said, unsure exactly what else to say.
Jenna gave her a mock salute. “Yes, ma’am.”
“I lo-I’ll miss you.”
Jenna’s cheerful expression flickered just for a second and Cleo felt her face heat up. She tried not to show her panic. “I have to go,” she said. “You know how the Red Line is.”
“Yeah, of course,” Jenna said. “Um, safe trip.”
Her smile felt fake. “Thanks. Um, good luck with the semester.”
She made it to the bottom of the stairs before she realized there was no way that she, her guitar, her amp, and both bags of clothes were going to make it on the train. She pulled out her phone with shaking hands and ordered a Lyft.
The driver pulled up five minutes later. She loaded the car, gave him a smile, and climbed in. He could obviously tell she didn’t feel like talking, and she was grateful that he simply asked if the radio was fine before focusing on the road.
Fuck. Cleo had tried to play off the slip, but Jenna obviously knew what she had been about to say. And did she really love Jenna? Or was she panicking at the idea of losing her? Or of them simply having the time apart?
She needed to calm down. It wasn’t like Jenna was going to dump her while she was gone. If anything, the time apart would probably help them figure out exactly what they were going to do. And besides, it wasn’t like this separation was unexpected. It wasn’t like-
Wasn’t like she moved away forever with zero notice.
She suddenly needed another cup of coffee.
The other band was already at the coffee shop where they planned to meet. She passed the shitty old van parked crookedly outside the building and glanced in the window, catching the eye of one of them, a stocky twenty-something with black hair. Cleo vaguely remembered him from The Blossom Step from the few times she’d seen them play over the years.
He stood up from his chair, waved, then walked out of the coffee shop and met her on the sidewalk. “Hey, Cleo?”
“Yeah,” Cleo replied, dropping her bag.
He held out a hand to shake. “Tyler. I think we’ve met a few times in passing. Sorry Claire didn’t tell you she was leaving the band. That was shitty, but it took us too long to figure out what was going on. So that’s on us too.”
She liked him immediately. “Nice to meet you,” she said, shaking his hand.
“We’ve got everything else under control, with the itinerary and all that. But thanks for taking the lead on the van.”
“Thanks for picking it up,” Cleo said. “I had a family emergency back in my hometown.”
“Oh, no problem,” Tyler said. “The rental place was like a block from my house. But yeah, want a coffee? You can toss your stuff in the van and join us.”
Cleo grinned, the excitement of leaving finally starting to outweigh the apprehension she’d felt since leaving Jenna. “I’d love a coffee,” she said, picking up her guitar.
She packed everything but the guitar into the van, which was way nicer on the inside than she had anticipated at first glance. It was surprisingly roomy, even full of equipment and luggage. And it smelled like pine air freshener.
It almost smelled like Noah’s truck. She felt a quick pang of something – guilt? Nostalgia? It settled in for a moment longer than she was comfortable with.
Should she text Andrew? Would he even want her to text him? Or would it be too much of a reminder that he was stuck? It might be like she was taunting him.
Or would it be worse to just leave and not text him? Leave him stranded in his own hell? Though he’d seemed shockingly okay when she left. Plus Olivia was there. And Noah, not that that probably helped right now.
But still, he couldn’t leave.
Maybe she should go back. Bail on the tour, go back to New Winslow, and help find a way to get Andrew out of there.
She pulled out her phone and sat down on one of the back seats.
His reply came a minute later.
Before she could reply, the three dots appeared, indicating he had more to say.
If that message is a prelude to you saying maybe you shouldn’t go on your tour, I’ll fucking kill you.
Tears pricked her eyes as she laughed.
I’m that obvious?
Sorry. I’m just feeling weird.
I understand. I’m not too keen on this whole situation either. But you need to do this. You need to go on this tour and get out there. I’ll be here when you get back.
Well, hopefully not here here.
She laughed, then stood up and walked into the coffee shop.