Tyler was driving again as they made their way down an endless expanse of highway. He’d reluctantly turned on one of Edie’s podcasts as he drove and now a British game show Cleo vaguely recognized was playing. She half paid attention as she tried to keep herself from looking at her phone again.
Two days in and still nothing from Jenna. Cleo had caved and texted her the first night, just to say they’d made it to Buffalo safely. Jenna hadn’t responded.
Thirty hours later, Cleo couldn’t keep telling herself that it was just the spotty service in the hotel. In that time, she’d received a text from her mother and carried on a full conversation with Olivia. She was tempted to send another text before the show tonight if she didn’t hear from Jenna at all.
“Shit, I know this one!”
Edie’s voice broke through Cleo’s haze. They were hunched forward in the middle seat beside her, as though proximity to the speakers was what would help them remember the answer.
Edie snapped their fingers frantically as they tried to come up with the answer. “Shit, shit, Cleo, do you know? It’s right on the top of my tongue!”
“I wasn’t paying attention,” Cleo admitted.
Edie opened their mouth to respond, then glanced at the phone in Cleo’s hand and said nothing.
“It’s Verizon,” Tyler said, just as a woman on the podcast said the same thing.
“Yes!” Edie exclaimed, pointing at him. “Yes, thank you!”
They settled back into their seat, their leg brushing against Cleo’s. Cleo set her phone in the cup holder in front of her and leaned her head against the headrest, resisting the urge to sigh. The cheerful British accents on the radio made her think of Andrew, which made her feel guilty again.
Her phone buzzed in the cup holder and she lunged for it, nearly knocking into Edie. She snatched it up and looked at the screen.
Facebook notification. Noah had liked her photo of a sunrise over a field. Okay, that was nice. Noah was apparently still alive. But still no Jenna.
“Everything okay?” Edie asked.
Suddenly, Cleo realized the only voice in the car was the man on the podcast. Edie and Ryan were watching her from the other backseat and the passenger seat respectively. Tyler was thankfully facing the road, but he was still very clearly listening.
Cleo felt her face get hot. “Yeah,” she muttered. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bump you.”
“You didn’t?” Edie was watching her intently now, a frown on their face. “You just seem kind of jumpy.”
“It’s fine,” Cleo said quickly.
Her phone buzzed again and she jerked her head towards it. Another Facebook notification. A college friend had also liked the sunrise.
Why had she posted that stupid picture? How could she have known the pain it was going to cause her a day later? Her phone buzzed again and she could see the notification before she even looked away from the first one.
She really needed to shut off Facebook notifications.
Tyler and Ryan had turned back to the podcast and the road, but Edie continued to look at Cleo. Their concerned expression was a little too reminiscent of Noah’s a couple of weeks ago when she’d fought with Jenna on the way to Worcester.
“I swear, I’m fine,” Cleo said quietly. “I’m just waiting on a text from my girlfriend.”
“When was she supposed to text you?”
“Um, sometime in the past three days.”
Edie’s perfectly plucked eyebrows arched. “Your girlfriend hasn’t texted you in three days?”
Cleo nodded. Edie’s eyebrows rose higher. “Have you texted her?”
Edie nodded and now Ryan was also looking back at them. “Wow,” he said. “That’s cold.”
“Was everything fine when you left?” Edie asked.
Cleo nodded, suddenly feeling the urge to give in to the conversation and tell these still-almost strangers everything. “At least I think so,” she said. “But I might’ve fucked up.”
“Oh?” Edie prompted.
“What did you do?” Tyler asked, eyes still on the road.
“I accidentally said I loved her,” Cleo said. “Or, I almost did. I caught myself, but she noticed.”
“Wow, what a fucking crime,” Tyler muttered.
Cleo’s face was on fire. Maybe she should have kept her mouth shut. “We’re not…we’re not like that.”
“That’s fair,” Edie said. “New relationship? It makes sense that she might be a little freaked out. Though she should still answer your texts.”
“It’s not a new relationship,” Cleo said, stealing a glance at her phone. “It’s casual, but we’ve been together for a year.”
Ryan’s laugh was quickly disguised as a cough. “A year?” he repeated. “And she’s freaked out enough by that to leave you on read for three days? While you’re on tour?”
Cleo didn’t answer. She could feel the tears pricking at her eyes, and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to talk without her voice wavering. And she was not going to cry in front of these people. They were very nice, and she enjoyed their company immensely, but she wasn’t going to be the one crying on her first tour. Right in the van.
Edie looked like they were about to say something. But then they caught sight of Cleo’s face and shut their mouth. Instead, Edie reached over and squeezed Cleo’s knee. They smiled, then turned back to face the front of the van.
“Oh, I know this one!” Edie exclaimed.
Cleo had no idea what the question actually was.
“Want some chips?”
Cleo looked up from her phone and over to the other bed where Edie was holding out a bag of sour cream and onion chips in her direction.
“I’m good, thanks.”
Edie looked a little unsure for a second. This was the first time she’d seen that expression on their face. For the couple days Cleo has known them, Edie had been almost intimidatingly chill. Even though Cleo was now sure she was older than Edie and the others by a few years, Cleo still kind of felt like the wide-eyed kid on this tour.
“Actually, yeah, I’ll have some,” Cleo said, reaching over and taking a few chips out of the bag before Edie could pull it away. “Thanks.”
“Sure,” Edie said, the confident smile back in place. “Help yourself if you want more.”
They sat quietly for a few minutes. Then Edie spoke again.
“Hey, Cleo,” they said. “I hope we didn’t, like, cross any lines in the van earlier. When we were talking about your girlfriend.”
“No, it’s fine.”
“Good,” Edie said. “I was worried that maybe we took it too far. I didn’t want you to think you were stuck with a bunch of assholes for the next month.”
Cleo laughed and shook her head. “That thought honestly didn’t occur to me,” she said.
“I got out of a long-term relationship about a year ago,” Edie said. “So I know it sucks when you aren’t sure if you’re on the same page or whatever.”
“I don’t even know what page I’m on,” Cleo said, huffing a laugh. “I’ve been turning it over in my mind all day and I don’t think I’m in love with her. I think I panicked because we fought and I was leaving. Which is…wow, I fucked up on multiple levels.”
Edie winced, crunching on a chip. “I’ve definitely done similar things,” they said.
They held out the bag, and Cleo took another chip. “I think I could fall in love with her, though,” she said. “That’s the thing. I like her so much and I can see a future where I love her.”
Edie nodded and took another chip. Then they wiped their hand on their jeans and stood up.
“I’m gonna take a shower,” they said. “Want to watch Food Network afterward until we fall asleep?”
Cleo laughed. “That sounds fantastic.”
Edie winked at her, then turned and walked into the bathroom.