“How’s your mom doing?”
Those were Ryan’s first words as he squeezed Cleo tightly seconds after walking in the door. She hugged him back, oddly touched that it was his first concern. When he’d called to ask if he could stop by on his way back to Boston tonight, Cleo had assumed it was just Blossom Step business. But he’d said he specifically wanted to talk to her too.
“She’s doing alright,” Cleo replied as they let go. “She’s home and we’re working on getting a home nurse in to see her regularly.”
“Good,” Ryan said with a nod. “I’m so glad to hear that. When Edie told us what had happened, I was so worried.”
“Sorry, I should have let you-”
“No, absolutely not,” Ryan interrupted, holding up a hand. “You had other things to deal with. Anyway, I brought chips and dip. I forgot to grab drinks on the way though. Do you have some or do you want me to run back out?”
Cleo could use a beer right now, but they obviously didn’t have any in the house, not with Edie seven years into recovery. She’d noticed the guys would have an occasional beer around Edie and Edie never seemed to care. But if they were in their home, they were probably all staying sober tonight.
“We’ve got seltzers in the fridge,” she said, not entirely sure how to navigate this without accidentally offending anyone.
But her unease seemed to be misplaced because Ryan nodded and flashed a smile. “Sounds good,” he said. “Edie!”
Cleo turned to see Edie walking into the kitchen. She started pulling seltzers out of the fridge, forcing herself not to get too impatient as they greeted each other. Whatever Ryan wanted to talk about couldn’t be that bad. They’d already decided to go on tour together and Edie had made it clear that they weren’t breaking up. So he couldn’t be standing here in their kitchen to break any earth-shattering news.
“Alright,” Edie said, grabbing the chips and a serving bowl off the counter. “Living room! I want to hear what was so important that you left UMass before you could finish flirting with the entire music faculty.”
A few minutes later, Ryan was lounging comfortably on the sofa in Cleo and Edie’s apartment. Cleo was a little unsure how to respond as he smirked at her. Ryan wasn’t the type to play pranks and he wasn’t a creep. So what was this about?
“So Ryan,” she responded.
“Have you happened to look at your sales in the past few days?”
Cleo frowned. “What, like my record sales? No.”
“I assume you haven’t either?” Ryan said, glancing over at Edie.
“I haven’t even looked at ours, I’ve been so busy.”
“Have you, in your busy day, perhaps looked at our Instagram page?”
Edie’s eyes widened but Cleo was still lost as Edie pulled out their phone and started scrolling, looking for something.
“Holy shit!” they exclaimed after a few seconds of searching. “Cleo, you’re viral!”
Cleo’s heart skipped as she took the offered phone. There she was, with the song she’d scribbled down in an evening, playing on The Blossom Step’s social media. But the numbers on this page were bigger than she’d ever seen. She wasn’t great about keeping her own social media updated in between releases, but as she clicked over to her own profile, she could see that there were nearly three times as many followers as she’d had last time she checked.
“What the hell happened?” she asked.
Ryan shrugged. “As far as I can tell, some of our fans out in Buffalo took a liking to it. And between that and your opening act for us last winter, maybe they decided they like you too?”
“They really like you,” Edie added. “It’s only been a few days. Buffalo isn’t fucking around.”
“They’re using it as background music,” Cleo said. “Look at this.”
She handed the phone back to Edie. Some scene was playing on it, clearly a high school romance story. It was cheesy and amateur. But it also had nearly a million views. And her song was in the background.
“You’re in the comments,” Edie said, scrolling through. “’What’s the song playing?’ ‘This made me cry. The song didn’t help.’ ‘How do I buy the song?’ They linked to your site.”
Hands shaking, Cleo took out her own phone and pulled up her album sales dashboard. What she saw wasn’t life changing, she wasn’t going to be able to stop doing deliveries. But it was money. And a lot more than usual.
“Oh my God,” she said. “This is like, sales. A lot of them.”
Ryan’s eyes widened as he looked at the numbers on the page. “Holy shit,” he said. “That’s…how? I knew it was going to be big. My buddy Dean had a song go viral a few years ago. But Cleo…”
“Don’t get too excited for me, I’m sure it’s a one time thing,” she said.
“No, but that’s the point,” Edie said. “Ryan, where’s Tyler? He’s the brains behind the business end of the band. Cleo, it doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. You can use the momentum here to keep it going, you know?”
It wasn’t like Cleo didn’t want sales. Obviously, she knew it was the right thing to do here. But that didn’t stop her heart from suddenly racing. “This is…it’s a lot,” she said, looking down at the numbers. “I mean, maybe you’re right. Or maybe it’s just a boost.”
“Let’s call Tyler,” Ryan said. “We’ll get a pizza and hash it out. This affects all of us, right? Not that I’m asking you for money, though if you want to…”
Edie rolled their eyes and Ryan laughed. “I’m kidding,” he said. “But we got a boost from this too. So let’s sit down and see what we want to do.”
Hands still shaking, Cleo set down her phone and reached for Edie’s hand.