New Winslow S6E17
Cleo hadn’t planned to spend the night in New Winslow. When she left her mother’s house, she’d known she couldn’t leave right away. But she also knew her dad had things under control. So she’d just stay until that uneasy feeling faded, then go home to Edie. But that wasn’t how things ended up happening.
She blinked awake to Liv calling her name. “Hmm?” Cleo murmured, sitting up and trying to push her tangled hair out of her face.
“Are you alright?” Liv asked.
Cleo blinked and realized she was still in Liv’s living room, laying on the couch. She’d apparently fallen asleep at some point while the others were talking about what needed to happen at the Limerick building tomorrow.
“Yeah, long day, sorry,” Cleo murmured as she sat up. “Shit, what time is it?”
“It’s fine,” Liv said, her voice soft. “We all fell asleep. It’s midnight.”
That jolted her fully awake. “I have to get going,” she said. “I didn’t tell Edie I was-”
“You can stay here,” Liv offered.
Cleo stopped. If it was midnight and she ran out the door right now (unlikely), then she wasn’t getting home until about twelve-thirty at the earliest. That got her in bed at, what, twelve forty-five if she showered quickly? And then she had to be up at five to get dressed and come back to New Winslow to relieve her father so he could go to Worcester for another consultation. But if she stayed, it’d be a ten minute drive.
“I didn’t bring clothes,” she said, realizing it at the exact moment she decided that yes, she’d rather stay.
“You can borrow…” Liv started, but Cleo looked at her with a smile and she stopped, laughing as well. “Okay, fair.”
“Your pants would come up to my knees,” Cleo said. “But thank you.”
“Get something from Noah,” Liv suggested. “It’s late. It’s cold, you don’t need to be driving.”
Her tone was light, but Cleo could see traces of that now-familiar fear on Liv’s face. And since the idea of staying was more and more appealing, she wasn’t even annoyed by the pushing.
She glanced over and saw that Andrew and Noah were both asleep on the couch and in the recliner. “Are you sure?” Cleo asked Liv.
“Yeah, steal his wallet while you’re up there.”
Cleo couldn’t help the burst of laughter that came out too loudly in the quiet room. “I mean about me staying.”
She pulled out her phone and saw that she’d already missed a text from Edie.
Is everything okay?
Shit. She sent back a quick text, then thought better of it and called. The phone rang and a moment later, it connected.
Edie sounded half-asleep, which made sense considering they usually went to bed by ten. “I’m so sorry,” Cleo said. “My dad took over and I went to Liv’s after because I felt like I should stay and I fell asleep. I just woke up, I’m an asshole.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Edie murmured. “You’re spending the night, right?”
“I guess I am now.”
“Good. Get some rest, I love you.”
Her heart lifted. “I love you too.”
She hung up the phone, then got up and walked over to the recliner, where Noah was snoring softly. She planned to just gently shake him, but the second she touched his shoulder, he shot upright and looked at her, eyes wild. Cleo jumped back, whacking her shin painfully on the coffee table.
“What?” Noah asked.
“I’m sorry!” Cleo exclaimed. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted to ask if I can borrow some clothes.”
“What? Oh, yeah, yeah, sure.”
He settled back against the recliner with his eyes closed. “Are you cool with me going up and getting them?” Cleo asked
“No, I’ve got it.”
She expected him to argue, but he just nodded sleepily. “Can you check my windows while you’re up there?” he asked. “Storm’s picking up.”
It wasn’t even raining outside. Unsure how to respond, she glanced at Liv. Liv shrugged, but she was frowning. “Yeah, sure,” Cleo said.
She made her way out the door and into the dark hallway between their apartments. Walking into Noah’s darkened home a moment later, she was viscerally reminded of the night her mother got lost. She’d been up here since, but in the dark, she could almost see herself and Edie on the pullout couch, hours after Noah had found her mother in the woods. Her head swam for a second and she reached for the light switch. Once the room was illuminated, she breathed a little easier.
Noah’s cat, Gray Lady, came out of his bedroom, scowling at her and blinking heavily in the sudden light. “Sorry, kitty,” she whispered, “I’m just borrowing some clothes.”
Cleo was a little nervous going into Noah’s dresser. Not that she’d never borrowed clothes from him before, he was the only one whose clothes almost fit her, at least more than Liv’s or Andrew’s did. It seemed cruel, but as she reached into the middle drawer for a t-shirt, she braced herself for the feeling of a hidden bottle or plastic nip tucked in there. Thankfully, she felt nothing but soft fabric as she pulled out the first shirt she found and closed the drawer. The same thing happened with the bottom drawer as she pulled out a pair of sweatpants that she was going to have to repeatedly roll up.
She felt a little guilty as she realized she’d kind of expected to find something. But she couldn’t help worrying, just like she couldn’t help worrying about her mom. And Andrew. And this terrible little town in general, which contained nearly everybody she’d ever loved. And now her dad was back here too, which was less weird by the day, but still put him in danger.
And yet, the idea of walking downstairs into that warm living room, where her friends were all asleep, was the most appealing thing she’d heard in a while. What the fuck was wrong with her?