“So?” Patti asked.
“He won’t talk to me.”
“Are you really surprised? You kissed another guy.”
“Clayton isn’t my boyfriend,” Madison declared. “He’s just a guy—”
“Who wants to be your boyfriend,” Patti finished.
“Well, it’s too late. If Gabe wants to kiss me, I’m going to let him. In fact, I might kiss him next time.”
“Not in front of everyone, huh? That wouldn’t be right.”
Madison rolled over, giving Patti a fine view of her back.
“Okay, be that way. But it’s a mistake. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Maddie closed her eyes, punched her pillow and tried to get comfortable. She finally fell asleep and didn’t wake when the other girls came in to get ready for bed.
The following morning, they loaded into cars and pickups with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed to a sister church in the mountains. A new mission church had been built and they were providing labor for the landscaping. Once again, Leslie proved himself a worthy member of the team. He knew all about laying out and planting a garden. He divided them all onto teams and gave them specific jobs. Working in the equivalent of an assembly line, they got everything in the ground in record time.
The ladies of the church provided lunch, another Mexican feast. Everything was homegrown, including the beef in the tacos and the chicken in the pallea. After eating, the teenagers lay under the trees and rested for a couple hours until the sun dropped and it cooled off. They spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up after themselves.
Around 4:00, they piled back into the cars and drove into the mountains. There was a beautiful campsite. They weren’t spending the night, but they were going to have a cookout. They roasted marshmallows over the fire. There was a grill and Jose and Craig took turns cooking hot dogs and hamburgers.
Once again, they gorged themselves on the good food. When it was dark, they sat around the fire and made s’mores. Gabe, Clayton, Brad and Craig brought out their guitars and tuned them. Craig started playing a song and the rest joined in. The others listened at first, but couldn’t keep from singing along.
After a short conference, they decided on the next tune. Gabe started strumming and the others joined in. He took vocals, his voice caressing the lyrics of Little Wing. It seemed to Madison that he sang just for her. When he got to the second verse, she joined him, her voice blending beautifully with his. The song ended and everything was quiet. Maddie opened her eyes, not realizing she’d shut them. Everyone was staring at her, including Gabe. Embarrassed, she glanced around the fire, afraid to meet anyone’s gaze.
“I never, in all my life, heard you sing like that, Mads,” Clayton whispered, as if afraid he’d break some kind of spell.
“No, it was beautiful,” Claire sighed, wiping a tear. “Sing something else. Sing—I’d Rather Go Blind. That’s if you know it.”