Their dinner is delicious and the entertainment, provided by Gabe, Jose and Luis, is superb. The last dance of the night, the band sings Into the Mystic by Van Morrison. Clayton asks Maddie to dance, holding her close.
“I love you, Maddie,” he whispered.
She barely heard him over the music, but she knew what he’d said. She turned her head so her mouth was right by his ear. “I love you, too,” she murmured.
His fingers twined in her hair as he brought her mouth close. His kiss fully expressed his love for her. They stopped dancing, lost in their kiss.
A sharp, jarring note on the guitar made them pull apart. Gabe barely missed a beat, winking and tipping his hat. Fortunately, the chaperones were lost in their own little worlds as well. Craig and Polly had eyes only for one another. Even Caroline and Leslie were lost in one another’s gaze. Only their friends saw them and none of them would tell. In fact, several of the other teen couples were exchanging a furtive kiss or two.
All too soon, the music ended and the musicians took their instruments back inside. The youth group members were the last to leave, staying behind to talk to their New Mexico friends. With hugs and kisses all around, they finally got back in their cars and headed back to the church compound.
No one felt like sleeping. They were all too excited by their wonderful night and delicious meal. The teenagers sat up talking and laughing, long after the adults retired. They sat in the kitchen, eating leftovers and drinking sodas. Gradually, they headed for bed, leaving Clayton, Maddie, Daniel and Patti alone in the common room.
“Can you believe how well they played?” Maddie gushed. “And such great music! All my favorites.”
Patti giggled, nodding. “I think that was Gabe’s doing. Didn’t you notice how he kept asking you about your favorite songs?”
“I thought he was just making conversation.”
“Totally clueless,” Patti said.
They laughed a few minutes, falling into an awkward silence. It soon became apparent that the boys didn’t feel like talking anymore. They had something else on their minds. Perhaps it was a glance, or maybe that gentle pressure on the back of her neck. Maddie wasn’t sure, but she found herself in Clayton’s arms. Right before closing her eyes, she saw Patti moving closer to Daniel.
A few delicious minutes passed. Their bliss was interrupted by Patti slapping Daniel. She hopped off the couch, shoving him away. Totally flummoxed by her actions, Daniel squinted up at her, holding his cheek.
“I don’t know what you’ve been told about me, Daniel. But I don’t do that!”
“Do what? We were kissing.”
“Like you weren’t copping a feel!”
“I was? Maybe? Shit, Patti. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”
“Patti,” Clayton spoke sharply to get her attention. “He’s not that guy, okay? Daniel’s cool. One of the good guys.”
Patti burst into tears. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She ran from the room.
Maddie followed, finding her in the bathroom.