Clayton’s anger is pretty obvious to the men in the group—especially Gabe. Realizing that he might be stepping on Clayton’s toes, Gabe asks Maddie a few questions about her relationship with Clayton. She insists they are just friends. Gabe’s discerning male eye sees more.
Gabe nodded, pretty sure that Clayton didn’t see their relationship the same way. “Clayton ever ask you out?”
“We’ve gone to movies with a bunch of friends, he’s given me rides to parties, and we went to Home Coming together a couple times.” She shrugged. “Neither of us is dating anyone, so it’s fun to go together. He’s one of my best friends.”
Gabe sucked in his breath sharply. “Ouch, mi cariña. No man wants to be a friend. That’s like the kiss of death.”
“Why so many questions? Does it really matter how Clayton and I feel about each other?”
Gabe’s gaze lingered on her eyes and he felt himself fall into the deep, blue depths. “I guess not.”
Their conversation was somewhat stilted after that. Maddie couldn’t help wondering why Gabe asked those questions. Was he interested in her? Did he want to make sure that Clayton wasn’t competition? Why would he even think that? They were good friends, nothing more.
Clayton was gone for nearly an hour, but came back to help clean up. He looked angry and wouldn’t speak to Maddie when she approached him. Instead, he made an excuse and walked rapidly in the other direction.
Patti and Madison were in the downstairs bathroom talking while washing up for dinner.
“What did I do?” she asked Patti.
“After that kiss, you seriously ask that?”
“It was barely a kiss at all.” Maddie paused. “God, did everyone see?”
“Why would Clayton be mad?”
“Because he lusts after you.”
“Oh, he doesn’t. He’s just my…. Oh, my god, he does!” She’d remembered Clayton’s abortive attempts at necking at the Home Coming dance the prior fall. He hadn’t pushed, but he had tried on more than one occasion, to kiss her.
“I didn’t take him seriously. I thought he was just being a guy. How was I supposed to know?”
“Because he’s a guy,” Patti said. “I strongly suggest you talk to him before you get swept off your feet by rock hard and handsome.”
After dinner, Maddie tried to get Clayton alone to talk to him, but he kept avoiding her. Finally giving up, she decided she was merely imagining things. How could he like her? They knew everything about each other. She even knew who he’d lost his virginity to a few months ago. Not that she wanted to know, but he told her anyway. They had always shared their deepest secrets with one another. Having him completely cut her off, it was like part of her was locked away in a box. Moping, she went to bed early, curled on her side in the dark. Patti came in a little while later and got ready for bed. She flopped down on her sleeping bag.