“Yeah. You’ve got an amazing girl. If I were a real prick, I’d beat your ass and carry her away. But since I’m a gentleman, I’m stepping off. I can see how much she cares about you. I might want her for myself, but I can’t. You helped find Claire, a girl you clearly can’t stand. I think that’s the most honorable thing I ever saw anyone do.” He held out his hand to Clayton. “So, go sit by your lady before one of the others notices I’m gone and moves in on her.”
Clayton laughed, shaking Gabe’s hand. “Thank you. I didn’t want to lose her, but—crazy as it seems, if she went with anyone…. You’re a good man, too.”
They walked back to the trees and relaxed in the shade. Clayton took a seat near Maddie and Gabe dropped under a tree, on the other side of the circle.
“Clayton, what was that song you were telling me about? That one—with the thing….”
“What song with what thing?”
“That wa-wa voice thingy. You know! The guy with all the hair.” Her hand gestures were typically vague and totally Maddie.
Clayton hid a smirk. He knew who and what she meant, he simply loved to torment her. “Oh, that clears it right up, babe. What color hair?”
“Blond. I think. Curly. Skinny, British, almost as cute as you.”
“Yes!” She kissed his cheek without thinking. “That song by Frampton—?” She waited for him to supply the name.
“Do You Feel Like We Do.”
“Yes, thank you!” She paused. “Now I can’t remember what I was saying about it.”
“You like Frampton?” Luis asked.
“What other musicians do you like?”
“Now, you’ve done it,” Clayton said. “Have you got an hour, maybe two?” He grinned, laughing when Maddie took a swing at him. Her knuckles connected with his upper arm and he yelped. “Ouch, Clayton Abuse!”
“You make me sound like some kind of freak.”
“On the contrary, extensive musical taste is cool. As long as it’s not disco,” he replied. “Cause that stuff sucks.”
Polly cleared her throat.
“Okay, then. But he’s right. I could go on for the next four hours and not remember everyone.”
“Guess it’s easier to ask what you don’t like,” Luis replied with a smirk.
“Don’t get her started on that either,” Clayton suggested. “In fact, shy away from music entirely unless you want to be stuck here for the rest of the year.”
Maddie balled up her fist.
“I’m kidding! Sheesh!”
Les came to the porch. “Jose, Maria called. She said to remind the boys about tonight.”