“Claire could die,” Denise said, sniffling. “And Jane. And Gabe’s probably being tortured—”
“Don’t say that!” Maddie screeched. “Don’t say that. He’s fine. He has to be.”
“Oh, stop freaking out,” Denise snapped. “Just because he’s your boyfriend doesn’t give you the right to scream at me.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Maddie hurled back. “Clayton is. Gabe is my friend, which is more than I can say for you.”
“Enough,” Daniel said in a commanding tone, worthy of his father. “We shouldn’t fight. This trip was supposed to bring us closer together. We aren’t friends, but we should be. Clayton can’t stand Claire, but he helped find her. She may be a bitch, but she’s one of us. Gabe’s one of us too and I hope like hell he’s okay. Because if he’s not, it’s Claire’s fault. All she’s done is cause trouble. I’ve tried to be nice and Christian about this, but I’m done.”
Daniel got up and went back to the boys’ room. No one was sure if they should follow him or not. Finally, Patti got up and went after him. Clayton and Maddie decided to join them, leaving Richard with Denise. He trailed in a few minutes later.
“Jeesh, please don’t leave me with her ever again. She wanted to make out. Huhhh.” He shuddered.
“She’s nearly as insufferable as Claire,” Daniel said. “The only one of them who came out of this a better person, is Beverly.”
“At least she’s calm enough to sit with Les. I’m a wreck. I’m worried sick about Gabe,” Maddie said quietly.
Clayton’s face clouded. Maddie touched his hand.
“He’s my friend. At one point, I kind of hoped he might be more, but I’m delighted with my choice. I would be more worried about you.”
They kissed lightly on the lips, as did Daniel and Patti.
“I’m gonna go check on Beverly and Les,” Richard said, rising quickly. He stumbled out the door.
“I’m going with,” Brad mumbled as he backed toward the door.
The boys laughed.
“Way to clear a room, bro,” Daniel teased. “If we want privacy, we have a sure fire method. Shall we?” He opened his arms, grinning at Patti.
“Don’t be getting ideas with all the sleeping bags around,” Patti chided.
“What ideas?” Daniel tried to look innocent. “—that we haven’t already had a million times over. Give us some credit, huh? Kissing. I promise. I’ll sit on my hands.” He did so.
Patti leaned over to kiss him and the lights went out. Denise screamed from the girls’ room. Richard stumbled to the door, a lighter in one hand.
“What the fuck, dude?” He looked scared. “Anyone got flashlights?”
“I have a flashlight,” Patti said. “A little one on my keyring.” She dug through her purse, dropping it in disgust. “Which I left at home because I don’t need my keys in New Mexico!”