"He is so hot."
Kendra waved him off absently. "No, Terrance, you can't ask him out."
The short, dark haired teenager scowled at her and let out a breath noisily to show his exasperation. "Why not?"
"Because this is a church. The boys here probably aren't the best ones to hit on. Did you ever think of that?"
"But he's hot. And besides, I'm gay and I'm here. Why can't I ask him?"
"Because Al comes here regularly, whereas you are only here because I refused to come by myself for 'bring a friend' night."
"So his name's Al? What's that short for? Alan?"
"Alexander, actually, but it's a mouthful, and he hates being called Alex."
"But this meeting is going to be so boring if I can't at least flirt with the cute boy. Are you sure he's straight? I mean, he's hanging out with three girls, no boys, and he's wearing skinny jeans."
"Well…I never actually asked him or anything…"
"Then I don't see why I can't go talk to him," Terrance insisted, starting to stand up and cross the large room they were sitting in. His friend grabbed his arm and dragged him back down into the seat next to her.
"No," she said.
"Ow!" Terrance protested, rubbing his arm and rolling his cotton sleeve up to see the red mark she left on his arm. He glanced up and grinned, seeing bright blue eyes looking his way. "He's staring at us now."
"At least wait until after the meeting to humiliate yourself, okay?"
Terrance scowled. "But what if he leaves before I get a chance?"
"Sucks to be you. You'll find another guy you think is just as hot."
"Yeah…but…" Terrance sighed. "What are we even supposed to be doing tonight?"
"Hell if I know. The leaders never tell us in advance. Board games, I think, since there's a pile stacked up over on the table," Kendra said, gesturing to the brightly colored boxes on a folding table across the room.
"Shut up, asshole."
Terrance huffed, but sat down with his legs crossed over each other and folded his arms. "This isn't very fun."
"Yeah, well, join the club. I have to do this every week."
"Maybe I don't want to ask the hottie out, then," Terrance mused. "If he enjoys things like this…"
"Hey, Kendra," a soft voice interrupted. Terrance looked up and into the pretty blue eyes of the aforementioned hottie. "You didn't introduce me to your friend."
"Oh. Right," Terrance's friend said, waving at him. "Alexander, this is Terrance."
Alexander offered Terrance his hand and said. "Hello, Terrance."
"You enjoy playing board games every week. Why?"
Thin lips twisted into a smirk. "I'm sorry, do you have some problem with Scrabble?" he asked innocently.
"Yes, I do. No one ever plays word games with me."
"Well," Alexander said with a smile, "then one would think you'd be happy to have a new crowd that doesn't already know that."
"You make a good point."
Alexander turned to Kendra again. "You know, you should really introduce him to everyone else."
"Pastor Ann will make me do it after supper anyway."
"You aren't even eating supper."
"I'm lactose intolerant," Terrance interrupted. "So I can't eat pizza. She's abstaining in a show of solidarity with me."
Alexander raised an eyebrow. "Do you always talk like that? I think I see why no one wants to play Scrabble with you."
Terrance grinned, and Kendra smacked his arm. "I told you not to do that," she admonished.
"Do what?" he complained. "I was behaving fine!"
"Nothing you say with that grin is innocent," she muttered as Alexander gave them a weird look and headed back to his group of friends.
"Well…maybe," Terrance admitted with a sheepish grin. "But it's not like he minded or anything."
"I guess not," Kendra admitted grudgingly, tucking a long piece of flat-ironed black hair behind her ear. "But I still told you not to do it."
"Good thing you aren't my mother, then."
"You are such an ass."
"Should you be swearing like that in a church?"
"Oh, shut up."
"All right, everyone," one of the older women called, presumably Kendra's pastor. "Now, circle up and we can open the meeting in prayer."
Terrance gave Kendra a funny look. "Wait, didn't we already do that before everyone else ate?"
"Yes. We're doing it again. Now at least be quiet if you aren't going to pray."
"Now, whose turn is it to say prayer?"
"Alexander's," one of the girls Terrance hadn't met yet said. She looked a bit like Alexander, Terrance thought, although her brown hair was longer and curly instead of wavy, and she had feminine curves that the boy was, of course, lacking. Maybe a sister? She was acting like a sister would.
Alexander scowled and said, "Do I have to?"
"Your turn," she repeated.
The boy stuck his tongue out at her, and Terrance couldn't help noticing how pink it was before Kendra kicked him. "Fine. Uh…okay. Oh Lord, thanks you for everything you've given us and the new people here today, and…bless this meeting. Amen."
Everyone else repeated, "Amen," and then they let go of each other's hands, sitting down almost immediately.
"Well, that was stupid," Terrance mumbled, and Kendra kicked him again. "Ow! I'm going to get a bruise, you witch!"
Everyone else ignored their exchange, and then the pastor said, "Well, now. I see several of you brought friends. Would you like to introduce them? Kendra, we'll start with you."
Kendra shrugged and stood up, pointing at Terrance. "This is my best friend, Terrance. Terrance, that's Pastor Ann, Alexander, Rachel, Heather, Andrew, Manuel, Eva, and Gerald."
Terrance nodded and waved, hoping no one actually expected him to remember everyone. "Hi."
They went around the circle and the other three individuals—Terrance had already forgotten everyone but Alexander's name—introduced the friends they brought.
"Now, we have a lot of games to play. You can pick out whichever you'd like to play and then…well, play."
Terrance rolled his eyes and tried to resist making a snarky comment. She was a pastor, after all, and had to be at least forty-five.
Kendra scowled at him. "You're going to make me play Scrabble, aren't you?"
He held up his hands helplessly. "Hey, I don't even know if they have it. I'll just go with whatever you pick."
"What if I say I want to play Scrabble, Terrance?" He looked up into a face that was rapidly becoming familiar.
"Well, then I guess I can play that, too," he said with a grin. "Why, do you want to challenge me?"
"Well, you did pique my interest."
Kendra groaned. "Great."
Alexander grinned and opened up the box. "This is Leah," he reminded them, pointing at the blonde girl next to him. Terrance wasn't sure whether or not to be relieved or insulted, but settled on grateful. "She's a cousin in for the week, so she came with me and Heather." The boy hadn't introduced anyone, so Terrance assumed he was correct in assuming that girl was his sister.
"Hi," Kendra offered, while Terrance simply managed a smile. Cousin. Not girlfriend. Good.
Alexander took out the cardboard board and set it down in front of himself while Terrance reached in for the little wooden stands.
"Hey," he said. "Can I ask you a question?"
Kendra groaned and hid her face in her hands, likely guessing where he was heading with that.
"Sounds like you already did," Alexander pointed out, shaking the little bag of wooden letters.
Ugh. Terrance hated that response. It wasn't half as clever as people thought it was. "Another one."
"Terrance," Kendra moaned. "I am going to kill you if you're doing what I think you are. I told you to wait."
Terrance ignored her again, mostly because she was right. "Are you free next Friday?"
"Well, I was thinking that…we could, I dunno…see a movie or something then. So are you free or not?"
Alexander raised a thin eyebrow at him and said, "Like a date?"
"And you just assume I'm interested in boys?" Alexander asked, pulling out seven letters and handing the bag to his cousin.
"No," Terrance replied, watching his face carefully, but Alex was keeping it carefully blank "I just hope you might be."
Alexander finally let his blank expression fall and started laughing. "Well, I can't help but reward courage like that. What's showing next Friday?"