Penina, meet Frank. And vice versa.
The service came quickly, within the next hour. Even the occasional kid who brought a guitar or drumsticks put their instruments away to go.
That was the setting around me as I stepped inside the sanctuary from the lobby. It was like a concert with an audience of about seven hundred. Kids were moshing against the stage, the band was singing an upbeat worship song, and then… there were those kids who hung around in the back with their arms crossed and sour expressions on their faces.
I glanced around, looking for a familiar face; preferably Alex. He wasn’t in the back with the loners, so he had to be up front with the insane kids.
I slowly started towards the front, hoping to spot him early so I wouldn’t have to immerse myself in people. No such luck. I finally gathered the courage to walk closer, bumping into people and saying ‘excuse me’ and ‘I’m sorry’ more times than I could count.
“Penina!” I heard a male voice call faintly over the music and screaming. I turned, and Alex was a few feet away from me, Kellin to his right.
I made my way through the army of teenagers, and reached him quickly. “Have you been up here the whole time?” I asked loudly.
“Only because I was looking for you”, Alex replied, just as loud. His brown eyes sparkled in the flashing lights as he smiled. “Shall we?” he asked, holding out his arm. I had no idea what he was asking me to do, but I took his arm anyway. He led me to the back, where a group of teens were sitting on the floor in a circle. I pulled myself away from him, stepping back a bit awkwardly as everyone seemed to look up and stare at me. “Everyone, this is Penina”, Alex announced.
I waved slightly, glancing over at Alex and Kellin for help.
The tattooed guy from earlier gave me a onceover. His eyes met mine for a moment, and he narrowed them. Did he remember me cussing him out earlier? He had a girl on either side of him, both seeming to be admiring his toned build.
Alex pursed his lips and glanced around the circle. “Let’s see…” he said. “That’s Pantera, Pete and Pandora”, he said, motioning to the tattooed guy and the girls next to him.
“And that’s Andy…” he pointed to a boy with long, curly auburn hair and glasses, “and that’s Wallace”, he pointed to the guy next to Andy.
Kellin cut in. “That’s Patrick and Lauren; they’re together at all times.” The two glanced at each other and laughed softly, Patrick taking Lauren’s hand. The girl blushed a bit, and stared at her shoes.
“And the rest of the group is either on stage, or AWOL”, Kellin smiled. “You’ll probably meet everyone else later.”
“Everyone else?” I asked. “How many others are there?”
Kellin shrugged and looked to Alex. “Not too many”, Alex said. “Callie and Zack, who are normally missing in action anyway. Luda, who’s on stage with the band, and Bob, who’s on the stage too.”
“That’s all, right?” I asked, chuckling.
Lauren spoke up. “Actually, there’s one more.” Patrick sighed. “Frank…”
Everyone seemed to shift uncomfortably, or glance at the ground.
“Who’s Frank?” I questioned, looking for an answer from anybody. Nobody wanted to talk. Silence rang through the small group, and everybody kind of looked towards Alex. “She’s your friend, not ours. You tell her”, Pete said rather rudely.
Alex sighed and looked at me. “Frank is sort of… the black sheep of his family. And his friends, to be honest. You see… all of us have given up on God, mostly or completely. But Frank… he has more faith than anyone in this camp. If he was catholic, he’d already be in the seminary. I mean, it’s crazy—”
“What’s crazy, Alex?”
Alex got a sort of ‘oh, shit…’ look on his face, and he turned. “Penina, meet Frank Iero”, he said, putting his arm around me.
Frank smiled. “Is she new this year?” he asked, holding out his hand for me to shake. “I’ve never seen her here before.”
I shook his hand limply, staring at him. He was gorgeous, really. I always saw Christians as rather ugly or homely people. I don’t know why, I just preferred to see them that way. But… Frank was the exception to this rule, apparently. He had shining hazel eyes and dark hair that curled at his neck and around his chin. His olive skin seemed delectable, like the kind you want to kiss every inch of.
I found my voice, finally. “No, I’ve been here before. It’s just been a few years.”
Frank nodded, still smiling. Was he always this cheerful? “It’s nice that you’re back. I hope we can get to know each other better this month.”
I simply smirked, thinking of sexual innuendos. “Of course.”
Damn, do I want that in my bed…