As soon as our orders are placed at Blue Wok, Brent leans back in his chair and heaves out a deep breath.
“So do you want to talk about it?” I ask again, taking a sip of my Coke.
“No.” He laughs quietly. “Actually, I don't. I'm done talking about it. Thinking about it. I just need to get away from it for a little while. Tell me about yourself. How's work on our campaign coming?”
Brent visibly perks up at the topic.
“Actually,” I say, getting a little excited myself, “it's going really well. I have some mock-ups for you guys to approve for the ad I want to run. And we have two tentative dates in mind for the cross promotion with Tangled down the street.”
“Really? The pretzel place? That's awesome,” he says, smiling for the first time that I've seen since his sister-in-law's death. “I can't wait to check it out. I know the timing really sucks and I'm sorry about that. Obviously, we had no idea Tad and I would both be so disconnected from work for a little while when we hired your agency.”
“No. No, not at all,” I say, waving my hands in front of me. “You hired me to take care of this stuff for you. So really, whether you are working or on vacation, this stuff will happen. The campaigns will run, business will boom, and all will be great.”
Brent laughs at the simplicity of my words. “From your lips to…well, you know.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“So what else is going on with you? Do you live alone? Have a dog? Play sports?” Brent is clearly grasping at topics of conversation.
“Yes. No. Not really,” I say.
Brent furrows his eyebrows. “Wait. Now I don't even remember what I asked or in what order.”
“Yes, I live alone. I've got an apartment nearby. No, I don't have a dog or any pets. I like dogs, and maybe someday, but my apartment is too small for a big dog, and I wouldn't want a little yapping thing. And what was the last question?” Now I can’t remember what he asked.
Brent makes a face and scratches his nose in an adorable way. “Sports. Sports. I asked about sports.”
“Oh, right. Not really. I used to play hockey when—”
Brent raises an eyebrow. “Street or ice?”
“Ice through high school. Street in college.”
“Yeah. Some friends and I play pickup now and then, but it's actually been a while. I’m not great at it but I have fun. Once the weather clears up, they might drag me out there again.”
“What about you?” I ask, twisting the straw wrapper into a tight rope to keep my fingers busy.
Brent shrugs. “Not much anymore either. I used to play softball with some buddies, and baseball when I was younger, but since we opened the gym, I mostly just work out there.”
“Yeah, I can tell,” I say under my breath before I catch myself.
Brent smirks. “Can you?”
Shit, now he thinks I’m flirting. That's not a bad thing, but he is still my client, and he's definitely too vulnerable right now for me to take advantage of him.
“Well,” I choke out, “it's obvious you and your brother both spend a lot of time testing out the equipment in your gym.”
Brent squints a little as he seems to study me. “Is there anybody special in your life?” he asks, cutting right to the chase. “Maybe a girlfriend waiting for a ring?”
Now he’s playing with me. He knows damn well there’s no girlfriend, unless he has the worst gaydar known to man. “Nope, no girlfriend. Not since fourth grade.”
“Boyfriend?” Brent asks, more serious now.
I look right at him. “Nah, nobody serious at the moment. What about you?”
Brent shakes his head without breaking his stare. “No, my life's too crazy for a boyfriend.” He winks. “But I definitely like friends who are boys.”