“So,” I said, sitting across from Boss with dirty dishes from the dinner I’d cooked between us. “Let me get the pie.” He touched my forearm and said, “No, let me. Is it on the counter?” I nodded and he dropped his hand and disappeared behind me.
So far we’d discussed work, Boss’s penchant for running races, furniture styles, and politics. We hadn’t discussed his feelings, or mine, or his brother’s. We’d made zero progress, and the entire dinner had been full of awkward pauses.
Boss walked back to the table carrying the pie. “Wow, you made this?”
“Mmm hmm,” I said, and he said, “I love pie. I’ve never known anyone who could make a pie. Isn’t it difficult?”
“No,” I said. “It just takes practice, like everything else.”
“So you really like to cook and bake, huh?”
“I do. In a dream world, I’d like to do it for a living, I suppose.” I sighed and smiled at him cutting sloppy pieces, ruining the bottom crust. I kept my hand away from the offset spatula and watched him further mangle the pieces onto the dessert plates. “Thanks,” I said as he handed me my plate.
“Why don’t you?” he asked, settling back down across from me.
“Why don’t I what?” I wrinkled my brow, trying to track our conversation.
“Why don’t you cook and bake for a living? You don’t seem to enjoy working for me, do you?” He was grinning at me like an idiot with a secret.
“I’m just not into sales,” I shrugged. “It’s nothing personal.”
“And cooking and baking?” he prodded.
“Well, I haven’t gone to culinary school.” I started counting on my fingers. “I don’t know the first thing about restaurants; I wouldn’t know where to begin, and I don’t know if I’d even really like it. It’s one of those pipe dreams that people never pursue because they’re better as dreams.”
“But you’re not people,” he said. “You’re you.” He was still grinning wildly.
“Uh, OK,” I said, not knowing how to get away from this subject and move on to the one with feelings.
“This pie is amazing,” he murmured with a full mouth.
“I know,” I said. One thing I was sure of was the food in front of us. “I have amazing pie.”
“Did Ian ever try it?” he asked, and I choked on the crust that was in my mouth. “Uh, no,” I shook my head. “Ian and I never got to that.”
“Sorry for bringing him up, but we should talk about him,” Boss said. “I think you should try contacting him again. He’s just–he wants to be your friend.”
“And what would he say about this?” I asked, not looking at him. I was feeling a little bold, but bold enough to stare at Boss.
“I already told him about it. He said it was fine. Which is why I know he would be alright with you contacting him.”
“Oh, OK,” I said, suddenly depressed at the thought that Ian was fine with me and Boss.
“And, before I finish dessert, I promised I would tell you again that I have feelings for you. It’s alright if you don’t have them for me, but I’d like to know, either way,” he said.
“Uh, I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “It’s weird, with you and me working, and Ian, and, you know. It’s just weird. And I don’t want Ian to hate you. You’re brothers.”
“Ian doesn’t hate me. Trust me. He doesn’t,” he said cryptically.
“OK,” I said. “But that doesn’t solve the us working together thing.”
“It only matters if you have feelings for me,” he reiterated.
“Right,” I said. “Well, I guess I might.”
“OK,” he said, his jaw working. “Well, then, how do you feel about quitting your job?” he asked me. I looked at him, and his eyes had gone dark and they were full of something. Lust? For me? It was thrilling, and surprising, and I was wrapped up in the sight of him. Before I could answer his question, he leaned across the tiny table, grabbed my wrist to pull me up, and kissed me.