I nod my head several times in eager response, and Trent gets up and strides over, speaking to the Dean a while before he takes the mike at a lectern between the two main dining tables.
A spotlight shines on him and the house lights dim, adding to my relief.
I see Trent give a sly little wink in my direction, his way of letting me know he won’t draw attention where it’s not wanted.
Not yet anyway.
How can I get through tonight, let alone the rest of my life hiding a Trent-sized secret?
Trent introduces himself, and there’s one or two groans and even a boo from the back, but he’s unfazed. He promises everyone that dessert isn’t far off and he just wanted to say a few words.
He gives a short but sweet speech about how great the night’s been, but mostly it’s about how great the college was and still is, and he gives a special mention to the Dean and faculty.
It’s not the Trent I’ve been spending time with though. He sounds more like a commercial or something. Like someone selling bonds but in a nice way.
I know I’d buy whatever he was selling, and I have to remind myself too, that as far as I know Trent’s in business.
Probably doing his bit for whatever deal he has going with the Dean.
Trent finishes up as promised, not keeping everyone from their desserts, with only a few more words from the dean before the lights go up.
“Come on,” Trent whispers in my ear before the Dean finishes speaking.
“Let’s get outta here,” he says, a mischievous smile playing on his lips, but I don’t need any encouragement.
I did what I told my dad I would, I returned to the dinner and now I’m leaving again.
A nice man offered me a ride home, but he was leaving early so I took it seeing as you were so ‘busy’ with your own date, dad.
We steal out, his hand in mine before anyone really notices, back out into the chilly night air that’s filled with a fine mist of light rain.
I’m not sure if it’s just for effect, but Trent is almost jogging by the time we leave, pulling me along behind him until I have to ask him to strop, breathless before we even reach his car.
“What’s the rush to escape?” I wheeze, pinching my side as I notice Trent hasn’t even raised his pulse above resting.
“You wanna hang around to find out?” he asks, sounding a little more serious but still smiling.
I feel my head shake quickly.
So much for either of us taking care of my dad.
I guess that explosion will have to come later. If it comes at all, I remind myself.
So far Trent’s been friendly, protective, and concerned. But I wouldn’t say he’s been overly romantic.
Maybe he’s just looking out for his ex-best friend’s daughter after all.
But I’m seriously starting to hope not by the time we get back to his car.
“I suppose you’ll want to drive me home now?” I ask, trying not to sound disappointed.
“Not unless you want me to?” he asks, reminding me it’s still pretty early and he only went back to thank the Dean.
“I have a little confession,” he says, looking a little embarrassed.
I hear myself gulp, suddenly dreading the real secret he must have.
He has a girlfriend.
Has to be one of those. Nobody I’ve ever met is this perfect and available, and interested in younger, thick-set college graduates.
“What is it?” I ask, sounding almost terrified.
“I kinda got your address from the Dean and as a favor, in return, I had to impress his investor guests,” he explains, wincing as if it’s the crime of the century.
“Oh thank god,” I exclaim, leaning back in my seat. “I thought you were gonna tell me you were married or had a partner.” I gasp, flushing red once I know how much I’ve really just given away.
But Trent looks concerned for a different reason, asking me the same question.
“And what about you?” he asks, almost accusingly. “Any boyfriends, partners?” His face clouding over a little as he asks.
The same face he made when that gross drunk man got all handsy with me before he stepped in.
“Ha ha,” I reply slowly, with all the sarcasm I can muster.
His brow creases even more and he looks confused for a second.
“I don’t have anyone,” he tells me, going first so I have to tell him now.
“Well if a guy like you is single, what chance do I have?” I groan, wanting to change the subject already.
My Trent fantasy was way better somehow, without so many questions and talk about me.
“You mean, you really don’t have a boyfriend?” he asks, his face smoothing until he smiles wide. Beaming to himself like it’s the best thing he’s heard all week.
I crease the corners of my mouth, wondering if he’s serious or just having another of his little jokes with himself at my expense.