Brian stopped in front of the diner and just looked at the door for a moment.
It was one of those silver bullet, old-style diners, the chrome dull with age, the windows shining clean and bright. It was a strange place for a job interview, but that's essentially what this was.
He'd heard through the grapevine that Christopher Allen was trying to make a comeback after his vault accident, despite the fact that his coach and corporate sponsorship had bailed on him. He'd also heard it was a long shot, that the guy was lucky he wasn't in a wheelchair, let alone even thinking about competing again. Scuttlebutt said Christopher was too old to start over, too injured, too past it.
And too stubborn to admit it.
Brian liked that in an athlete.
So he'd called and asked for a meeting. He hadn't told Christopher he'd have to fly in just for this meeting. He'd kept it casual--let's have lunch at that little place on the corner of Smith and Fifth.
This could change his whole life. Not that he didn't like coaching the girls at the private school where he was working, but he missed men's gymnastics, missed being involved, the feeling of the powder on his hands, the shaking in his muscles as he pushed himself past the point of his endurance...
His own glory days, such as they were, were over, but he had a chance to coach someone else into that sweet place where hard work and achievement met.
He just had to convince Christopher Allen that he was the man for the job.
He took a breath and went in, the sounds of the street replaced by the sound of people talking, china and silverware clinking, the smell of grease filling his noise.
He scanned the booths, looking for Christopher.
It took him a second to find the guy, the signature blond hair dull and overgrown where it was bent over a menu, the square jaw hidden by a scrappy beard. The man had lost some weight, some form. Brian could see the musculature still evident through the tight T-shirt.
He made his way over slowly, that feeling coming over him, the one that said this was a moment he wanted to remember, one he wanted to be sure to live in.
He stopped at Christopher's booth and cleared his throat. "Christopher Allen? Hi, I'm Brian Rainings."