"You're late." Sam said as I ran through the door. She was sat on the bed, dressed in some smart grey trousers and a shirt.
"I know." I replied, grabbing my dress and a fresh set of underwear.
"Sam I know all about my mother. She'll moan that we're late, she'll be annoyed but she'll have to deal with it. I'm showering."
"Actually I was going to say that-"
"Oh my god, what?!" I turned round in the doorway to the en suite just as my mother appeared through the bedroom door.
"I think she was going to say that I'm here already."
I stared at her and then to Sam who crossed one leg over the other and looked slightly guilty.
"I tried to tell you."
"You did. Very hard in fact but apparently my daughter is in a bit of a mood." My mother's eyes narrowed at me and I winced a little. Never too old to feel like you're being told off.
"I'll just get a shower and then we can go ok mum?" I said and hurriedly closed the door. Jeez.
Once I'd showered and dressed we went out. There wasn't much conversation, but I was too embarrassed about the way I'd been behaving and I think Sam was a little too worried to say anything. My mother was happy to just let the awkward silence continue.
We went to The Swallow, the same place Sam had taken me when we'd announced that we loved each other. As we waited for the waiter I touched the necklace she had given me. This was too much right now. I felt like I was slipping away, and I knew it was my fault. Mood swings were no reason to snap at the woman I was in love with.
"Your table is ready, if you'd like to follow me." The waiter led us to a table in the corner, by a window. My mum took one side so Sam and I sat in the other and as the waiter passed the menus out and began listing the specials out I slipped my hand in to hers. She looked over surprised.
"Sorry." I whispered gently. Her eyes softened and for a moment I thought I saw a tear, but she turned back to the waiter and ordered a bottle of wine with no signs of emotion in her voice.
"It's nice of you to come up mum." I said to her as we browsed the menus.
"Well, it is your birthday. Although I don't know if you deserve the presents I bought after the way you were speaking earlier."
I sighed and glanced at Sam.
"Mum I'm sorry. Things have been a little... stressful recently. I think it's just all catching up to me." Sam squeezed my hand under the table. "But I promise I'll sort it out. It's just been... different."
"Well I was worried when the two of you moved in together so suddenly..."
I gave Sam an apologetic look.
"Mum, life with Sam is fine, it's the other things that have been so... difficult."
"Yes mum, fine."
I gave her a look that she knew not to talk back to, and then looked down at my menu.
"I think I'm going to have the pasta I had last time."
"That was nice wasn't it? I think I'll have the salmon."
"Ohh the salmon sounds nice." I grinned, reading the ingredients. "But so does the chicken..."
"I'm having the chicken." My mother said, laying down her menu.
"Why don't you have the salmon and I can try a bit?" I winked at Sam. She grinned and agreed with what seemed to be a bit of a relieved look. I think she was glad I was acting normally again.
"Right well if we're ready," my mother had her important bossy voice on, "I'd like to ask you a question."
"Oh god, what?" I asked, but we were interrupted by the waiter bringing us the wine and then taking our order. Once he had gone though I reminded my mother. "What was it mum?"
"I want to know how serious you two are. I know all about the business with Anna, her mother told me about how she was at home, and I know how she was when I was here, but it was obvious that something had happened. Now no offence to you Sam but Cara and Anna have known each other for years, and I don't want someone coming in and spoiling that. How is Anna?"
"Anna is fine mother. She moved in to a new flat today."
"On her own?"
"No I mean is she living on her own?"
"I think you should live with her Cara, I mean it's not safe in the city..."
"Mum, I'm living with Sam."
"No buts. I love her and I'm staying. Anna is an adult now, and this is going to be good for her. And as for your other question, I am very serious about Sam. I love her. That's all there is to it."
Sam gave me a peck on the cheek.
"And I am very serious about your daughter. I love her and everything about her."
"Even her mood swings?"
"Not especially but it is a recent development. And if it continued it wouldn't outweigh the pleasure of being with her. I love her Mrs Gramms. I hope you can accept that, and believe me when I say it."
I felt warm to hear her say it and squeezed her hand.
"Well then. I guess I'll have to be happy." My mother replied with grace, if not with complete happiness.