I waited outside until there was really no other option but go inside, or freeze to death. There was a light sprinkling of snow on the ground from last night, and the temperature had dropped with the absence of the sun, as it hid behind stormy clouds.
The bell tinkled as I entered, and she looked up immediately. Almost jumpy, but with that measured calm she only used when she was trying very hard.
"Cara, hey," She was smiling as she stood, but she seemed very unsure.
"Sorry I'm late." I hesitated, also unsure, about whether to hug her or not.
"Sit down?" She offered, and regained her seat. Awkward greeting over. I sat, and threw a smile at her.
"Well this is nice."
"I thought you might enjoy it."
"I'm sure I will. You've never brought me here before."
"I didn't bring you today." She reminded softly.
"Yes well... you've never suggested it then."
"Then I suppose it's a good job we're on speaking terms again, so I can rectify that mistake."
I chuckled lightly, and picked up the menu.
"So am I." I glanced at her, but she was concentrating very hard on her menu.
"Can I get you ladies anything?" A waitress appeared, smiling, with notepad at the ready.
"I'll have a hot chocolate and the ploughman's lunch please." Sam replied.
"The same, please." I added.
"So," Sam started once the waitress had gone. She didn't finish however.
"I just... how's Anna?"
"Devastated. I don't know what she's going to do. If it was me, I'd be coming right back, but she's got a week of school left before Christmas holidays, and then she'll be back two weeks after Christmas day. I don't know if she will be able to get over here, and if she does, I don't know if she'd want to go back."
"You sound like you don't want her to come back."
"Oh god, no... no I do. It's just... she was really having a great time over there, and getting along with studying, and apart from the interfering stunt she pulled, she's been doing much better."
"Well... what are her options if she comes back?"
"I don't know. I guess they'd let her take a gap year, but that's the only way I can see her getting some quality time off with her mum. Then she'd be back to America next year, and who knows how long her mum might... you know."
She cast me a sympathetic glance and laid her hand gently on mine for a moment.
"I know her mother had issues... but there's still a life time of love between them. Whatever decision Anna makes, it will be with all the love she has, and her mother will know it."
"See it's when you say things like that, that I'm reminded of why I fell for you." She shifted her hand from mine, but didn't turn away. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."
"No, it's okay. I know what you meant."
"Okay because I really don't-"
"-Cara. I get it. I know." She tapped her finger against mine and rubbed two circles before returning her hands to the arms of her chair.
"So... how's your sister?"
"She's... she's engaged. And she's invited me to be a bridesmaid." I couldn't hold back a little chuckle. "I get to wear a suit."
"Oh damn, I thought she was going to be like your mum and shove you in a dress."
"I'm sure you'll look charming in your suit."
"You could help me pick it out?" She said, avoiding eye contact.
"If you'd like that, I will." She threw me a smile and nodded. "Great. Just tell me when and where and I'll arrange the montage."
"Shut up," she chuckled.
The waitress brought the food and hot chocolates over shortly after, and we tucked in, keeping the conversation light. She asked me about uni, the band and how everyone was doing. I asked her about the business, her sister's wedding, and Mikey.
"So you're spending the weekend with him?"
"Yes. They need some time together and I don't have to be at work, so I volunteered."
"You'll have such a great time," I grinned.
"Yup. Cinema, food, the zoo... I have a whole lot of activities planned so that he'll be wiped out for the evenings."
"Evil scheming; genius!"
"I am, if I do say so myself." She laughed and her eyes sparkled. It took my breath away. "I wondered... I mean... do you... would you like to come? To the zoo I mean. I know you love animals."
"I... wouldn't I be intruding?"
"Not at all."
"Are you sure?"
"Okay... then I'd love to."
"Excellent. Well he's at mine Friday night, and then we're going on Saturday. I thought I'd do the cinema in the evening, after food, and then on Sunday we'll bake and watch films until they come to pick him up. So we can swing by and pick you up before the zoo okay?"
I was confused. Was I invited to the whole day, or just the zoo? I couldn't tell, and I didn't want to ask, in case I'd gotten the wrong end of the stick.