'So do you like him then?' Vicky asked from outside the changing room. I could practically hear her examining her nails in her tone of voice.
'I don't know, I've only just met him. What about this one?' I stepped out from behind the curtain in the fifth dress I had tried on that day.
'No, it's not your colour,' Vicky said, looking up at me. 'But does he seem like a good guy?'
'I suppose so. I mean he stood up for me when Henry was having a go and at me and he clearly appreciates my opinion or he wouldn't have come to me to ask what I thought about his new case. Or maybe that was just a ploy to get on my good side. Why does it have to be so complicated? You're so lucky you've got Jamie, there's not of this 'does he like me?' stuff.'
'I'm not feeling too lucky at the moment,' Vicky grumbled. 'I had another call from the future mother-in-law this morning to tell me about the music she's organised for the reception. I told her I didn't want a string quartet but did she listen? Of course not. She's only gone and put down the deposit so we're going to have to have them because we don't have enough money to book anyone else. It's more her wedding than it is mine and Jamie's.'
'Maybe you should stand up to her, like I stood up to Henry. If you show her you're the one in charge then she won't dare mess with you.'
'Unfortunately it's me spending the rest of my life with Jamie, not you, so I have to get on with his mother. You know how close they are. That's the one.' The last comment was about the little black dress I had just walked out of the changing room in.
As I payed for the dress at the counter Vicks told me more about her wedding disaster.
'And she won't let me have my sister as a bridesmaid because she says she will ruin the aesthetics. I know she's nearly fifteen stone, but she's my sister. She has to be my bridesmaid.'
'Then tell her that. She should appreciate that you want your sister to be a bridesmaid at your wedding.'
'I'm not sure she does.'
'Oh shit,' I muttered as I dropped my purse, sending coins rolling around the shopping centre floor. 'Why am I so clumsy?'
'I think this is yours,' I heard a voice say and a hand appeared holding out a handful of coins. 'Hang on, do I know you.'
'Alfred, from the job centre.'
'I'm taking your advice and trying to use Alfie more now. How are things going with you?'
'Umm... great I guess. Did you find a job?'
'I did. It's another temp job but at least it's money. I can't really complain.'
There was an awkward moment when neither of us really knew what to say and I really wanted to walk away but knew it would be inexcusably rude.
'Is it a special occasion?' He asked nodding at the bag that contained the dress I had just bought.
'Um...sort of,' I mumbled, strangely reluctant to tell him about my plans. 'Part feel good buy, part date.'
'Oh right,' Alfie said, his face falling slightly. 'Then whoever the guy is, he's a very lucky man.'
'I'm not sure,' I said, trying to avoid another awkward silence, 'I don't know him very well so I'm not sure if I'm his type.'
'I'm sure you are,' Alfie said, clearly feeling the awkwardness too.
'I'd better be going,' I said, panicking when I couldn't think of anything else to say. 'I've got stuff to do before tonight and I don't want to keep you. I'll see you around.'
'Yeah sure,' Alfie said, a strange expression on his face that looked a little like disappointment. 'It was lovely to see you again Alannah.'
'And you,' I replied, waving awkwardly as I led Vicky away and down the street.
'Who was that?' She asked, craning her neck around to catch a glimpse of Alfie. 'He's a bit geeky looking but still cute.'
'Just a guy I met at the job centre,' I said, trying to brush it off.
'He seems really into you,' Vicks said, raising her eyebrows suggestively. 'Why didn't you ask him out instead of waiting for this other guy.'
'I can't ask a total stranger out on a date! And besides I didn't know Andrew when I met Alfie so how on earth could I make a decision about who to date? And you've never met Andrew so you cannot comment.' I hadn't meant for my comments to come out so snappily but for some reason I felt rather touchy about the subject.
'I was only saying,' Vicky said, backing off. 'It's good to keep your options open.'