'I'll see you later Mum,' I shouted as I headed for the door. 'I'll probably be late so don't wait up for me.'
'Where are you going?' Mum asked, sticking her head out of the kitchen.
'Out. I don't know exactly where.'
'You never just 'go out'. What are you doing?'
'I've got a date.'
'Really?' Mum said, suddenly very interested. 'Who with? Anyone I would know?'
'Just someone from work. I doubt you would know him.'
'You've been in a job a week and you're already dating your co-workers?' Mum gave me her disapproving look. 'That's not the way to move forward Alannah. You have to work hard. That's the way to get a promotion.'
'I'm not dating him to get a better job!' I exclaimed, shocked my mother would think that of me. 'Andrew doesn't even work in my department.'
'Well be careful. You don't want people getting the wrong ideas about you.'
'What do you mean by that?' I asked putting my hand on my hip and looking questioningly at my mother.
'Sleeping with the boss isn't going to endear you to anyone.'
'Goodbye Mum,' I said, opening the front door and walking out towards the waiting car parked outside my parent's house. 'I need to find my own place,' I muttered, remembering to smile as Andrew stepped out of the driver's door and hugged me, kissing both my cheeks.
'You look lovely,' he said, moving around the car to open the passenger door for me.
'Thank you.' I was feeling nervous as Andrew walked back around the car, slipped into the driver's seat and started the engine.
'I thought we could go to this little Italian place I know,' Andrew said, clearly feeling the tension too. 'It's a family run business and a friend of mine is the waiter there. The food is wonderful.'
'That sounds lovely,' I said, trying to keep smiling, unsure what else I could say. 'This is a nice car,' I commented after a few moments, not wanting to sit in silence for the entire journey. But I knew I'd chosen to make the wrong comment as soon as the words left my mouth. I didn't know anything about Andrew's car other than that it was a silver, four door Mercedes. I had no interest in cars whatsoever. As long as I could get from A to B in it I didn't care.
'You know about cars?' Andrew asked, surprised.
'Or course,' I lied. The fib was out of my mouth before I could stop it and I knew I would have to follow it up.
'I didn't have you down as a car person. I don't think I know any women who know anything about a car beyond its colour.'
'But I'm not like other women I responded, cringing at the cheesiness of the phrase that had just left my lips. Luckily, it didn't seem to bother Andrew, who just laughed.
That short exchange seemed to break the ice and the silence that followed wasn't the tense atmosphere of before, but was more comfortable.
Andrew had made a good choice with the restaurant, which was hidden in a quiet part of town. It had very few tables and only one of them was filled when we arrived, which meant it was wonderfully quiet.
'Andy!' The waiter approached us as soon as we walked in, opening his arms and embracing my date. 'I haven't seen you in here for weeks. What's happened?'
'Oh you know,' Andrew replied casually. 'I've been very busy at work.'
'That's always your excuse!'
'But surprisingly it's true. But let me introduce you to Alannah. Alannah this is my good friend, Marco. His father owns the restaurant.'
'Lovely to meet you,' I said, holding out my hand for him to shake and having to stop myself from crying out in pain as it connected with his stomach, bending back on itself as he pulled me into an enthusiastic hug.
'It's wonderful to meet you too my dear,' he said, pulling out of his embrace and taking a good look at me. 'You're much prettier than the other girls Andy brings here.'
'So I'm not the first,' I said, raising one eyebrow.
'I haven't brought that many girls here,' Andrew said defensively, blushing slightly.
'But you are by far the prettiest,' Marco repeated, ignoring Andrew as he took my coat and hung it on the rack behind the door. 'What did he have to do to make you come out on a date with him?'
'I didn't do anything,' Andrew protested, 'I just asked her and she said yes.'
'If you say so,' Marco smirked, winking at me in a secretive manner. 'I'll find you a nice table where you won't be disturbed.'