Chapter Five

So next day at work I decided to try to follow Sarah’s advice. I was busy so it wasn’t easy and I didn’t want other members of staff to overhear. I kept peeping into the store and eventually saw him stacking shelves in the pet food section.

“Hi, Tim, could I have a quiet word?” was my opening gambit.

Unfortunately Tom, the shop manager, was close by. I hadn’t seen him in my eagerness to make contact with Tim. I guess she will have jumped to the obvious conclusion, put two and two together and made five. So it’ll be all over the store today and all over every branch by close of business tomorrow.

“Guess what, Sophie, the bosses daughter is having it off with a long-haired student.” Or some such line. Anyway I suppose that was unavoidable. I gestured towards an empty part of the store.

“Nothing serious. Personal, not business,” I began. “Sorry for the cloak and dagger stuff but… Anyway I just wondered if you were doing anything this evening as I’m at a bit of a loose end.”

“Well, Thursday is yoga evening, 7 till 9.30. Shame, because by the time I could be ready it would be after 10. I’m free most nights though, if you are at all.”

“OK, it’s just we seemed to get on so well at lunchtime the other day and I thought…” I seemed to be doing just what Sarah had advised against.

“I agree. In fact I’ve been plucking up the courage to ask you out myself. I was a bit worried that you might think I was a bit presumptuous, you being the bosses daughter and obviously in a different wealth bracket to me. Anyway you got there first so all my concerns were unfounded, obviously.”

“Ha, that’s great. I thought I felt friendly vibes, but you never know for sure. So what about some time this weekend?”

“Oh, S H 1 T – excuse my French. I’d arranged to see my parents this weekend. They live in rural Wales and they’re having some kind of solstice celebration. I’d love you to come but I think that might be a bit much for a first date.”

I suppose I looked crestfallen. My face is like a message board, people know what I’m thinking just by looking at me.

“I could come back early on Sunday if you’re free then.”

Our quiet corner was invaded by several customers and I could see one of the sales staff about to join them and I didn’t want any more of our conversation overheard.

“Over here, Tim,” I said authoritatively in a loud voice, and beckoned to a different area. “Sorry about that ordering you about.”

“Impressive,” said Tim.

“I’m just trying to keep too many noses out of my business. You’ve no idea what it’s like. It’s like being royalty or a celebrity. Everything I do or say is out there.”

“Yes I’ve seen a bit of what you’re talking about myself. I know, for instance, that you had a boyfriend called Rob and that you finished with him a few days ago. Other stuff too. You’d be surprised what I know about you.” He winked at me as he said this and I’m sure that he knew more about me than I did about him.

“Listen, I don’t want to cut you short but just seeing us together talking like this add fuel to the fire. Sunday would be great. How about you give me a ring sometime over the weekend and we’ll arrange something?” I took a card out of my bag and passed it to him as surreptitiously as I could. Then I went back to my post with Tom and Geoff in the back of the premises with a spring in my step. I felt like I was floating on air.