Plenty more fish
You know you’ll lose your temper if she says that one more time but you nod, not looking up from the magazine you’re reading, and change the subject. Tom’s the reason why you’re back living with your mother, and you don’t want to be reminded of either. “Nancy said there might be a job going at Al Fresco.”
“You’re going to be a waitress?”
“Better than nothing, mum.”
“It’s a start, I suppose.”
You loved being a waitress while you were at university and it doesn’t phase you to do it again – you’ve never been afraid of hard work – but…
“Of course, your father would have wanted better for you.”
He would, and it does make life easier that he’s no longer around, but out of the two of them, you know it’s him you’d rather have standing by the kitchen sink drying the dishes you washed.
“Maybe you’ll meet someone new there.”
Not quite ‘plenty more fish’ but it grates all the same. Everything about her grates but you can’t afford a B&B and don’t want to impose on friends, so you pull your weight and muddle along, spending as much time with Nancy as you can.
Her name flashes up on your phone. “Hiya.”
“Hi. I’ve spoken to Max.”
You wait for her to continue. She doesn’t. “Nance!”
“Sorry. I thought he was… never mind.”
“Er, yeah. He said come in at six and he’ll give you a trial run.”
“Six. Trial run.”
“What about an interview? Doesn’t he even want to see my CV?”
“Hold on.” Nancy covers the phone for a few seconds. “He says bring it, but it’s only a piece of paper. Said it’s all about ability and personality. Don’t drop anything, impress the customers, impress him and it’s yours.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that. He’s not a red tape guy. Gotta go. See you at six.”
“See you… and thanks.”
“No problem. Will be great to see more of you.”
You press the red icon, and clutch the phone.
“Good news?” the voice over your shoulder asks.
Without turning round, you reply. “Yes, I have to be there at six.”
“Good,” she says and disappears upstairs.
You stick out your tongue then smile. This is the best news you’ve had in a while. You’ve never met Max but figure that if Nancy can handle him then he can’t be too bad. The only Maxs you know are off the TV; the chauffeur from Hart to Hart, and Bradley’s father on Eastenders. You never knew what Tanya saw in him but then you can say that about you and Tom now. Easy to think in hindsight. A college crush gone serious then gone wrong. The teacher : student relationship that rarely works.
Nancy beams. “You look great!”
You look down at your plain white shirt, black skirt and comfy black shoes. You want to say “This old thing?” but you’d cut the labels off less than an hour before. “Thanks, Nance.”
“OK. Come on. Let’s introduce you to the great man.”
You take a deep breath as you follow her through the double-swing kitchen doors. Releasing your breath comes out as a cough as Max holds out his hand. He’s a little older than you, nearer Bradley’s dad than the chauffeur, but much better looking and a confident, rather than sleazy, smile.
“Sorry,” you say, wiping your palm on your skirt and hold out your hand.
He laughs and shakes it. “You’ve seen Gordon Ramsay on TV?”
You nod, slowly lowering your hand as he releases it.
“He’s a pussy cat compared with me.”
You go to say something about how you’ve always thought him not that bad, but Max continues. “Only joking. I do expect you to work hard but we play hard too. Have a laugh and a joke by all means but not out there.” He points towards the restaurant’s seating area. “Six to midnight, Thursday to Saturday and Monday. Tuesday lunchtimes ten ’til four. Wednesday and Sunday off. OK?”
“You’ve not seen me work yet.”
Max laughs. “Not here, sure, but you worked at Tantés, didn’t you?”
“Yes. Yes, I did. How…” Then it dawns on you that you have seen him before, served him before. You look at Nancy and blush.
Picture above courtesy of morguefile.com. 5PM Fiction returns tomorrow.
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