M A X
Cain leaves, and Andy fixes me with that dreamy smile, the one that shows his dimples in all their glory.
"Are you alright?" Andy asks, his eyes searching mine quizzically.
"Yes, sorry about that. Shall we go?" I suggest brightly, locking the door behind me. Andy hesitates, and for a second I'm anxious he is going to say something about Cain, but he doesn't.
His hand brushes against the small of my back as we walk down the stairs together, and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Something about being on a date just made me feel excited about life in general- despite Cain's impromptu visit. I push the thoughts of Cain aside, instead focusing on the man that is walking beside me with a stupid grin on his face.
"What?" I laugh, hesitating when we reach a black Range Rover.
Was this his car? Wow.
"Okay, so I've put a cover on your seat because Benny likes to sit there when we go on walks. He is a hairy fella," Andy explains, hopping into the driver's seat beside me. The car smells brand new, and I wonder if it's because it is.
"I don't mind a few dog hairs. I used to have a dog when I was younger," I smile, plugging my seatbelt in.
Andy raises his eyebrows before reversing expertly from the parking spot, his hand on my seat as he gazes out of the rear window with concentration, despite having a parking camera on the dash.
"Don't you use this?" I ask idly, tapping my nail on the screen of the dash. Andy's eyes flicker down to my finger, before laughing heartily.
"I'll be honest, I'm a little old fashioned. I'm still not used to all the mod cons this car has," he admits, shooting me a smirk before pulling away. "But it looks pretty."
I snort with laughter then, and I tease him relentlessly about the location of the indicators, the electric windows and so on. Andy is super easy to talk to, and within twenty minutes we arrive at a cute little restaurant close to the centre of town.
"I've never been here," I muse, climbing out of the car. I smooth down my jeans, pulling my bag onto my shoulder when Andy grins at me from the front of the car.
"Nor have I, but the reviews were amazing. So if it's bad- it's technically not my fault."
We share a smile then, and he holds his hand out as we walk towards the restaurant. It made sense to take it, but I couldn't figure out why. Maybe I should stop over analysing things.
"So, you had a dog," Andy leans forward, folding his arms in front of him. "Tell me more."
I find myself telling him about Sully, my beloved dog I had when I was growing up. My childhood was fairly idyllic, but I didn’t want to go into excruciating detail. It wasn't overly interesting.
"What about you?" I ask, genuinely interested.
Andy chuckles then, and cringes slightly.
"I have three sisters."
He regales me with tales of being dressed up and used as a doll for most of his infant life, and I find myself laughing when he explains how all of his friends used to want to have sleepovers at his.
"Kelly was the youngest, and she was two years above us in school," he places his palms flat on the table, leaning in close to me. "To be honest, I wasn't a very good brother. I milked it. One time, Tommy Fulton said he would dry the dishes that Kelly was washing, just to get close to her. So, I demanded I got to borrow his PlayStation games for a week."
"You basically pimped your sister out," I gasp mockingly. Andy nods, cringing.
"I know. Don't ever tell her, will you?" He begs, clasping my hands across the table.
"Oh, I don't know," I tease, my stomach fluttering with excitement when his thumb strokes circles onto my hand. We are actively holding hands now, and it feels magical.
"Why don't you tell me a secret, then we are even?" Andy suggests, still holding my hands.
"I don't have secrets. I'd be terrible at truth or dare," I admit, as our food arrives. We both move our hands back, allowing the waiter to place our meals down. We somehow manage to continue the banter throughout our food, until Andy wipes his mouth with a napkin, drawing my attention to his mouth.
"That was delicious," I declare, reaching for my purse.
"You're not paying," Andy waves his hand at my purse. "Sorry, I'm too traditional. It's the least I can do."
My cheeks flush, and I smile to myself when he nods triumphantly. I'm not usually so...girly- but Andy has the ability to make me feel like a princess.
"Can I ask you a question?" I lean forward, resting my cheek on my open palm. Andy nods, leaning forward too. I'm lost in his eyes again, and we both laugh knowingly.
"How are you single?" I breathe, as his eyes soften.
"You sound surprised, Max."
"Well, there must be something wrong with you, but it's not obvious," I muse. This makes him laugh, shaking his head as he does.
"People usually assume I'm married or gay. Or both," he explains, and I nod with gusto, much to his horror. He rolls his eyes then, holding his hands out with mock exasperation. "Not you as well?!"
"Married, I think. You just seem to be the whole package, and you messaged me first…"
"Because you interested me," Andy swallows some of his drink, pointing at me whilst he does. "You seemed to be exactly what I'm looking for in a woman, without sounding like a serial killer."
I'm intrigued now, but he doesn't elaborate freely.
"I mean, I could ask you the same thing, love. How are you single?"
My mind darkens then, memories of Kevin spoiling my happiness. Andy tilts his head to the side, concern filling his emerald eyes. God, he was attractive.
"I was with someone, but he ended things. He moved halfway across the world, so it ends well," I joke, as Andy nods sympathetically.
"Poor guy. He must kick himself every day."
I shake my head, aware my cheeks are flaming. He was just too much.
"My ex was paranoid I was cheating on her," Andy says quietly, his eyes skimming the room as though he was watching a memory play out. "It was too much. If I was ever late, she would assume I was with another woman. She even turned up at my work screaming blue murder once because I was working with a female supervisor."
I make a face, and he shrugs his shoulders.
"You've got to have trust and honesty, right?"
I meet his eyes then, and I see the hope there.
"You do," I agree, and he leans back.
"We all want the happy ever after, but until I met you, I didn't think anyone existed for me."
I'm taken aback by his confession, but he looks panicked.
"Sorry, was that too bold? You're just spectacular, Max."
I've heard of butterflies in the stomach, but I had them ricocheting around my entire body.
"No, it's fine," I say hastily. "I just find it hard to trust."
Andy moves forward then, and my heart hammers in my chest. His curls are a perfect arrangement of chaos, and the colour is mirrored by the ink black lashes that frame his glittering green eyes.
I hope he doesn't expect me to speak right now.
"Then I'll work on it."
A smile bursts out of my chest, pushing the corners of my mouth to opposite ends. This is what I needed; attention and respect.
"Thank you," I follow him as we leave the restaurant shortly after he pays, and we make our way back to his car. The drive back is comfortably quiet, and as we pull up to my apartment I fight the urge to ask him to come inside. In reality, I barely knew him.
"Can I walk you to your apartment?"
As if I'm going to refuse that.
He does, and as I open the door I turn to him, hesitating.
"Look, I'd invite you in but-"
"You're not that kind of girl," he whispers, stepping closer to me. I love the way he is gazing at my mouth, and I want him to kiss me so badly. "I like that. I respect that, Max."
I reach up with one hand, placing it on the side of his face. I am literally gazing into his eyes, and smiling stupidly. I need to kiss him.
"Can I call you when I get in?" He asks in a strained voice. I nod, as he removes my hand from his face, lifting it to his lips. I shiver then, and he smiles.
"Good. I like your voice being the last thing I hear before I fall asleep," he whispers, letting my hand go as I reluctantly walk away into my apartment. He turns and walks away, but not before turning around and exchanging another stupid grin with me.