"That's a nice neighbourhood." She glanced at the menu, and I hoped she wouldn't order anything too pricy.
"I'm sharing a house with my brother." I added, without mentioning I was sleeping on his couch at the moment. "So what do you do?"
"I'm a personal assistant. I work for a Vice President at Goldman Sachs." Classy lady. Why did I keep getting set up with them? What had my brother put on my profile? "What do you do?"
"I work in security. Security assessments." I could see her opinion of me dropping and suddenly remembered what my brother had drilled into me. "I'm a consultant." She thawed slightly at the magic phrase and, heartened by my success, I went on "What would you like to drink?".
"Surprise me." She glanced at the wine list and smiled. I glanced at it and suddenly realised I couldn't read it. Italian, French, floral script, it was a problem. I caught the waiter's eye, and he obligingly came over as I held the winelist up.
"A bottle of the house white?" I asked. White wine wasn't usually my thing, but with the prices in here we could split it. She didn't look happy. "If that's alright with you?"
"Fine." The waiter took the order and left.
"So what do you think you'll have for starters?"
"Just the salad."
"OK. So did you go anywhere nice on holiday?"
"Yes. Off to Greece for a month. I got a great tan." I could see. I could also see my chances of getting close to it vanishing into the distance. "Have you been on holiday anywhere?"
"Not recently. Work's been busy." She nodded sympathetically.
"So how did you get into security? It sounds interesting." I'd hoped she wouldn't ask that until the end of the date.
"I did some time. When I got out I sorted my life out."
"What for...?" She asked, warily.
"Armed Robbery and Manslaughter." She looked up, horrified, and I added lamely. "I've reformed."
"Ah." She went back to the menu, obviously hoping I wouldn't notice her easing her hand to her pocket. A moment later her phone rang.
"Mind if I take this? Hi Sandra, What's up?" By now I knew the script so well I could mouth along with it. An emergency and the date cut short. Polite goodbyes, and a refusal to let me call her a cab, or take her home or anything. It was classier than the ones who went to the toilet and never came back. I even got a peck on the cheek as she left. It still left me with a bottle of overpriced wine and an empty chair.
"Would sir like that order to go?" The waiter had returned, and seemed sympathetic. For a moment I wondered about phoning a friend to join me, and checked the time. The Boar would be filling up around now. I might as well join my mates there.
Crime novellas focusing on Harry, a chap who isn't entirely succeeding in going straight...