They hardly saw each other during the month of September. There were various “admin” things – online courses in things like Money Laundering (chance would be a fine thing, it would be years before she even sniffed any money) – Anna wanted to get these out of the way. In any case, it didn’t harm for the new girl to be noticed. If Clive, a Senior Partner at the firm and, day-to-day, her new boss, looked up and saw her at her desk, working early, working late…well, it couldn’t hurt, could it? She had already received some interest from the other new recruit, but she scared him off when she told him that she already had a boyfriend and was incredibly happy with him. In truth, Paul and Anna were hardly at the stage yet where they thought of each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, but the lie served its purpose.
Anna still had the weekend, though, and she saw Paul twice during September. They had synced their schedules so that she saw him on weekends that he was not seeing Jake. It was a double win for her. First, they got to spend time alone together, and second, it kept Anna away from Paul’s son. How would he react to her? She was great with her nephew, but Jake was so much older, and an entirely different proposition.
One weekend, she visited her parents, but remained tight-lipped, and the last weekend, she just wanted time on her own. She and Asha went out late, to the market.
Asha did not want to put Anna under the microscope, she knew how difficult it could be at the start of a relationship, but she could not help being intrigued. She had caught a glimpse of him a few times, normally as they’d been leaving the house. He was tall (everybody was tall to her), a dark-haired white guy, and looked old.
Asha had met Anna when they had been in their first year at King’s. They both lived in the same Halls of Residence, but Asha was studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Asha had lived in London all her life, coming from an estate just over the river in Clapham. They had become friends and, along with three others, had decided to share a house together at the end of the first year. They spent their second year in a shared house in Enfield, a real rat-hole, and four of them found the house together in Camden at the start of the third year. Terry (Theresa), the fifth, had parted from the group to move in with her boyfriend. The house was in good condition, a steal for the area, and they had no trouble when they advertised for a new fifth.
At the end of their degrees, Mo and Lisa had also gone their separate ways, leaving just Anna and Asha. They advertised for, and easily found, new housemates.
So, Anna and Paul prepared for the first major test of any new relationship – trial by friends. To an extent it was planned, to an extent, it would have to happen anyway, sooner or later. But at least they wanted to control *how* it happened. Before any family were involved, they wanted dry runs with Paul’s best friend, Pat, and Asha.