"No way," I say, staring at the salesman, "I can't believe my luck."
He widens his mouth, grinning at me. From the opal eyes to the muscular figure, it's the guy I met outside Sainsbury's all over. And he's looking at me.
"What are you doing in a shop like this?" He asks.
I almost laugh. "What are YOU doing in a shop like this?"
He chuckles, raking a hand through his hair. "Yes I know, straight guys don't work in dress shops. But you do meet cute girls working here."
I roll my eyes. "Or ugly ones."
He thinks for a moment before admitting, "Yeah, there are some oversized girls trying to fit in skinny dresses, but I was going to let that one slide."
Smiling, I pretend to search the aisles, just so I don't have to stare at his beautiful face. My friends seem to have disappeared upstairs, leaving us alone. I look up. He's wearing a T-Shirt, a blend of colours splashed across it in an abstract way. Where have I seen that top before?
Shrugging, I continue down the aisles, but I'm half expecting him to say something else to me. Why he would do that I'm not sure, but I still have the hope. I'm just giving up on any chance of more small talk, as I begin to walk up the stairs, when he coughs rather dramatically.
"Um, so would you like any help?"
I smile, walking back down the steps. "Well, I guess you could try."
"You think I'm incapable of finding a dress for you?"
I raise my eyebrows.
"I can assure you, I'm not." He walks out from behind the counter and scoots past me, on the way to the back of the store. Where he is going I'm not entirely sure, but I follow nevertheless.
"Event?" He asks.
"Birthday party," I reply, "My Birthday party."
"Exciting." He mumbles, scanning the dresses in front of him. He eventually slides a hand to the back and pulls out a dress. It's midnight black, multicoloured hearts printed all over the front. It seems simple, not something my friends would agree with, but something I would definitely wear happily, without thinking I am overdoing it. The arms are sleeveless, and it's not long before he slips a leather jacket round it, as if he knows I'm thinking 'what if I get cold?"
"So what do you think?" He asks, trying to read my expression.
"Do you know me?" I splutter.
He laughs, handing them to me. "No, I'm just good at this."
Still weirded out by the amazingly good choice, I go over to the changing rooms to try them on. I see him wink at me, just as I shut the curtain, and I feel butterflies circle my stomach. Could it be possible that I like him? I've only ever been with one guy in my life, when I was fourteen. I've never wanted to be near guys since. Until now.
I appear from behind the curtain, dress swaying at my knees and arms wrapped tightly in the leather jacket. He takes one look at me before draping an arm across his forehead and pretending to collapse. I laugh timidly, feeling slightly self-conscious.
"Is it good?"
He smiles, walking back over to me. "I think it suits perfectly."
Just as I look in the mirror and realise that it actually does look pretty amazing, considering I'm not a dressy person, I hear my friends clatter down the stairs. From April's shocked face, she notices the sales guy straight away from the time we were at Sainsbury's. The others give me a heads up.
"Oh wow, you actually look beautiful!" Chloe comments, striding up to me and flicking her hair back behind her shoulder. Wow, she can be such a flirt.
"Thanks, do you think I should..."
Before I can finish, she turns to the sales guy, fluttering her eyelashes.
"Did you pick this out for her? You have such great taste!" She gushes, and I can tell he's affected by the invasion of personal space. I take the time to make a dramatic eye roll and disappear back by the curtain. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him laugh.
When I return, Chloe still hasn't given up on trying. I go to the counter to pay, sliding out my credit card, dress draped over the counter.
"£50 in total, please." He neatly folds the dress and jacket, placing it in the bag. I look to the side to see April raising her eyebrows at me, still scanning the shelves.
Looking back, I realise he's holding out the bag for me. "Thanks."
We're just leaving the shop when I realise that I should be more thankful. If it wasn't for him I would never have found something to wear. Just as my friends walk ahead I shoot him a smile.
"Thank you so much. I couldn't have found the dress without your help."
He matches my grin, calling out after me, "Have a good eighteenth Birthday!"
I leave the shop, a wave of happiness washing over me. Catching up with my friends, I join in with their conversation about the party, commenting on the fact that they are too obsessed with planning it. But it's only when I replay the shop scene in my head, not believing my luck, that realisation dawns over me. How did he know I was turning eighteen? I never told him.