Bizarre scenario – I’ve been employed on a short-term contract basis by a partner at a VC firm to help out his 25 year-old niece with a business she is setting up and he is investing in.

Turns out she is quite nice. We have met up a few times to work: first day was in her uncle’s office when other people were there, second day was us alone in the office, third day was in the living room of her house with her female housemates coming and going, fourth day was briefly in a cafe.

We certainly clicked instantly from a work perspective, and there is also a good level of comfort, e.g. she said on the second day that she thought her glands were up, so I went over and felt her around her neck, and we've done a bit of 'high-fiving' etc.. I also thought there were some other IOIs, such as her pupils dilating when we have to discuss something, her playing with her hair, necklace, or earring/earlobe fairly regularly when talking, laughing a bit ott at some of my bad jokes, but nothing major. I also have a few DHVs in my favour – e.g. her uncle showing her my good CV, me mentioning that I wanted a favour from a girl on my degree course for the project but that she's not responding because I think I ended up accidentally ignoring her for a bit after we got off once, etc.

On the fourth day at the cafe (the day after I’d also got to chat a bit and get on well with her female housemates), she completely out of the blue/of her own accord said “one of my housemates said recently that I should use Tinder as I don’t get to meet many guys. Turns out I ‘liked’ 40 guys and they all liked me back.” Then for some reason she proceeded to show me all the photos of her she’d put on it, including a few which looked a couple of years old of her in a very nice, slightly revealing dress. Also, our next work day is scheduled at her house again in a few days, and she texted me yesterday asking if we could just meet one hour earlier because she had a first date in the evening...

I’d not been wanting to really make a move yet and have been pretty ‘cool’ and focused on the work project so far (albeit I’ve made a few jokey/flirty innuendos etc.), because we still have to work together for another couple of weeks and there are maybe a couple of reservations I have – though ultimately she is someone I like and respect and would like to date. Is it likely that she’s not stupid and is saying these things to try and make me jealous and bring out my competitive instinct, or encourage me to make a move on her/make clear my interest? Or am I as deeply embedded already in the blue-ball friend zone as it is possible to be and she is trying to discourage me from doing anything stupid like making a move that could make the rest of the couple of weeks of the project a bit awkward?