Sitting on the small porch of her small cabin, Lily couldn’t help but feel a sense of desolation. She felt alone—more alone than she had ever felt in her life. Even though she had a loving family and friends. She wanted more, and that made her question what was it she really was missing. However, the truth was there all along. It was she who was in denial. She wanted someone to love her with all their being. To put her at the center of their world.
But she was so afraid—so afraid to risk it all, for a chance at love...
Charlie stared at her laptop—at the words she had typed because it all felt so true. She should feel grateful for all that she has, but she wanted more than what she had now. Was she becoming too greedy?
Oh, but what her character, Lily, feels was so true.
Charlie was feeling alone.
Feeling a familiar ache spreading across her chest, she sought to dull the ache by drinking tonight. Grabbing for what, maybe her third glass of wine. She filled it to the top like how she did the other previous glass of wine she took tonight.
Her old apartment made creaking noises as the heater kicked on. Glancing outside, it was dark and cold. Snow was falling and gathering around her living room window. She stood up and felt a little unsteady on her feet. Her head spun a little, but she wanted to look outside.
Like Lily, she had a family. Charlie had parents who were still alive but lived in a different state. Her only other sibling married and has a life of her own. She communicated with them over the phone frequently and attended family holidays every year. But it became a routine and suddenly, at 33, she realized that her life flew by and she had nothing to comfort her except her books. She was living her life through her characters.
She felt a sense of shame and humiliation spread through her chest and crawled up her cheeks.
Charlie knew she wasn’t the most beautiful girl. She grew up with her sweet tooth and because of that she never lost her baby fat. Charlie was always a little thicker than the other girls. She wore no short shorts because her thighs would rub against each other, causing the skin between her thighs to burn. A tank top or a tube top made her upper arms look fat. Yet, she believed she was decent enough. Her past exes were living proof, but none of her relationships last. They always said her long red hair attracted them to her. Her lips were pouty and naturally pink, and her emerald eyes always seemed to be the topics on her exes lips. So, at least she had something going, right?
Damn, she was getting sentimental.
The hollowness in her chest never dissipated.
She removed her gaze from the window and downed her glass of wine with gulps. Hoping that the alcohol will numb her mind. Stop her from craving something she might never have.
Charlie walked back to her seat on the sofa. Her laptop sitting on the coffee table. Instead of refilling her glass, she picked up the bottle of wine and began gulping it down. The tantalizing liquid slid down her throat. It didn’t take long until her body was tingling and her muscles relaxed.
At the end of the day, Charlie knew. She was extremely lonely.
Picking up her laptop, she brought it back to her lap. Saving her progress on her next novel, she hopped on the search engine. Her mind was whirling. She wasn’t entirely there. Charlie was doing things on impulse. Right now, she wanted to get laid. Super bad.
Without thinking at all, she began doing the unthinkable. Typing away. Signing up for things at random. One site here. One sight there.
When asked for a picture, Charlie picked one that she took of herself in a skimpy dress. One that her skirt was too short and hugged her bottom and revealed her thick thighs. Hell, to all of these men. She didn’t care what they thought.
All the while, drinking to keep her emotions at bay. A little giggle leaving her when she browsed through the websites. Did it matter what site it was? Not really.
Her fingers typed away at her bios. Making up stories about her life. She was good at that. She was an Author.
After she finished, she slammed the laptop shut. Grabbed the fifth? Or was it sixth? bottle of wine took another swig of it. Honestly, she probably can’t even see straight at this point, but she hobbled out of the living room and stalked towards her bedroom. Squinting her eyes as the hallways swayed back and forth. Her body hit the wall. She groaned and dropped her bottle of wine.
Charlie pushed away from the wall, but she ended up falling to the other side.
Damn, she couldn’t see straight at all. Finally, she gave up. Dropped to her knees and hands. She crawled her way to her bedroom. Opening the door, she continued to crawl her way inside until she reached her bed.
Grunting and groaning, she pulled herself up before collapsing onto her bed. Damn, maybe she shouldn’t have drink that much alcohol. She was going to feel it in the morning. She rolled all over her bed, trying to find a comfortable position. Groaning and mumbling incoherent words.
When she managed to rest her head on a pillow, she sighed and allowed her body to relax.
That was what she needed.
~ ~ ~
Charlie could feel herself waking up. Her body tensing and her heart rate beat faster in her ribcage. Morning—and a throbbing headache. She almost groaned out loud when she heard the soft chiming on her phone. It was too loud, but she knew she needed to answer. It might be her editors, sending her yet another email.
Growling, she forced her eyes to open. Thankful that her curtains were closed. She wasn’t ready for sunlight.
Her hand reached over to grab her phone. She heard it somewhere to her right. Feeling all over until she felt the cold rectangular shape. Then she lifted it up to her face. The screen brightness flared on and she closed her eyes immediately.
“Shit,” she moaned. “I need some Tylenol or something.”
Charlie regretted drinking so much last night, except she couldn’t stop feeling so emotional. Her time of the month must be near. She usually wasn’t this sentimental.
She took a minute to control the throbbing in her head before her eyes flew open again. Slowly at first, she peeked one eye open.
Ok, not bad, she thought.
With one eye open, she entered her passcode. She checked her emails but saw nothing from her editors. Instead, she saw a bunch of sign up confirmations from dating services.
“What the actual fuck?” Her other eye snapped open.
Her mouth opened as she scrolled from bottom to top. Dating services with older men, younger men, even LGBT websites. Each time her eyes ran across each email subject line, her heart beat a little faster. The air in her lungs seemed to evaporate with each passing second. She was going to die.
“Holy shit. What the hell did I do last night?” she whispered in fear.
When her eyes ran across the latest email—the last one of them all—she choked on her spit.
“What?” she screamed and sat straight up in bed.
Her head throbbed painfully. She released a hiss of pain and touched her forehead. Damn, she totally forgot her hangover.
Charlie refocused her eyes on her phone again. Reading the subject line over and over.
They matched her.
“How? What did I do?” She was trying to control her panic. Lord, she was quickly regretting her wine gluttony last night.
Her thumb hovered over her phone screen. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to open the email. The word, ‘afraid’ couldn’t even explain what she was really feeling right now.
After a minute, she tapped on the screen. It opened the email immediately. She read the first line.
Congratulations! You’ve been matched.
Charlie gulped and skimmed her eyes through the rest of the email.
They didn’t indicate who she was matched to. There was no link to link her to his profile. Basically, they congratulated her and told her they would be in contact with her. The email seemed a little private and left very little for her to research on.
Obviously, this sets off warning bells in her head. Charlie immediately deleted the email and the rest of the sign up confirmations. She was going to pretend not of this ever happened.
Tossing her phone on the bed, she scooted to the edge and stood up. She need a shower to wake up her senses and brush her teeth. Then she was going to take some medicine and eat something heavy to get rid of this hangover.
Just as she thought that though, her stomach became a little queasy.
Ok, maybe not too heavy, she mused before stripping out of her jammies and hopping into the shower.
When done with her morning routine, she threw on some an oversized college t-shirt and some black legging. With all that out of the way, she was ready to tackle her breakfast and take some pain reliever. Walking to the bedroom door, she was about to leave when her phone rang.
Her footsteps halted. Curiously, she turned around to look at her phone on the bed. Who would call her this early in the morning? Could be her mom.
She shrugged and walked back to her bed. Picking it up, it was an unknown caller.
She usually never answers these calls. Most of them are scam calls, but this time, she picked up. Bringing the phone to her ear, she greeted the caller.
“Good morning, Miss. Livingston. This is Shifter Matchmaking Services calling. We appreciate you signing up and taking the initiative at finding true love. We are calling to confirm your matched as of last night. First and foremost, it is always important to obtain verbal consent that you would like to proceed further with our match. If you are, we would move onto your expectations and what you are seeking. Of course, also speak of our disclosures and nondisclosure. An email will be sent out following our phone calls with the disclosure and nondisclosure.” the woman on the other end said.
Charlie said nothing. Her heart was racing. They actually called her. This was actually real. Wait, a minute—shifter? That’s an awful weird name for a matchmaking service.
“Miss. Livingston, are you still there?” Charlie could hear the confusion on the other end.
“Um... I’m still here,” she murmured.
“Great! Are you still interested?”
Many emotions were flowing through her. She didn’t know what to say because if she agreed, it would mean she couldn’t find love herself. She had to ask someone to help her. That alone made her feel humiliated and a complete failure. Charlie didn’t like that idea at all. At the same time, what if she agreed? What could really happen? What if this was where she finds her true love and happiness?
“Miss. Livingston?” The lady sounded a little frustrated with Charlie’s lack of response.
With a sigh, Charlie answered.
“I’m still interested.”