“Roxie, you have to go with me to this new singles event!” her roommate Evelyn announced as she bounced into Roxie’s bedroom, pushing passed several canvases and paint tubes left lying around. Roxie set down her paintbrush and sighed, reaching for a cloth to clean off her paint-covered hands. Ever since her divorce had become official, nine months ago, Evelyn had been pushing her to join in on the singles events she frequented. Evelyn had rich brown hair, hazel eyes, and a sun-kissed tan. Roxie envied Evelyn’s skin tone. She, on the other hand, was pale with blond hair and blue eyes, thanks to her European heritage.
“No, I tried marriage once. I’m not interested in a new one.” Roxie shook her head and went back to work on her landscape. On a whim, two weeks ago, she’d gone on a trip to the Grand Canyon, wanting to get away from everyone and everything. Her mother was forever asking her to quit painting and focus on her job as an executive assistant at her father’s tax firm. The very thought made her sick. She loved her parents, but they were very traditional in their thinking. She always wore elbow-length sleeves to hide her intricate tattoos. She’d gotten one after her divorce to rebel against Mitchell’s ideals. Every time they went passed someone with tattoos Mitchell would frown, sucking his teeth in disapproval.
“It differs from the other events, Roxie. They seek us, curvy women, at these. The company is called Mate Me, it’s social gatherings hosted to bring together shifter-forever mates. Just imagine a large, out-of-this-world, shifter devoted to you for life,” Evelyn sighed. She gave a dreamy smile, and Roxie rolled her eyes. She and Evelyn were what the world deemed “plus-sized”. They had extra all over, and in her experience, men moved on from her to a younger, thinner model. Roxie knew about shifters, her halfbrother was one, but she’d never spent time with one as an adult.
“I’m twenty-seven, Evvy, and divorced. Plus I’ve never met a shifter aside from Anderson, my halfbrother, and he left when I was young,” Roxie argued.
“Young and single! Come with me on Friday. Use this as an opportunity to meet new people. You don’t know what you are missing with shifters. They don’t play games with you, they are very take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to dating. These men are searching for their mates, they want a family and life with someone,” Evelyn begged. She held out the hot pink flyer for Roxie to look over. Roxie took the flyer blinking against the brightness of the paper.
“Where is the event being held?” Roxie asked. She knew Evelyn wouldn’t drop the issue until she caved.
“Club Cerulean, they’ve rented the place out. We pay a thirty-dollar cover, plus any food or drink we purchase,” Evelyn explained.
“How long do I have to stay?”
“Two hours, I want you to at least try to meet people. No one is asking you to date, just find a friend you can talk art with, while I look for my mate.” Evelyn’s brown eyes danced with excitement as she spoke.
“I’ll go for two hours. I can’t promise to be much company,” Roxie replied.
“All I ask is you talk to anyone who speaks to you,” Evelyn said with a laugh. Roxie tried to ignore her friend.
“Fine, now let me get back to my painting.”
“When are you going to show your portfolio to the Dragon Lore Art Gallery? I saw Xander Austin the owner at the museum checking out our newest exhibit,” Evelyn demanded. She worked as a tour guide for the local art museum and continued to urge Roxie to show her work. Evelyn compared her work with the ones that were on display for the world to see, always telling Roxie she was in league with those on exhibit.
“Never. Mitchell constantly told me I was mediocre with my art.” Roxie blinked back the tears that threatened to fill her eyes. One reason she had fallen in love with Mitchell, to begin with, was his background in art. His parents were art dealers and ran their own gallery in New York. Mitchell was the current director. His job was to look for the newest artists and make them famous. He never thought much of Roxie’s work and would tell her any chance he got. Too many times she showed him a new piece and he would nitpick it apart telling her everything she’d done wrong on the piece. She then worked late into the next night trying to create a piece he would be proud to show in the gallery. This continued regularly in their relationship until she finally gave up six months before she found him cheating on her.
“Screw him. He never wanted you to be successful and leave his ass first. He is a shallow man who never saw you as anything but a housewife he couldn’t make stop working. Your paintings are amazing and could rival some at the museum,” Evelyn argued, wrapping her arms around Roxie’s shoulders, taking in the painting on her easel.
“Thanks, sweetie, but I’m not ready for more rejection just yet. I don’t know if my heart could handle being told I am terrible by someone so well respected as Xander Austin.” Roxie put her earbuds in signaling she was done with the conversation. Picking up her brush she added to the pink sunset over the Grand Canyon. Evelyn patted her shoulder and left her in peace. Roxie loved that about her roommate, she knew when to give her space. Roxie worked through the night skipping dinner. Once she got in the zone with her art nothing else mattered. Once the fire alarm went off in her art building during her time in college and a classmate had to shake her to alert her to the noise.
Let me know what you think!