Two weeks later at work, Evelyn stared at her computer and shook her head. Anderson hadn’t texted her once. She should have been grateful he was giving her a chance to move on, but she wished he would have fought for her. Now they communicated through email. He was still in Texas looking over a new artist. She prayed if this artist was going to show their work, they would be easier to work with than Christoff had been. He demanded she bring him tea laced with vodka to help his creative process. He holed himself up in the studio and refused to come out until she did everything on his list. He’d been awful, but his art had been amazing.
“Evelyn, I need you to look over this,” Xander said walking into her office. She smiled to see he had a spot of spit up on his shoulder.
“Who got you this morning?” she asked pointing to the spot. He looked at his shoulder and groaned.
“Bentley, he has been spitting up a lot lately. I thought the burp cloth caught it all.” He tried to brush it off, but the stain didn’t disappear.
“Use a damp cloth, that should get it out. What did you need me to look at?” she asked, holding out a hand for the file.
“Anderson found our next artist. His name is Evan Matthews and will be flying in next week. I want you to meet him at the airport and get him settled at the Clover Leaf Inn. We have a room set up for him,” Xander explained handing her the file. She flipped it open the file and gasped at the pictures of his art. She recognized his work, she had a print hanging on her wall of a centaur.
“I know him, he does mythical creatures. I have a print of his hanging in my apartment,” she commented and turned the papers over to look at several other pictures.
“Then you won’t have a problem helping him. His plane comes in at eight am Monday,” Xander replied. She nodded and became absorbed in the file.
“Are you coming over tonight for dinner?”
“Yes. It is a girls night and Roxie knows I like things to stay consistent. Did she say what to bring?” Evelyn asked absentmindedly.
“Wine and cheesecake. She said something about a chocolate cheesecake from Mia’s,” he answered and Evelyn laughed.
“Mia’s does make an amazing cheesecake. I’ll stop on my way home and then be over with the required items.”
“Thanks.” Xander left her office and then her cell phone rang. She looked at the caller ID, it was her mother.
“Hi Mom,” she said. She hadn’t talked to her mom in a couple weeks.
“Hi baby. I wanted to give you the good news. Luke is getting married to Alexis. We are hosting an engagement party for them in two weeks. Mark it on your calendar July first. Bring your boyfriend too,” she added and Evelyn sighed.
“Mom, Anderson and I broke up months ago,” she explained.
“That’s too bad. Don’t forget to call Luke and congratulate him on his engagement.”
“I will call him on my lunch break,” she promised.
“You will come to the engagement party right?” her mother asked, Evelyn loved her older brothers, Luke and Victor and she liked their girlfriends. What she didn’t like was coming home and being asked why she hadn’t found a guy yet. She was twenty-eight and one of the last of her friends to get married.
“Of course. I’ll talk to Xander about taking a long weekend,” she replied with a smile.
“Good, bring someone with you if you want. What about Roxie?”
“She just had twins mom, she won’t be able to travel for a while.”
“How are her babies?”
“Wonderful. I am getting to see them tonight when I go over for dinner,” she replied. Opening her email she saw a message from Anderson. Clicking it open she willed her heart to settle.
I am sending you all the information about Evan Matthews.
Attached to the email was a word document with all of Evan’s needs.
“Evvy are you listening?” her mother asked.
“Sorry mom, I am at work you know,” she replied.
“Luke wanted you to bring your famous brownies,” her mom told her in an irritated voice.
“Yes I can make brownies, how many does he want?” she asked, pulling out a notepad to jot down a reminder.
“He thinks five batches will be enough,” her mom said.
“Five?” she asked shocked.
“How many people are coming to this party?” Evelyn gave her mother her full attention.
“About a hundred people. Luke is a very popular man and his fiance Alexis is a high power business woman. They need this party for connections as much as to celebrate their engagement.” Evelyn rolled her eyes, she loved her brother but his friends were too high class for her. She much preferred her men more rugged, like Anderson.
“Okay Mom, I’ll make the brownies and bring them to the party. Where is it being held?” she asked, leaning back in her chair.
“In Philadelphia, I have a set of rooms reserved at the hotel that is hosting the engagement party. Wear the dress you wore to Roxie’s wedding, you need to look nice. I don’t want you to embarrass your brother,” her mother told her. Evelyn shook her head, she knew her mother was just trying to be prepared for everything. Alexis’ family made her mother nervous and she only wanted what was best for her family.
“I promise Mom. I will bring a beautiful dress and pull out all the stops for this party,” Evelyn replied and heard her mother sigh in relief on the other end.
“Thank you Evvy. See you in two weeks. I will email you the details and check in time for the hotel.”
“Love you Mom.” She hung up the phone and scrubbed a hand over her tired eyes. Leave it to her brother Luke to put on a show for his engagement. He always wanted more than their quiet life in White Valley.
“Everything okay?” Lauren asked, she had become Evelyn’s assistant and helped Xander when Anderson was out of town.
“Yes, my oldest brother got engaged,” she answered.
“Congratulations. Is he the first?” Lauren asked handing her a stack of files to go through.
“Yes, and he is having a large engagement party in Philly. I’m going to be gone for a long weekend in two weeks. I want us to get everything in place for Evan Matthews and his showcase before I leave,” she explained diving back into work. She didn’t want to think about her brother getting married. She loved Luke, but he and Alexis had been together for six months and they were both human. She knew Anderson was her mate, no other man made her sing like he did. Shaking her head she drove Anderson out of her mind for the rest of the day.
Getting into her car to drive to Mia’s Cafe to pick up a chocolate cheesecake Evelyn sent Josie a text.
Josie, I think it is time I move on. Can you introduce me to Preston Reese?
She didn’t have to wait long before her car informed her she had a text from Josie. Pressing play her car read aloud,
“Done, I’ve invited him to the event tomorrow at the Clover Leaf Inn. Wear something sexy but perfect for a garden party.”
Parking her car she sent back a response.
I have the best dress for tomorrow. I am at Roxie’s tonight, I’ll get her opinion. Thanks! Tucking her phone away she went inside the cafe and picked up a large chocolate cheesecake for dinner that night.
She stopped short upon seeing a man who looked like Anderson from behind, but when he turned she could see he didn’t have Anderson’s shocking blue eyes. She needed to get laid by someone else before Anderson consumed her. Walking up to the counter she smiled at Mia, she was an older woman with snow white hair, a round petite body and a loud voice.
“Hi Mia, I need a chocolate cheesecake to go please,” she replied, pointing to the triple chocolate cheesecake with strawberries on top.
“No, it is for dinner with Roxie and Xander,” she explained. Mia gave her a soft smile and boxed up a whole cheesecake. On top she placed a small package of two chocolate chip cookies.
“Take these, you look like a girl who needs a little extra. Anything on your mind I can help with?” Mia asked, handing her the sweets.
“No, I’m just tired. The hours I am putting in at work are starting to take their toll on me,” she explained. It was mostly the truth, the week since she sent Anderson packing had been a sleepless week.
“You look like a woman who’s been left by a lover,” Mia observed and Evelyn gave her a half smile.
“Anderson and I broke up months ago,” she explained.
“Doesn’t mean your heart knows that. Take it easy and go get a pedicure. That always helps me when Harold and I get into an argument. I come back and we talk things through. What happened with you and Anderson?” Mia asked, she knew everyone in town and could always be counted on for a chat.
“He didn’t want to put me before his work,” she explained and Mia nodded with understanding.
“He will come to his senses sweetie. I know you two are mates,” Mia assured her and Eveyln sighed. It seemed everyone but Anderson knew they were meant to be forever mates. If only he would come to his senses sooner rather than later. She was getting tired of feeling exhausted all the time.
“Thanks Mia, I hope so. In the meantime I am going to try and move on. I can’t keep my life on hold waiting for a man who might never realize what he lost.” She paid for her food and left to drive over to Xander and Roxie’s.
Pulling into their driveway she took a deep breath. It was time to put on her mask and pretend everything was okay with her life. She didn’t want to worry Roxie, she had enough on her hands with the twins and Xander.
Preston is coming tomorrow!
Leave it to Josie to make good on her promise. She hadn’t expected such a quick response. Getting out of the car she walked into Xander and Roxie’s house. She rarely knocked these days and they expected her to treat the house like her own.
“Rox?” she called and heard a thud from upstairs and laughed. The twins were quiet which meant Roxie and Xander were spending some quality time alone. She went into the kitchen and put away the cheesecake. Stirring the sauce on the stove she peeked in the oven. Roxie was making her famous roasted chicken with root vegetables. Evelyn moved around the kitchen and began to set up the table, she knew Roxie and Xander would be a few minutes. The least she could do was set the table while they put themselves back together. She was very happy for Roxie, after her nasty divorce from Mitchell she deserved to be happy. Xander was perfect for Roxie and Evelyn knew she wouldn’t settle for anything less in her own life. She wanted a man who would put her first and care for her.
“Evvy!” Roxie called rushing into the kitchen and giving her a tight hug.
“Sorry we weren’t down here when you came over,” she added and Evelyn laughed.
“You have twins, you need to get your alone time in when you can. I stirred the sauce and the chicken looks just about done. The cheesecake is in the fridge and I set the table,” she replied. Roxie laughed and opened the open to poke at the chicken.
“Yep, just about done. We will let it rest so all the juices don’t come pouring out.” Roxie grabbed two oven mitts and pulled the bird out. Xander strolled in a minute later, his hair disheveled. Evelyn carefully hid her smile and pulled out the water pitcher.
“Xander do you want wine or beer with dinner?” she asked him.
“Water is fine, Roxie is not drinking while she nurses.”
“So you aren’t drinking because she can’t?” Eveyln asked. He nodded and she smiled.
“That is very sweet of you,” she remarked and poured three glasses of water.
“How was work?” Roxie asked, Evelyn looked over to see her plating up the roasted vegetables.
“Busy as always. We have a new artist I am getting the gallery ready for. Oh, Luke proposed to Alexis,” she replied.
“That is amazing! They’ve been together a while right?” Roxie asked.
“No, only six months,” she replied and took the platter over to the table.
“Six months? Is she a shifter?” Xander asked, Evelyn shook her head.
“No, both human.”
“Isn’t that fast for humans?” he asked, carving the whole chicken.
“Yes, but Luke says she is the one,” Evelyn explained with a smile. Her brother was thirty-two and Alexis her age at twenty-eight. The last time she’d seen them, they’d been wrapped around each other as if the world was going to end the next day.
“They were very hot and heavy when I saw them in April for Easter,” she added and she saw Roxie and Xander exchange a knowing look.
“Who is the new artist?” Roxie asked bringing the conversation back to work. Evelyn settled at the table and the three talked about Evan Matthews. Evelyn shared how much she liked his art. Aside from Roxie, Evan Matthews was her favorite artist. He was bold in his art and refused to compromise. She’d read a lot about how hard he was to get along with when showing his art. She had a plan for him though, she had done her research and was determined to make his experience at their gallery the best.
Around dessert Roxie brought up the topic she knew she wanted to talk about.
“Are you going to the garden party Josie is hosting?”
“Yes, I want to get back out there and meet someone. I can’t keep hoping Anderson will come to his senses and be with me. I will enjoy myself tomorrow and flirt with abandon. I want to feel happy again,” she shared. Roxie patted her hand and smiled.
“Good. You’ve seemed so depressed these past months.”
“I am sorry if I worried you,” she said, and Roxie shook her head.
“I know you and Anderson were still sleeping together after you broke up. He came over the day after you threw him out for good and complained about it.” Evelyn wasn’t surprised, she never could hide anything from Roxie.
“I took your advice. It is time to move on.”
“No, my advice was to make Anderson so jealous he finally came to his senses,” she corrected.
“You what?” Xander asked, a look of shock on his face.
“At girls’ night we talked about introducing Evvy to Preston Reese. He and Anderson always had a rivalry throughout high school,” Roxie explained.
“That won’t work,” Xander replied.
“Why not?” she asked, Roxie had a gleam in her eye and Eveyln knew a fight was brewing.
“Anderson is a grown man. There is no way he would get upset about Evvy dating Preston,” Xander replied.
“Hah! That’s what you think. I know Anderson and Evvy are mates. He needs to see that she is no longer available to his whims. Who better to help push him than Preston?” she asked. Evelyn watched Xander shake his head.
“Anderson isn’t home enough for it to work,” he pointed out.
“Leave that to me. He calls me daily to check on the twins. I’ll just comment here and there about Evvy dating someone new,” she replied. Evelyn stared at her in shock. She thought Josie was the one with all the plans, turned out Roxie was picking up on her sister-in-law’s traits.
“You are an evil woman Roxie,” Evelyn commented and Roxie just laughed.
“I want to see my best friend and brother together. It is high time my idiot of a brother gets off his high horse and mates you,” Roxie replied. Evelyn shook her head. She wasn’t so sure Roxie could get her brother to do that. Making a silent prayer, she hoped Roxie and Josie could help her.
What do you think of Evelyn?