Saturday afternoon found Evelyn standing in her bathroom, trying to contain her unruly curly hair. She’d fallen asleep without putting leave in conditioner in her hair last night and now she was paying the price. No matter what she did, pieces were sticking in odd directions. She contemplated jumping into the shower and tossing her hair up in a bun, but that wouldn’t help her attract a new boyfriend. Sighing, she pulled out her trusty curling iron and went to work taking her tight curls and turning them into beach waves. She patiently took a small section at a time, her dense brown hair liked to frizz at the thought of moisture.
Evvy, please talk to me.-Anderson
She ignored the text message and continued to do her hair. To her surprise, several more texts came in. Looking down at her phone, she saw Josie and Roxie both sent her good luck texts. Finishing her hair, she went to her closet. It was a garden party, so her normal dresses would not be right for the event. Reaching in the deep recesses of her closet she pulled out a solid lavender dress, it had an empire waistline, cap sleeves and a square neckline. Slipping it on her large bust pushed out of the top. She never could find a dress that contained her bust perfectly, usually she took her dresses to a tailor. Today, she didn’t have that kind of time. This dress her mother bought her a few years back when Evelyn was forced to attend a work event when she was a tour guide. Looking in the mirror she sighed, this would have to do.
What do you think? She shot a text to both Roxie and Josie and within seconds received texts from both. They’d sent emojis with hearts for eyes. It seemed they approved. Roxie would not be attending the event, she was after all married. Elizabeth was on duty at the hospital and Ellie happily married and pregnant at home with Marcus. She knew Josie would be busy and couldn’t count on her to keep her company. Today she would get out there and find someone new. Squaring her shoulders she grabbed her purse, keys and phone. It was time for her to find a new Mr. Right. Climbing into the car, she deleted the text from Anderson and turned her attention to the road.
Arriving at the Clover Leaf Inn, she stepped out of her car as Josie grabbed her and pulled her through the inn and into the garden out back.
“Josie. You are hurting me,” she remarked as Josie kept a tight grip on her arm.
“Preston Reese is over by the wine tasting table. I told him I had someone I thought was perfect for him. I want you to walk over and introduce yourself but say nothing about me,” Josie instructed. Evelyn shook her head, but walked over to where a very tall man with light brown hair and bright green eyes was standing. She motioned to the bartender she would like to try a set of the wines.
“Hello. I’m Preston Reese.” His voice was a rich baritone, one that sent shivers down her back.
“Hello, I’m Evelyn Tate,” she replied, holding out a hand. He took it and placed a kiss on her knuckles. She blushed and slowly took her hand back.
“Josie told me she had someone for me to meet. If you aren’t her, I don’t want to meet her,” he replied, and she smiled.
“You are a very smooth talker,” she remarked, accepting a glass of wine for the server.
“You are trying a pinot grigio with a light crisp taste, you might get hints of pear as you sip,” the server told her.
“Thank you,” she replied and took a sip. The wine was very sweet on her tongue.
“You don’t want to drink that stuff. Get her a glass of merlot. It is much better,” Preston commented, taking the wineglass from her and handing it back to the server. Evelyn didn’t know what to say. No man had snatched a glass of wine out of her hand. What did he know about her wine preferences? The server handed her a full glass of merlot, one of her least favorite wines.
“Do you know a lot about wine?” she asked, stepping away from the bar, allowing others to come up.
“I I think of myself as a wine connoisseur,” Preston replied.
“So tell me about yourself, Preston,” she said, sitting in a small lawn chair. Preston settled next to her a small table set between their chairs.
“Well, I own Reese construction, I helped remodel this inn. Before I got my hands on it, it was a pit. I am a tiger shifter and am thirty-four. I have three younger sisters and have lived in White Valley my entire life. What about you?”
“Well, I work for Xander Austin as the manager for his local gallery. I am twenty-eight, not a shifter. I have two older brothers and I grew up in Green Falls with Roxie and her brother Anderson,” she replied. His eyes flared at the mention of Anderson, she was curious what their true relationship had been in school.
“You know Anderson well then?”
“He is my ex,” she answered, she knew you weren’t supposed to talk about exes when first meeting someone, but Roxie mentioned the two men had a history.
“I see, then why not let me take you on a date and you can see what a true tiger shifter is like,” he said. She almost told him no, but she wanted to move on from Anderson, it was time for her to get back out there.
“Okay, when would you like to go?” she asked, and Preston pulled out his phone to look through his calendar. She did the same, her schedule would get busy once their newest artist came into town.
“What about tomorrow for lunch?” Preston offered, and she nodded.
“That works in my schedule. I will be busy starting next week. The artist Evan Matthews is coming to showcase his work in the gallery I work at,” she explained.
“Where do you work again?” he asked, for the first time he showed an interest in her.
“Dragon Lore Gallery. I am their manager,” she answered.
“I’ve been looking for some new art for my office. I’ve moved the company into bigger offices when we expanded with the building of the apartment complex downtown,” he replied.
“I moved into one apartment a couple months ago,” she added, and he smiled.
“How do you like it?”
“I like the layout, it is perfect for only one person. I lived in a two-bedroom apartment but Roxie married Xander and Elizabeth moved into an apartment closer to the hospital where she works.” She drained her glass of wine and Preston finished his.
“Would you like another?” he asked, and she nodded. He stood and went to fill their glasses. Evelyn watched him go appreciating his stature. He was taller than her five feet five inches and had broad shoulders with long legs. She could tell Anderson was taller than him by an inch or two. His eyes captivated her and he attracted her on a physical level, but he hadn’t connected with her on an emotional level yet.
“What do you think?” Josie asked coming up behind her. Evelyn smiled at her friend and replied,
“I like him. He was a little self absorbed at first, but we are slowly finding more to talk about. He likes art and wants a piece for his office.”
“Are you going out?”
“Tomorrow for lunch, we haven’t decided where yet,” she answered, and Josie gave her a triumphant smile.
“Keep me posted,” Josie said and giving her a small wave she walked away as Preston came back over.
“Here you go, I got you a white this time. I noticed the red wasn’t to your liking,” he explained.
“Thank you.” She took the glass and his fingers brushed hers. It disappointed her that no spark tingled down her body like when Anderson touched her.
“Where would you like to go for our date tomorrow?” he asked her.
“Do you enjoy going for walks?” she asked, he gave her a confused look.
“With the weather being so nice, I thought we could go for a walk around the national park and then have lunch at a café near the park,” she suggested.
“Sounds good. I’ll meet you at the park around eleven?”
“Perfect,” she replied and took a sip of her wine. The rest of the afternoon went by them talking about different artists and what he was looking for to hang in his office.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this ends the Mate Me event! I hope you have found someone to have a connection with today,” Josie announced at six in the evening.
“That is our cue,” Preston said, standing and offering her his hand. She took his hand, and they walked back to her car in the parking lot.
“Have a good night Evelyn and I will see you tomorrow.” He bent his head and kissed her hand.
“Thank you Preston. I had a good time.” She slipped into her car and drove home with a huge smile on her face. She called Roxie to tell her the good news.
“Hi Evvy!” Roxie sounded excited for her call.
“Hey Rox. I have good news. Preston Reese asked me out for tomorrow. We are going for a walk in the park and then lunch at a cafe,” she explained.
“That is wonderful news!” Roxie yelled.
“Don’t get your hopes up. Preston kissed my hand, and I felt nothing for him. He doesn’t make my body sing like Anderson,” she explained turning into her apartment complex.
“The whole point of you dating Preston is to make Anderson come to his senses. If you don’t want that, then use Preston to help get over Anderson. Not every guy will make your heart flutter. You just date until you find a man who does. Preston is a nice guy, enjoy letting a man take care of you again,” Roxie told her. Evelyn thought about it and decided Roxie was right.
“Thanks Rox. I will enjoy time with Preston and try to move on from Anderson,” she told her.
“Good. Call me after your date and let me know how it goes,” Roxie tells her and hangs up. Evelyn parked her car and sat for a minute thinking about everything happening in her life. She still loved Anderson, but it was time to get on with her life.
What do you think of Preston?