“So what are you?” the big burly man asked, sitting down in the chair across from Waverly. He was cute, but the following comments out of his mouth didn’t endear him to her. “Let me guess. Bear shifter! Right? A big girl like you gotta be a bear shifter. There are no such things as cow shifters, are there?”
Waverly stared at him angrily. Why did she always get ones who only noticed her outside appearance and felt a compulsion to tell her exactly what they thought of her looks?
“What?” the man asked when she didn’t say anything but continued to stare at him. “Are there cow shifters?”
Ding! The bell couldn’t have rung any earlier?
Why did she let her best friend, Delilah, talk her into this speed dating crap? Most men seized her up as soon as they saw her and dismissed her because of her looks. She was a big girl. She liked to think of herself as curvy but knew the rest of the world thought she was fat. And fat wasn’t attractive.
Delilah had convinced her that guys forced to spend at least fifteen minutes with her would see just how great a person she was, and therefore speed dating would be perfect for her. It seemed plausible.
What neither of them had counted on were guys using the restroom or getting a drink for nearly fifteen minutes and only sitting with her for a few minutes before moving on to the next woman. These were their excuses for not interacting with her just in case she took their politeness seriously as interest. That would have been disastrous, being mooned over by such a chubby cunt.
The next guy sat down, introduced himself, and went right back to his phone, texting someone. Waverly didn’t pull out her phone. She thought it very rude for people to be on their phones when others were there willing to interact with them in real life. Even if he was doing it to her, she wouldn’t stoop to his level.
By the third guy who asked her what type of shifter she was and all of them concluding she was a bear shifter, she wanted to scream. They all looked disappointed. At least they were willing to entertain the idea of fifteen minutes with another species. But she couldn’t accommodate them. So they had pulled out their phones and played games or texted their friends.
“I’m not a shifter –”
Her words died off when she turned to face the man who sat down at her table. He was huge. At least six feet five inches tall and two hundred pounds of muscle with not one ounce of fat on him. He had green eyes that seemed to sparkle with laughter. They complimented his brown hair nicely. His face was all hard planes and had an aristocratic bearing, but he didn’t come off as a snob. Perhaps it was the sweet smile he wore that made him seem approachable despite being a god incarnate.
“Hi,” he said, his voice raw sex like he had been drinking whiskey and smoked his entire life of only thirty some odd years, she thought. “Name’s Ryan. And I am a bear shifter.”
“H – hi Ryan,” she managed to stutter out. “I’m Waverly, and I am not a shifter. As far as I know, there is no such thing as a cow shifter. But you would know better than anyone. Sorry to disappoint you.”
He frowned at her, and Waverly hated being on the receiving end of such a look from him. It made her heartache that he was no longer smiling at her. But after all the men so far, she felt it best to lay all her cards on the table with this new guy - for both their sakes.
“No, there are no cow shifters,” Ryan commented in that sexy rumble of his. “Although they are magnificent creatures.”
“What?” she exclaimed, caught off guard by his compliment.
“Yes, cows are lovely and fun animals. I should know I own several on my farm.”
“Oh. I had no idea they were – fun.”
“Oh yes. My cows love to dance and frolic. They often play practical jokes on each other.”
“What? Really? That’s so – sweet.”
“They are. Now, why would you be talking about cow shifters at a speed dating event?”
She blushed, embarrassed by where the exchange was about to go. She had meant to say those things to not go through this conversation.
“Most men here think I am a – cow shifter because, well, that’s obvious.”
“Because of how beautiful you are,” he said knowingly.
She stared at him in shock.
“What did you say?” she whispered.
She shook her head as if trying to clear her head of a misunderstanding. She looked over her shoulder to see if some other woman was standing behind her. Surely he wasn’t talking to her? But there was nobody there.
When she looked back at him, he was smiling again. Then she knew what was going on.
She now frowned.
“I really don’t appreciate being the butt of your practical jokes,” she hissed at him. “At least the other men were upfront about their disgust for me. They didn’t try and make a fool out of me.”
“Whoa, sweetness,” he sounded, holding his hands up against her tirade. “I wasn’t playing some joke on you. I meant every word I said.”
“You expect me to believe that you, a god of a man, thinks someone like me, a fatty, is beautiful?”
“I’m not in the habit of lying to people I just met,” he drawled irreverently. “As for those other men, they aren’t worth you worrying over them since they can’t seem to recognize the beauty in you. Don’t give them any power over you.”
Before she could comprehend all his words, he was gone. Had that just happened, she thought? Had a gorgeous man said she was beautiful?
Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him with the next woman. He smiled and was nice to her. She saw that he was interested in her. The woman was tall, like him, and willowy. Very pretty and not at all like Waverly.
He was only being kind, she thought, her hope cracking. The more he laughed with the other woman, the more the idea that he might be interested in her deflated. Not only was the other woman more like his type, but she was also charming. Not at all like Waverly, who had been distrustful and angry.
Maybe she was as bad as men thought she was both inside and outside.
Before she left, she only marked Ryan as a possible follow-up. For that to happen, he would have to mark her as well. She didn’t think that would be the case, but sometimes all one had was their dreams.