Authors: Kate Kent
Copyright © 2015 by Kate Kent
All Rights Reserved: No part of this publication may be replicated, redistributed, or given away in any form without the prior written consent of the author/publisher or the terms relayed to you herein.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination, or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to organizations, actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.
No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner, except as allowable under “fair use,” without the express written permission of the author.
Published by: Lil Black Dress Press
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For all of my life I just wanted to give and feel love. But people either stared boldly or turned away because of the way I looked. It made me feel like a monster. I was born with a huge port wine stain on my face. It looks exactly like what you’d think—like I was at a party and someone threw a glass of wine at me and it splashed on the left side of my face—only it never rinses off. The rest of my skin is pale and smooth. I would look normal—maybe even pretty—if it wasn’t for this ugly stain. I grew up feeling terrible about myself, and my parents never tried to make me feel better either. They just looked away like I was some kind of marked demon. I dealt with teasing and torment from other people my entire life. But one day, I decided I’d had enough. I couldn’t stand being alone for one more minute. I had to at least try to find love. My name is Sherry Cole and this is my story…my confession…
“You don’t really think that site works, do you Sherry?” a voice asked from behind, startling me.
Roxanne…ugh, my know-it-all co-worker. It was my lunch break, and as usual, I was eating at my desk. Couldn’t I have any peace? Though for the most part I liked the people I worked with, Roxanne and a couple of my other co-workers, Jamie and Susan, could be catty and nasty. They were the definition of mean girls.
I turned to see her peeping over my shoulder at the computer screen in front of me, but it was too late to cover it. The “Luscious Lads and Ladies Marriage Mates” logo took up almost one half of the mating website’s home page. It was pretty obvious I was checking it out.
Earlier today when I’d slipped into the break room to get a cup of coffee I’d overheard some of my co-workers talking about the website. I’d never heard of it before, but apparently a local news station had reported on it recently. One of my co-workers said that once you created a profile you could contact others on the site, or they could contact you in hopes of a potential marriage match.
I was aching to find that special someone to love. The thought of getting married and starting a family really appealed to me. I felt shy and awkward when I met men in person—maybe, just maybe, I could meet someone to build a future with online. When I got back to my desk, I’d looked up the site immediately and was just beginning to explore what it offered.
“Well, umm…I was just looking,” I said softly. “I know it’s a new site, but it looks really professional.”
“Yeah, but the site’s not really for people like yo...” Roxanne’s voice trailed off.
“Who—who is it for?” I asked sharply. She pissed me off. I knew what she was thinking. The site was for ‘regular’ looking people. Other people could find matches on Luscious Lads and Ladies because they looked normal. They didn’t have a big ole’ glass of wine stain smack dab on their face for the whole world to see. “Just because I have a birthmark…”
“This has nothing to do with birthmarks. It’s a shifter mail order bride site. All the men on there are shifters looking for mail order matches, and all the women are non-shifters looking for a shifter to mate with.”
“Shifters?!” I was surprised. I hadn’t realized that the men were
shifters looking for love and not ‘regular’ guys.
“Do you really think
could handle a shifter?” Roxanne asked.
I thought about what I knew of shifters. Though I didn’t know any personally, I had heard that male shifters were huge men with a voracious sexual appetite, and when they mated it was for life. I liked that.
“And why not? Why couldn’t I handle a shifter?” I couldn’t help but lick my lips. The idea of a lifetime partnership with a sexy shifter who wanted to make love to me all the time was a turn on—not that I would tell Roxanne that!
Roxanne raised her eyebrows. “Come on Sherry, you’re the shy, quiet type,” she shook her head. “A woman that takes on a shifter needs to be confident, and bold.”
“I think I could handle one,” I replied softly. Deep down I wasn’t so sure, but her smugness was annoying as hell.
Roxanne grunted. “Even if you
handle a shifter, how could you stand living in Shifter Villages? There’s nothing there—no shopping, restaurants…”
“Shifter Villages? Why would I have to live there?” Shifter Villages was about 100 miles from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the town I lived and worked in. Though I’d never visited, I’d heard the terrain was rocky, and there were a lot of shifters living there without a whole lot to do.
“The ‘Luscious Lads and Ladies’ site was started by a bull shifter from Shifter Villages to find wives for the men of the town. It’s almost all males that live in the town right now. I hear it can get pretty damn rowdy.”
“Oh, ok. I didn’t know that.” Chambersburg was not a big city by any means, but the town had decent restaurants, shopping, and other amenities. The idea of moving to a town with nothing to do like Shifter Villages wasn’t so appealing, but the idea of finding true love certainly was.
“What’s it matter,” Roxanne sniffed, “the site probably doesn’t work anyway.”
“Well,” I said, tapping the screen, “they’ve only been in business for a short time. I’m sure it takes a while to make a perfect match.” I looked at the corner of the screen. There was the word ‘zero’ under the words ‘Marriage Matches Made.’
“Just don’t go getting your hopes up,” Roxanne said, smugly.
Roxanne really could get under my skin. She was always trying to belittle me. She knew I was quiet and too polite to complain to her or to the management at my company—though it was getting harder and harder. She poked her finger at my birthmark, my shyness, and anything else she could.
She had never come out and mentioned my birthmark directly, but she’d make coy little references to it. If she wasn’t making vague references to that, she took jabs at my curves. I’m a tall girl with big breasts and hips and more of a belly than I need, but I’m ok with that. I exercise and eat healthy. But Roxanne seemed to think anyone over a size 8 needed to stop eating. She would offer unasked for weight loss tips and make snide little comments; like the time I came to the office wearing a cute pastel sundress I’d just bought. It was hard to find nice dresses in plus sizes, but this one was awesome—buttery yellow, with tie shoulder straps and a flirty, ruffle bodice. I felt pretty in it as I danced into the office. Roxanne took one look at me and shook her head. She said something to the effect of it looking as good as it could under the circumstances. She made me feel so bad I never wore the dress again. I tried to avoid her, but it was hard in the small accounting office we worked in.
“I would just hate to see you disappointed,” Roxanne added.
Though normally I would just ignore her, I couldn’t help but respond this time. Her insistence that the site wouldn’t work for me had me seething inside. “According to what I read on the site, there’s a match for everyone, and I think that includes me,” I said calmly, though I could feel the tension building in my jaw.
Roxanne pursed her lips. “Well, you can always try finding a match on the site, but…don’t say I didn’t tell you so.”
As Roxanne sashayed away from my cubicle, I shook my head. I had to keep my cool. I could not, under any circumstances, let her know she got to me. Her attitude irked me so bad. Bitch!
I moved my cursor to the top of the screen to exit the site when a pop up flashed on the screen: ‘New Shifters Added Today–Is Your Marriage Mate One of Them?’ I glanced at the clock. I still had a few minutes before break was over. I knew Roxanne was probably right and I would never find my match on ‘Luscious Lads and Ladies,’ but it couldn’t hurt to look, could it?
I clicked on the tab and a row of men popped up. Wow! There were only about a half a dozen men on the page…but what a hunky group! Shifter Villages sure boasted some lookers. These men were gorgeous. They were all tall with rippling muscles. As I stared at the photos, one of them caught my eye. His name was listed as Adrian and he was at least 6’3”, with thick, brown hair and warm, tanned skin. I felt a jolt go through my stomach as I looked at him. His gaze was intense, with amber eyes that seemed to stare directly back into mine. He took my breath away. I knew it was only a photo, yet something about him made me feel like he was in the room with me.
I clicked on his profile. “Lion Shifter seeks special marriage mate for long walks, deep talks, and warm nights.” Warm nights—I could just imagine what it would be like to cuddle up to him. I closed my eyes as I visualized myself wrapped in his powerful arms; him snuggling me tight.
“Sherry…Sherry…Judith wants us in the meeting room,” Roxanne’s voice interrupted me. “Whoa…that dude is hot—Adrian, huh? He looks like a sexy beast. Let me see that. A lion shifter, huh?”
Damn, she was looking over my shoulder again. As she leaned in closer to get an even better view of the screen, I quickly shut down the computer.
“What did you do that for?” she frowned. “Anyway, you’re going to be late for the meeting. It’s an all departments meeting, remember.”
Shit! I looked at the clock. I would have to scramble to make it on time.
I quickly reached for the papers I would need and the manila envelope holding them fell on the floor, the contents flying everywhere. Damn. I hurried, gathering them up. Being late for a meeting was a no-no.
Once I had all the papers pulled together, I rushed to the meeting room. Everyone was in their seats, including Roxanne and her mean girl cronies. The trio of Roxanne, Susan, and Jamie had amused expressions on their faces.
“You’re late, Sherry,” my boss, Judith Banks, announced. Judith was an elegant woman in her late thirties. She was tall, curvy, and beautiful. She always looked perfect, with flawless skin and every strand of her thick red hair in place.
“Sorry, I got caught up in something,” I said quietly.
“Yeah, she was caught up at the ‘Luscious Lads and Ladies’ website looking at a hottie shifter named Adrian,” Roxanne laughed.
“Not just any shifter… a lion shifter,” Susan grinned.
I could feel my face flush bright red as the others tittered. My skin color probably matched my port wine stain right now. It was obvious Roxanne had been talking about me behind my back again.
Judith looked puzzled. “‘Luscious Lads and Ladies?’”
“It’s a shifter marriage match site,” Jamie, one of Roxanne’s friends who worked in the Personnel Department, piped up.
“Sherry thinks she’ll find true love there,” Roxanne added, a smirk playing across her lips.
I shook my head. “I never…”
Judith looked at me curiously. “Sherry?”
“I…I was just looking during break. I…didn’t apply or anything…” God, I felt lame that Judith knew I had looked at the online marriage site. What would she think of me?
thinks it’s possible to find a life’s partner online—and a shifter no less!” Roxanne tittered.
“A marriage match site?” Judith said. “It sounds intriguing. You absolutely should try it, Sherry. And let me know how it works for you. Lord knows it couldn’t turn out much worse than my two ex-husbands. I met both of them offline!”
I let out a sigh of relief. Judith had a yin and yang personality. You never knew if she would give you a high five for something you did or a withering stare. But all in all, she was a fair boss, and I really liked her. It was the co-workers like Roxanne and her cronies who acted like they were back in high school that drove me nuts. I always tried to avoid them, but it could be hard in the small office.
Waving her hand dismissively, Judith turned her attention to her notes on the table and began the meeting.
As Judith’s voice droned on with the report, my mind wandered to thoughts of Adrian, the sexy shifter on the ‘Luscious Lads and Ladies’ site. He was so handsome and sexy. I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d be like in bed. I’d never been with a shifter before, but that wasn’t surprising. I’d only been with two men before. They had both been immature and the sex had been lousy. The thought of being with a powerful, gorgeous lion shifter like Adrian, mmm—it was such a turn on. I tried to focus on the meeting, but it was hard when all I could think of was the photograph of Adrian, with his tawny skin and bedroom eyes.
When the meeting came to a close, Judith gave us our work assignments. The due date on all of them was Monday, and it was already Thursday. I was off on Friday and today was almost over. How would I get this done?
“Judith, I’m off tomorrow. Can I possibly get this to you Tuesday?” I asked.
“I’d forgotten you were off,” Judith raised her brows. “I do need this by Monday.”
“Better not spend too much time drooling on the ‘Luscious Lads and Ladies’ site and get busy,” Roxanne whispered loudly to me.
“Hmm, Roxanne, I think you could handle this in addition to the assignment you have,” Judith said thoughtfully.
Roxanne let out an exasperated sigh. “Judith, I…”
“It’s settled. You will complete Sherry’s assignment in addition to your own, Roxanne,” Judith handed her a folder.
I looked over at Roxanne. She was rolling her eyes to the back of her head. I almost wanted to take the work out of her hands and complete it myself even if it meant staying late because I knew she was going to make my work life even more hellish now—but I didn’t. I went back to my cubicle. The heck with her!