I slowed down to a jog and took the time to enjoy my surroundings.
It was a beautiful spring day on the Florida coast. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and I was absolutely miserable.
I kicked up the pace, focused on what was in front of me and tried to drown out the negativity in my head.
It was seeing my ex that put me in this mood.
The pretty boy asshole I’d dated all through high school and college. The man who loved to put me down, tell me how fat I was, and taunt me with food. Eventually I’d grown up, gained a little self-confidence, and kicked his ass to the curb, but unfortunately years of verbal abuse tended to stick with you.
I guess I could thank him for my new, lean and toned body. After all, it was because of him that my workout obsession began.
Now, it seemed like working out was the only thing I had going for me.
I’d recently lost my nanny job when my charge’s father got a work transfer and they’d moved away. My roommate got engaged to her longtime boyfriend and was moving in with him at the end of the week. And, now… my ex was back in town.
The hits just kept coming.
It had been these series of unfortunate events that instigated my doing something completely out of character...
After I’d seen my ex last week when I was going to pick up takeout, I’d come across an ad for a dating app that I’d never heard about before. Being in a vulnerable state, I’d decided to check it out.
I’d made a profile and started talking to a couple guys online. It wasn’t that I was looking for love, or even a date, it was more like I was looking for a change… a drastic change, and I was willing to try anything in order to get my life on an upward swing.
The Paranormal Mating App was actually an app for paranormal beings who were looking for mates.
Now, I know, when you hear mate, you think of fate, predestined love, and things of that nature, but this app was actually for people looking for a myriad of things. I’d met one guy who wanted to find his mate to get his mom off his back. Another was looking for someone to help him with his farm because he was falling behind. While another was looking for someone to grow old with because he was tired of being alone.
Sure, there were still some looking for love and happily ever after, but if I saw that in a profile, I kept going.
The other cool thing was that you weren’t expected to say yes and boom, you had your mate. They actually had the option to hold a trial period, which gave you and your prospective mate the chance to get to know each other before you made a lifelong commitment.
Make no mistake, that part of mating was still the same… the lifetime commitment. Once you agreed to mate with the other person, and had the claiming ceremony, there was no turning back.
The only way you were getting out of it was death, so you’d better be damn sure you picked the right person.
That’s why I had mandatory trial period listed on my profile. No way I wanted to get saddled with an asshole for the rest of my life. I’d already seen what living with one looked like, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.
I used my last burst of speed when my apartments came into view, then walked down the block and back to cool off.
I tilted my head back and closed my eyes.
Unbidden, the memory of my ex sitting next to a woman at the restaurant assaulted the back of my eyelids.
She was a mirror image of who I used to be. Blonde hair, medium height, and about fifty pounds overweight.
I’d wanted to tell her to run for the hills, to warn her of what he was like, how he’d treat her, the things he’d say… instead, I’d stood there frozen for a good ten seconds, before I turned tail and run like a coward.
By the time I’d gotten home I’d been sweaty, wide-eyed and shaking. Luckily, my roommate hadn’t been home to see me walk in and go straight for the liquor cabinet. I’d taken the bottle of tequila to my room and hadn’t come out until the next day.
I let out a deep breath and stretched my arm across my chest.
I looked around my neighborhood and wondered if I’d miss it. I was only going to be gone a couple weeks, unless the trial went well, of course, then I’d move to Indiana permanently.
I’d never been to the Midwest and was interested to see what it was like. Plus, the man I’d met on the app, Bane, was a single dad. That was a big part of the reason I’d said yes to his trial. I missed the kid I’d been a nanny for, and often thought I was better with kids than with adults. Plus, he’d insisted on a trial period as well, and was not the type who was looking for the love of his life.
All of these were pluses in my book.
The first week it would just be me and Bane. We’d have a trial period with the two of us, making sure we got along and laying out what we both expected for our futures. If we decided we liked each other and wanted to move forward, then, and only then, would I get to meet his daughter, Sloane. The second week would be a trial with the three of us to see if we were all a good fit.
I really liked this about Bane. The fact that he wasn’t introducing every person who answered his ad to his daughter and had added that extra measure to ensure she wasn’t subjected to someone who wasn’t going to stick.
Other than that, I didn’t really know much about him.
He was attractive, unless he used someone else’s photo on his profile, worked for Yonaweti Camping and Fishing, which was a major sporting goods chain, as some sort of travel guide, and he was a shifter.
Wolf to be exact.
I’d never actually spoken with a shifter in person, although I had made out with a witch one night when I was really drunk.
I was excited at the prospect of meeting Bane and Sloane and seeing Indiana, but mostly I was just happy to get far, far away from here.