I glowered over the top of my laptop at Cupid. I’d fled to Coffee Underground to avoid him, but there he stood, shirtless, leopard-print vest open to reveal pasty-white, skinny, ab-less torso. He’d gone for the electric pink spanx today, not the highlighter yellow, and he’d Sharpied red hearts on the sides of his otherwise spotless white pumps. Today’s haircut was fade on the left, long bangs gelled in a single wave that curled almost four inches above his shining, broad forehead. Eyeshadow that matched his spanx, although the lipstick was the purple of the family dampened by a touch of black lining his bottom lip. No nose rings today, thankfully.

While I’d never given a rat’s posterior about fashion before, if I didn’t note absolutely frigging everything about today’s wardrobe, the god of love would proceed to give me a detailed history of absolutely frigging everybody who’d ever worn the fashion while, er, “frigging” their respective partners. And he was not shy about the details. It took only one such lecture to inspire my crash course in Sherlock x. Madonna observational skills and fashion know-how.

He blew me a kiss, cherry-bomb red fingernails catching the incandescent lighting of the coffee shop. The place couldn’t be hip without the retro effect of naked wastefulness and inefficiency. None of the seating matched, most of the tables were varnished hardwood, and heaven help them if they ever matched lighting fixtures in this place. A place that felt more cobbled from college dorms than a willful effect by the enlightened. Cupid would’ve stuck out more as being cobbled from the wrong era than simply being out of place, if anyone else ever got an eyeful. But, much to my displeasure and occasional embarrassment, only I was “blessed” with beholding his godly visage.

“Here she comes,” Cupid said, head aslant and lips curved in his typical, suggestive way. He’d worn that exact face for every woman he’d tried to set me up with, and while I was calloused to it under normal circumstances, these weren’t normal.

“Bugger off,” I grumbled at him as Veronica walked over.

“Hey, Ted,” she said, pulling out her pad of order slips. “What’ll it be today? The usual?”

“That would be great, thanks.” I tabbed from the job search site I’d been on to the “novel” I’d told her I was working on. It was mostly worthless stream of consciousness I’d thrown down as cover, but what else could I say I was doing when she’d caught me talking to Cupid?

“No sandwiches?”

“Not today, thanks.” I patted the laptop. “Bessie’s hard drive has been buzzing lately, might need to replace her in a month or so.”

“Sure thing. Make sure you back up your data first. I’d hate for you to lose that novel.”

“Thanks, I will.”

A flash of a small, and she went back to the counter at the front of the store.

“She’s got a nice butt,” Cupid said, elbows resting on my table as he admired her. “I never considered you were a brunette kind of guy, I pegged you as a blonde-hair, blue-eyed Barbie type. I was right about the blue eyes, though.”

“Honestly, Bronx,” I said, sighing. “Out of all the billions of people in the world today, why am I your special mission in life?”

Cupid picked at the edge of a nail, then extended his fingers, making sure the polish still had its proper and even sheen. “I get bored without a challenge, doll. And your palms are sweating.”

I rubbed them on my pants. “Yeah, and they wouldn’t be if I didn’t have to put up with you fraying what’s left of my fragile sanity. Think you can matchmake me if I get confined to a mental institution?”

Cupid covered his heart. “I’m hurt. Thousands of guys would throw themselves at my feet, licking the tips of my pumps just for a chance at the opportunity I’m giving you.”

“Yeah, well Veronica wasn’t your fault, which is why I’m so nervous.”


“Yeah.” I pulled the job search site back up. “I don’t want you screwing it up.”

Cupid huffed and sat in the chair across from me. “Honey child, I’ve been playing this game longer than your people been walking on the red man’s land. You think I would mess up your chance at love?”

“Yes.” I held up a hand and ticked off my fingers. “One, you like a challenge, and sticking your foot where it don’t belong would make it more of a challenge. Two, while I can’t wait for the day when your naked mole rat ugly visage no longer darkens my door, I get the distinct impression you don’t share that desire, and I’m not your pet. Three.”

“That’s hardly fair, doll,” Cupid said, eyebrows arched. “I have two cats, I don’t need human pets, too.”

“Three,” I repeated, ignoring the cat comment, “as we both know, Veronica isn’t your fault, and you want to find some way to make her your fault. And it’s completely in your character to ensure this fails, only to reintroduce her later for round 2.”

Cupid smiled, smug and self-satisfied.

“Wipe that grin off your face, I’m not done,” I snapped, and he smiled bigger. “Four, this isn’t a game. I’m not a game, I’m not your pet, I’m not your ‘I got bored in my old age’ project. This is my life, so stay out of it.”

Cupid clapped delicately. “Excellent speech. Can’t say it’s the best I’ve heard, but you put your heart into it. I felt the passion.”

I sneered, and he laughed.

“Everything okay?” Veronica said, and I jumped a little. She laughed and put my espresso on the table. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”

“No, you’re fine, I just got lost in—”

“Ask her to dinner.”

“—my thoughts. It’s been—”

“Ask her to dinner.”

“—a long week.”

I glared at Cupid, and Veronica raised an eyebrow.

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