Eros the Revealerbydr_mabeuse©
If Lexi Mariner hadn't been so drunk she never would have set the cupid trap and never would have caught the cupid, but she had been drunk—slurry and piss-on-the-world drunk—and her friend Jenna the self-styled Witch hadn't wanted to talk to her on the phone at 11:30 PM about what Lexi should do with Ross Endicot, not when Lexi was in one of her moods, and not since she'd already told Lexi a hundred times that she was an idiot to go after Ross just for his money, and she especially didn't want to talk to Lexi because Jenna was already setting a cupid-trap of her own.
Lexi had been in the kitchen of her high-rise condo, leaning against the sink and drinking wine out of a hand-blown glass the size of a grapefruit.
"Cupid trap?" Lexi asked into the phone. "What kind of bullshit is that, Jenna? You're crazy as shit, you know that?"
"Then leave me alone and go to bed, Lexi."
"No." The rest of her condo was dark and empty and she didn't want to face it, so she was stubborn. "Tell me. What's a cupid trap?"
She walked unsteadily into the living room and looked out at the city below. She had a great view and talking to her friends from this height always made her feel superior and above them all, even when she was staggering drunk.
Jenna sighed. "It's an old superstition, just a tangle of red thread you set up in a room the night before Valentine's day with some little toys and candy. Then when cupid flies through your room his plans get caught in it and you dream about your true love."
"True love?" Lexi asked. The notion struck her as so pitifully quaint that she couldn't even laugh. "What? Do you put some posies in your pantaloons too? Is cupid like Santa Claus now? Flies through your windows or something? Jenna, you're so full of shit, you should have been a lawyer."
"No, thanks, Lexi. I'll leave that to you. Anyhow it's just a superstition, something you do, like hanging stockings on Christmas."
"I don't hang stockings on Christmas, baby, I wear them. And did I tell you what Carri told me that Ross said about my legs?"
"Lexi, I have to go."
"Go?" Lexi pouted, but Jenna had been trying to scrape her off the phone for the last half hour and she wasn't getting any satisfaction out of talking to her. "Sure, Jenna. Go set up your trap, and happy cupid-hunting, honey. Maybe you'll dream about that copy-machine guy you told me about. Hey, what is it with you and men with dirty hands anyhow?"
"Good night, Lexi."
"Does it turn you on or something? Because you know Ross has this stable full of vintage sports cars—"
Lexi stared at the phone. "Bitch."
She scrolled through her speed dial index looking for someone else to call, but she'd pretty much used up all her available friends. The wine was almost gone too, and her plan to force Ross into calling her by not calling him had turned into a total bust. She thought about calling him now and hanging up, just for the malicious joy of waking him, but he probably had caller ID and would figure out it had been her.
She glided through her condo in drunken boredom, then put the wine glass in the dishwasher and threw the empty bottle in the trash. The gourmet kitchen was immaculate. Lexi never cooked. She went into the living room and picked up the remote and clicked through the channels on the plasma screen, but there was nothing on, so she turned it off and went in the bathroom, brushed her teeth and combed out her red hair, then went into the bedroom and still pouting, slipped off her robe and climbed into bed.
In five minutes she was up, though, and digging through her knitting supplies. What the hell? she thought. The knitting had been a fad, and she hadn't been any better at it than she was at any other craft she'd tried. The yarn wasn't pure red, more of a burgundy, but she took it into the spare bedroom she used as a home office and started pulling the yarn from the skein, letting it pile up on the floor.
No, that wasn't right, something told her. That was just a mess of yarn. She picked it up and tied one end to a bookend, then began to string the yarn back and forth across the room, from the computer desk to the daybed, and from there to the old Herman Miller chair that no longer matched her living room décor—up to the bookshelf and down to the Ficus, then around the chair and back and forth, growing dizzy and giggly as she wove a web in the room, going back and forth till the yarn was all used up and Lexi was br4eathless and strangely excited. She realized that she was trapped in the web she'd created, and had to crawl and wiggle her way out in her tee-shirt and panties as the yarn tickled her bare arms and legs.
Out in the hallway once again, though, she felt suddenly let down and foolish, and she realized she had no candy or toys to leave in the room. She reached into her panties and pulled out a few pubic hairs and sprinkled them on the floor, then closed the door and went to bed.
She had a big day tomorrow with a client tomorrow and the Ross was taking her out for dinner. If Cupid got stuck in there she didn't want him waking her up.
She was in too much of a rush in the morning to even remember the trap, nor did the discrete hearts and cupids at the law office do much to remind her. Ross sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and it was only then that she remembered clambering around between the stretched strands of yarn in her home office and how silly it had been. She's have to take all that down and straighten up before she invited him up for drinks, but she'd do that after she changed out of her work clothes.
As she walked back to her bedroom she passed the closed door and felt a twinge of embarrassment, and then she heard a thump.
A loud thump.
Something was in there—something big. She knew it in the pit of her stomach and the bottom of her throat. The fine hairs stood up on the back of her arms.
Another bump, and a scraping sound, a muttered word that sounded like "Shit!" from behind the closed door.
Lexi didn't scare easily and now she was too astonished to be afraid. She grabbed the doorknob and pushed the door open, and there, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the room, covered in burgundy yarn, was Cupid.
Well, she assumed he was Cupid. He was probably the most beautiful man she'd ever seen in her life, with intensely blue eyes and sun-bronzed skin and a head of deliciously wild, jet black curls. He was wearing one of those Greek-style togas that hung from one shoulder and ended in a kind of short skirt, and had the body of an Adonis. A bow and quiver of arrows lay next to him and he was glaring at her with a mixture of anger and god-like intensity that all but stopped her heart.
"Happy, now?" he asked her.
She opened and closed her mouth several times, then asked, "Who the fuck are you?"
Rather than answer he unfolded a pair of enormous, white-feathered wings from his back—wings so wide they almost touched the far walls of the bedroom—and flapped them with a sensual, powerful stroke. Lexi felt the breeze on her face and detected a wonderfully erotic, subtly masculine odor, something richer and more primal than cologne. His wings lifted him gently off the ground a foot or two, and then spread wide, the feathers fanning to cushion himself as he fell gently back to the floor.
Lexi stared. "Oh my God!" she said. "I don't fucking believe it! You're Cupid!"
"I'm Eros," he corrected as the wings disappeared into his back. "The Greek original. Cupid's a Latin upstart. Or maybe I should say I'm an Eros, because there's a lot of us, you know. Love has many faces and takes many forms. I'm Eros Ektheto."
"But how'd you get in here? Don't tell me that stupid trap—"
"That stupid trap worked just fine," he said bitterly. "I don't know how you did it, but you wove it with real desire, so you caught me. Congratu-fucking-lations. Now there's going to be a shitload of mortals who don't get what they need because of you and your fucking trap."
"Nice mouth," she said. "Do all you cupids talk like that?"
"Eros!" he corrected. "And do all you women talk like you? We talk like we talk. You want harp music and schmaltz? Call Aphrodite. I'm Eros, honey—sexual desire. I know how you humans talk when I get a hold of you, so keep your hearts and flowers. I'm serious fucking business—excuse the pun—and you've screwed it up."
Lexi stared at him. Most of the yarn was still stretched in taut lines across the room, so she couldn't imagine how he got in there. "Stand up," she said. "Let me get a look at you."
Eros Ektheto got to his feet. He was absolutely, heart-stoppingly gorgeous. His skin was a kind of honey-bronze and he was muscular in a sculptural way—beautifully defined but not bulging. He was (and she hated to even say it to herself) built like a Greek God, yet even more impressive was the aura he gave off of pure, potent, masculine sexuality. As boyish as he looked, he seemed to exude some intoxicating male musk that smelled like sunshine and sea-water and darker, more mysterious and earthy things. It was a scent that made her nostrils flare and set her heart to racing. She felt as if the very air hummed around him with a delicious sexual threat that sent a strange thrill through her chest and made her warm between her legs.
She realized she was staring at him, and he was staring back in a way that showed he was amused by her fascination. To break the spell she asked, "What happened to your wings?" It was the only thing she could think to say.
He knew she was non-plussed now, and it pleased him.
"They're there when I need them," he said, and turned his perfectly sculpted back to her and hunched those broad shoulders slightly. Lexi watched spellbound as a pair of magnificent wings emerged from his back, covered in white feathers. They opened in a most impressive and regal arc, filling the room and making him look like some radiant angel of sex..
The aura of sexual potency was so great that it made her take a step back and put her hand over her heart, as if protecting it.
He was real, all right. He was standing right there in the middle of her web of burgundy yarn, just radiating sexual power.
Lexi laughed with disbelief, then shook her head, then laughed again.
"This is too incredible!" she said. "So I caught you. Now what? Do you have to grant me a wish or something?"
His lowered his wings and they disappeared into his back again. "You must have me mixed up with the tooth fairy," he said. "I'm a god of sexual desire. I don't do wishes."
"Then what do you do? Shoot me with one of your arrows? Shoot someone else I want?"
He laughed. "You wish. No, it doesn't work that way. If you'd ever been in love you'd at least know that much. Besides, with a heart your size, I'd probably miss."
Lexi's face grew red, but she kept her temper.
He stared at her for a moment, then smiled knowingly. Lexi had the feeling her mind had been picked.
"You're trying to figure out some way to make money off me, aren't you?" he asked. "That's just what they told me to expect. You don't even know what desire is, do you?"
She took an angry step forward. "Hey, I wouldn't be where I was today if it wasn't for desire. I've worked plenty hard to get everything I wanted. I know all about desire, my friend."
"No, not that kind of desire. Not coveting and material greed. I mean sexual desire. You don't know a thing about it, otherwise you wouldn't be on my list."
"As I said, there's a lot of different types of sexual desire and we work in different ways. I'm Eros Ektheto—Love the Revealer—I show people what they are. I get the tough cases—hard bitches like you. No offense."
That was too much and Lexi's eyes flashed. She pointed a finger at him through the tangle of yarn, leaning forward like she was grilling a witness in court.
"You watch your mouth, or I'll jam you back into your lamp or wherever they keep you fairy assholes."
He smiled. "Those are geniis. You trapped me but I still have my mission to carry out. Tonight's when you find out what your real desires are, what you're really like inside."
"Bull. Shit." she said. "I know exactly what my desires are and who I am inside, and I know it better than some flying fruit in a god damned toga."
"A chiton," he corrected. "Togas are Roman. This is a chiton."
"Oh who the fuck cares? Just get out of here. If you don't have any free wishes or anything for me, what good are you?"
He laughed. "Yeah. That's a problem, isn't it? But don't you have a big date with Ross Endicot tonight? Mr. Moneybags? Something at his country club? Shouldn't you be getting ready?"
Lexi slapped her head. "Holy hell, you're right!" She stared at him. "How did you know that? Oh, never mind! Just get out of here, would you? I don't have time for this. What do I have to do to release you?"
"It's too late," he said. "I was supposed to do my work last night while you were sleeping, but you fucked that up with your trap. Now you're stuck with me."
"What do you mean, 'stuck with you'?"
"I have a job to do, and I intend to do it," he said. "You set that trap for a reason, because you wanted me here, and now here I am and here I stay. You're going to meet your destiny tonight, Lexi, and see your true nature. You're going to be revealed to yourself."
Lexi glared at him. "Don't fuck with me, mister. I'm already in love with a great guy who happens to be rich as Croesus, and he's coming to pick me up in an hour, so Eros or not, I want your ass out of here. Go back to Mount Olympus or wherever you fairies go, but don't try to fuck this up for me. When I come back, I want you gone."
"You don't love this guy," he said. "You don't even like him."
Furiously, she reached in to pull the door closed, and Eros Ektheto said, "Hey, Lexi?"
She paused to look at him and saw him lift a finger and the entire web of yarn collapsed around him like soggy spaghetti. He smirked.
"You fake!" she shouted. "You weren't even trapped!"
"Oh yes I was," he said. "And still am. Now you run along and have a good time, and don't worry about me. And if you want me, you can just call me Theto."
"Asshole is more like it," she said.
He shrugged, then turned around and stretched lazily as if getting ready for bed, and Lexi's eyes were drawn to his ass. She couldn't see much given that silly little skirt-thing he was wearing, but Lexi liked male asses, and she just knew he had a gorgeous one.
She showered in a huff, irritated and furious but strangely accepting of the fact that she had Cupid trapped in her spare room. He'd said things that were too true to doubt, and that, even more than his wings or miraculous appearance, was what convinced her. He knew the truth and that was annoying, like having a kid brother staying with her who knew all her secrets and might start blabbing at any time.
But this was a big date with Ross. She'd be accompanying him to a Valentine's Dance at his country club that was really just a cover for him to pitch some big investors for his next project, and she knew she had to make a perfect impression. She dressed and brushed her hair and finished her makeup and jewelry in such a frenzy that she forgot all about Eros Ektheto until the doorman buzzed to tell her Ross was in the lobby, and then she realized there was no way she could invite him up for a drink as she'd planned, not with that weird winged thing in her spare room, so she told Ross she'd be right down.
She rode down in the elevator trying desperately to slip into her sexy, flirtatious persona, the one she wore for Ross, but it didn't quite fit. It was like trying to get into her old girl scout uniform and no matter how she tried to ignore them, Theto's words kept ringing in her head. She knew he was right—she didn't really love Ross—but what bothered her was: so what? What she felt for him was close enough. Money would take care of the rest.
She felt better when she walked into the lobby and saw him standing there. He was a good-looking guy, sheer alpha male, and he had a dream job heading up a consortium that built time-share condos and resorts in exotic locations. Lexi had met him when he used her law firm to transfer some of his assets before his last divorce, so she knew exactly what he was worth and that he had no children, and his two ex-wives weren't getting a tenth of what they should have been getting. There was still plenty there for her if she played her cards right. Ross was leaving for Djakarta in a few days and so this had to be the night she hit him with her best shot—Valentine's Day, just perfect.
Or maybe not so perfect. There seemed to be something a bit off from the start, Was Ross just distracted, or was he actually something of a boor? When he looked at her in her little black dress, he didn't seem to be admiring her as much as evaluating her, checking to see if she'd make the right impression. And shouldn't he have helped her into the limo instead of letting the driver do it? He smiled at her, but it was a polite and rather brittle smile, and the first thing he said to her wasn't that she looked lovely, but that he thought her necklace might be a "bit much for this crowd. They can tell real from fake."
It was obvious that Ross was entirely more interested in this function as a fund-raiser than as an opportunity for romance, and, worse, it slowly dawned on Lexi that she was to be no more than Ross's arm candy—a bimbo.
"No politics and no religion, and in fact try to say as little as possible," he told her as the limo swept up the drive to the country club. "A lot of these people are Japanese or from Taiwan, and even I can't tell the little bastards apart, so don't you try. Just stand there and smile and look beautiful and serene. One thing about these Asians is they all like American ass, especially blondes and redheads, so just stand there and look gorgeous and if they stare at you, let them. In fact, if I squeeze your hand during an introduction, I want you to bow like they do, and bow low enough so they can see some tit. Got it, honey?" He winked at her.
Lexi fumed, but she didn't say anything, She was a beautiful woman and a junior partner at her law firm and she had no intention of acting Ross's ornament, but once they were in the party and Ross started making introductions and talking business, the sums of money she heard bandied about just took her breath away, and she kept her mouth shut and hid in her drink.
The room was decorated with cupids and red and silver Mylar streamers, but Lexi couldn't help but think how pitiful and wrong they were now that she'd seen the real thing, and after she'd had enough champagne, she imagined she saw Theto hovering above the elaborate fountain that dominated the room, smirking at her.
She looked again, and he was gone, but scanning the room she saw him sitting at a table, head on his hand, gazing at her, and this time there was no doubt. He was still wearing his little Greek skirt and seemed very amused. She was pretty drunk by now, but knew instinctively that no one else could see him.
She resisted the temptation to walk over and confront him, maybe give his bare nipple a little twist just to see what he'd do, and instead just raised her drink in mock salute.
"Fuck you buddy," she murmured into her champagne. "I'll show you something about love once this stupid party is over. Old Ross won't know what hit him."
"Won't he?" Theto said back. "I think you're in for a surprise."
Lexi shook out her long red hair and handed her empty glass to a waiter, then grabbed a full one and turned her back on Theto.
It was tough. Ross wouldn't dance and wouldn't take her someplace where they could be alone. Instead it was, "Lexi, meet Mr. Takamura", "Lexi, meet Mr. Chen", "Lexi, meet Mr. and Mrs. Lee. Mrs. Lee was just saying how much she admires your shoes."