Eros looked at his brother and sighed. Anteros was the god avenger of unrequited love and those who scorned love. It was his duty to ensure that love was a mutual thing and punish those who ruined that.
"At first I understood," Anteros said sighing. "What happened between her and Peter was brutal. Awfully so, and I punished him for that. His last few girlfriends have cheated on him or left him, and if he doesn't get his act straight I'm going to make him impotent. Can't have those genes spreading around. But..." Anteros looked at Eros with a frown. "She has been quite the heartbreaker herself."
Eros wrinkled his nose. "How so? She hasn't been in a relationship since."
"That's the problem," Anteros said. "It would be better if she tried dating or at least attempted to be in one relationship. But to be readily available for any pair of wandering eyes that catches her? It's practical torture. Do you know how many hearts she's broken in the last year?"
Eros groaned. "Don't tell me."
"Ten brother. Ten. And that's counting unrequited love, I didn't even try to factor in crushes."
"I'll handle it," Eros said firmly. He went back to sharpening his arrows, inspecting each one before he dared put it in his new lightning bound quiver. What had happened would never happen again. He would make sure of it.
"Part of me wants to make her fall in love with a tree," he said sadistically. "That would teach her. I'd like to see her trying to screw herself on a branch."
"Seems you think of her sexually often brother," Anteros teased.
Eros shrugged. "I suppose. She is a beautiful woman, and she's been the only one I know of who managed to refuse my seduction."
"Then why don't you go to her in human form? Or try to sate your desires in her dreams?"
He had already thought of that.
"I can't break the wards to her home, nor can I disguise myself as a human. She knows that form as well. Besides, the talisman she wears could find me in any form. She is too much of an annoyance to be found more than a curiosity. I just want her in love, quickly."
Anteros shrugged. "Well good luck brother. I believe she is gearing up as well."
Eros scoffed. "What match is she for a Greek god?"
Anteros smirked. "We aren't gods anymore Eros. Gods are worshipped."
"Then what are we?"
Eros rolled his eyes. "Back up from the kiln great philosopher. I'd hate to see you burned."
Anteros chuckled as he left his brother to his frustrations. Funny, Mount Olympus hadn't been so abuzz since...he couldn't remember.
"Happy Valentine's Day!"
"Aw guys! You shouldn't have!"
Really they shouldn't have.
Selene held her smile as she tensely sat in a café with her friends as they ate breakfast and exchanged gifts. They had gotten her a box of chocolates, a Valentine's Day card with a condom taped inside of it, a free bitch day pass, and a 30 dollar coupon for the movies.
What kind of life did they think she led?
She hugged them regardless and then shared out her presents. When they opened them she heard them gasp. The final design of the talisman was a delicate crystal heart with a beautiful red center. It had taken Selene a long time to perfect the design.
"I made them," she said happily as their faces lit with shock and joy.
"Oh my God, this is beautiful," Jillian said, her voice actually choking with emotion.
"Wait, what does it say?" Helen said studying it. "...mine says eternally."
"Mine says friends."
She waited for them to work out the phrase before pulling her own.
"Oh my gosh thank you! This is amazing you are so gifted!" Lucy, the quieter of her friends said warmly.
"You better use that condom!"
"I mean it."
They ate then, talking about their plans for the evening. Some of them had some work to attend to, and then they would meet at the restaurant Saint Claire's around seven.
"Does anyone know what Carly's up to?"
Helen shrugged but Tory the group gossip knew. Putting down her drink she smiled broadly.
"Daniel is taking her to the restaurant down the street. You know that really fancy Japanese restaurant where they cook stuff in front of you and junk? Yes, he reserved a whole table just for them, buffet style I think."
"Wow," Jillian quipped. "He's pulling out all the stops. He told me, and guys do not repeat this. He told me he had bought her some special jewelry too and we all know he's a flowers guy. Do you think he's..."
"Oh my goodness a wedding!" Tory yelped, jumping straight into the enticing conclusion below.
"Let's not get too hasty guys," Selene said, trying to rein them in. She tucked a brown strand of hair behind her ear.
"Who do you think she'll choose as maid of honor?" Lucy asked.
"Probably her sister."
"Aw, what about us?"
"It could be earrings," Selene interjected. "Let's not get too hasty."
"Oh you're such a pessimist," Tory chided.
Then she smiled. "It would be fun though. All of us girls together giving our baby away."
"Oh stop it," Jillian sniffed. "You're making me sad."
"Jill you are way too emotional."
"sniff...why would you say that?"
An hour after keeping the peace with such a diverse group of people, Selene was walking through the park. She had today off for no apparent reason. Probably so they could make her work on something national. As she walked, swinging her bag side to side she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
He was here.
She had worn jeans and a sweater today with flat ankle boots. She was ready. Her charm started to glow and she lifted up her metallic watch to spy in its reflection. He was in the tree, an arrow notched. Turning swiftly she swung her bag, the arrow sinking into the front pocket, materializing with a dull thud.
"OH MY GOD! SOMEONE IS SHOOTING!"
"Did you see that?!"
She narrowed her eyes, jogging backwards as she spotted him.
"You'll have to do better than that Cupid!" she shouted gruffly.
His eyes widened at her insolence and he notched another arrow.
"My name is Eros!" he growled.
He shot off three more in tandem but she flipped backwards and they sunk into the street, the sound of their speed zipping through the air. He gathered two more as she began to run and he fired them at her back. She caught them in the bag as the people around her ran and she rushed around the corner. Soaring into the air he was after her, the panic he had caused giving her some cover from a clear shot. He saw her duck into an alleyway and grinned. How stupid, separating from the crowd that gave you cover? She was his.
"You can run but you can't hide Selene," he said loudly.
He didn't see her grin.
Triumph already surging through him he aimed the arrow forward as he entered the alley. Selene stood there waiting, a large item in her hand, notched with his own golden arrow. He watched it dumbly.
"Is that...is that a crossbow?"
She didn't answer, instead letting the arrow fly. He dodged in narrowly as she ripped another from her bag.
"Whoa hey! You can't do that!"
He caught one by its center and jumped back as she raced forward with the last arrow in her hand.
She aimed for his head then with a grin aimed above it. Shooting it high in the air she said in a nonchalant voice, "I wonder where that'll land Stupid Cupid."
Racing up he surged towards the descending arrow, determined to catch it before it made some poor son crave his father. He caught it just in time and turned towards the alley to see that Selene was gone.
"Damn. She got away."
He could hear his family laughing already. Cursing in a few forgotten Latin words he looked at his quiver. He still had a lot of work to do.
"Screw it," he grumbled. "I'll deal with her after a few errands." He still had to touch down in Italy.
Around four Selene was on a three way call with all of her friends. Tory was at Jillian's house and Carly was with Lucy at Helen's house because Helen had better lighting. Selene had opted to stay at her own house because she loved her friends to death, but they turned into raving psychopaths when it came to clothing. And they didn't have liquor cabinets.
"Selly, do you think we're obligated to follow the colors of love? Because I have this purple dress that looks really nice to me and..."
"Dear God Tory how could you not wear red, pink, or white on Valentine's Day?"
"Helen it's not that big a deal."
"Jillian, don't even try to help. We know you're the only one who's going to show up in pants."
"Helen that was really rude. We're friends remember?"
"You're right Selene. It's just I'm so stressed!"
Selene rolled her eyes."I think you guys are forgetting something. You're acting like we're getting ready to meet our future husbands. This is a girl's night out. We have no one to impress but ourselves. Tory, if you think the purple dress looks nice on you then just wear it."
"What are you going to wear?"
"See? She's keeping with the colors."
"I'm wearing it because it makes me feel good."
"Well I'd feel good if we were all coordinated."
Selene frowned. "Helen we're going to wear what we want. If you don't like it, you don't have to come."
All the lines were silent until Helen said, "Alright fine. I get it I'm doing it again."
"You are," Jillian snapped. "But we forgive you."
Selene put her phone on speaker and went to the kitchen. She needed a drink.
He hit two kids, a girl and a boy that would grow up to love each other. Since they were young they wouldn't realize it was love until they were adults. He was in another tree in another park. For some reason single people really liked parks during Valentine's Day. It was like a homing beacon for the lonely.
He was trying to see if this old man on the bench was worth putting in love when his mother arrived. He groaned. Why was it that his family always had to visit him when he was working?
"Hello son," she said brightly. She had changed outfits. She was now in a long white sundress with a wide brim hat on her head.
She grinned at his annoyance. "So, how is your work? Any luck with...Selly? Is that what they call her?"
"Selene Elizabeth Evans, nicknamed Selly by her five friends Helen, Jillian, Carly, Tory, and Lucy. Age 25. Approximately 150lbs. 5'7. Blood type AB."
Aphrodite raised an eyebrow. "Wow son, you seem to know your stuff."
"I know everything about her."
He notched an arrow and let it fly into a young woman and then a young man. She was walking down the steps when she suddenly tripped and fell through the air. The young man raced forward and caught her before she reached the bottom.
"Are you okay?" the man asked.
"I'm fine. I'm..."
Their voices caught as they stared into each other's eyes. Bullseye.
"Nice one," Aphrodite complimented giddily.
"So..." Aphrodite said. "You know everything? Everything everything?"
"Yes," Eros said confidently. "I know her date of birth, her social security number, her first crush, the first time she touched herself, even who gave her the first cheek kiss. I've studied her over and over to try to understand why after one incident with a guy she seems to have completely given up on love. It's...it's unnatural."
Aphrodite watched her son torture himself and felt pity on him. She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"What bothers you more, that she's given up on love...or that she's given up on you?"
Eros looked up at his Mother the goddess of love and snarled. "Mother, I know what you're thinking, and I don't like it."
"Sorry sorry, I was just curious," she said raising her hands in surrender. "...have you seen Psyche lately?"
"How is she?"
"Fine... she's married."
"Oh that's nice."
He tried to ignore the pang that began to ring into his heart. Psyche, his former wife had been the human spirit deified. They lived centuries upon centuries together in marital bliss until one day Psyche's immortality started to fade. There was no explanation to it. In fact she wasn't the only one. Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Poseidon, all of them started to fade.
The humans no longer believed and it their belief that gave them creation. Psyche was part of a love story, but she was not a goddess of love. There was no clear explanation for why she lost it but didn't disappear. Instead she was split into two. Half of her was sent to the underworld, and half was reborn into her human form. He had tried to take her from Hades who still governed the souls that had believed before their fall, but Psyche could not be found. He had even tried to whisk her away her human self, but to his surprise it had failed. The human Psyche had been afraid of him. It didn't matter though. They knew of no way to become immortal again and remain on their current plain of existence. You were either mortal or immortal. Unless unseen forces greater than their own could give aid.
Unable to bear the thought of losing her again he looked after her human life and the spirit of her that transferred over from generation to generation. She was currently a successful star. He wasn't surprised. Her beauty wasn't unearthly like it had been before, but she was still very beautiful.
"My son Eros."
He looked over to his mother and realized he had been paused in thought.
"My son, I have given you power to tend to the hearts of others. Have you never thought...that you might tend to your own heart?"
"I'll be fine. I have Hedone."
Hedone was he and Psyche's daughter. She was far from a child at this point and coexisted with their world and the human world. Being honest with himself he knew he never really saw her. She stayed with her followers the hedonists and lived as she did before in the Greek times.
It appeared the only constant nature of human was sex and violence, and surprisingly? Travel. Hermes was still around causing mischief.
Aphrodite smirked and looked around.
"Lonely single man at ten-o-clock."
Eros turned and shot an arrow at him. He looked like an artsy bohemian type and he had put him in the path of a business woman. When he looked straight at her with wonder she sneered. Eros chuckled. He would wipe that pretentiousness right off of her face.
He shot her in the back and her expression changed. She was a tough one so the arrow was still sinking it. She wasn't quite in love with him, but she did suddenly lust after him. That was a start. He could see the scroll of their destinies already. He'd genuinely pursue her. She'd give in to his advances in a physical manner and slowly but surely he would melt her with his art, his love, and his kindness. Eros might even eliminate one of their problems by making some wealthy patron fall in love with the man's art. That way the business woman wouldn't have to worry about pulling their combined weight.
"Speaking of time," Aphrodite said eyeing his wrists. "You really..."
"Yes yes, I know. I need a watch."
"I'm just saying..."
"I know!" When he whipped towards her, an arrow fell out of his quiver and she quickly plucked it from the air. She smiled at him.
"Enjoy this day my son," Aphrodite chuckled, kissing her son's forehead. "This day is for you after all."
He felt her put the arrow back in his quiver. Then she disappeared, probably to bask in the season of love and the silent whispers lonely women unsuspectingly made to her, when they wished on stars for love.
Sighing he began to fly. Eros needed to find her again, soon.
Selly sighed as she dressed in the mirror. She was wearing her contacts. Her days with thick glasses had been left with Peter. The red crimson dress she wore clung to her body, but it wasn't slutty. She had black pumps with a towering heel strapped to her ankle. Her makeup was done very minimalist with just a swear of gloss on her lips and some shadow on her eyes. She looked pretty.
She could look pretty for herself. It was okay to do that. She didn't need someone there to look pretty for. She could...
There was a knock at her door.
She stiffened and slipped off the shoes. Padding in her bare feet she went to the peephole and looked out.
It was him. How dare he defile her door with his love murdering hands? He had dolled himself up as a human. No wings, no toga, and no arrows. Instead he had donned jeans and a T-shirt, his blonde hair ruffled without care, his blue eyes tired. Damn he was sexy.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she shouted.
He sighed heavily. "Selene we need to talk."
"Please what? Open the door so you can shoot me in my face?"
She watched him glare at the peephole like he could actually see her. He probably could, but thanks to her wards that was the most he could do.
"A sinfully charming idea but no. I'm...I'm willing to...to work with you on this."
Selene didn't understand that having the arrogant Eros offer to "work" with her on anything was like the moon asking the sun to switch places.
It was momentous and if his mother had been there she would have shed a tear. Selene was not his mother.
"Yeah well Cupid that's cute," she said snidely. "...but did you ever think that some people might not want to be in love?"
His brow creased and he braced his hands on her door. Gosh, if he could just get in there he would wring her neck.
"No Selene. Everybody does."
Selene scoffed. "What about the asexual? What about the narcissists? Or people who can't stand to be touched?"
"They are in love, it's just not with others," he explained. "It could be themselves or it could be a hobby or a fixation. Everybody loves something."
He gave her a smile that made her wince. He was trying to come off charming.
"Come on," he said with a beautiful grin that made her chest clench. "What do you love Selene?"
"I'd love if you left."
The smile dropped and Selene felt a strange combination of triumph and disappointment.
"Are you sure that's how you want things to be?" he said quietly. His eyes pinned her through the door. They appeared to be searching, delving deep within her, and she hated it. Shivering she pulled away from the door and looked away.
"Yes," she whispered.
When he left she noticed her discarded necklace, the beautiful crystal heart dull to black. It only glowed when he was near. She went back to her room and shakily put on her makeup. She would not feel guilt. She would not feel loneliness, anger and disappointment. And if she did, she'd pretend she didn't.
Oh, who was she kidding? She knew she was lying. It wasn't like she could fool herself. She began wondering.
Would it be so bad to be in love again?
Most of her was scared. She didn't even know if it was worth it. Thanks to Stupid Cupid she didn't remember anything other than the bad times she spent with Peter. She wanted to remember why she had put herself through everything, she wanted to understand, but it was simply gone. Instead she felt like a stupid idiot for not being smarter and seeing things for what they were. It had been right in front of her stupid face. There was nothing that made love seem worth it.
Sighing she put on her necklace, slipped on her shoes, and picked up her large arrow blocking purse. She had practiced running in these so she'd be fine. Walking out she waved her hand. A taxi came screeching to a halt as a man gaped at her. She smiled and got inside.
"Hi. Downtown please."
Unknown to her Anteros cursed under his breath.
"Dammit all. That makes eleven."
He needed to find his brother, fast.
Anteros found Eros waiting for her around her friends. He noticed curiously that all of the women had matching necklaces.