"Hey bro," he said warmly. "By the way, what time is it?"
Eros rolled his eyes. "You know I don't have a watch."
"You really should get one."
"So, what's that about?" he asked Eros who was farther away than usual. "Shouldn't we get closer?"
"We can't," he said angrily. "Those are charms. When I get too close they get uncomfortable and start to relocate. I need them here."
"But you can't shoot from here."
He chuckled bitterly. "I know that. I bet my firstborn that she knows that too."
"Hedone wouldn't like the sound of that."
"It's not like I'm wrong."
Anteros rolled his eyes, and then he remembered something he needed to tease his brother about. "So, she actually learned to use a crossbow just so she could fight you. You have to admit, that's pretty impressive."
"Is that all you and Mother have to do? Spy on me?"
Anteros chuckled. "Hey, Valentine's Day is our favorite day! It ensures we'll have work for the rest of the year."
"It's not the only romantic time."
"Well yes, Christmas and the summer are pretty good hot spots." Anteros frowned. "Hey, do you know when the worst time is?"
Cupid raised an eyebrow. The time of renewal for all things? "You think so?"
"I know so," Anteros grumbled. "Nobody gives a fuck about anybody in the spring. It's raining and dreary and when those flowers finally come out they get all "self discovery" on themselves and start self torture in solitary confinement to get their summer bodies ready. I hate it. Seriously I do."
Eros sighed. His brother was too much sometimes. Anteros leaned on his shoulder and scanned the ground.
"So, where is the Miss Heartbreaker?"
Eros narrowed his eyes then pointed to a woman walking down the street in a red dress. It flattered her ample curves without being too demure or too slutty. Her hair was up in a loose bun that brought attention to the elegant curve of her neck and the exotic features of her face. Sharp cat like eyes were contrasted by their warm brown color. Her plump full lips were just slightly parted and her hour glass shape slid fluidly on well trimmed legs.
"Damn," Anteros mumbled. "I only saw her from the back. She's... gorgeous. No wonder she's so much trouble."
He patted his brother Eros before standing up and letting his wings unfurl.
"You better get to her quickly brother. Or I'm going to have to make her fat or maybe give her cystic acne. Something to get the attention off of her. You think she'd be less attractive with a peg leg? Humans are kinky fucks these days you know."
Eros widened his eyes. Anteros was a lover of beauty. "You would do that?"
He shrugged. "Well as a last resort...and possibly after I've slept with her."
"You think she'd sleep with you?"
"I'm a Greek god. What's not to like?"
"The small penis."
He grinned as Anteros turned an angry red. It was his least favorite thing about what people still remembered about the Greek gods.
"You know that's not true," he seethed.
Eros nodded. "Of course brother."
"Fucking sculptors, giving us baby cocks. You know my statue?"
"Yeah. Not even a full five inches. I measured. That is bull! Oh snap she's looking over here."
He ducked, his wings fluffed behind him.
Eros sighed. "Yes. Don't bother hiding. She knows I'm here. She always knows I'm here."
Anteros smirked as a thought suddenly occurred to him. Maybe their little game of cat and mouse was more than it seemed.
"Ha, good luck then brother," he said warmly. Then he launched himself off into the sky.
Selene's necklace began to hum against her chest. He was there watching her somewhere.
It didn't matter though because he was too far to make a difference. Besides, she was ready.
"Are you ready Selly?" Tory smiled at her, her confidence making her breathtaking, purple dress and all.
She nodded and together they went into the restaurant. After stuffing herself with way too much food they went to the club that was right down the street. It was a really great strip to be honest. Everything you could want was close. Selene was tempted to pick up some ice cream at the 24 hour convenience store before she left. She'd need it when she was nursing her hangover tomorrow.
When they entered the club it was packed with singles. It was strange to see the divide. Most of the dance floor was women. The men stood to the side looking out at the sea of women with hunger in their eyes. She and her friends had claimed one side of the bar and perched on the stools. One lucky guy asked a girl to dance and they moved together both trying size each other up in a flirtatious manner.
"That'd be me," Lucy said happily.
"Tequila? No ice?"
She took her drink and sipped it. The lime on the edge was bitter but it complimented the burn of the drink. Just like the one she had had during the phone call. Actually she had her own cabinet for mixing drinks. So... maybe Selene was a borderline functioning alcoholic, could you really blame her? When she spent her time dodging a flying man?
So, the question now was when would Cupid make his move? There was no way he could pop off an accurate shot in this sea of undulating bodies. This was the second safest place right now. Still she couldn't help but feel...apprehensive.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
She looked up to see a handsome caramel colored man standing by her with a 1000 watt smile. He seemed sweet.
"Thank you," she said kindly. "But I already have one. Maybe another time."
He nodded, getting the hint and went away quickly. She felt guilty directly after. Why had she turned him down?
"Oh my gosh girl are you blind?"
Jillian's eyes followed the man hungrily.
"I can't believe you turned him down," she said angrily. "He was hot!"
"I know," Selene said sighing. "I'm just so used to saying no. I was startled. It came out as a reflex."
"Well nip it in the bud! You have to let the next guy who asks buy you a drink."
Selene frowned. "Mm...I don't know. I've been reading these stories about date rape and roofies, and..."
"Selly! Drama Queen! Not every man here wants to rape you!"
Tory had yelled this. Selene watched as a woman standing in crowd turned and regarded her strangely.
"Do you have to be so loud Tory?"
"Oh! Sorry honey."
Selene sighed. She rubbed her temples and sipped at her tequila. When she was done with it, another guy came almost immediately. Was this like a learning experience?
This guy was cute as well, less cute than the first guy but still attractive.
"Hi," she said attempting warmth instead of worry.
He sat on the stool beside her and her friends stole giggling glances. Lucy was on the dance floor with a guy. Helen was chatting with another. So much for an all girl's night out.
"Can I get you anything?"
She looked at him and forced a smile. Please don't look fake, she thought over and over.
He smiled and leaned on the bar. "What would you like?"
"Oh, I'd like a..."
She paused. Carly and Daniel just passed the door.
She bit her lip as she stared outside.
"Is something wrong?"
She didn't respond. Instead she watched as Cupid walked past the door, following after them. Instantly her friends all got upset at the same time and her necklace glowed.
"Shit," she cursed looking in between situations.
"What's wrong?" the poor guy asked. "What's happening?"
"Sorry," she said gathering up her purse. She touched each of her friend's necklaces, which was the kill switch for the panic they were feeling.
"Sorry guys, gotta go," she said kissing them each. Feeling awkward they didn't protest. Then she went back to the poor soul that had tried to flirt with her.
"My crazy ex-boyfriend just walked in. I need to go before he hurts someone."
"Wait," he said showing concern. "Wait, why don't you just tell a bouncer?"
"Because the bouncer is his best friend and he's training to be a professional MMA fighter."
"...well it was nice meeting you."
"Thanks. You should speak to the brunette. She's very fun. Likes her rum shots."
With that she ducked out and ran after them. She saw him then, the notched arrow in his bow, his arm taunt with the strain of holding it back. Carly her dearest friend was in his aim.
Daniel turned but Cupid ignored her. The arrow shot straight into Carly and she stumbled into a waiter. Daniel reached back to hold her up, but it was the waiter in front who caught her. She looked up into his eyes and Selene knew it was too late.
"Are you alright honey?" Daniel asked worriedly. "Honey?"
"Oh yes, yes...I'm fine," she said breathlessly. She fought to tear her eyes away from the waiter and when she looked back at Daniel, she looked disappointed.
"Oh, hi Selly," Daniel said waving at her kindly.
Cupid shot the waiter just when he looked back at Carly, his hand full with menus.
"Hi Daniel," she said weakly.
"Did you need something?"
It wasn't fair. She shook her head. "Um no, I just wanted to tell you guys that we're at the club if you want to join us later. No hate if you don't."
"Ok thanks." He said happily. He didn't notice Carly wasn't paying them any attention. "We might get a drink."
She nodded and watched the soon to be broken up couple enjoy their last Valentine's Day.
Furious she grabbed Cupid's arm and forced him away from the people. At first he had wanted to resist but realizing she was going into a secluded place let her take him away. When they were a little off into the brush of another park she pushed him, hard.
"Why did you do that?" she growled.
He wanted to be angry but he could see the pain in her eyes. Was she about to cry?
"Did you want my attention that much?" she asked angrily. "You ruined my friend's relationship just to spite me?"
Understanding her reaction he sighed. "Relax, it had nothing to do with you." He could see she was currently blaming herself. "They weren't in love, not true love anyway. That waiter she landed into? That's her true love."
"What about the guy?" she asked. "What about Daniel?"
Eros shrugged. "His true love isn't here yet. I think she moves to town in a year. I'll match them up next holiday."
"But what about now?" she exclaimed.
Daniel would be devastated. Dumped so that she could hook up with the waiter at the restaurant he had arranged a reservation at on Valentine's day? What could be worse?
"What's going to happen now?"
Eros shrugged. He didn't see why she was making such a fuss.
"That's how it works sometimes kid. People break up, love fizzles when it's fake, you move on and hope for something better. If you don't give up, you find it. You find me Selene."
As the attention shifted to her, she became aware of the fact that in a fit of anger she had put herself in a very vulnerable place. Why was she so damn impulsive? She gritted her teeth as she tried to figure her way out of this, but still appear calm.
"Yeah," she said ruefully. "Is my true love somewhere in that restaurant? Is he good enough to be Host?"
Eros' dark eyes fixed on her and his jaw clenched. Here she was, finally in front of him and he couldn't muster anything but pity and remorse.
"I haven't been able to find yours because you've been thwarting me at every turn," he said stiffly.
"You were trying to shoot me today weren't you?" she said glaring at him. She subtly had been sliding her foot back. If he came forward he would get a very sharp kick in the balls.
"Those were test arrows," he said, not ignorant of her movement. "If they turned black you weren't ready. If they didn't then I would have given you the real ones."
"I see," she said tightening her grip on her purse. How much did she love this thing? Oh she could enchant another one. Besides, this one was old.
"Well, this little chat was nice."
"We're not done."
The kick she aimed for his crotch was caught and she teetered on one foot. Using her purse she turned and whacked him hard in the head. He released her and she threw it at him and took off in a run. An arrow zipped by her ear and she gasped when she heard the string of the bow being drawn.
She clenched her hands, wondering if he had a test arrow or a real arrow. If it was a test she could afford to be shot right? She took a step forward.
"Keep moving Selene and I promise you, you will love that bush in front of you until your dying day."
He looked at her purse on the ground. Hopefully her crossbow was it in. That hope was crushed when she turned to him, the crossbow in hand, and an arrow of her own making inside.
He was sure it wouldn't kill him, but he was also sure it would hurt like hell at the very least.
"You won't move fast enough," he said, lining his bow up with her head. He had been shooting for centuries, she had been shooting for two years tops. "I promise you that."
His confidence shook hers. She didn't want to fall in love, not like this.
"Now drop it."
What other choice did she have?
"Drop it...good. Now hands up and walk forward."
She glared at him like she wanted him dead and walked forward one step at a time. "You're going to shoot me at blank range Cupid?"
"No," he said ushering that she should walk in front of him. "We're going to talk. Let's head to the park. It's near here."
"Fine, but I want my crossbow. I paid good money on it."
He rolled his eyes. "Like I care about what you paid to kill me."
Even though he said this he did scoop up her crossbow and put it in her purse. They walked together heading once again, to a park. Really, for a predominantly metal city, there were tons of parks.
They walked until they ended up on a bridge that overlooked a pond that for the most part was still frozen. As she walked, she passed by a couple that was sharing a sweet kiss under the moonlight. Seeing her they bashfully scrambled away. They were in love, very much in beautiful love.
"I did that around Christmas," he said, watching her glancing at the couple with longing. "Looks fun right?"
Selene would not admit that, not to him. "Ugh."
"Oh come on. You don't get butterflies when you see true love?"
"No Cupid, I get indigestion."
He rolled his eyes. "Well that's attractive."
"Says the guy whose head is too small for his shoulders."
He gaped at her, shocked she could find any flaw in his perfect physique. He craned his neck side to side before realizing that no matter how he turned, he would never be able to see if she was right or not.
"Is it not," he snapped. "How dare you?"
"Sure," she said, satisfied that she had gotten under his skin. "Keep telling yourself that Cupid."
"My name is Eros."
They stood at the center of the bridge and she looked at him, waiting for him to end their charade.
Eros frowned. She looked even more beautiful in the moonlight. She would have easily been accepted as a goddess. He wondered what a divine makeover would do to her. Aphrodite would either love her or hate her fervently. But why was he thinking of that?
Her heavy sigh broke his train of though. She acted like she was holding up the bridge they stood on. He took a deep breath. No. He was in control, not her.
"So tell me Selene..."
"No one calls me that. It sounds like I'm a magician's sidekick or something."
"Selly? But that sounds ridiculous! Why would you call yourself Selly when your name is Selene? Are you trying to make men avo..." he paused in his tirade as she became more and more irritated in front of his eyes.
"Fine. Selly, tell me in detail why you're so averse to love."
She crossed her arms and gave him a look of contempt."Well, I'll tell you it can't have anything to do with how you fucked up last time."
He gritted his teeth. He was so close, so close to shooting her just for the principle of it all.
"Look," he said tensely. "I'm sorry. I never meant to cause you trouble. I've said I'm sorry, over and over every year for 4 years. When are you going to accept that?"
She fidgeted under his intense gaze. She stared at her shoe as she carved a notch into the bridge with her heel.
"It doesn't change anything."
Eros was exasperated and desperate, and the guilt was eating him alive. In a rush of emotion all of these things showed up on his face and she watched him run his hands through his hair in a seeming panic.
"Well then let me change it," he pleaded. "Let me give you love, true love. You want that don't you?"
She shrugged and hugged herself tighter. "I'm okay."
"Oh don't give me that," he declared walking forward and capturing her chin with his hand. It was odd to see how much he towered over her. He lifted up her gaze to his so she could see how serious he was. "Don't lie. I watch you, I know you're lonely."
Selene said nothing, instead twisting her head away from him and turning to face the bridge and the water below. She wondered what he'd do if she just threw herself over, because goodness she felt like it.
He put his arm by her waist and stood behind her, making her very aware of his presence. The feel of his body against hers made her stiffen uncomfortably. Eros knew he was making her uncomfortable but this he could work with.
This was a woman, a woman who could be reached. Reached with something he knew all about.
"Come on Selene," he said in a low silky voice. It fell like a massage on her shoulders. "Don't you want someone to come home to?"
He placed a hand on her shoulder and she tensed up. He left it there and slowly but surely he managed to push it down and let his hand rest there as she boiled mutely.
"Don't you want someone to give you presents and shower you with affection? Don't you want to shower someone with affection?"
She turned in his arms, facing him unflinchingly. "Not really."
He waited a beat, studying her before smirking. "What about...someone to make love to?"
"I'm 4 years clean," she said passively. "I should start a support group."
He grinned. "But you have urges don't you?"
"I've replaced them with chocolate and an obsession with music from the 80's."
Eros laughed at her audacity.
"You think you can replace sex with chocolate?"
"And Pat Benatar."
He snickered, shaking his head. She was a royal mess. He pulled from her and leaned his back against the rail of the bridge.
"I know you're lying Selly. I said I was watching you didn't I?"
She felt a chill run through her as he looked up at the stars.
"What do you mean?"
"Tell me...why is it that even though you're a righty, you prefer to stroke yourself with your left?"
Her eyes popped open like someone was squeezing her and she covered her mouth in mortification.
"Oh my God! Shut up!"
"I bet it's so you can use your right to control the porn, am I right?"
"Men have longer fingers you know."
She ran at him with intent to do damage but he held her hands firmly and pulled her closer to him. Even in her heels her head barely met his chest. She shook, struggling to free herself but it was futile.
Instead she spat at him like a wet kitten.
"Stop it!" she snarled. "You have no right to see that! That's private!"
"Nothing is private from me Selene."
He had used her name as a weapon against her. He nearly smiled when he felt her pulse begin to race against his fingertips. She wasn't impervious to him, no matter how she thought so.
"Your urges," he lulled. "Your feelings, they're all part of love. And like I said, my name is Eros remember, not Cupid."
Sexual tension entered her for the first time in a long time from an outside source. Cupid, no...Eros was doing something to her. Something she thought only Peter could do. She wouldn't let him. He'd have to drag it up kicking and screaming.