I let out a strangled laugh. My knees felt like they were turning to jelly so I decided to sit to prevent a fall. Luckily, I caught the edge of the bed because I wasn't paying too much attention to my surroundings at the moment. If I'd moved even a couple inches forward, I would have landed on the floor.
"That's impossible." I was whispering for some reason. I didn't know why.
This had to be a joke. This whole thing. It wasn't—couldn't be real. Tish was really going to get it for playing a joke like this on me. Where had she even found this guy, anyway?
My vocal cords were finally released from my stupor. I said lamely, "Cupid's supposed to be short and funny looking."
His shoulder's stiffened. He snorted as if to shrug off my comment, but he spoke rather sharply when he said. "I can look like whatever I want to look like!"
Why was he acting so offended? It's not like he really was Cupid.
The guy's voice softened then and he looked away. His cheeks tinged pink. "That look didn't really work for me," he responded a little gruffly. "So I changed. I've been like this ever since."
I finally gathered enough courage to stand up. Okay, so this is real. There was no way Tish could find someone who could act this well. I can deal with this, I told myself. Just accept it and you'll be fine. And the funny thing is, I was fine. A little worse for wear because of the shock, but more than fine.
This was Cupid! Standing in my room! How many people can claim that? Cupid the demi-freaking-god, whatever that meant. And a very gorgeous looking Cupid at that.
"So where's your bow and arrows?" Was all I could think to say.
Cupid grinned. A first genuine heart-stopping grin. He pulled a sac out of the corner. "I always bring it along," he informed me, revealing a long golden bow from the bag's recesses. "It's the first question they always ask."
He brought it over for me to examine, not in the least bit possessive of the bow. The bow was made of a gleaming and polished gold, somewhat resembling a harp. The string was soft and taut, made of a material that I couldn't name. I ran my fingers along the delicately carved features.
"It's beautiful," I breathed. No, I decided, it was exquisite. But something about the bow bothered me. It sat at the edge of my memory, egging my curiosity. As much as I tried, I couldn't figure out the memory sitting just at the edges of my grasp.
"I don't need it," He informed me. "It's just for show."
"You mean it doesn't work?" I asked, surprised.
"No," He disagreed. He looked up at me then as he explained. "It works alright. But I can make people fall in love without it."
I shook my head mutely. This was so unreal. In mid-shake, I caught sight of the glowing numbers on my clock. It was almost seven!
I moved abruptly, glancing about my room. I realized for the first time just how messy it was. I bit my lip in embarrassment as I looked upon the pile of dirty clothes in the corner. But there was no time for that. I grabbed a random outfit from the dresser. It matched well enough, although it certainly wasn't perfect.
"Gabrielle?" Cupid asked at my sudden rush.
"Bri," I replied automatically. I stopped and turned to him momentarily. "Look, I don't mean to kick you out…"
"Kick you out?" He repeated. "What does this phrase mean?"
I was already on another train of thought. "Never mind, I'll just changed in my bathroom." I muttered to myself. "Crap! I don't even have time left for a shower! I smell like Godzilla."
I stepped into the bathroom and he called after me. I ducked my head back out and raised my eyebrows.
"What about your true love?" He asked.
I sighed and came back into the room. "We don't have time for that right now. I have to go to school." I grabbed the remote off my dresser and aimed it at the TV. I pressed the on and off button, showing him. "If you get bored today, you can watch TV."
He took the remote from me reverently and pressed the on button. He smiled delightedly when the screen lit up. He turned it off again. On. Off. On.
"Great," I said, backing up into the bathroom. "While you're playing on and off, I'm gonna change."
I hated to admit it, but his blatant curiosity with anything and everything he could get his hands on was kind of attractive. Who am I kidding? The guy was a god. Literally. He could be trying to figure out how to pull a toilet apart and girls would still swoon.
"Whoa!" Tish met me in the parking lot. "You really loaded on the perfume."
"I didn't have time for a shower this morning," I replied grumpily.
I stiffened and muttered. "Give me a break."
She shook her head. "You barely even coordinated your outfit."
"Oh come on," I said. "Grungies and a tee shirt. It's what I always wear."
"Exactly!" Tish grinned, elbowing me in the side. "And that's why you need to go shopping with me."
"No," I replied automatically. But I was honestly considering her offer. If a boy was going to be hanging out in my room for the next week, did I really want to be wearing jeans even I didn't like? It suddenly seemed rather pointless to wear jeans just because my mother hated them.
Tish waved a hand in front of my face. "Spaced much?"
I considered telling her about Cupid. Would she even believe me if I did? I remember how she reacted at the incantation when I mentioned the feeling in the air. She had just kicked at me playfully, thinking I was joking around with her. She wouldn't believe me, I decided. If she actually thought I was serious, she'd think I'd gone nuts. So would my mother for that matter. So I couldn't tell anyone.
I was suddenly struck by an idea. "Hey, Tish, is it alright if I bring a friend to the picnic?"
"Sure," she said. "Who is it?"
I wracked my brains and told her the first name that came to my mind. "Cole."
If Cupid was going to be here for a while, then he could really do with some socializing. He acted like a boy who had just arrived out of a time machine from the past. Not that I didn't enjoy his curiosity—when he wasn't destroying my chairs, that is. He'd either end up as a bully magnet or in a psychiatric ward if he acted crazy in public.
Tish waggled her eyebrows. "A boy!"
I lifted my hands. "Not like that!" I protested, weaving the story as I spoke. "He's just a friend. He goes to the Catholic school across town."
"Why haven't you mentioned him before?"
"I haven't seen him in years. He used to be my next door neighbour when we wre kids. He stopped by yesterday to catch up. I thought we could all hang out."
Tish regarded me seriously. "If you don't like him that way, why do you have that big dopey grin on your face?"
I hadn't realized that I was smiling. I was caught. I couldn't go back now, so I blurted, "Because he's so stinking hot."
Tish nodded slyly.
"Don't give me that look," I said. "I can think someone's cute without being interested."
Jay took just that moment to jog by us. "Hey Britney! Hey Tish!" He called out.
I waited until he was a discrete distance away. I turned to Tish with a half-smile. For some reason, it didn't really bug me anymore. I couldn't help pretending to be miffed. "And doesn't that just put a peach on my day!"
Tish giggled. "Come on Britney," she teased. "Let's go to English."
"Britney this," I replied, elbowing her in the stomach.
"So how cute is this Cole?" Tish asked. "Cuter than Jay?"
I nodded and snorted at the same time. Tish was thinking of Cupid as a love interest for me. It just wasn't going to happen. You can't just up and date a god. Even a demigod. They're like a whole other species. Aren't they?
The thought stayed with me throughout the school day—not because I'm interested. I really wasn't. I mean, how can you fall for a guy that you've know for like an hour? But admit it, you'd be curious too. What person wouldn't like to know?
I considered skipping class to look up some information on Cupid. Of course, the idea didn't last. Who wants to spend a hot sunny day in a dusty school library when you can be zoning out in Trig? To be serious, I don't know why I didn't. I had a couple more skips leeway before I could get hit up with a suspension.
I fidgeted slightly in my seat. Believe me, for those who don't remember, desks are uncomfortable. My toosh was starting to become sore and there was an uncomfortable metal bar resting up beside my leg.
The teacher kept droning on. I was starting to think a nice little nap was in order.
A warm breath of air stirred the hair at the nape of my neck. I slipped forward in my seat. The guy behind me obviously had no clue about the concept of personal space. Hopefully this would be enough of a hint.
Obviously not, I thought irritably as I felt a stirring of fingers through my hair and running along the line of my shoulders. I shuddered, getting a huge case of the willies. I slid forward an extra inch.
I rapped my fingers lightly on my desk. I don't know why I do that when I'm irritated, but I do.
There it was again! The boy was kneading his fingers through my hair!
I turned around furiously. Since he didn't understand about personal space, I was going to inform him. "Excuse me," I rapped out on a hiss of breath. "What is your problem?"
The guy looked up from the notes he was writing. "What?" He asked innocently.
I turned pink, instantly realizing. There was no way he could have touched me. I'd have seen a blur of movement as he snatched his hand away.
"What?" The guy repeated.
"Never mind," I muttered and turned in my desk.
Was I going insane? Or just having a really vivid dream?
Unfortunately, the teacher noticed my interruption. "Excuse me, Miss Taylor? Do you have a problem?"
The teacher held his steely gaze on me for a moment. "Well, then I would appreciate it if you would take down some notes. May I remind you that fifty percent of this class is participation."
"Yes sir," I muttered.
I felt those caressing fingers sliding along my neck once more that day while I was sitting in science. I was doing a lab with Jason at the time—much to my chagrin. I jumped.
"Are you okay, Bri?" Jason fixed his glasses.
"Never been better," I remarked, grimacing. I'd spilled some HCl on the countertop. I quickly wiped it away and poured another 100 mL of the solution.
Jason's finger's flitted through the bottles until he found the NaOH. "You know," he said conversationally. "Being constantly edgy shows signs of fear in one's past."
"I'm not constantly edgy," I denied.
"You've been tapping your foot all period," he pointed out.
I held my foot firmly to the ground. I wasn't going to tell him why I'd been impatient all period. "Did you mass the pellets?" I asked.
He nodded. "You're jumpy a lot," he continued. "Do you have a bad past? Are you having fights with your parents?"
"I'm just a normal sixteen-year-old girl." Where did this guy get his ideas?
"Thanks," I said sarcastically.
"No," he replied. "I mean you're actually an interesting specimen. You're disturbed in a rather intriguing way."
I dropped some of the pellets I'd been carrying. "Excuse me?"
"Careful! Those almost went in the wrong beaker!"
Okay, so now I was a specimen. And a disturbed on at that. Was this guy for real? I swear sometimes I just wished he'd put his foot in his mouth.
Jason cleaned up the mess. He looked up from his work, smiling at me shyly. "You know, Bri," he began, clearing his throat. "I really think you're kind of amazing."
My foot was tapping again. I held it down.
"Uh, thanks," I managed, although I wasn't flattered. I wasn't flattered at all. As long as he didn't start professing undying love for me, I think I would be okay. Which he wouldn't, at least I hoped. Even if he did like me, he was too shy to attempt it.