Chapter 2

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The Cupids Matchmaking Service is written in elegant calligraphy above the glass shop front

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The Cupids Matchmaking Service is written in elegant calligraphy above the glass shop front. A sign reading not taking on any new clients at this time hangs from the door handle.

"That place never takes anyone new on," a girl remarks begrudgingly to her friend as she passes by.

I frown as I look up at it, a stack of letters clutched in my hand.

I can't believe I'm actually here.

I sigh, then approach the entrance and walk through. A bell tinkles as I step inside.

It's bigger than it looked on the outside.

Shiny, white tiles cover the floor and a number of stylish neon armchairs are collected around a large glass coffee table in one corner; a range of fashion magazines are scattered across the surface. Something glinting on the wall catches my eye. It's a plaque reading; making matches for 3,000 years. I shake my head incredulously.

It's a little far-fetched for them to claim their business has 3,000 years of service I think but then I guess some people will believe anything.

On the opposite side of the room stands a high, stone reception desk. Above it, hanging by wires from the ceiling, is a long, golden arrow. A pristine blonde girl in a crisp white suit chatters into a headset behind it.  

I march over and dump the stack of letters onto the desk.

The blonde girl looks up startled. I notice a name badge reading Crystal pinned to the pocket of her white suit jacket.

"Can I call you back?" she says into her headset "Something's just come up."

She looks me up and down and smirks.

Suddenly I am aware of how I must look to her; she is immaculate, not a blonde hair out of place, and here I am in my leather jacket, jeans and battered converse. I catch sight of my dark, messy hair in the reflective surface of a glass panel beside the desk. I could be the polar opposite of her.

"I'm sorry," she chimes "We're not taking on any new clients at this time."

She fiddles with her headset and I realise she is about to continue her conversation. A wave of irritation washes over me.

"I'm not here to become a client," I say through gritted teeth "I'm here to tell you to stop bugging me."

She looks up confused.

"Excuse me?" she says, her blue eyes sparkling somewhat vacantly.

I raise an eyebrow and incline my head towards the five letters which I scattered across the reception desk surface.

"All summer you've been spamming me with letters, text messages, emails," I say "I am not interested in your services. I don't know how you have my personal details, but you need to remove me from your mailing lists. I have a boyfriend already, thanks very much."

I turn on my heel and begin to march back towards the exit.

"Wait."

Her voice is lower, more assertive than before.

Urgent even.

I spin back around and raise an eyebrow.

"You say we have been trying to contact you?" she says, her eyebrows furrowed.

I nod slowly.

She frowns.

"Well, that is most... irregular."

She looks at me studiously then slowly picks up one of the letters I have dumped unceremoniously on her desk.

"We don't contact our clients," she says "Ever. We're cupids. It's against our laws... our..."

She puts her hand over her mouth, as though she has let a secret slip out, and reveals a well-manicured hand.

"Privacy laws?" I ask.

She gives an urgent shake of her head as though she has said too much.

I shrug.

"Whatever," I sigh "So just don't contact me again. OK?"

I'm about to turn and leave again, when she stands up abruptly.

"No," she says, her voice higher pitched now "Please!"

I raise my eyebrows at her.

What is up with this place?

As though she notices the weirdness of her reaction, the receptionist slowly sits back down and her robotic smile reappears on her face.

"Just let me run your name through the computer," she chimes, her head tilting slightly to one side "Find out what has occurred here. Then we can remove you from our database. Yes?"

I sigh.

"Fine," I say, walking back towards the imposing reception desk.

Relief washes over her face.

"Name?" she queries.

"Lila Black," I mutter.

I hear the click of long nails on a keyboard as she enters my name. She waits a few moments - staring at the monitor.

Then she frowns, and hurriedly types something else.

She watches the screen, and then her mouth gapes open into a perfect oval shape. All the blood seems to drain from her face, and a mask of surprise replaces her robotic smile; there's another emotion there too - hidden behind it.

Fear?

With wide eyes she looks back up at me.

"Miss Black," she says "We have a big problem. You have been matched with..." she bites her lip. "No...I....I can't say any more...I think...I think one of our agents is best suited to filling you in on the situation. Please take a seat. I will send someone out right away."

"

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