Chapter 17

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At the end of the day I stroll hesitantly through the emptying corridors towards the school gym

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At the end of the day I stroll hesitantly through the emptying corridors towards the school gym.

Training in the arts of the cupids is what Cal had said we were meeting for. 

I roll my eyes.

It's been a weird couple of days...

"Did you hear..? Jack's practically stalking Laura!" I hear one girl say to her friend as I pass by. "He's been leaving roses by her door all week! So creepy"

"No way," replies the other, "I don't believe you. He hates her....."

Their conversation fades as I head on into the depths of the building.

I subconsciously fiddle with the two slips of paper in my pocket as I walk - one Cal's message, the other the address from Cupid. I agitatedly fold the corners with my thumb. 

Will I go to Cupid's party tomorrow? 

When I reach the meeting place it is dark and eerily quiet. All school gyms seem to have the same lingering scent I think to myself as I step inside; like the memory of bare feet and antiperspirant.

I step  hesitantly towards the centre. It seems empty.

Rays of sun slip in through the windows just below the ceiling and cause elongated shadows to stretch out from the climbing frame stacked against the wall.

"Cal?" I say tentatively - hearing my voice echo back to me. "You here?"

The sound of footsteps clack against the grey floor.

"Here," comes the reply.

My eyes dart towards the basketball hoop on one side of the vast space where Cal emerges from the shadows.

I gasp when I see him and take an involuntary step back.

He has a bow slung across his body, and a sleek black case filled with arrows over one shoulder.

"Jesus Christ Cal!" I say. "A bow and arrow? You've not been carrying that around school all day have you?!"

Cal steps into one of the pools of light - illuminating his blonde hair and darkening the shadows caused by the angles of his face.

He scowls.

"Course not," he says. "They were in my car."

I look at him questioningly.

"Why do you have this?" I demand. "You're not going to... shoot me are you?" I add - the realisation dawning on me that that could, indeed, be a possibility.

Cal looks insulted.

"I told you before," he says, exasperated, "I'm going to train you in the arts of the cupids."

I raise my eyebrows.

"Does that involve shooting me?" I ask.

Cal shrugs.

"Not for the time being at least," he says seriously.

My eyes widen and I take another step backwards.

This is insane.

Cal's expression softens momentarily before looking stony faced once more.

"They're not ordinary arrows," he says. "Each cupid has access to them. The Cupid's Matchmaking Service no longer uses them - we believe them old fashioned. But if you are to understand the ways of the cupids, and to understand Cupid himself, they are a good starting place. They were very commonplace up until the beginning of this century."

He takes another step closer to me and pulls an arrow from its case. It is smaller than a normal arrow, and a rusty bronzed colour. I can see markings around the body but I can't make them out in this light. The very tip is a pale, pastel pink.

"There are three types of cupid arrow. All extremely dangerous," he says. "Arrow one. The Capax- or Fool's Love as it has been nicknamed."

Suddenly, before I can move or react, with a quick flick of the wrist he swings the bow in front of him.

I gasp.

He looks right at me, aims, and then fires.


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