Chapter 26

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I raise my eyebrows in surprise, flicking my gaze over to Cal in hope of some sort of explanation

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I raise my eyebrows in surprise, flicking my gaze over to Cal in hope of some sort of explanation.

How could James have met the receptionist at the Cupids Matchmaking Service?

And what was she saying about making a match?

An unreadable expression passes over Cal's stony face but he says nothing - merely stands statuesque by the four poster bed that dominates the room.

I glance back at my boyfriend who takes a step closer and wraps an arm around my waist.

"This is Crystal," he informs me. "She just started working at Romeo's."

I frown and look back at Cal.

Romeo's is the name of the run down diner in the square. James got a job waiting tables there last Summer and has worked there since.

Why would Crystal be working there too?

The Matchmaking Agent gives nothing away - only casts a brief frosty look at the blonde receptionist.

Crystal ignores him and takes a step forwards.

"You must be Lila," she chimes. "I've heard so much about you."

I am engulfed in a cloud of candy floss scented perfume as she extends her arm out towards me. Her eyes glitter excitedly - daring me to tell James who she really is.

I scowl as I shake her hand.

"Nice to meet you Crystal" I say - hoping she picks up on the icy undercurrent to my words.

Cal looks tense.

The pristine blonde receptionist takes a step back and looks back up at my boyfriend.

"Me and Cal were just heading downstairs for a drink," she says. "Care to join us?"

James looks down at me and raises an eyebrow in question.

"You go on without me," I say, looking at Crystal through narrow eyes. "I'm going to use the bathroom."

Cal doesn't look happy but says nothing. The three of them head out of the room.

As the Matchmaking Agent passes me he shoots me a warning look.

"Don't do anything stupid, Lila," he mutters. "I'm going to go find him once I've sorted something with our friend Crystal here. Something weird may be going on. I'll check on you later."

His face contorts as though he has tasted something sour as he mentions the receptionist's name. I inwardly feel a jolt of both nerves and relief as I realize Cal doesn't know that Cupid is stood on the terrace just around the corner.

Moments later I am left alone in the room again.

I take a deep breath to steady my nerves, and head back out towards the unlit terrace. As I reach it I shakily extend my hand, open the door, and step through onto the large balcony area.

At the other side, a figure stands staring out at the grounds; his silhouette backlit by the white glow from the moon, and the pool lights below.

"Cupid," I say softly.

Slowly he turns. His eyes lock onto mine. For a moment he looks almost surprised.

"Lila," he says. "You came."

He takes a step forward and my heartbeat accelerates as I look up at him.

He is wearing a long sleeved light blue shirt, over dark jeans. His feet are bare, and his hair ruffled as though he has just got out of bed. His expression looks softer than when I saw him at school - more vulnerable.

He could pass for an Angel in the faint light of the moon.

But he's no Angel I remind myself.

"I know it's you," he says, taking another step forwards.

I frown, distracted. 

This is not how the conversation is supposed to go.

"I don't know what you mean," I splutter.

He smiles, but something briefly passes across his face.

Sadness?

"You're my match," he says, getting closer still.

I can feel his body heat, smell his soapy scent.

My eyes widen.

"You saw the Ardor," he continues softly. "The only way a human can see the arrows is if another cupid has shown them what they are. Cal showed you?"

I gasp as he stares at me. Our bodies are so close they are almost touching.

I nod.

"He was trying to protect you," he states.

There's that look again. That sadness.

Something within me wants to reach out and touch his face.

But then I think of the arrow. And Jack. And the reason I came to the terrace.

I take a step backwards.

"You nearly killed someone," I spit angrily "How could you do that?!"

Cupid half laughs.

"Lila," he says "That wasn't me."

I frown.

"I saw you. I saw you holding the arrow," I say.

He shakes his head and holds his arms up in mock surrender.

"It wasn't me Lila. What would I have to gain from shooting a random kid?" he laughs "I just pulled the thing out."

I feel my eyebrows furrow.

He's lying. He has to be.

"Well who was it then?" I say irritably.

Suddenly I hear the door close softly behind me.

"It was.... someone else," comes Cal's tired voice.

I spin around. 

The Matchmaking Agent stands in the starlight - he shoots me a I'll deal with you later look before bringing his gaze back to my match. 

"Hello, Cupid," he says in cold greeting- his face stern.

I glance back at my supposed match.

Cupid's mouth curls into a grin. His eyes glitter excitedly.

"Hello, brother," he replies.


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