Chapter 43

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I grab Cal's shoulders and shake

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I grab Cal's shoulders and shake.

"Cal!" I say forcefully "Cal, Wake up!"

Cupid approaches. He brushes his hands against his jeans, wiping a layer of ash into the denim. He crouches down onto the cobbled stones beside me and rolls his eyes.

"My brother," he says "Ever the dramatic one."

I look up at Cupid, my heart racing with worry. He, however, looks completely unconcerned.

"Is he going to be ok?" I ask "What do we do?"

Cupid looks down at Cal. A pained expression crosses his face.

"He'll be fine" he says "He's a trained agent – this shouldn't traumatise him too much."

He sighs.

"Unlike what I'm about to do – which I think I'll have nightmares about for years to come."

Suddenly Cupid grabs Cal's head. The Matchmaking Agent's spring eyes open – wide and fearful. His body begins to convulse again and he grunts in pain.

"Hold him down" Cupid instructs.

I struggle to pin Cal's arms to the ground as Cupid pushes his head to the side so his cheek is flattened against the stones. He looks into his brother's ear; a disgusted expression clear on his face.

Then, in a sudden movement, he plucks out the small microchip – holding the small metallic object between his finger and thumb. Cal stops struggling, and exhales in relief. He rolls onto his back looking marginally embarrassed.

Cupid flicks the chip at his chest.

"There's brother bonding" he says raising an eyebrow "And then there's just downright gross."

He looks at me.

"Lila – you can take the chip out now."

He stands up and puts his hand to his ear. I nod and pull out the alien object from my own.

Instantly I'm back in Cupid's combat training room – crouched down near the dark pink mats. I look over to Cal who is now stood rigidly by us, brushing himself down.

"Are you OK Cal?" I ask him.

"I'm fine." he snaps in response.

I stand up.

"Thank you – for saving me." I continue.

A slight flush of colour appears on his cheeks and he looks at the ground.

"Yeah well" he says sharply "I didn't think you could handle it."

I look to Cupid questioningly and notice an amused expression on his face. He pats his brother on the back – who stands as stiff as ever. Then he looks back at me and grins.

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