New fiction. ❤️
Caught by Cupid
“Did you hear that?” Cassie asked.
Her friend Shelby turned around.
“That sound like something just hit the wall behind us,” Cassie said.
Shelby turned to look.
“There’s nothing on the wall.”
Cassie turned to look herself. The two of them were in a sporting goods store shopping for a present for Cassie’s baseball-loving brother. They were standing by a rack of team jerseys, and the wall behind them was indeed blank.
Cassie sighed—it was always blank.
Shelby frowned. “So you’re still hearing random noises?”
“Not random,” Cassie said. “It’s always the same sound. Like someone’s thrown a tennis ball at the wall behind me—it’s a low thunk.”
Cassie felt eyes on her then, and she looked up. A gorgeous, dark-haired man was looking at her. Their eyes met, and he smiled at her. The man kept going, however, and exited the store.
Cassie felt a little twinge of disappointment as he disappeared. The man had seemed interesting—like someone she’d like to get to know. But somehow she never got to talk to the guys she was interested in. Why did they always pass her by?
Shelby followed her gaze. “Did you know that guy?”
I wish, Cassie thought.
“No,” she replied.
“Seriously, Cassie,” Shelby said. “How long have you been hearing these noises?”
Cassie sighed. “I don’t know—a few months now?”
“Have you told your doctor?”
“No—she’d just think I was crazy. It’s just one brief sound—just one loud thunk. And I only hear it occasionally—although lately it’s been growing more frequent.”
Shelby sighed and glanced at her watch. “Lunch is almost over. You have to get back to work, and so do I. Promise me you’ll have dinner with me tonight. We’ll get to the bottom of these strange sounds you’ve been hearing.”
Cassie sighed also. “I don’t think it’ll do any good, but sure. I’ll have dinner with you.”
Shelby glanced around at the racks of jerseys. “Did you find anything for your brother?”
“No,” Cassie said. “But I’ve still got time.”
“Not this afternoon you don’t,” Shelby said, moving toward the door. “Come on—let’s go.”
Cassie followed her friend out of the store, and they both paused on the sidewalk.
“Text me later,” Shelby said. “Let me know where you’d like to go for dinner.”
“Oh Cassie,” Shelby said suddenly, “I’m worried about you.”
“Because of a couple of loud noises no one else can hear?”
“I don’t know,” Shelby said. “I just don’t know. See you tonight.”
She walked away.
Cassie watched her friend disappearing down the sidewalk. Then she turned to go herself. As she did so, she noticed a little flutter of movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned to look in the store window behind her, and she could see the reflection of a blond man staring at her.
He was frowning.
She turned quickly, but the man was gone.
Cassie turned back to the store window, but the man’s reflection had also disappeared.
“Oh great,” Cassie said to herself. “Now I’m seeing things, too.”
She shook her head and turned in the direction of her office.
Toward the end of the work day, Cassie sent Shelby a text and asked her if she wanted to go to a well-known Italian restaurant for dinner.
Shelby sent back an enthusiastic yes.
As Cassie packed up her things for the evening, she noticed someone standing by her desk.
She looked up to see Parker, from two cubicles over, hovering nearby.
“Hey Cassie,” he said. Parker had light brown hair and eyes that were just a little bit darker.
“Hey,” Cassie replied.
“I just wanted to say have a good night.”
“Do you have any plans for the evening?” Parker asked.
“Yes,” Cassie said. “I’m going to meet a friend for dinner. How about you?”
“Me?” Parker said. He looked a little sheepish. “No—no plans. I’ve got a new dog—a beagle. So I have to hurry home most nights to let him out.”
“A beagle?” Cassie said. “I love beagles. My grandfather had one when my brother and I were little.”
“Yeah?” Parker said. “They’re great. They’re the best dogs—I love mine.”
Cassie noticed that his eyes crinkled a little when he smiled.
“Well, I just wanted to say good night,” Parker said. “I hope you have a good time at dinner. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow,” Cassie replied.
As he walked away, Cassie thought she heard a muffled thunk against the cubicle wall behind her.
“I hope this isn’t getting worse,” she said to herself.
Cassie hurried out into the chilly evening and arrived just in time to meet Shelby. The two of them were ushered into the warmth of the restaurant and were swiftly shown to a table.
“It smells wonderful in here,” Shelby said as she slid into her seat.
Cassie inhaled as she took off her coat and sat down, also. The aroma in the air was indeed wonderful—she could smell garlic bread, tomato sauce, and warm, savory pasta.
Shelby glanced over at her as the two of them looked over their menus.
“Any more incidents today?”
Cassie took a sip of water as she glanced up at her friend.
“Yes,” she replied. “I heard another thunk right before I left to meet you.”
“Oh Cassie,” Shelby said.
They soon placed their order, and as the waiter walked away with their menus, Shelby stared at Cassie, incredulous.
“Seriously?” she said. “You’re getting a grilled chicken salad?”
She paused. “I didn’t even know they had one on the menu.”
“I always get a salad when we go out,” Cassie replied.
“Yes—but that’s usually lunch,” Shelby said. “I’ll give you some of my lasagna when it arrives. The portions here are huge.”
“No thanks. I don’t—”
“Like cheese,” Shelby finished. “That’s right—I forgot.”
She blinked. “If you don’t like cheese, why did you suggest an Italian restaurant for dinner? There’s parmesan on everything—even the spaghetti.”
“I know,” Cassie said. “but you like Italian food—that’s why I chose this place.”
“Oh Cassie,” Shelby said.
Their food soon arrived.
“So tell me more about these sounds you’ve been hearing.”
“Well, they used to be only occasional,” Cassie said. “But lately I’ve been hearing them all the time—it’s gotten so that it’s almost every day. And I only hear them in public places—like in a store or at work. I never hear them when I’m home alone by myself.”
“Have you heard any sounds in here?” Shelby asked.
“No—at least not yet,” Cassie said.
Shelby made her promise to go see a doctor, and she said she would.
Then they turned to other topics—a change for which Cassie was grateful.
Soon they were talking and laughing just like they usually did.
By the end of dinner, Cassie was feeling like her old self again.
They paid the check and then headed through the restaurant to the door at the front.
As they did so, Cassie happened to spy her brother’s friend Jason at a nearby table. She raised a hand in greeting, and Jason waved back.
Suddenly, Cassie heard a loud thunk on the wall behind her.
She turned quickly—there was nothing on the wall.
Shelby turned to follow Cassie’s gaze.
“What is it?” she asked. “What’s wrong.”
“It’s nothing,” Cassie said. “I just saw someone I knew.”
She breathed a sigh of relief as Shelby turned back around and kept walking.
Cassie really didn’t want to talk about the sound any more.
The two of them went outside.
Shelby glanced down the street.
“I’m parked down this way,” she said. “So have a good night. And take care of yourself.”
“I will,” Cassie said. “You have a good night, too.”
Shelby gave her a reassuring smile and then walked away down the street.
Cassie waited until her friend had disappeared, and then she peered into the big front window of the restaurant.
She could still see Jason inside talking and laughing with his friends.
As she watched him, she had to wonder—why had seeing him made her hear that strange sound?
As Cassie continued to gaze into the window, she saw a flutter of movement behind her, and once again she saw the reflection of a blond man in the glass. He was staring at her.
Cassie turned quickly, and this time the man was still there.
“Cassie, Cassie, Cassie,” the man said. “What are we going to do with you?”
He snapped his fingers.
Suddenly, the dark street disappeared and was replaced by a bright, sunny garden. Gone, too, was the chill of the night air. The atmosphere was warm and comfortable—just as if she’d suddenly stepped into summer.
Cassie looked around. She was standing on a marble porch with marble columns. Flowers twined up the columns and ran down the steps in front of her. There were flowers as far as the eye could see.
Cassie turned back to look at the man behind her.
“Where are we?” she asked.
Then she caught her breath in surprise.
The man behind her was the most stunningly gorgeous person she’d ever seen in her life. His golden hair curled slightly and framed an absolutely perfect face. His muscular body was outlined by a tight, white T-shirt and jeans, and most amazingly of all, he seemed to have a pair of feathery white wings peeking over his shoulders.
“I’m sorry,” Cassie said. “Are those wings?”
“Yes,” the man said.
“You have wings?”
“Why?” Cassie said. “How? What’s going on here?”
“I am the one and only Cupid,” the man said. “I’d say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but it really isn’t. You’ve caused me a lot of trouble.”
“Cupid?” Cassie said incredulously. “I thought you were a cute little baby with chubby cheeks.”
Cupid sighed. “I was a baby once—but I grew up. Why does everybody think—”
He stopped. “You know what? It doesn’t matter. We have work to do here, and the sooner we’re done, the better.”
“Where are we?” Cassie said.
Cupid gave her a pitying look. “Don’t worry about that. You wouldn’t understand.”
Cassie’s eye was drawn to a glittering object not too far away—it was a golden bow with a quiver of arrows.
She looked at the man before her.
“You really are Cupid, aren’t you?”
He shook his head. “Mortals—so slow.”
He walked over and picked up the bow and arrows.
“Now listen up,” Cupid said. “Everyone wants to fall in love—except for you.”
“I want to fall in love,” Cassie said.
“No, you don’t.” Cupid walked back toward her. “You’ve put up a shield—something my arrows can’t get past.”
Cassie looked around. “I don’t see a shield.”
“It’s invisible to you,” Cupid said. “But I can see it. Here, I’ll show you.”
He began to fit a golden arrow into his bow.
“Wait a minute,” Cassie said. “You’re going to shoot me?”
“Relax,” Cupid said. “These aren’t real arrows. The only thing that would happen if you got struck is that you would fall in love with me. Besides, they won’t work anyway.”
“Fall in love with you?” Cassie said. “Is that what this is about? You brought me here to fall in love with you?”
Cupid snorted. “Are you kidding me? I’m married to the most beautiful lady in the entire world—literally. And she’s a princess. I would never be interested in an ordinary mortal like you.”
“That’s right,” Cassie said slowly. “According to the legend, Cupid is married to Psyche. You’re married to a woman named Psyche.”
Cupid looked a little surprised. “Yes—very few mortals remember that these days. Maybe there’s some hope for you after all.”
He stepped back several paces. “Now watch this.”
He pointed his arrow toward her shoulder. Then he let it go.
The arrow flew toward her and then veered away at the last second as if it had bounced off something solid. Then the arrow struck one of the marble columns with a loud thunk.
“That’s the sound I’ve been hearing!” Cassie said. “You’ve been trying to shoot me with arrows, and they keep bouncing off. That’s what the noise is.”
“That’s it exactly,” Cupid replied. “And it’s very frustrating. You’re supposed to get hit by the arrow and then become infatuated with the first person you see.”
“So I’m not crazy,” Cassie said.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Cupid said. “But you weren’t imagining things.”
He paused. “Your friend Shelby is concerned about more than just the sound, you know.”
“What do you mean?” Cassie asked.
“Your attitude is bad,” Cupid said. “You expect to be disappointed. Take these three near misses you had today. And by ‘near misses’ I mean when my arrows bounced off your shield. First was Ian.”
“Ian?” Cassie said.
“The dark-haired guy in the sporting goods store.”
Cassie thought back. “He was good-looking, but I don’t know him—I didn’t even know what his name was.”
“And then there was your co-worker Parker.”
“Parker? But he’s more of a work acquaintance than anything else. I only kind of know him.”
“And finally,” Cupid said, “there was Jason in the restaurant just now.”
“Jason, my brother’s friend?” Cassie said. “I’ve known him since I was eight years old. I couldn’t possible fall in love with him.”
“So to recap,” Cupid said. “You can’t fall in love with one guy because you don’t know him. You can’t fall in love with the next guy because you only kind of know him. And you can’t fall in love with the last guy because you know him too well. That doesn’t leave any other options. You’ve ruled everybody in the whole world out.”
“Oh,” Cassie said. “I guess that’s true.”
She paused. “Do you shoot arrows at everybody this often?”
Cupid sighed. “No—I’m just trying to get through to you with something—anything. But you turn everybody away. Parker, for instance—you say you kind of know him. But did you know he’s a health nut like you are? The two of you could go have salads together.”
“What about Ian?” Cassie asked. “Is he a health nut, too?”
“No,” Cupid said. “But neither is Shelby. You can be friends with people who are different from you, and the same is true with romance. You can fall in love with someone similar or with someone different. What matters is the person behind the habits—not the habits themselves.”
“So I’m pushing people away,” Cassie said. “And I’m putting up a shield?”
“Then what do I do?”
“You have to put the shield down,” Cupid said. “Because love will never find you otherwise.”
“And if I do put the shield down,” Cassie said, “then you’re going to shoot me?”
“No,” Cupid said. “Then you’re going to be free to find happiness. I just nudge couples along a little—but I don’t make them fall in love. I’ve struck couples with my arrows who eventually drifted apart and others who stayed together forever. Ultimately, the choice is theirs. It’s really up to you.”
He held out his hand, and on his palm was a little blue candy heart.
Cassie took the candy heart and read the tiny message that was printed on it: “Be Mine.”
“Give someone a chance,” Cupid said.
He snapped his fingers.
Suddenly, Cupid and the sunny, pillar-filled garden were gone.
Cassie was standing once again in front of the restaurant, staring in through the window.
She thought for a moment that she’d imagined everything that had just happened. But then she looked down and realized that she was clutching something in her hand.
It was a blue candy heart.
She hurried home.
For the next few days, Cassie looked at the blue “Be Mine” heart every day before she left the house. The thunk noises had stopped, and she realized that Cupid meant what he said—she was free to choose.
So Cassie looked at the heart each day and wondered where she should start.
Give someone a chance, Cupid had said.
And then one day, Cassie decided she would take a chance on someone—even if she couldn’t be sure it would work out.
At the end of the work day, she stopped by Parker’s cubicle. He was just packing up.
“Hey,” she said.
He looked up at her. “Oh hey, Cassie.”
“So,” Cassie said, “I know you usually have to go home to let your dog out right after work.”
Parker looked sheepish. “Yeah, that’s true.”
“But I was wondering if you might like to go for lunch tomorrow.”
Parker’s face lit up. “That would be wonderful! I mean that would be good—great. I would like that.”
Cassie smiled. “I would like that, too.”
Thanks very much for reading!