Could a person die of happiness overload? Because if that were possible, I was so going to keel over any second.
But what a way to go.
My brand-new boyfriend Derek’s strong, lean fingers threaded tightly through mine as we strolled through the door of Starbucks. It was our first official date since we’d begun going out yesterday afternoon. We’d decided to grab some coffee after school to discuss how to help all the broken-hearted single people I’d hastily matched with each other when I was trying to reverse the effects of me accidentally making them all fall in love with him.
Yeah, not one of the better ideas I’ve had in the couple of months since being hired by my boss, Janet, at Cupid’s Hollow. But fortunately for me, I also found out yesterday that Derek was a fellow cupid, and he’d promised to help me out. And I just knew that we were going to make things right—together.
“Hey, Felicity, what kind of drink do you want?” he asked, turning those piercing green eyes to me.
I swallowed, wanting to pinch myself in über-glee. I was on an honest-to-God date with the guy I’d been crushing on since freshman year, something I’d fantasized about forever.
“Felicity?” he asked, one eyebrow raised.
Hey, dork! He asked you a question! I mentally chided myself, trying to snap out of my love haze.
“Um, how about a Mocha Frappuccino?” I suggested. “Those are supergood.” And super laden with caffeine. Yum!
He smiled, his cheek dimpling slightly. “Sure. Why don’t you find us a private spot to sit?”
I nodded, picking out a booth in the back corner where no one was around and settling into one side of the table. Plenty of isolation for us to discuss our top secret cupid business matters.
Digging through my purse, I pulled out my hot-pink LoveLine 3000, the handheld technology we cupids use to send matchmaking e-mails to our targets. I put it on my lap, turning it on. While I waited for Derek to return, I kept myself occupied by staring at his absolutely perfect butt.
After a couple of minutes Derek sauntered over to the table, drinks in hand, and slid into the booth seat across from me. I accepted my drink gratefully and forced myself to take a slow sip through the straw, not wanting to give myself brain freeze. That crap hurt.
“Okay, I’m dying to ask you a question,” I finally said, leaning over the table toward Derek in excitement. “When Janet hired you, did she take you to the bow-and-arrow room and give you a . . . demonstration?”
I rubbed the middle of my chest, remembering how it had felt at my interview to have the gold arrow hit me and disappear, leaving only a tingle. Janet, our boss, sure didn’t mess around . . . she’d wanted to make sure I knew the cupid powers were real. Not that I’d doubted her after she shot me, but over time I’d learned the reality of matchmaking all too well . . . both the ups and downs.
Derek laughed. “So she shot you with an arrow also. Glad I wasn’t the only doubter she’d hired.”
God, it was so awesome to be able to work with my new boyfriend. I’d finally have someone I could talk about my cupid woes with! Not that I wasn’t desperate to dish it all to my two best friends, Andy and Maya … but my contract specifically stipulated I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone the specifics of my job, upon pain of death.
Okay, the contract terms weren’t that drastic, but I just knew something awful would happen to me. I sure didn’t want to find out what, though.
“Janet’s kind of scary,” I whispered, almost afraid that by some weird voodoo she could overhear me talking about her.
“No kidding. She’s intimidating.” He took the lid off his cup, releasing a puff of steam into the air, and took a drink.
“So, how many matches have you made so far?” I asked him. We each had a weekly quota to meet, and I was eager for tips and motivation.
“Only a few.” He shrugged. “I’m trying to take my time and still perfect my profiles. It’s hard work, studying everyone and making sure I represent them accurately.”
I nodded in sympathy. “Yeah, it took me a while to do those too.”
A souring thought hit me, and I pinched my lips together. If I’d taken more time to add greater details to my profiles, like Derek was doing, maybe I wouldn’t have made so many bad matches since I’d started working as a cupid. And thus, there wouldn’t be so many desolate people grumping their way through school when their love spells had worn off.
Shaking my head resolutely, I pushed the thought out of my brain. All I’d been trying to do was get my classmates’ attention off Derek and back on one another, where it belonged. Besides, there were now two matchmakers on the job at Greenville High, ready and eager to get things fixed up before prom, which would be in just over three weeks.
And I couldn’t focus on my own prom happiness with Derek until I got these disaster matches resolved, once and for all.
I took my LoveLine 3000 out of my lap and put it on the tabletop, ready to get down to business. “Did you bring yours?”
“Sure did.” Derek tugged his out of his back pocket and turned it on. “Last night I made a list of everyone in school who is currently single and in need of a match. I’ll e-mail you half of the list.” He bent his head over the PDA, typing on the little keyboard.
Weird, I’d never thought about e-mailing another cupid. I wonder what would happen when he sent me the document. Would it make us fall even more in love? Maybe we would be like my parents were when I’d had a “brilliant” idea and decided to matchmake the two of them for their anniversary a few weeks ago.
I shuddered, remembering their feet sticking out of their bedroom doorway as they went at it on their floor. Time to push that gross little memory into the dark recesses of my brain, back where it belonged.
“Hey, you still here?” Derek asked, a crooked grin on his face. He reached over and brushed my hand, causing my skin to tingle.
“Yeah, sorry, had a bad flashback,” I said, drinking some of my Frappuccino with my free hand. I’d tell him about matchmaking my parents later, after I’d done another mental scrub or two or twenty.
My PDA vibrated. I opened my new e-mail from Derek, half expecting my chest to tingle—the surefire identifier of a love match.
After staring dumbly at the screen for several long seconds, I almost smacked my own forehead. Duh, Felicity. I’d forgotten that cupids can’t matchmake themselves, so Derek sending me an e-mail wouldn’t have any power over me, anyway.
I focused my attention on the list, scrolling down to check out the names. “Okay, I need to make matches for everyone on here, right?”
“Yeah. I think if we take our time and do some quality matches, they should hold together with better odds.”
My stomach twitched. He was right, of course, but I was embarrassed that Derek, who had been a cupid for only a few weeks, had managed to figure out more about matchmaking than I had.
He reached back into his pocket and pulled out his cupid manual. “Each person can be matched with someone else on the list, just to keep things simple. I prepared the two lists according to the manual. There was one formula that seemed overly complicated, but the one on page”—he drawled off, flipping through the book—“fifty-two seemed like it would do the job.”
Derek turned the manual facing toward me and pointed at a tiny chart filled with wavy lines and arrows.
Yeahhhhh … I’d completely forgotten about that book. Whoops. The writing was so dry and boring, I’d almost fallen asleep reading it. I think I’d stuffed it in my bookshelf a few days after becoming a cupid and never opened it up again, preferring to wing it my own way.
I nodded sagely, pretending I could interpret the chart. “Good thinking. That one should work out great.” Right, like I knew what the crap he was talking about.
I made a mental note to dig my manual out again and make a more valiant effort to read the damn thing. Geez, we’d only been here a short time, and already Derek was schooling me in the art and science of matchmaking. How mortifying.
My cheeks burned.
Well, it was my own fault. This wasn’t the time for embarrassment or shame. I had to do what the situation called for, and none of my ideas had worked out well so far. Time to try Derek’s plan now.
“Let’s run this by Janet first,” I said, “just to be safe.” I knew from experience that our boss liked to be kept in the loop. Plus, she’d probably like to see us working together. And anything that made Janet happy was good in my book.
“Sure, that’s a good idea.” He took a sip of his drink and smiled at me. “I’m looking forward to working with you.”
“Me too,” I replied with a happy sigh, a warm glow spreading through my chest and limbs.
I didn’t need a love arrow shot at me to make me get tingles—being in Derek’s presence was more than enough.
“Well,” Janet said to me and Derek, leaning back in her plush executive chair, “I think that’s a great plan. And I like even more how you two are working together on this. I was hoping you’d get along.” She gave us a nod of approval.
I beamed, happy that Janet could not only squeeze in a meeting with us on such short notice but also approved of our idea on how to fix the matchmaking mess at school. That way we could get started on it ASAP.
“Thanks,” I replied, excitement bubbling in my voice. “Derek’s great to work with.” With all the strength I could muster, I resisted the urge to cast a lovey-dovey gaze at Derek, who was sitting in the chair beside me, across from Janet’s desk. But out of the corner of my eye, I saw him smile at my words.
After solidifying our matchmaking plan at Starbucks earlier today, Derek and I had also decided we’d lie low with the boyfriend/girlfriend stuff around work until we’d scoped the situation out first. Janet didn’t know we were dating, and we didn’t want to make anything more complicated than necessary right now.
“Okay, let me see your PDAs,” she said, reaching her hands out toward us. “I’ll download a copy of your lists for reference.”
We handed them over to her, and she synced them, one by one, to her main computer. After she was done, she laid them on the desk. “I’ll review the documents later, but it seems like you’re on the right track.” She paused. “Actually, Derek, since you’re here, there’s another guy cupid I’d like to introduce you to. He’s in the office next door. Felicity, we’ll be back in a few minutes—just wait right here.”
“Sure thing,” I said, trying not to give Derek any inappropriately slutty looks as he filed past me and followed Janet out the door.
I crossed my legs and fidgeted for a couple of minutes. Then I stood up and plucked my PDA off her desk so I could put it back in my purse. As I lifted the LoveLine 3000, I saw my name at the top of a list on the left page of her daily planner. My heart pounded, and I swallowed hard.
Was I in trouble? Maybe she was on to me and Derek and was upset about us dating. Or maybe she’d found out some of my other cupid secrets, like that I’d previously matchmade my friend Maya with three guys … or that I’d paired up my parents for their anniversary. I’d deleted those e-mails from my LoveLine 3000, but maybe she’d gotten the info somehow.
I had to know. With a furtive glance at the door, I quickly jerked the planner off the desk, scanning its contents. It was a to-do list, and there was a checkbox beside me. And after my name was Derek’s name. Under us were other pairs of names. What was this?
Then it hit me.
Janet must have matchmade me and Derek.
© 2010 Rhonda Stapleton