With a lot of the stories I write I connect with a song while I'm writing. In the case of "Cupid's Last Shot" I found the Foo Fighters latest CD, more specifically, the song "Learn to Fly" as my inspiration. I always urge readers to tune into the song, if at all possible. I'll even provide a link if I can. In this case, www.foofighters.com.
"What the hell is wrong with this picture?" Cupid One tapped her little bare foot on the bar stool, eyeing Cupid Two in aggravation.
"What? It's just a slight glitch. Nothing to worry about, darlin'. Just watch." Cupid Two lifted the shot glass to his lips and slammed back the whiskey. He smacked his lips loudly, sliding the glass to the bartender. "Another one, Jeeves."
Cupid One smacked Cupid Two on the back of the head. "Hey! No drinking on the job! You need to pay attention. Your guy just made a major boo-boo. Do I have to remind you what will happen to the both of us if we screw up again?" Cupid One scowled at Cupid Two, her male partner in crime. "The Fates will have our wings and this time Skuld will probably shove the arrows you have left right up your a--"
"Alright, alright. Them Fate sisters can be tough. Yeah, enough already. " Two turned around, adjusting his quiver before smiling at One, chewing the cigar in his cherubic lips. "I'm sorry. Now, where were we?"
One sighed, rolled her eyes, and pushed a blond ringlet from her chubby cheek. "Don't screw this up for me, Two. I want that promotion. " One elbowed Two and directed his attention back to the current situation. Two looked down at the floor, through the peanut shells and cigarette butts, through the fine opalescent mist, past the clouds and focused on his doofus. Theodore Thomas, 34, bachelor, unruly brown hair, medium build, hazel eyes, yadda, yadda, yadda, just stole his future wife's parking spot right out from under her.
Two slapped a chubby hand to his forehead. "Cripes! Did he just do what I thought he did?" His gravely voice rose above the crowd in the celestial bar.
One nodded. "And it just started raining. Great move, Casanova." One shook her head and sympathized with her poor victim. Melanie Goodwin made a rude gesture to Theodore.
"Oy-vay! Did she just do what I saw her do?" Two cringed.
"Yep. See what happens when you turn your back for one second?"
"Hey, don't worry. I'll fix it. Just watch this." Two chewed his cigar a few more times before sprinkling a small amount of glamour through the clouds.
"Where did you get that?" One demanded. "You visited Elora again, didn't you?" One glared, putting a hand over her gaping mouth. "It's just not a good idea to bargain with the fae. They're--they-re... nasty."
Two grinned, sliding a glance at One. "Tell me about it. Did I ever tell ya about the time Elora slid one of those long fingers of hers right up--"
"NO!" One cleared her throat. "No, you didn't. Feel free not to tell me now either." One harrumphed, turning away from Two.
"What a dame... " He chuckled lasciviously, sprinkling the yellow dust through the opening in the clouds.
One watched as Melinda raced through the downpour to the doors of the meeting hall, bundled up in a yellow rain slicker. She splashed past Theodore just as he tripped over a stone concealed by fairy glamour and landed on his side in a water puddle the size of--
"Woohoo!" Two hollered. "That'll show him!" Two elbowed One roughly. She peeked through her fingers at the snickering Melinda and the disheveled and very wet Theodore.
"Alright. So maybe now we can start over. Seems like most of the aggression is gone." One admitted. "Are you sure you got the next part straight?"
"Yeah, yeah, don't you worry your curly little head none. It's all good, baby."
One rolled her eyes and turned back to the scene playing out before them.
Theodore stood at the glass door, shivering and wet, holding the door open for Melinda to pass through. He smiled down at her in a way that almost made her feel sorry for him. Melinda smiled and stepped smugly through the door, shaking the rain from her slicker. Theodore stepped back from the offending splatters.
"Really, now, what's a little more rain. You're already drenched." Melinda said, smiling, and maybe a little too maliciously.
"Yeah. I guess. Sorry about taking that parking spot. I guess that was a little rude of me." Theodore apologized, pulling a handkerchief from his back pocket.
"Looks like somebody else made you pay for it." Melinda smiled and scampered off, eager to meet up with Abby and Zoe.
The three women exchanged hugs and hurried off to the bar. The annual Valentine's Day social was about to start for the singles club of Saginaw County. Each year couples are matched up and sent on a date, all financed by the ticket sales to the popular event. The social had grown to such proportions that a ballroom at a local hotel was reserved for the occasion, having outgrown the fellowship hall at the local Methodist church. The girls decided to try their luck this year. The club had a fine reputation for marrying off blind-date couples. Abby, Melinda and Zoe were tired of their biological alarm reminding going off.
The girls took a table near the podium and refreshment table. Their eyes looked over the men in the room, wondering just which one they will be paired with. Melinda's eyes fell on the man still trying to blot water from his pants with heart shaped napkins. "What a doofus." Melinda mumbled, hoping she didn't end up with him. Abby and Zoe were pointing to a group of young bachelors. They in turn lifted their glasses to the girls, winking and smiling. Abby simpered. Zoe giggled. Melinda smiled and lifted her glass before taking a generous sip of the spiked punch.
Melinda felt radiant today, despite the dreary weather. She wore her favorite pink cashmere sweater and taupe suede skirt. Her dark hair tumbled to mid-back, a style she refused to change, despite the pleading of her well-meaning mother.
The room grew quiet as the president of the Saginaw County Singles Club began the social. The secretary of the club, Trudy Anderson, herself engaged after last year's social, brought the heavy-looking crystal punch bowl to the podium. Pink, red and white winked through the cut glass, promising many good things to the crowd. One of those cards could possibly have the match of her dreams. How many couples would actually form a lasting union after tonight's events?
"G's! There at the G's, Melinda!" Abby said, squeezing her friend's arm. The president looked up when he said Melinda's name, smiling with a nod to acknowledge her presence. Many eyes turned to Melinda when her name was called. She felt her cheeks flush.
"Melinda Goodwin...your date will be..." President Michaels swirled his hand around in the punch bowl and pulled out a card. He broke the seal and read..."Theodore Thomas." Just then Melinda scanned the room and saw the puddle-splattered stranger from earlier stand up, waving in Melinda's direction. Melinda plastered a fake smile on her face, muttering under her breath. "Great. Just great."
She had to get this over with. Just one date couldn't be all that bad. The day was somewhat young and the skies had actually cleared up. Maybe that was a good sign. She approached Theodore and held out her hand. "Well, Mr. Thomas, we meet again."
He smiled back at her. His eyes were hazel, she noticed. "I'm sorry, and I will make it up to you. By the way, just call me Tad. That's what all my friends call me. We can at least be friends?" The last comment sounded like a question and Melinda wasn't the sort to hold grudges. She laughingly took his hand.
Tad had the hands of a man who knew manual labor. She shivered at the rough calluses grazing over her warm palm. Melinda was tall yet he stood at least a foot taller. The denim shirt he wore was open at the neck, a crisp sprinkling of dark hair peeking from the V. His light brown hair needed a trim in Melinda's opinion, but somehow the wavy curls against his collar appealed to her.
"Yes, Tad, I don't see why not. That is, unless, you had something dull in mind to do today? I hope you're not the boring type?" Melinda's soft green eyes settled briefly on the tiny earring in his ear. It gave her another nice shiver.
One winked at Two. "Nice touch. The earring I mean." One nodded. "She likes a little touch of the bad-boy look. Can't say that I blame her." One mumbled under her breath.
Two glanced over at One. "What was that?"
"Yeah, well, just wait and see what else the guy has up his sleeve."
"I can't wait. " One replied, lifting a glass of champagne in a toast.
"Hey, I thought you said no drinking on the job?"
"I'm paying attention." One smiled prettily at Two.
Melinda and Tad spent the next hour talking over a plate of oysters on the half shell and Bloody Mary's. "How uncanny that we have the same strange taste in alcohol." Melinda mentioned, swirling her celery stick in the grainy red liquid. "But I bet, no, nevermind..." Melinda trailed off.
"What?" Asked Tad, leaning closer to her.
"Well. I don't know. You might think this is silly of me." Melinda tongued the celery stick, some of her inhibitions slipping away with the downslide of alcohol.
"I doubt it. C'mon, tell me." Tad leaned closer. Melinda inhaled a bit more of his cologne, an intoxication of another kind.
"There's a carnival in town. They have a Ferris wheel, two of them actually. And a few other rides, fast rides. Do you like fast rides, Mr. Thomas?" Melinda asked in a very teasing tone.
"I love fast rides, Ms. Goodwin." Tad smiled, mischief in his eyes, and touched the tip of her nose with his warm index finger.
"Well then, Mr. Thomas, put your money where your mouth is." Melinda stood, sliding another fat oyster down her throat and handing the last one to Tad. Tad gulped the oyster down and watched the nicely curved backside of Melinda Goodwin sashay to the exit. He followed after like a starved puppy.
Tad caught up with Melinda as she was sliding the thin leather strap of her purse over her shoulder. "Are you coming?" Melinda asked, a salacious grin curving her lips, a perk to her slender dark brow.
Tad nearly choked but took it all in with a dash of boyish cutey-pie charm. "I'm right behind you."
They both left for the parking lot. Tad lightly gripped Melinda's elbow, guiding her to his coveted parking place. Melinda delicately stepped over a large puddle, smiling down at the ray of sunshine. She stopped suddenly and gasped. "Did you see tha--nevermind."
Tad looked down at the puddle. If only the sun were shining at a different angle he may have gotten a better look at those lovely legs beneath the expensive looking skirt, perhaps a bit higher. Somehow he didn't think that was what she was referring to. "What?"
"Nothing. Perhaps three Bloody Mary's should be my limit. I could have sworn I saw...I don't know..."
They both started laughing hysterically as Tad fiddled with the lock on the passenger side of his truck.
Two snatched One back from the opening. "Shi-it, we almost got busted." He wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead with the back of his pudgy hand.
One was trying to catch her breath and find the arrow she dropped. "Why did you do that!? Pull me back? I almost had them. One shot and that would have been it. They would have eloped tonight."
"C'mon, give the kids a chance to have a little fun. Don't you remember what that's like?" Two's baby blue eyes met One's. For a moment something was there, something soft and promising. Then it was gone.
One bit her lip. "I lost an arrow. I only have one more. If I don't get a shot in..." She let her words trail off.
Two patted her dimpled knee. "Don't worry. I don't think we need to worry about these kids too much more. Seems like they're hitting it off. Just...don't worry sweetheart." Two's hand stayed on One's knee, not sure if he was comforting her or irritating her. Of course he knew what would happen if she wasted her very last arrow.
One nodded and turned back to their opening and watch Tad and Melinda drive off, a lone gold filigree arrow rocking gently in the bed of Tad's black F150.
"No more, I swear I cannot eat another bite of that funnel cake!" Melinda giggled, leaning into Tad, wiping powdered sugar from his cheek. He smiled down at her, another genuine smile, complete with crinkles at the corner of his beautiful hazel eyes. "Hey look!" Melinda pointed. "The line to the Ferris Wheel is short. C'mon!" Melinda grabbed Tad's hand and pulled him along. He didn't mind. He had this funny feeling that he would follow her wherever she went.
They settled into the cotton candy pink seat of the Ferris Wheel and cuddled close. The air was cool and crisp with the afternoons cold front. Tad snuggled Melinda into the crook of his arm. Together they stayed warm. He kissed the top of her head. He just did it. Spontaneously. It was the normal thing to do. Melinda responded by laying a hand on his chest. They both sighed and watched the afternoon melt away into a midnight blue evening.
"Tell me, Melinda. What else do you do besides make loans at State Street Bank?" Tad asked.
"I read, jog, and keep my Cocker Spaniel, George, company. I have a few other hobbies that are slightly unconventional. I love painting, wallpapering, antique-shopping, finding the right touch for a room. Something you're probably not too interested in."
"You wouldn't by any chance know anything about wood-burning stoves?" Tad asked. "I'm renovating this old house on Ave C. It's a great house. I was going to turn around and sell it, like I've done with a few of the others I've bought in the past. There's something about this house, though. Can't put my finger on it. Just a feeling."
"I thought you owned Thomas Hardware?"
"Well, that's a family business. Unfortunately with the new Home Expo coming up on the highway, I doubt our small operation will be able to stay in the black much longer. I had to have something to fall back on."