Cupid, p.1Lucy Felthouse
Evernight Publishing ®
Copyright© 2015 Lucy Felthouse
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: JS Cook
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
To the Brit Babes Street Team—for your love, kindness, support and all the laughs. You rock.
Romance on the Go TM
Copyright © 2015
Cassius Cupid woke with a start, then sat bolt upright in his bed. Shit, I’m going to be late!
Milliseconds later, his brain switched on, and he remembered. He was on holiday. Flopping back onto the warm mattress and pillows with a contented sigh, he smiled. No work for fourteen whole days—it was going to be utter bliss. He stretched, relishing the feeling it created in his sleep-befuddled muscles. Ahhh... this is the life.
He knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep—hell, it was eight o’clock, which was practically the middle of the day for someone in his profession—so Cassius fell to thinking about how he was going to spend his day. Not to mention the several others in front of him. God knows he deserved to relax and have some fun. He’d just emerged from the busiest part of his year, and he was more than ready to do some chilling out.
He enjoyed his job as a postman—he really did—but the Christmas period was a total killer. He idly wondered how many cards and presents he’d delivered over the past few weeks. It didn’t bear thinking about. Once you factored in the festive period itself, the weird few days between Christmas and New Year, and then the flurry of mail that got sent when everyone went back to work properly at the beginning of January, he’d racked up some serious deliveries. And that was before you even thought about his other job—which was for just one day a year, but was arguably more important than the other 364 put together.
Cassius—or Cupid, as he was known to his boss and colleagues in his second, but most important job—was not only a regular postman for the Royal Mail, but also a reindeer. For a single day of the year, Cassius had the supernatural power to transform into one of Santa’s faithful steeds, and help pull that famous magical sleigh, delivering presents to excited children the world over.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Cassius really did eat, sleep and breathe deliveries. But not for the next fourteen days. All he planned to do was watch some TV, read some books, maybe go out hiking, meet some friends... basically anything that wasn’t delivering something to someone. Hey, he might even receive something through the post himself—preferably not the usual crap, bills and junk mail. He didn’t hold out much hope.
He lounged in bed for another ten minutes before realising he was lying there for the sake of it. Being on holiday didn’t have to equal staying in bed all day—and certainly not for someone as active as him. He reached over to his bedside table, grabbed his glasses and put them on. Throwing off his thick duvet, he walked to his bedroom window and peeked out through the curtains, immediately glad of the effective central heating he and his housemate had forked out to have installed the previous year.
The outside world was covered in a thick layer of snow, and Cassius was mighty glad that he wasn’t out delivering letters and parcels. The stuff was treacherous enough without having to carry a heavy bag up and down driveways, paths and pavements, most of which either hadn’t been cleared, or had been cleared badly, leaving incredibly slippery patches of ground for an unsuspecting postie to come across. God knows he’d gone down enough times, but much to his relief, nobody had ever seen him do it. He’d always been relatively unharmed—excerpt for his pride, of course—and had been able to scramble back to his feet and carry on.
The eerie silence outside was broken by the rumble of an engine, and Cassius turned his head to look up the street—he lived in a cul-de-sac, so he knew that’s where the vehicle would come from—and watched as a delivery van made its way slowly and carefully down the road. He hoped the driver was sensible enough to try and steer over the thickest parts of the snow—the more people went over and over the same patches, packing it down, the more the road surface resembled an ice rink. And since the cul-de-sac was on a slight hill, it was easy enough to get stuck. He’d seen it so many times—even going outside one time last winter to suggest the driver go down to the bottom of the road, turn around and try reversing up the hill—an almost foolproof plan for vans with rear-wheel drive. He’d gotten a big thumbs-up for that suggestion as the driver finally got to the junction where it became flat, and went on his merry way.
As the delivery van drew closer to his house, he saw that the driver was a woman. That would explain her cautious driving—he’d never admit it to one of his drinking buddies, but women were far superior when it came to driving in adverse weather conditions. He even thought he’d seen some survey containing statistics which proved it.
He frowned as the van stopped at the end of his driveway. Watching as she reached over to the passenger seat and retrieved a clipboard, he wondered if she’d got the wrong address. Apparently not. She glanced up at the house—leaving Cassius wondering if she’d seen him standing there, staring out of the upstairs window like some kind of nosey parker. Then she hopped out of the van and made her way to the rear doors, opened them and climbed in. The van bounced up and down ever so slightly as she walked around in the back of it, then she reappeared on the road, parcel in hand.
Realising that she’d be knocking on his front door any minute, Cassius retreated from the window and scrambled to make himself decent. He wore pyjama bottoms for bed, but he had no intention of answering the door with no shirt on—especially in this weather—so he grabbed last night’s t-shirt from the top of his wash basket and yanked it on as he headed out of his room and down the stairs.
He paused in the hallway opposite the front door, waiting for the knock. He wondered what it was she was delivering—he hadn’t ordered anything in a while, other than books and DVDs, and they came by regular post. The parcel he’d seen the courier get out of the back of the van was much bigger than books and DVDs.
After wracking his brain for a little longer, he came to the conclusion that the parcel wasn’t for him at all, but for Simon, his housemate. Bloody typical. He was just mentally bemoaning the fact that nobody ever sent him anything interesting, when he realised that there had still been no knock on the door. Frowning, he wondered if perhaps the woman had gotten the wrong address, after all, and was already back in her van and on the road once more. He hadn’t heard the engine again, but to be fair, he hadn’t been listening for it, and they did have double glazing.
Walking into the living room next door, Cassius looked out of the front window to see if the van was gone. It wasn’t. His frown deepened. Where the hell had she gone then? Surely not far, because she was blocking his drive. If he wanted to go out in his car, he was screwed. He leaned forward into the bow window, affording him a better view. It was then that he saw her. Sprawled across the driveway, clutching her ankle.
Cassius’s instincts kicked in. Without a thought for his bare feet, he dashed back into the hall, flung open the front door and rushed out to her. She looked up as he approached her, a wry grin on her face, and with tears threatening to spill.
“I won’t ask if you’re all right. It’s
She nodded. “Thank you. If you could just get me back to the van, I can call someone to come and relieve me.”
“Don’t be so silly. I’m not leaving you out in the cold. I’ll take you inside, get a hot drink inside you and we’ll see how you are from there.”
“Okay, Mr. Bossy Boots,” she said, smiling. Apparently, she’d regained some good humour. “It seems I’m at your mercy, anyway.”
“You are,” he said firmly, sliding his arms beneath her knees and around her back, before lifting her carefully. The last thing he wanted was for him to fall over, too. That would be a fine mess indeed. He guessed that was one bonus to him having bare feet—his grip was pretty good. Otherwise, though, it was total fucking torture, and he sure was sure that if he didn’t have shifter blood—which helped him heal and generally kept him healthy—that he’d probably end up with frostbite in his toes, or something.
Moving as fast as he dared, Cassius carried the woman through his front door and straight into the living room. He successfully managed to get her seated on the sofa without smashing her head on anything.
“Okay,” he said, thinking fast, “did you leave the keys in the van?”
“Shit. Yes I did.” She bit her lip, clearly frustrated.
“I’ll go grab them, lock the van up, grab your phone then come and check you over. Is that all right?”
“That’s great. I’m not going to die any time soon, so I’d rather you saw to the van first. The last thing I need is someone taking off with it!”
Nodding, Cassius jogged back into the hall and grabbed a pair of trainers from the rack. He wasn’t in so much of a rush that he was going back out into the snow with nothing on his feet! Once was plenty. Pulling them on, he headed back out of the open door and to the van at the end of his drive. He walked to the driver’s side, retrieved the keys and phone, locked the van and then grabbed the abandoned parcel, clipboard and pen from the ground before going back indoors.
Closing the front door behind him, he went back into the living room and put the things in his hands down on a chair before kneeling next to the courier.
“I suppose I should ask your name before I take your shoes off, huh?” He winked at her, relieved when she grinned back.
“I’m Carina. And you’re Simon Ara.”
He began to undo the fairly heavy-duty boots she wore, figuring she’d be more comfortable with her feet up, then he could find out which ankle she’d twisted.
“Wrong. I’m Cassius, Simon’s housemate. So the parcel’s for him then? Typical. Nobody sends me anything!”
“Wow, you sure have some unusual names in your house, don’t you?”
Carina tapped his arm playfully. “No, Ara! And you, Cassius.”
“I haven’t even told you my surname yet!”
“It can’t be any more unusual than Ara, surely?”
“I wouldn’t bet on it.”
“Come on, what is it?”
“Are you serious? Were your parents hippies or something?”
“Hey!” he said, finally freeing her feet of the boots and tugging her socks off. “Do you want my help or not?”
“Sorry! I just wasn’t expecting it, that’s all.”
“People never do. Now come on, get your feet up. Which ankle did you turn?”
Carina pointed to her right one, and immediately Cassius set about finding the injury. After a couple of seconds, he’d already ascertained that it wasn’t broken, just twisted. He told her as much, and advised she should rest up for the remainder of the day, at least.
“What are you, a doctor?” She said it without sarcasm, and Cassius shook his head.
“No, but I’ve done a course or two. I’m smarter than I look!”
He was also much older than he looked, but naturally he wasn’t about to divulge that piece of information to a human. He looked around thirty-two in human years, but in actual fact, he was two hundred and fifty years old. Given the amount of time he’d been alive, he’d gained a great deal of education, and fortunately for Carina, some of it was in first aid.
“You must be pretty bright then,” Carina quipped, “as you look like a bit of a boffin, to be honest.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked indignantly. “Are you determined to insult me? I should’ve just left you in the bloody snow!”
Carina giggled. “I’m sorry, Cassius. I don’t mean to sound like I’m taking the piss out of you. I just let things come out of my mouth before I think about them. I’m not insulting you at all. I’m just saying you look like a clever bloke. You know, what with the hair, the beard, and the glasses.”
Cassius raised an eyebrow incredulously. It was the first time he’d ever been accused of being clever, particularly based on his looks. His dark shoulder length curly hair, beard and tattoos usually made people think he was some kind of hippy, or creative type. He shook his head.
“Mind you,” she continued, lifting a strand of hair away from his left ear, “you’ve got a pierced tragus. Perhaps you’re the creative type. Or maybe it wasn’t your parents that were hippies—maybe it’s you!”
Cassius was quickly growing used to Carina’s outspoken manner, and he merely poked his tongue out at her, eliciting another giggle.
“Well, you’re definitely going to live, so do you want to call whomever it was you were going to call, and I’ll go and make you a drink? Are you warm enough?”
Smiling gratefully, Carina nodded. “Yes, please. To the call and the drink. And yes, I’m warm enough, thanks. Luckily you came to my aid before my clothes soaked up too much snow. Thank you.”
Giving a curt nod of acknowledgment, he stood and retrieved her phone, passing it to her. “What would you like to drink? Tea, coffee, hot chocolate?”
“Ooh,” Carina said, her eyes lighting up, “could I have a hot chocolate? Is it Cadbury’s?”
Cassius snorted. “Bloody hell, you’re fussy aren’t you? You’ll be asking for it in my finest bone china next!”
He gave her a mock glare and had to restrain a smile as her eyes widened. He’d obviously convinced her he really was annoyed. Pausing for a beat, he then grinned at her. “I’m only teasing you. You’re in luck, it is Cadbury’s. My favourite.”
Carina beamed back. “Seriously? Mine too!” She looked down, then up at him through her lashes. “I don’t suppose you have marshmallows, too?”
Cassius laughed. “Sure. And while I’m in the kitchen, I’ll see if I can rustle up Brad Pitt to deliver it to you, shall I?”
“No, it’s okay,” Carina said, giggling. “Brad Pitt does nothing for me. You’re more than adequate, Cassius.”
He thought he saw her blush as she spoke, and wondered if she was attracted to him. He certainly hoped so. He hadn’t thought of her in that way when he’d first seen her—he was too focussed on getting her inside and making sure she was all right. But now as she sat barefoot on his sofa, making demands about hot chocolate and marshmallows, he came to the conclusion that she was damn cute, and he’d like to get to know her better. Providing she was single, of course.
“Flatterer,” he said before he could stop himself, “don’t let your boyfriend catch you saying things like that. You’ll get me into trouble.”
This time there was no mistaking the blush. She gave him a wry grin. “There’s no one to get you into trouble with, I’m afraid. I asked Santa to leave a hot, nice guy under my tree this year, but he didn’t come through for me.”
A smorgasbord of feelings whirled through Cassius’s mind. First, disbelief that this brunette beauty was single. Second, delight that she was: now he just had to summon up the courage to ask her out. Third, a feeling of awkwardness that she’d mentioned his boss. Somehow it felt too close to home, though he knew she was only making a joke. Santa only delivered presents to children. Though if it was up to him, h
“I know the feeling.” He gave a small smile and apologetic shrug before walking hastily into the kitchen. If he’d stood there much longer, he would have opened his mouth and said something stupid. And as much as he fancied her, he wasn’t going to win any affection from her by blurting out something idiotic.
No, he’d keep his cool and ask her out properly when he went back into the living room. He grinned. He may have been lamenting the fact that he never received anything through the post aside from bills and junk mail, but right at this moment in time, he didn’t mind. Whatever it was that Simon had ordered couldn’t beat what Cassius had received—a totally hot, single woman in his living room. One he had every intention of dating—if she wanted him.
The next day, Cassius was still berating himself. After making the decision to ask Carina out, things had gone spectacularly wrong. The kettle had barely boiled when she’d shouted him. He’d gone back into the living room to find her pulling her socks and shoes back on. It seemed she’d made her phone call and discovered that one of her colleagues was in the area, and was going to swing by and pick her up right away. In an extra blow of bad luck—in Cassius’ opinion—the colleague also had a trainee with him, so they’d be picking Carina’s van up at the same time, which meant she had no reason to come back.
Ever since he’d closed the door behind them—having signed for Simon’s parcel—he’d been in a spectacularly bad mood. What made it worse was the fact he had nobody to blame but himself. If he’d just asked her out when he’d first thought about it, then things would have been fine. If she’d said yes, of course. If she’d said no, he’d probably still have been in a bad mood, but at least he’d have known either way. Now he was in the unpleasant situation of having found someone he liked—and it had been a long time since that had happened—and having no way to contact them to ask them out and find out if the feeling was mutual.
Cupid by Lucy Felthouse / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes