Cupid Help Me!

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Jim Lawrence stood shivering nude in the cold night air, calling himself ten times a fool. A man of his word, this ill-advised, careless gamble could cost him his reputation. All because he lost a bet with his best friend, soon to be brother-in-law, Cody Graham.

And now he waited for midnight in the city of Cupid's town square, wearing nothing but his birthday suit, about to do what the sheriff called the Cupid Stupid dance.

Many people believed a ludicrous superstition that if you danced naked around the Cupid statue chanting some ridiculous garbage that the first woman you met was your true love. At this time of night what good woman roamed the streets? Not any woman he wanted as his wife.

"This is the craziest thing I remember ever doing," Kyle, his middle brother said as he tossed his pants over a bench. "Drew better not back out is all I've got to say."

Drew, their youngest brother, was a lawyer in Dallas but he had to attend court today. Or at least, that's what he told them. He would do the Cupid Stupid dance another time.

His future brother-in-law stood off to the side grinning. "One minute till midnight."

"Our sister did this?" Jim said still not able to fathom that Kelsey danced without her clothes and how Cody rescued her when the law showed up. Pulling his one hand from his work hat that covered his privates, he rubbed his arm trying to stimulate some heat in his frozen limbs.

"Best night of my life," Cody said. "Picked her up running naked down the road."

This time Jim was giving their sister a pass. But if she'd been arrested or anything else, he would have given her hell for risking everything on the chance that a fable would find her love. Yet he couldn't argue that she and Cody were crazy about each other.

Somehow the night brought Cody and Kelsey together and for that Jim was grateful. Right place, right time, was the logical explanation.

There was no way the tale would work the same for him. First, you had to believe in the hocus pocus. If a piece of rock could bring him a wife, then give him an oil lamp and he'd rub it until a genie appeared. Nonsense, utterly unbelievable nonsense.

"I still think you tricked us," Jim said. "You knew she would say yes."

"No, I didn't. There were no guarantees she would agree to marry me and you guys almost screwed it up."

The memory of barging in on Cody and Kelsey made Jim realize his little sister was a woman. They almost lost Kelsey when she’d finally had enough of her brothers trying to take care of her and interfering in her life once too often. And they deserved her anger.

Letting go was hard when you promised your mother and father before they died to protect the family. In the end, it nearly damaged his relationship with Kelsey. Life made him head of the household before he was ready and he'd done his best to make certain they all became good, honest people.

After all, the Lawrence name was well respected in these parts and he prayed he didn't muck that up tonight.

"Bet or no bet, I'm not running down the road like this," Jim said. Fewer than two minutes to get this done and then he was heading home. What a crock of bullshit.

The only reason for this act of stupidity was to keep his word to Cody. Two laps and his oath would be fulfilled. He only hoped that Ryan, the town sheriff, didn't choose the witching hour to patrol the square.

Glancing at his watch, Cody grinned at the two of them. In their birthday suits, their hands placed protectively over their junk, they bounced up and down trying to stay warm.

"Thirty seconds," he said.

"Screw this, I'm going," Kyle said. "The sooner we do this, the sooner we can put our clothes back on and go home."

Jogging around the God of Love, the church bells began to chime the start of a new day. Jim kept his hat over his privates as he ran.

"Chant, you have to chant," Cody called out to them.

"Oh, Cupid-statue-find-us-our-true-love," his brother said in a smart ass singsong that made Jim laugh. Kyle, the family clown always managed to do things his way.

"Oh Cupid-statue-find-us-our-true-love," Jim said joining in, his fingers and toes going numb from the cold.

No, it wasn't winter, but early spring still had a nip in the air and the temperatures could drop enough to give a person frostbite. Especially when they wore no clothes.

With a quick glance up, he gazed at the full moon in awe. Water gurgled in the fountain and he wondered how many other idiots had done this stupid dance, believing they would find everlasting love.

There was no such thing. People died. Love died, and yet he continued, alone with no prospects. At thirty-five, life seemed to have passed him by.

"Last lap," Kyle said as they ran past Cody.

"Soon you'll meet your true love" he called after them as the fountain came between them.

True love his ass. That emotion had been elusive as a brick of gold. Things happened, loved ones left, leaving you behind to carry on without them. First his fiancée, then his father, and eventually his mother.

A naive, silly superstition was not going to find someone to ease the loneliness. Someone to spend his life with, a family, children, but most of all companionship. Crap, he was so freaking lonely, he felt like his balls went to Alaska and left him at home.

Coming around the God of Love, he noticed Cody nowhere in sight, and neither were their clothes. Stopping, he stared at the empty bench, disbelief making his stomach tighten with a combination of fear and disgust.