Cupid’s Revenge

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Entering the city limits of Cupid, Texas for the first time in ten years was like going to the dentist for a root canal. Painful and numbing. But Skye Brand wouldn’t miss the Valentine Day wedding of her close friend, Michelle, though the event would be a happy occasion sprinkled with intermittent, agonizing remembrances of Zane Calhoun.

Michelle had informed her Zane was a groomsman in the wedding. Single and still hated Skye.

She glanced over in the car at her long-haired dachshund, Putz, who sat in his carrier, watching her drive. “It’s just you and me, buddy. We don’t need a man in our life.”

Putz tilted his head and gazed at her with his beady brown eyes, trying to understand, gazing at her with unconditional love. Dogs were so easy compared to men. Food, water and love, and they were yours for life.

Skye stopped at the town's only stop light. A sign said High School State Football Champions and listed the years the local team reigned supreme in the state of Texas. Zane had played defensive end their senior year when they won State. The memory of that night felt like it happened yesterday. Yeah, this weekend would be like every dental nightmare all wrapped up in white wedding cake.

The town hadn’t changed much in ten years. A new box store added at the edge of town, a fresh coat of paint on the local DQ and the cupid statue still sat in the town's square. What idiot thought a man in a diaper with a bow and arrow was cute?

She pulled up in front of The Cupid Love Nest, a bed and breakfast run by Mabel Underwood, who could spread secrets faster than the internet. A white Victorian two story home surrounded by a wrap-around porch adorned with rocking chairs was the town's only bed and breakfast. The house belonged in a different era and gazing at the older home Skye wondered what she was doing back in Cupid.

After waffling for months about whether or not to return for Michelle's wedding, Mabel’s was the only place she’d been able to get a room. Michelle’s large family had sold out the only decent hotel in town and Skye refused to stay at the Valentine Express where rooms were rented by the hour.

Skye parked the car, took Putz out of his carrier and put his leash on him. She grabbed her suitcase, the make-up bag that held the tools of her trade, and started up the steps.

A gray-haired Mabel met her at the door, her reading glasses tilted on the end of her nose. “I’m sorry, we’re all booked up this weekend.

“I have a reservation.”

Mabel frowned at the dog. “No pets.”

“Mabel, its Skye Brand. I made a reservation a month ago and you sent me an email saying I could bring my dog.”

“That girl from Cupid High School, whose parents were killed in that horrible crash out on highway 67?”

Skye tensed. Was the tragic death of her parents the only thing people remembered about her?

“Skye Brand, make-up artist and stylist. Former Valedictorian for the class of 2002," Skye said regretting she'd only received a thousand dollar scholarship for college.

“Well come on in, honey, I didn’t recognize you with your hair all colored and frizzed like that,” Mabel said, as she opened the door.

Skye's short hair had blonde tips and she'd put enough mouse in it to make her appear like she'd juiced up on electricity first thing this morning. According to Vogue the spiked look was the latest fashion. She'd wanted her return to reflect she was no longer that small town girl who'd left numb with grief and fear. She'd brought the latest big city hairdo home to Cupid.

She stepped over the threshold and entered the big house with Putz right behind her.

Mabel stared at her dachshund, her frame bent over. “He’s had all his shots and he doesn’t have fleas, does he?”

“All shots and no fleas.”

“Okay,” she said hesitation in her voice. “I need you to sign this paperwork. Breakfast is from seven thirty to nine. That’s the only meal I provide. What brings you back to town?”

“Michelle Cooper's wedding. I’m doing her hair and make-up.”

Mabel frowned at her. “I hope you don’t intend to style her hair like yours. Maybe that’s what those women in Dallas wear, but it needs a good combing.”

“This is Michelle's day and I’ll fix her hair however she wants,” Skye said, wanting to tell Mabel her hair style was the latest fashion.

“Michelle's got good sense. She’s marrying that Vanderbilt boy.”

Skye didn’t say anything. She’d been shocked when Michelle announced her engagement to Ryan. They just didn’t seem to go together. But if that was who her friend chose to marry, she’d support her decision.

“I’m putting you in the Cupid Bow room, since you’re not wearing a wedding ring and no man is with you. Maybe the ambiance of the room will help you find true love,” Mabel said handing her the key.

Mabel hadn’t changed. Still outspoken with little or no tact, a mouth the size of a megaphone with enough connections in town to blast gossip in minutes. Within the hour, Skye’s return to Cupid would be all over town.

“Mabel, you’re too kind,” Skye said. But the sarcasm was lost on the innkeeper.

“Keep your dog on a leash. My Scottie recently had surgery, so I’m trying to keep her quiet. She’s getting old and grumpy.”

Not unlike her owner, Skye thought. Maybe there was something to people looking and acting like their pets. She glanced down at Putz. Yep, the patch of long blonde hair on the top of his head stood straight up, matching her own.

“Your room's at the top of the stairs, two doors down and on the right.”

“Thanks,” Sky said, juggling her bags.

Skye carried her suitcase and makeup bag upstairs with Putz following obediently. Later, she would get his carrier and bring that up as well, but right now she just wanted to unpack, call Michelle, settle in and relax.

An hour later, she descended the stairs eager to take Putz for a well-deserved walk. She’d changed into her jogging outfit, her short spiky blonde hair still stood on end and she’d brushed a new coat of striking hot pink lipstick across her lips. Later tonight, the plans were to meet her girlfriends from school and catch up. Putz trailed down the stairs behind her. When they reached the entry way, she turned to her faithful dachshund.

“Do you wanna go for a walk?”

He danced around in circles, barking. She snapped the leash on his collar and he raced towards the door almost dragging her.

It was then she glanced up into the searing brown-eyed gaze she’d dreaded seeing. She froze, staring at how much he'd changed. How the boy had become a man and she almost quit breathing.

“Zane,” she said, in a breathless rush, her body betraying her by reacting to the sight of the boy she’d once loved. Six feet of long, tall Texan with a six-pack of abs and those whiskey brown eyes, that could ignite a flame low in her belly stood before her.