Authors: Michele Bardsley
Valentine’s Day Sucks
Broken Heart 9.5 / Broken Arrow 0.5
Copyright 2014 by Michele Bardsley
Nook Press Edition
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the copyright holder.
Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement from the author of this work.
All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatever to anyone bearing the same name or names. These characters are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.
Cover Art by Renée George
Valentine’s Day Sucks
Broken Heart 9.5 / Broken Arrow 0.5
By Michele Bardsley
I SHOT CUPID.”
Mom?” I croaked into the cell phone. I cracked open an eye and rolled it toward the digital clock on my nightstand. “It’s barely 7 p.m.”
“I’m sorry to wake you early from your undead sleep, Jessica, but I didn’t know who else to call.”
“The police?” I suggested. What? I don’t like being jolted out of my vampiric sleep by crazy Mom phone calls.
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
Ugh. Grugh. Blurgh. “I’m not the one shooting love gods.”
“Sorry, Mom. Just gimme a sec to process.”
Jess? Everything okay, love?” My husband’s voice wound through the dark room like awesome music. You know, like Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”
I reached out across the bed and stroked his shoulder. I had excellent night vision, so I saw the glint of his sex-me-up grin. My hunny bunny was 4,000 years old and counting, and he still looked as yummy as he did when he got vampified at the ripe ol’ age of twenty-five. He stretched so that covers slid down to his waist. My gaze followed the blanket’s progress, hoping for a big reveal. Patrick’s grin widened. My insides turned gooey, and my girl parts shouted, “Woo-hoo!”
Everything’s great, honey,” I said cheerfully. “By the way, my mother killed Cupid.”
His expression turned to “let’s have evening sex, babe” to “what the bloody hell?” He sat up. Sadly, the covers bunched at his waist preventing me from ogling his package. “She killed who?”
I punched the “speaker” button on my phone just in time for Patrick to hear my mother screech, “That bow-wielding bastard tried to kill me first!”
Wait. What? I swallowed the laugh that caught in my throat. She really did mean Cupid. Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day, but it wasn’t exactly known as a prankster or party holiday. Besides, my mother wasn’t that kind of jokester. “Cupid? The flying angel boy with the bow and arrow and chubby thighs … that Cupid?”
“He’s not a cherub,” my Mom said through gritted teeth (I know this because that’s her primary mode of communicating with me). “He’s a grown man dressed in pink Armani. And he kept aiming gold arrows at me.”
That sounds like him,” mused my husband.
Seriously? You know Cupid?” I asked.
Patrick gave me a look. Okay, so vampires and fairies and werewolves were real … but c’mon ... Cupid? I was vampire for Pete’s sake, but even I had a hard time believing the mythological arrow-through-the-heart guy existed.
His name is Eros,” said Patrick. “And yes, I know him. I haven’t seen him a hundred years or so.” He paused. “And he can’t be killed, o’ course.”
I know! I shot him twice and he kept getting up,” said Mom. Panic edged her voice. “I put another five bullets into his chest, and he finally stayed down. And then I ... well, I rolled him up in garden netting and staked him to the ground with yard ornaments.”
Oh,” I said, not sure when my mother turned into Rambo. She lived in a secluded cabin at Lake Tenkiller. When I was kid, we spent every summer there. After my father died, Mom divested herself of nearly everything they’d built together and moved into the family cabin. I worried about Mom living in such an isolated location—especially after she refused my suggestion she get a Life Alert button. “I’m not old,” she’d responded.
Except, hello, she was.
And she wasn’t immortal. She didn’t want to be a vampire, either. Or live in Broken Heart where she’d be safe. Ugh. Mothers, you know?
“When do you think you can get here?” asked Mom. Her voice was still a little shaky, but she seemed back in control.
On our way.” I hit the “end” button on my cell. I looked at my nearly naked husband, and sighed. “We have to go be responsible adults now.”
We were used to all kinds of weirdness because we were vampires and most of our friends were paranormal creatures and we lived in a place filled with zombies and ghosts and shape-shifters. Still, “attack of the Cupid” was a new one.
Patrick took my hand and looked at me, and in that silvery gaze, I saw love for the all ages. When I met him, Patrick believed we were soulmates. The concept had scared me, especially since I’d been sunk into the mire of divorce when my husband was killed in a car accident. Suddenly, I was no longer a soon-to-be divorcée, but rather a widow with two young children to raise alone in the small town of Broken Heart, Oklahoma. After the arrival of Patrick and his paranormal pals, several of us single parents had been turned into vampires. Being undead had its perks, but it sure as hell didn’t make parenting any easier.
As we quickly dressed, I told Patrick everything I knew about Mom-aggedon. We didn’t have time for a car ride, or even for the faster travel mode of flying by vampire (which is cool and fun). No. We were gonna have to sparkle our way over there in a burst of ancient vampire and fae magic. (Did I mention Patrick’s lineage was fae before the whole undead thing?)
“Why do you suppose Eros ended up at your mother’s cabin?”
I never tired of hearing my husband’s Irish brogue. It was like he was singing me a love song every time he opened his mouth. And that made me want to do things to him. Naughty things. I guess I was doing that opened-mouth drooling thing again because he quirked an eyebrow at me, his lips lifting into a wicked, wicked grin. I can hear your thoughts, love. There’ll be time enough later for being naughty.
That whole soulmate thing? Well, for vampires, it meant we could get inside each other’s thoughts. You know, undead couple telepathy.
Yeah, yeah,” I said, waving my hand. “We have other priorities because Cupid’s stalking my mother.” I tapped my chin, and thought about the problem. “Well, I would’ve said he was some drunk who wandered into in the wrong yard, and passed out. But he’s ignoring bullets like I ignore calories, so he’s probably not human.” I glanced at my husband. “Cupid wears pink?”
Occasionally,” said Patrick. He wrapped his arms around me, and we began the magical transference of our atoms from Broken Heart to Lake Tenkiller. “I wonder who we might be rescuin’, love. Your mother … or Eros.”
HE LOOKS DEAD,” I said, leaning over the unconscious god. The guy was good-looking. He had blond wavy hair, chiseled features, and a body that belonged on the cover of GQ. Even if it was clasped in pink-striped Armani.
“What do you think, Mom? Is he a boxers or briefs kind of guy?”
My mother stared hard at me. “Are you serious?”
“Yes,” I deadpanned. “I’m always serious about a dude’s underwear.”
“Briefs,” she said. “Can we get back to the dead guy on my lawn?”
“Technically not dead. I can’t believe you shot him,” I said. “He’s not bleeding, but those bullet holes sure ripped the hell out of his jacket.”
“Because the important thing,” said my mother in a crisp tone, “is whether or not his clothing can be saved.”
“I’m looking for clues,” I countered. “And hey, I am not the one who put seven bullets into the god of love.”
I knew that tone. As a mother, I had used that tone.
I shut up.
While Patrick investigated the inside of the cabin for any Cupid-esque clues, I returned to studying the hero of Valentine’s Day. Eros was bound up in several yards of green garden netting. On the edges of the netting were pinned six iron stakes that used to be in my mother’s garden. Between those were multi-colored pinwheels. And sitting precariously on his legs was a large ceramic gnome.
Was the gnome necessary?” I asked.
I didn’t know where else to put it,” said Mom. “I’d ripped up half the garden already and the little guy looked out of place.”
I resisted the urge to point out that a ceramic garden gnome placed on an unconscious man’s legs wasn’t exactly in place. She stared bemusedly off into the distance, and I thought I’d give her some time to gather her thoughts. I had a feeling Mom was close to her breaking point. Honestly, I didn’t want to be the one who broke her. I figured my kids would eventually do that, anyway.
I looked around. I hadn’t been here in a while. The cabin sat on two acres of wooded land. It was a short walk to the lake shore, and in the summer time, the area was crawling with families, senior citizens, and partying teenagers. In February, however, the place was dead. (Ha, ha.)
Pardon me, ladies, but I appear to be in need of assistance.”
My mother and I screamed, clutching at each other.
What the fuck!” I yelled.
Jessica!” admonished Mom. “Watch your language.”
I was a grown woman. A vampire. A freaking immortal. And my mother still berated me when I cussed.
We stepped away from each other, and we looked down at Eros. He was trying to free himself, but not really getting anywhere. He stopped struggling when he realized a cheerily painted ceramic gnome squatted on his legs. He stared at it for a long moment. His blue gaze flicked up at us. I’d say his expression was confused, but since I couldn’t see most of his face … well, I wouldn’t.
Have I been drinking?” Eros inquired. “Because even for me, this is pretty far gone.”
You were trying to shoot my mother with your arrows,” I said. “I already told her she wasn’t getting chocolate tomorrow because she tried to kill you.”
Mom whacked me on the arm.
Ow,” I said, even though it didn’t hurt.
I don’t leave chocolate,” said Eros, sounding a little offended. “I’m not the Easter bunny.”
I imagined a Hulk-sized rainbow-colored bunny hopping around town delivering baskets filled with chocolate. Damn. That would be awesome. “Is he real?” I asked hopefully.
Eros shook his head. Well, he tried to. Mom had wrapped him tighter than a Pharaoh’s mummy. “No,” he said. “There’s no such thing as the Easter bunny.”
Bummer. What about the tooth fairy?”
She’s real, but she stopped the whole money-for-teeth exchange centuries ago.”
Hmm. What about Lucky the Leprechaun?”
“She’s talking about that little animated character from the Lucky Charms commercials,” said my mother impatiently. “Why did you try to kill me?”
“Kill you?” He blinked. “My arrows don’t kill. Speaking of which … where is my bow?”
“I threw it in the lake,” said Mom.
“You what? That was a present from my mother,” said Eros. “She’ll kill me if I lose it.”
“Oh! What about Paul Bunyan and his Big Blue Ox?” I asked. “Are they real?”
“I … uh, well, I don’t know.” Eros wiggled. “Will you untangle me, please?”
“Hey, what about—“
“Jessica Anne,” interrupted my mother in a scarily calm voice, “if you ask that man another question about a mythological creature, I will reload my gun and shoot you.”
I closed my mouth. I wasn’t sure if she was serious, particularly since she knew that bullets wouldn’t kill me, but they really, really hurt.