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            Read the first chapter from
Cupid's Beau

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        Desiree Warren pushed through the doors of the shop in a hurry to get away from the sharp wind that ushered in the beginning of the second month of the year. Huffing, she pulled the woolen cap from her head heralded by the snap and crackle of static electricity. “God, I’ll be so glad to have the weather get warmer, so I don’t have to wear this hat,” she grumbled and stuffed it into the over-sized bag hanging from her shoulder.
       “Is that you Desiree?” A familiar voice called from the back of the store.
        “It’s me, Gram.” Desiree moved quickly through the aisles unbuttoning her heavy coat as the warmth of the store chased the chill from her bones.
        “Good, cause I’ve got some new things that need to go on the shelf.”
        Pausing to hang her coat on the hook that stood for a century in the small hall separating the front of the shop from the stockroom in the back, Desiree grabbed her apron and tied it on.
          “More stuff,” she remarked. “Don’t tell me…cupids.”
           Her grandmother turned and from behind her silver rimmed glasses, Desiree could see the
twinkle in her eye. “Of course they’re cupids,” she said holding one up. “They sell so well this time of the
year.” She turned and lifted one for Desiree’s inspection. “There’s something so magical about
           Desiree took a deep breath and reached for the porcelain statue. “If you say so,” she murmured, looking down at the whimsical figurine.
           “Have you no spark of romance?”
           A dark brow arched at her grandmother’s comment. “In all honesty, my belief in romance has ebbed.”
           “That’s because you haven’t found the right one yet.”
           She studied the plump little figure standing on one pointed toe. Its arm pulling taunt the thin glass bow string while pointing the arrow in the air. “There is no right one,” she murmured running her finger over the cool pink tinted glass. “Why are these things always on pink clouds? They look like they were designed by someone promoting Pepto Bismal.”
           “Oh, give me that.” Her grandmother snatched the figurine from her hands. “I’ll just put
these up myself.” She leveled a glance in Desiree’s direction that could stop a bull moose from stampeding. “I don’t know what the world is coming to when young folk give up on love.” The tissue paper in the box crunched as she stuffed the cupid back into the box.
           “Gram…” Desiree’s sensibility took over. “Give me that and let me put them out.”
           “No, no.” Gram pulled the box toward her ample bosom. “I wouldn’t want to insult you. But hear me now, one day, Cupid is going to catch you napping and you’re going to fall so hard your head will snap.”
            “Gram,” she begged.
            “Not another word,” Gram snapped and marched to the front of the store. “See if your cold calculating mind can make heads or tails of those invoices by putting them in the computer.”
            “Right.” Desiree sighed and gathered up the stack of yellow paper sitting on the counter.
            Walking toward the office, she contemplated what her grandmother said. True, she didn’t have much to acquaint with the idea of true love. The last man she thought she was in love with left her high and dry with her bank account sixteen hundred dollars lighter. The sour taste in her mouth made her wince. “He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” she murmured to the stillness of the tiny room they called the office. With a sigh, she pressed the engage button on the computer and pulled out the chair to wait while it came to life. Placing her elbow on the table, she cupped her chin and watched the first flashes of color on the screen. “There aren’t any men left like Grandpa,” she mused. “Maybe I’m a generation too late to find my soulmate.” Heaviness filled her heart. It wasn’t that she hadn’t been looking. It was just….well, they didn’t make men who wanted to stay in a relationship. She punched the program up that held their bookkeeping. “I guess the fault lies with my generation. We’re too easy to jump from one bed to the next.” With a sigh, she picked up the invoices and began to arrange them in order by date.

              What seemed like only minutes later, Gram knocked on the door. Desiree looked up.
              “Time to close.”
              “Already?” Desiree blinked in surprise.
              “It doesn’t take long when you’re working.” She crossed over and put a hand on the chair back then looked over Desiree’s shoulder. “You got them all in, good. I didn’t want to spend Friday night doing that.”

                “You think we’ll have a busy weekend?” Desiree asked as she shut down the computer.
               “Only a few weeks 'til Valentine’s Day, I think we’ll have our moments.”
               With the computer screen dark, Desiree followed her grandmother into the back room. She’d brought the cash drawer from the register in and together, they opened the safe and slid it
               “I’ll count it tomorrow,” Gram said closing the heavy metal door. “I heard the weatherman hinting of snow tonight.”
                The thought made Desiree shiver. “I’m looking forward to spring.”
                “Spring?” Gram repeated with a gruff laugh. “I can’t wait until the temperature goes north and is higher than my age.”
                Desiree laughed. Turning, she walked behind her and helped her with her coat before she put on her own.

               “Now, you’ll drive slowly and watch that turn onto Kenyon Drive?”
              “Yes, Gram,” she replied as she buttoned her coat and placed her hat upon her head.
               “Cut the lights for me dear.”
                Desiree moved to the circuit box and flipped the breaker. The store lights shut down
leaving only the fading daylight to illuminate the shop. Carefully, she made her way to where her grandmother stood looking out at the gentle snow falling along Main Street.
               “So pretty,” Gram whispered. “I love watching it fall. Seems to me, life slows when the flakes fall. It’s as if magic erases all the ugliness.”
                Desiree stared out the window. The slow progression of the snowflakes did seem to suspend time.
                “Come on, let’s go home.” Gram sighed and walked to the door.
                Desiree pulled her keys from her purse and turned to make sure the lock was secure. Inserting the key, she caught a glimpse of the cupid in the window display. Eye to eye with the statuette, she watched as the figure's eyes twinkled.

                 Her head snapped back.

                 She blinked. “What the heck?” she whispered and turned to glance up the street expecting to see the light from a passing car go by. The streets were empty.
                 “Is anything wrong?”
                 “No, I…” Desiree stopped. She wasn’t going to tell her grandmother she saw Cupid wink
at her. Lord no, it would start too much speculation. “I just got my gloves snagged on the key ring,” she lied. One more glance at the window display and she shoved the keys into her pocketbook.
                  Linking her arms through her grandmothers, Desiree put an upbeat tone in her voice. “Come on, let me walk you to your car, then I’ll follow you home.”


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