(Chapter song ‘Bad Romance’ by Halestorm)
I watch the waiter set the dessert down on the table. I’m leaning my but on the edge of it while I listen to the most pathetic exchange ever. It’s sickening. Why can’t people just fall in love like they used to back in the day instead of playing these back and forth games? I hate this slow burn crap.
“This really was a lovely dinner.” The brunette says on my left. “I really love our time together.”
The dark haired man on my right smiles as he dips into his crème brûlée. “I do too. Mmm…This is wonderful.” He says with his mouthful. My eyes roll back into my head.
“I was hoping we could talk more about us moving in together.” She says.
He puts his spoon down and wipes his lips with his napkin. “Darling, we did talk about it.”
“I just think…we should take things to the next level.” She smiles sweetly to her man who seems a bit put off.
“Sweetheart. I know that’s what you want, but I’m just not ready for that level of commitment.” He says, putting more crème in his stupid mouth.
I growl in my shield and spin around. I flare my eyes as I lean on the table. “Are you kidding?” I motion to her. “She’s into you, dude. Just fucking cherish her already!” I stand and throw my hands out to the side.
They can’t see me for good reason. My job would be a lot harder if they could. What’s my job? I put guys like this in their place and open their eyes when they’re just too stupid to see what’s in front of them.
Usually, we let these things run naturally, but there’s a select few who get a visit from Eros. Our head Heart Matcher. He goes out and makes special couples who need each other. The problem? He’s an imbecile! He messes up his shots more times than not. What happens then? They call me.
It's my job to clean up his messes. To find and force the lovers on the fate roster together. These people are your friends to lovers, enemy to lovers or absolutely clueless like this guy. I fix the lost hearts, take them to the Infatuation Office in the Cosmos and go home. That’s it. I’m very good at what I do. I have a 100% kiss rate. I’ve never missed a mark in my whole career. For that, I’m climbing the ladder. With this last grab, I’ll be heading to the Alphas and I can’t wait.
Mr. Dumbass here, is the last Beta on my list. After I get his heart straight, it’s off to Paris, the city of love, to celebrate my new wings.
Just need to get this jerk back on track.
He sips his wine, pulls out his phone and starts surfing on it.
I whip my head to the girl and thumb to him. “You really want this? Lady, you need to grow a pair.” I shake my head.
“Don’t you love me?” She squeaks.
“It’s not that. It’s just…I have more important things on my plate.” He doesn’t even look at her.
I bite my cheek and glare at him from inside my invisibility shield. “You really have this whole narcissistic game down, don’t you? Alright.” I push off the table and walk back to the middle of the restaurant. “You asked for it.”
I lick my lips, kiss the palm of my hand and lower it. My eyes glow pink as I blow across my hand and my kiss flies off my hand like an arrow shot. It zooms across the room straight into his temple. I lower my hand and smirk as the impact shatters a cloud of pink dust all over him and his aura rises around him. He looks around confused, rubbing the side of his head.
Now, I wait until his aura connects with hers. My mouth shrinks. Why isn’t it connecting?
“Daphne, what’s wrong?”
I turn to a few tables down. The woman at that table is surrounded by a glowing aura. She’s completely love struck.
My eyes widen. “Oh, shit…um…” I watch him and her lock eyes, get up and stride fast across the floor to each other.
This isn't supposed to happen.
They slam into each other in a huge lip lock in front of the whole restaurant and their very confused partners.
“Oh…Damn…” My brows shoot up as I start to kind of panic.
“Eric!” The woman he was with cries.
“Eric, what the hell?! That’s my mate!”
My head flips from the incident to my phone as I frantically search his file. I stop at a note that was placed on the last page. “2 year affair. Meeting Saturday night.” This guys been banging his neighbors wife for the last two years. Oh crap.
I look at my calendar. It’s Friday.
I raise my head just as the angry mate punches Eric in the face. Screaming ensues as Eric crashes onto another table.
I cringe as he groans. “Oops.” I start to back away from the situation as it grows.
Another man grabs Eric and punches him. Table cloths and place setting are destroyed as the posh, 5 star restaurant turns into a boxing ring.
“I’m…You know…I’m just gonna go…Good luck!” I say as I back out toward the front door.
A man lands at my feet covered in food. I lean down. “A little lemon should get that out.” I wave and rush out.
Standing on the sidewalk, I pull up his file and write “Match made.” I stuff it in the back of my jeans just as a chair comes flying out the window. Glass shatters and spills all over the sidewalk.
I step into the view of the hole. People are pulling hair, throwing food and fists and the women are screaming.
I scrunch my nose. “I’m sure they’ll work it out.” I turn and whistle down the sidewalk to the portal that will take me to the department. Time to clock this in, get my promotion and blink my ass to Paris.
“Alright. What’s next?” I say, proudly as I strut into Valentinos office.
It’s all red. Everything. Valentino is the Ultimate head hauncho here. He gets all the orders and sends them to Eros. When Eros screws up, he gives them to us. His job is to keep Fate and Destiny happy.
He doesn’t say anything at first. He just sits in his red chair, at his dark red mahogany desk, rubbing his short, red hair while he reads my report on his red computer. The guy loves his red.
The office itself is dark brown and huge. He’s been around for centuries and is kind of a love expert. I’ve learned a lot from him, but he sort of has a problem with way I get results. He can’t deny that I get the job done though.
He leans back in his chair, rubs his face with his hands and sighs. His cheeks hold a slight pink color as his blue eyes flick between his monitor and me.
“Well?” I kick out a leg and cross my arms. Promotion anytime now, bud.
“Nothings next, Ember. Sit down.” He motions to the front of his desk. He adjusts his open, white dress shirt and black jacket as I grab a chair and sit.
I cross my leg and wipe pink dust off my black jeans, tossing my bright red hair back over the shoulder of my leather jacket. My blue eyes meet his as I bounce my deep red, thick boots.
“Okay.” I kind of feel like I’ve been called to the principals office. “What’s up?”
He laces his fingers in his desk. “Ember. What do we do here?”
I cinch my brows together. “We…match hearts?”
“Right. We match love. Sincere, passionate, beautiful love. Not love that almost gets you killed!” He leans forward and flares his eyes.
“No one’s died, Valentino.” I say. Exaggerate much?
“Ember, I’ve read your reports. I don’t know how these people remain together, much less stay alive.” He arches a brow. “You’re sloppy. You skirt by, by the skin of your teeth. This is basic stuff.” He arches his brow. “Since joining the Betas, it’s been a dumpster fire meets a train wreck.”
I tilt my head to the side. “Look. If you’re talking about the fight in the restaurant…”
He stands. “I’m talking about having to hide moon ball tickets under a pillow to not screw up a marking that should have been easy. The broken bridge dumping the couple in the lake. The explosion on 8th street! Ember, you’re a walking disaster!”
I stand and walk to his desk. Leaning on it, I glare at him. “Look. This isn’t time for cutesy romance. The Head office fucks up and we’re the last resort to clean up messes from that idiot upstairs. I get the job done. How that happens should have no bearing on my results.”
He sits back down, turns to his computer and starts typing. “We like our clients to be sane and happy, Ember. Your sloppiness is going to get someone locked up or killed. No. I can see from your attitude, I’m going to have to demote you back to Delta until you can perfect your strategies.” He picks up a pen, pulls out a file and writes in it.
What?! I don’t fucking think so!
I grit my teeth and breathe my anger. “You can’t do that.”
He looks at me, flips his pen in his fingers and taps the nameplate on his desk. “What does it say in front of my name right there?”
“Saint.” I grind.
“Right.” He pulls back. “It means I can do whatever the hell I want. Now, report to Eclese. He'll get your new assignment.” He says nonchalantly as he turns in his chair.
I throw my hand out to the side. “Come on, Valentino! Look! Give me another chance. I promise. It’ll be super smooth. No mistakes.”
I plead to him. I don’t want to be knocked back to the minors.
He sighs, turns back and looks up at me. He folds his hands on his desk. “Ok…I think I may have something.”
He raises his hand and snaps his fingers.
In a blink, we’re standing in the middle of a bar. Our protection bubble keeps us from being seen.
The bar is crowded. People are all fawning over each other. That’s right the blue moon wasn’t too long ago. New love feels good. I can feel it in my bones. Like a sense almost. My toes tapping to ‘Bad Romance’ by Halestorm as people walk past, laughing and talking. The bar is bouncing with dancers and groups are at tables toasting to new mates. The lights bounce all over.
Valentino stuffs his hands in his pockets. His dress shirt glows in the black lights and his buttons strain against his cut chest.
A waitress walks by with a tray full of beer. “Oh, I like this assignment already.” I snatch a beer through the shield as she walks by and take a swig.
Valentino looks down on me. “Focus.” He motions with his chin. “There.”
I look through the crowd to spy a dirty blonde haired guy, in a white button down, sitting with a blonde woman.
I turn my head and train my ear. The loud music and noise from the bar fade and only his voice comes through as I survey the situation.
“I’m so glad I met you tonight. You’re so beautiful.”
“I can’t wait to show you my pack house.”
“Oh, yeah. You’ll love it. I’ve always pictured it filled with beauty like yours.”
Is this guy serious? Does he really think gushing works?
“Oh, not like right now, but ya know…Our future together. You want a future right?”
Holy crap, buddy slow down.
“It’s OK. Take a week or two to think about it and we can spend that time getting to know each other. We can make plans for the blue moon. That sort of stuff.”
“The moon? A year away?”
“Can’t be too prepared.”
“You know what? You’re right. I shouldn’t put that on you.”
“Oh, good. I was kind of getting worr…
“I’ll plan everything and you just buy your dress. I’m thinking purple.”
“Listen. You seem like a really nice guy…”
My jaw falls and I throw an arm out to him while I glare at Valentino. “Really?”
“That’s the deal, Ember. Match the Alpha and I’ll retract the demotion.” He eyes me.
I scowl as I eye the love bomber. “This guy? He’s dripping in desperation and making false promises everywhere. He probably strings them along then ditches them.”
“Actually, he’s the one that suffers the rejection. He holds so much love in his system, that it’s starting to leak out. I need you to plug those leaks and find his match.” Valentino places his hands behind his back.
“Look at the asshole! He’s a douche. He deserves to be alone for the shit he’s pulling.” I stuff my hands in the back pockets of my jeans.
“We don’t pick the matches, Ember. We just match them. Do your job smoothly with no issues and you’ll get that promotion. Simple as that.” He eyes me.
My chest heaves in a sigh as I look over my next assignment. Large muscles for days. Cute smile, I guess. Carries himself ok. I can work with this.
“I’ll match him alright. I’ll kick his feelings straight up his ass and straighten him out.”
“Ember, be nice.” Valentino warns.
“I’m nice. I’m full of love. Painful, agonizing, torturous love.” I smirk. “He won’t know what hit him.”
“Go ahead.” He motions to the strong, appetizing back of the love strangler.
“What now?” I whip my head to him.
“Yes. I want to observe, if it’s alright." He stands with authority.
“Oh. Hey…That’s cool.” I double take him and prepare my kiss.
“Find his match.” He nods to me.
I take a deep breath in, raise my hand to my lips then hold it out in front of my lips. I blow the kiss and it flies through the air. I watch people get out of the way of it and the corner of my lip ticks up as we both watch it fly to his shoulders like a bullet.
I clench my fists in anticipation. I feel the excitement build in me then crash as I watch him get up from his seat and walk away. WHAT? My kiss explodes in a pink cloud on his dates face.
My shoulders fall and my brows stitch up. “I…missed?”
I watch her aura grow and another man’s aura glow as he walks by.
“I missed.” I say dumbfounded.
My intended target comes back and sets the drinks down. She picks up her drink and walks away with the other guy that passed her.
“What? Where…” He says.
“I’m sorry, Cass. Some…other time.” She sounds lost in the eyes of the other man.
“Come on!” Cass yells.
I shake my head. “No!” I turn to Valentino. “No! I want a do over. Rewind time or something. There’s no way I missed.”
“Sorry, Ember. I don’t have that skill.” He arches a brow.
“Then get Eternity on the damn phone.” I growl.
“Ember, you’re not perfect…”
“Am too!” I snap.
“No…You’re not. You were bound to miss sooner or later. It’s not the end of the world. You’ll have another shot. Just…”
I’m fuming beside him as he raises his finger to my face.
“We need him matched by the 14th at the latest.” He instructs.
“The 14th.” I confirm.
I turn back to the now depressed man sitting at the table. “He’ll be bagged as soon as my next kiss is ready.” I cross my arms and throw angry flames out my eyes to the man who just humiliated me in front of my boss.
“Oh and Ember. We can’t have mistaken love before it’s time. If you miss like that again, you need to nullify it immediately. We don’t have room for unscheduled match mates. Understand?”
“Perfectly.” I chew my cheek.
“Good. I’ll fix the paperwork for that one, but no more.” He hits my back and blinks out.
My eyes narrow and my heart fills with revenge. “He’s a dead man.”