Today’s writing is inspired by a prompt given to me by Adam Guillemette at alifeimagined.blog:
you’d think that staring down the barrel of cupid’s arrow, one would feel elated
as with all these challenges I write them in about an hour and then press publish, so they’re not polished – but they’re a great exercise to keep me trying different ways of writing and different genres. This one ties into a plot bunny of mine where a superhero falls for the villain. As soon as I decided on her name (and it is so hard to find a name for a villain that isn’t already taken..) I realised it fit perfectly with the backstory for my plot bunny character. I’m tired and it’s not my best work but I’m keen to develop it further some day.
You’d think that staring down the barrel of cupid’s arrow, one would feel elated. Stomach churning bile probably doesn’t feature in the manual, even if a racing heart does. Guilt shouldn’t be a part of it. At least, not at the beginning.
“Have you met Ophelia McDonald?”
I shook my head at our host, forcing a smile.
Her lips, red and fierce, quirked up and I rubbed my jaw, trying to release the tension. What the hell was wrong with me? It was a pretty easy code: me – hero, her – villain, never the twain shall meet but they fight.
But the code hadn’t counted on the sparkle in her grey eyes and the way her smile promised things. It certainly hadn’t factored in the dress. Fighting with women had never been something I liked, even when they were dressed head to toe in leather armour and threatening the world with annihilation. It would be impossible to hurt her while she was wearing that stupid yellow dress.
For god’s sake what kind of villain wore daisies on their clothes?
“Commander Stevens, don’t say you’ve forgotten me already? It’s okay Sarah, we’ve met. The Commander just doesn’t remember poor little me.”
Night. A warehouse. Seconds to spare before the building blew up with the guard still trapped inside. Her eyes. I hadn’t been able to get them out of my mind. Mocking. Beckoning. Daring. I’d let her go and rescued the guard, just as she’d known I would. That’s the thing about being a hero, you always have to do the right thing. And the right thing that night two weeks ago was giving up the case with the data clips in it to save a life.
“I’m sorry.” My heart had stopped racing but my breath still caught at the way she flicked her unruly curls off her shoulder. “I admit I thought I recognised you but I wasn’t sure; I had a different name in mind.”
Medusa. Not that she could really turn people to stone but she had the power to still your heartbeat, slow it to an infinitesimal pace so you were as good as stone. That is, if you weren’t fast enough to avoid her touch. Which I was.
Our host smiled happily at us and sent us in the direction of the drinks table. Hundreds of tall flutes of frothy gold covered the tables lining the path down to the gardens. I cast a sidelong glance at her, her head barely topping my shoulder, dark curls bouncing as she walked. Champagne wasn’t going to cut it.
By mutual and unspoken consent we took our drinks down to the edge of the path, close to where the band was setting up, where we could smile at everyone while we spoke knives at each other.
“I had expected your boss.”
“He didn’t think he’d fit in. I offered.”
I eyed her consideringly. She certainly fit in.
“So what’s the deal? You think you can incapacitate Lady Morgan’s security and take the rest of the map? Because it ain’t gonna happen.”
She smiled and my heart raced again. I took a sip of the sickly champagne to wet my throat.
“What if I told you tonight was off the record, so to speak. That I didn’t come here to steal anything?”
“I’d say you’re lying.”
Her laugh was deep and throaty, and unexpected. “You’d be right. I’m lying. But it’s not the only thing I hope to steal.”
She stepped closer as she spoke, her hand about to land on my chest before I took a step back. I eyed her and she shrugged, her mouth twisted. “I wasn’t going to hurt you Max.”
Hearing my name on her lips did hurt.
“Forgive me if I don’t believe that one either.”
Her eyes weren’t grey, they were pure silver, and as I looked at her, her mouth pinched now and a small line between her brows, I saw them flecked with gold.
“Believe what you like, I don’t want to hurt you. I asked my boss if I could meet with you, ask you to back off. You don’t understand what we’re trying to do, Max. I hoped that if you did, you’d let me take it and I wouldn’t have to fight you.”
My brain told me she was lying but my heart heard the urgent truth in her words, the bluntness of her tone with no coquetry to soften it. There was no way her boss would let us off that easy, but maybe she did believe it. I frowned, as if the lowering of my brows could force down the hope that shot through me.
She was a villain. Their plan, her plan, would put millions of lives at risk. The fact that cupid’s arrow had met its mark was irrelevant.
I might have fallen in love with her, but I’d still fight her.
It’s what heroes do.
Music sounded, wafting over us as the band began playing. She looked away and I had to fight not to tuck her hair behind her ear. I’d been an idiot thinking that cupid’s arrow had dodged me two weeks ago. I had been enchanted then and I was enchanted now. Silly yellow dress and all.
It was probably just frustration that had darkened those beautiful eyes. Cupid’s arrow didn’t always go both ways.
An impulse struck me and I spoke before I could think better of it. I found I’d rather regret doing it than never having done it.
“Dance with me?”
She looked back in surprise and I could read every emotion on her face. No wonder she wore a mask when she fought.
I took the champagne from her hand, placing both empty flutes on the ground next to us. Straightening I held out a hand.
Her smile was no longer fierce; it was warm and, ridiculous as it felt, I thought it was a smile just for me.
She stopped just before she touched my hand and met my eyes. “Do you trust me, Max?”
I looked down at her, saw the anxiety she tried to hide behind the mask. “I trust you, Medusa”
Her eyes shimmered silver and gold and when her hand took mine I felt it; an energy restrained, held in check. We smiled at each other and I wished the world away for just another 10 minutes.
Stepping closer she raised her other hand to my shoulder.
“Well then, Max. Let’s face the music, and dance while we can.”