“You could always just shoot her, you know.” When her sister Hedone had suggested it, Zenobia had immediately dismissed such an insane idea. But now she was fingering her quiver, turning the suggestion over in her mind, wondering if she really could. Better yet, if she should. As the daughter of Eros, she had the equipment. Her magical bow and quiver of love-spelled arrows were never far from her reach, but she was sure her parents would be angry with her; they wanted her to find love naturally.
“Fat lot of good that’s done me,” she huffed, her angry breath blowing up her mane of dark curls, her mind on her horrid ex-boyfriend. She wasn’t one to regret much – no mistakes, just lessons and all that jazz – but he hadn’t taught her anything valuable, just hurt her really badly. She was still beating herself up about that one. Such thoughts are what brought Zen to her current perch, spying on her crush from the shelter of the large oak on the edge of campus.
Adira sat atop a knoll, a mere fifty feet away, in front of the school’s theater surrounded by her groups of friends. Her brown skin gleamed even in the faint sunlight, her long locs swayed with her movements, and her red painted lips were split in laughter. She was always laughing, Zen noticed, and she laughed much like she did everything it seemed: unapologetically. She was never afraid to draw attention to herself, whether it was with her controversial opinions in their Shakespeare class, her bold fashion choices, or her boisterous laugh. Adira oozed a confidence which Zen found intoxicating.
With suddenly strengthened resolve, Zen made her choice. Intent brought her bow and arrow shimmering into visibility. She knocked one of her spelled arrows and took aim, Adira’s heart serving as her target. She inhaled, stretching her arm back to pull the string taut as she did…and hit the fair haired boy next to Adira. Zen sighed; she couldn’t do it. Use of love magic for selfish gain was forbidden. It didn’t matter how much she desired Adira’s affection, Zen was compelled to aim true and her inner compass had led her to the boy instead. Her arrow zipped through the air and hit him in the shoulder, the gentle glow of loving coruscating outward before fading, the arrow disappearing the instant it made impact. He didn’t feel a thing but Zen could feel the magic taking effect. She could also feel her hopes dashing before her eyes; the guy was clearly hanging off of Adira’s every word and gesture. Any miniscule chance she might have had was gone, evaporating much in the same way her arrow did.
Her mood wholly soured, Zen’s nimble body scaled the tree with practiced ease. The weather seemed to echo her mood as the clouds snuffed out the sun and the wind increased, whipping through her already disheveled coils. She was glad, though, to already have made it down from her favorite spot before the storm set in.
“Hey!” She turned at the sound. Adira stood behind her with a look of awe schooling her features. “You’re in my Shakespeare class right? You sit a few seats in front of me. I recognize the hair.”
“How did you do that?”
She started to panic, wondering how Adira had seen her. She hadn’t mastered her father’s invisibility yet, but she was always careful in choosing inconspicuous hideouts, usually high above the ground. Excuses started to form in her mind, anything she could use to explain it all away, but her tongue was heavy with fear and she could scarcely swallow.
“Do what?” she questioned, hoping to sound confused. She winced at the sound of her voice cracking.
“You’re always up in the old oak tree. Think you could teach me? I’m sure the view is amazing.”
It took Zen a couple of seconds to catch on. “Oh, climbing!” she exclaimed, happy to realize she hadn’t been caught. “Yeah, I can teach you.”
Adira flashed a breathtaking smile, which left Zen swooning. “Thanks so much! I’ll catch you later, I have another class to run off to.” With those words, she was off and Zen was left to come down from her high. When she did, she was even more miserable.
“I don’t have a chance in Hades with her.”
Zenobia avoided Adira for the next few days. She tried to catch up with her a few times but Zen wasn’t having it. She needed time to recover. Talking to her mother, Psyche, had helped some but she was still licking her wounds. At the end of the week, Zen found herself returning to her favorite spot: the oak tree. It had begun to snow, but the frosty weather did little to bother her; the branches of the great tree offered her solace. She wasn’t one to refuse the comfort. She sat there, enjoying the familiar space dressed in warm clothing and encapsulated in a fleece blanket for good measure.
“Hey,” a voice called from below, shattering the peace Zenobia had struggled to find. At the base of the tree stood Adira, her visage pinched in anger. She started for the tree, testing the lowest branch before pulling her body up, fumbling the whole way. Zen scrambled, ascending the tree even further in hopes of escape. She knew her behavior was childish but this didn’t stop her.
“Stop running away! You don’t have anywhere else to go.” Not true, thought Zen. She still had her wings, but as quick as the thought entered her mind, it vanished. She knew it wasn’t an option. She was trapped.
Adira eventually caught up to her. Zen found herself giggling as she watched the girl climb with the grace of a newborn doe on ice. When Adira finally reached her roost all humor disappeared at the fiery passion in her companion’s eyes. Zen opened her mouth to say something – what, she did not know – and was met with lips crashing into hers. Teeth mashed together haphazardly and Zen had no idea what to do with her hand. She wondered if she should close her eyes, all the while, her heart sang.
Adira pulled away with a start, slapping her palms over her lips in a way which would be comical if Zen had any working brain cells left over. The kiss had left her short circuited and she was waiting for her body to reboot.
“I’m so sorry,” Adira stuttered, her voice steadily rising and her words slurring together as her mouth tried to keep up with her mind. “I shouldn’t have done that. I didn’t ask for your consent! I don’t even know if you like girls!” After this, Zen lost track of what she was saying. Her words become too garbled as she continued to apologize.
“I thought you liked that blonde guy.” Adira paused in her tangent, her face adorably confused. “Tall and lanky? Always with you,” Zen explained further.
“Oh you mean my best friend Chris? He’s on a date right now, actually, with this Eamonn guy from his economics class. He finally found the courage to ask him out for coffee a few days ago. We made a pact; if he asked out Amon, I’d have to ask you out as well.” The last part she said sheepishly, looking nervous. It was completely at odds with the confidence Zen had always seen her display.
All Zen could do was laugh. It bubbled up in her throat and poured out from her like a tsunami. She was sure she sounded hysterical, but she couldn’t help it. Nothing was turning out the way she expected. She leaned forward to initiate the kiss this time. This one was more gentle, exploratory, and Zen’s body tingled as she felt the initial sparks of the love bound to ignite between them. She couldn’t believe the way everything had turned out. It seemed even as the daughter of Eros, she still had much to learn. She smiled into the kiss; she was definitely ready for this adventure.
Edited by Sabrina Loftus