Banished from Olympus with orders to restore love to the world, Eros starts with a match no one sees coming. No one but him.
Straight-laced principal Kira isn’t looking for love, especially not right after getting dumped. Then a chance encounter leads her to Jesse, and damned if she isn’t drawn to the bad-boy with a heart of gold. A night of reckless abandon leaves her confused. Was there something there, or did she imagine the connection between them?
Jesse knows lying to Kira is a mistake, but she's the first woman in a long time to see the man and not just the rock star. When his plan to come clean goes terribly wrong, Kira bolts, leaving Jesse in the dust.
Now Eros has to nudge the star-crossed lovers together and prove to Zeus that love does exist, even among the gun shy.
As she staggered to a stop, the man peeled the card from his pants and held it out to her. “Lose something?” His deep, gravely voice sent a shiver all the way to her toes as she took in the six-foot-plus wall of muscle.
Kira wasn’t a small girl by any stretch, but in front of him, she felt tiny. “I… uh… dropped that.”
He read the card aloud. “Take a chance, huh?” Kira started, knowing those weren’t the words she’d read a moment before. With a shrug, he pressed it into her hand. “Better hold on tighter next time.”
When his fingers left hers, something pricked into her shoulder. She slapped her free hand against the pain and felt something. In her palm, she held a tiny golden arrow, but when she blinked, it was gone—replaced by a very dead wasp.
The guy in front of her, t-shirt straining against his chest as he moved, leaned close. His words belied the gruff tone of his voice. “That’s weird. Someone must have fucked with a nest. You aren’t allergic, are you?”
“N—n—no,” she stammered, staring at the arrow-wasp.
Gently, he gripped her wrist and tipped her hand until the insect fell to the ground. “Why don’t I take you to first aid anyway?”
The words on the card drew her gaze: Take a chance. They’d been different before; she was sure of it. Then Kira looked up at the man in front of her, his leather jacket and jeans such a stark contrast to Nolan’s polo and pressed khaki shorts, and the wasp sting burned. The strange, but not painful, heat traveled from her shoulder through her body to settle between her legs. She bit her lip, wondering where the feeling really came from. The guy in front of her wasn’t her usual type. Too big, too muscly, too rough around the edges right from his worn boots to the scruff along his strong square jaw.
In her mind, her teeth grazed that same jaw, and a shiver ran through her as she tore her gaze away. “Yeah. I think the pain is getting to me.”
Releasing her wrist, he rested his hand on the small of her back. The heat of his skin seared straight through Kira’s thin tank top. Her throat went dry within ten steps, and she had to swallow hard before she could speak again. “Thank you for your help, Mr.…”
He arched an eyebrow at her quizzically before answering. “Stanford. I prefer Jesse though. I killed the last guy who called me mister.”
Kira froze, fighting against the light pressure of his fingertips. “You what?” she squeaked.
He twisted his head and winked. “Kidding. Mister just makes me feel old. And you are…”
“Sorry. Kira Murphy.”
“Well, Kira Murphy, who needs to learn to take chances, consider yourself safely delivered to first aid.” He nodded toward the rickety trailer with the sloppily painted red cross on the side. “Have a good night.”
His hand fell from her back, and this time she shivered from the loss of his heat—heat she very much wanted back. But Jesse had already melted into the crowd. “So much for taking chances.”
With a sigh, she went inside to have the sting tended.
After telling her—more than once, and in increasingly snotty tones—that there was nothing wrong and no sign of a sting, the worker finally slapped some cream on her shoulder and handed her some ibuprofen. Kira didn’t care what the scrawny little pimple-faced jerk said, her shoulder was on fire to the point it felt like fever was spreading through her entire body.
By the time she stepped outside the trailer, night had fallen fully. Between that and the heat inside her, gooseflesh broke out across her skin instantly. She thought of the way Nolan used to always admonish her for forgetting a jacket and snorted. Tipping her face up to the wind, she sucked in a deep breath of the brisk air.
* * * *
Jesse leaned against the booth, cell phone pressed to his ear. “Yeah, Pauly, I checked the damn equipment. It’s all set for the show tomorrow.” The itching on his chest that had started the moment he left Kira at the first aid trailer flared again and Jesse rubbed the heel of his hand against it. The tattoo was over a month old. It sure as hell shouldn’t be bothering him now.
“So, are you coming back then? Word got out where we’re staying—”
“I wonder how that happened,” Jesse said, his voice dripping sarcasm like bitter syrup.
Paul didn’t say anything for a minute, and Jesse could picture him taking a long drag off a cigarette or whatever else might be handy. “I’ll take that as a no then. You know, there was a time not that long ago you embraced all of this too.”
Jesse banged his head against the aging wood behind him. Nothing he said would ever make Pauly understand that after so many years, he was just bored with it all. Bored with everyone wanting him for some made up idea of who he was. Bored with women with their fake hair and fake tits and fake everything. Bored with a life with no substance. “It’s just time for something a little more real.”
“Whatever, man. Just be ready for tomorrow.”
Paul disconnected, leaving Jesse alone with thoughts of filling the emptiness in his life with something real. Something like the woman walking out of the first aid trailer who shivered as she lifted her face defiantly to the breeze. The one who didn’t even blink when he told her his name.
Without stopping to question the reason behind it, he pulled off his jacket, strode up to her and draped the distressed leather across her shoulders. “Hey.”