Out of Practice Aphrodite
By Sheryl Babin
Aphrodite sprawled across the couch with her laptop, clicking idly through the latest dating profiles on Lonelyhearts.com. Sipping a latte, a slight frown touched her delicate face as she pulled up the latest people looking for love.
Click. “His picture is about 10 years and 45 pounds out of date.”
Click. “He loves his Mercedes more than his mother.”
Click. “She forgot to mention her addiction to the Home Shopping Network. Hate to meet the poor bastard that winds up with her.”
She shuddered delicately and shut down her laptop. Aphrodite set her latte down and buried her head in her hands. “Of all the days to be forced to make a match, I get stuck with the cheesiest holiday on Earth. I’ve died and gone to Hades.”
Born from the sea, Aphrodite was the most beautiful woman in the world, responsible for the fall of kingdoms and legions of pissed off wives everywhere. While Aphrodite couldn’t help the beauty she was born with, she didn’t hesitate to use it to her advantage. Thus, the current predicament she found herself in.
Thanks to an incident where she may have incited a teensy, weensy riot at a Kiss concert trying to get backstage passes, Zeus summoned her to Olympus and proceeded to chew her a new girdle. Properly chastised, Aphrodite slunk home to her New York apartment to lick her wounds.
She later heard through the nymph grapevine that Eros had been granted Valentine’s Day off but hadn’t realized the ramifications until Zeus visited her yesterday. Appearing in her apartment in an explosion of light, he commanded her to make one true love match before midnight. Aphrodite stared at him in disbelief. After all, this was Zeus. The father of thousands of illegitimate demi-gods to unsuspecting mortals, he was the last person she expected to be demanding anything about love. When she confronted him about it, Zeus gave her a withering glare.
“My affairs are none of your business, woman!” he boomed.
Aphrodite snorted. “Yeah, tell that to the nymphs. You should really learn to lock your door, Zeus. You’re lucky Hera hasn’t shriveled your balls into acorns.”
Zeus gritted his teeth. “By the mountains of Olympus, I command thee, Aphrodite, to bring true love to two deserving mortals by midnight on Valentines’ Day. Should you fail, I will banish thee to Hades for the period of two hundred years.”
Aphrodite gasped. She knew she was in deep shit as she felt the binding swoop around her ankles in a sparkle of golden light, binding her to the word of Zeus.
Aphrodite cursed profusely. She had forgotten how hard matchmaking was, especially in modern times. Women’s lib was becoming a complete buzz kill for the goddess of love. Toying with the rim of her martini glass, she glanced at her watch and cursed again. It was 9 p.m. Three hours before 200 years of nagging. Of all the punishments Zeus could have come up with, the threat of the next two centuries with her ex-husband was a genius move to ensure complete cooperation.
Aphrodite glanced in the mirror behind the bar and her mouth dropped open.
“Well, hello hormones,” she chuckled under her breath, staring at the hunk that just walked in the door.
Ebony hair framed an olive complexion and hollow cheekbones. Green eyes swept the room, dismissing everyone he saw. Walking with purpose, he made a beeline for the bar, overlooking Aphrodite as he settled himself on the stool three seats away from her. He removed his jacket and rolled his sleeves up, exposing strong, tanned arms. Lifting a hand, he motioned the bartender over and ordered a drink.
Confused, Aphrodite discreetly lifted an underarm and sniffed. What the hell? He hadn’t even given her a second glance. For a few minutes, she sat there stealing glances at the man and tried to formulate a plan. Gay? she wondered, but didn’t get that vibe from him. Perplexed, she toyed with her curls with one hand and tried to come up with a plan.
A flurry of activity from the corner caught her eye. A frizzy red-headed waitress came up to the bar and motioned the bartender over to fill a drink order. Sitting close enough to the man, she heard his sudden intake of breath and saw him staring.
Unfortunately, the woman was clueless. Glancing at the olive-skinned stud, the redhead offered a slight smile as she lifted the drinks the bartender had placed on her tray.
Aphrodite sprang into action. Spinning her finger, she ensured the woman caught her foot on a bar stool. The tray of drinks went flying and the woman stumbled forward, right into hot guy’s lap. Reaching out to catch her, hot guy also lost his balance and they landed together in a tangled heap of limbs. The bar was dead silent, and Aphrodite stared in shock. Apparently, she hadn’t accounted for gravity on hot guy’s part.
The woman untangled herself, apologizing profusely.
Hot guy lay dazed on the floor, a loopy smile on his face. “I’ve been waiting three months for something like that to happen.”
A shocked laugh burst from the woman. “I’m sure I could have arranged something without ruining your suit.”
Hot guy stood up, dusted his suit off and held out his hand. “Steven,” he said.
The woman stared, not quite sure what to make of him. Finally, she placed her hand in his. “Katie.” A slight smile touched her lips.
Aphrodite grinned in delight. The ginger was kinda cute when she smiled and obviously Steven was into her. As she watched the two of them, heads bent together picking up broken glass and brushing their fingers together when they didn’t have to; she thought the feeling was beginning to be mutual. Turning back to her drink, Aphrodite startled when she saw Zeus staring at her from behind the bar. A salacious wink was the only indicator she received to let her know that Hades had been avoided for now.