Cupids Anonymous by Lila Monroe
Rule #1: Don’t get hit by your own arrow…
I’m a professional Cyrano – minus the honking great nose. Need a love note, raunchy sext, or apology letter so epic that your other half will forget you hesitated a beat too long when you asked, ‘does this make me look fat?’? I’ve got you covered. But when my most frequent client, the annoyingly charming (or is that charmingly annoying?) Dylan Griffin comes to me with an unconventional new job, I discovers that three little words can add up to one BIG complication.
Because Dylan doesn’t want help seducing another swimsuit model (for once in his life). He wants my help winning over his high-school crush (aka, his one true love) – and he’s prepared to make it worth my while. Throw in a summer Catskills trip that’s equal parts ‘Dirty Dancing’ and dirty-talking, and this Cupid is soon out of her depth – and head over heels with the last man I expected. But can I find the right words when it comes to my own heart? Or will this happily ever end in disaster?
Find out in the sparkling new romantic comedy from Lila Monroe!
Excerpt Cupids Anonymous by Lila Monroe
I found my calling in life when I was twelve years old.
My younger brother, Noah, had a crush on a girl in school, but being a boy—and a gross, stinky one at that—his idea of romance was to shoot spitballs at her and chase her around the playground. Enter me. Two whole years older, eons wiser, and equipped with a romantic spirit and a love of cheesy rom-coms. I wrote him a cute note to pass to her in class, inviting her to split a pack of cookies at break. What girl could turn down a free snack? Nobody worth dating, as far as I’m concerned.
And, sure, she turned out to have a peanut allergy and wound up being rushed to the ER, but for those three glorious minutes before she started choking, my brother had found love. And I had found my future career. Because everyone knows true love needs a little help sometimes. The right words to say exactly what’s on our minds.
Or rather, the romantic version, minus the peach emojis and dick pics.
That’s where I come in. Your own personal Cyrano—just without the honking great nose. I’ll craft you the perfect love note, compose a dirty email to get your paramour panting, and write the most epic apology it’ll make your other half forget that you hesitated a beat too long when they asked, “Does this make me look fat?”
Maybe I’m a big softie at heart, but I love being able to give romance a helping hand. There’s no task too big when it comes to my clients, no challenge too great . . .
Which is why I’m halfway up a tree in Central Park, feeding lines through a tiny microphone to the man proposing to his girlfriend twenty feet away.
“Since the moment I laid eyes on you in the virtual reality game, I knew you were the one I wanted to quest with me—in real life.”
Henry dutifully repeats every word in front of a small circle of family and friends. I tried to talk him out of that part—public proposals seem like a recipe for massive humiliation—but he insisted. But now, I’m the one at risk of embarrassing myself, if I can’t keep hidden up in this tree for another page of heartfelt devotion.
The tree branch lets out an ominous creak.
Oh crap. I lean forwards, trying to spread my weight—and not miss my place in the proposal.
“And as Leia said to Hans, I’ve always hated watching you leave . . .” I whisper, reading off my cellphone screen. Henry says the line, and everyone in the crowd breathes a swoony ahhh. His girlfriend is already crying. Happy, oh-my-God tears, not “get me out of here” sobs.
The branch creaks again, and I cling on for dear life, as Henry makes it through the rest of the proposal.
“So, Kelly, will you make me the happiest man in the galaxy and agree to be my wife?”
There’s a pause, and I grip on tighter, sending up a silent prayer. Please let her say yes and go celebrate someplace else, before this proposal literally comes crashing down to earth.
“Yes! I will! Yes!” the girlfriend sobs, and I let out a huge sigh of relief.
Way to go, Henry!
The group cheers, and the happy couple embraces, and even though I’ve got ants crawling over me, I’m thrilled for the two of them. I’ve been a part of this relationship from the beginning, since Henry hired me to help write his opening direct message, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be the one composing anniversary cards until the pair are old and gray.
Like I said, some people just have a little trouble expressing themselves. And if I can help them tell their loved ones how they feel, well, it’s all in a day’s work.
I will, however, be billing him for my laundry, because I don’t even want to know what’s smeared all over my jeans by now. I wait until the crowd disperses, then set about gingerly inching my way back down the tree.
The branch groans in protest.
“Hey,” I mutter ruefully. “I only had two portions of dumplings last night. And I totally drank a diet soda!”
I wriggle back and awkwardly turn to hug the trunk. Just a little further—
CRACK. The branch gives way, and my hands slip. I flail wildly, but it’s already too late: I’m slip-sliding down the trunk, hitting what feels like every stump and splinter on the way as I bounce my way to the ground.
I groan, lying on the dirt in a shower of leaves and twigs.
“Poppy Hathaway… I should have guessed this proposal was your handiwork.”
I look up to find six foot two of lean muscle, blue eyes, and irritatingly charming sarcasm. Dylan Griffin. Another client of mine—and the bane of my existence.
“How could you tell?” I ask, sitting up with a wince.
“Your undeniable literary style,” Dylan replies. He offers me a hand and hauls me to my feet again. “Plus, the fact that Henry was way too calm,” he adds. “The man sweat through a three-piece suit giving a toast at his parents’ anniversary dinner. The fact he made it through a single line without stuttering was a major giveaway you were somewhere around here, pulling the strings.”
“No strings!” I protest. “Henry wrote every word. I just . . . polished, that’s all.”
“Sure, you did.” Dylan grins. “The same way Rodin just polished those lumps of marble into statues.”
I blink. “What’s that? A compliment?” I hold my hand to my ear, teasing.
Dylan smirks. “You know you’re good. I wouldn’t hire anyone but the best.”
“There is nobody else,” I remind him. The market for a professional Cyrano is slim-to-none. Which is why I have to go the extra mile for my clients.
Or up the extra tree.
“Nice touch with the Star Wars quote, by the way,” Dylan remarks as we stroll out of the wooded area. He’s wearing his trademark black jeans and a white button-down, looking annoyingly handsome in the bright summer sun. With his classic Ray-Bans and unruly dark hair, he’s every inch the “hot rich guy you know is destined to blow you off but you can’t help fantasizing about him all the same.”
Or maybe I just watched too many John Hughes movies at an impressionable age?
Either way, I know way too much about Dylan to ever entertain the idea of dating him. Like how he runs through women the way I run through Sephora skincare samples. Or the fact that as a mere mortal—and not, say, an international swimsuit model-slash-actress-slash-human rights lawyer—I probably don’t even register as a prospect to him. He owns of one of the hottest hotels in the city, and is always featuring on those ‘sexiest bachelor’ lists, as if he needs any help broadcasting his availability.
Sure enough, we’re just turning onto the path when a gorgeous brunette woman stalks towards us, looking annoyed. “Where have you been?” she demands, looking annoyed.
I say “woman,” but let’s face it, she’s so beautiful, she probably deserves another scientific classification, because I’d be surprised if we shared even half our DNA. Her hair is long and glossy, her face is all eyes and cheekbones, and there isn’t just a thigh gap between those tanned legs in her teeny-tiny cutoffs, there’s the whole Grand Canyon.
“Gigi, I’ve been right here,” Dylan protests.
I try not to smile. Of course. His latest paramour. She loves expensive roses, Adele songs, and inspirational quotes. Which I know because Dylan has had me composing love notes for her all week. And looking at her now, I can see why.
“You said to meet you by the trees.” The exquisite beauty known as Gigi pouts. “Do you know how many trees there are in Central Park?”
“I’m sorry, baby.” Dylan turns on the charm, flashing her a mega-watt smile. “Let’s go get you a drink.”
But Gigi isn’t convinced.
“You’re always doing this,” she says. “I blew off a sample sale to come meet you, but you don’t even care. You’re over here, flirting with—” She looks at me, frowning.
“Nobody,” I answer quickly. “Really.”
“She’s just a friend,” Dylan insists. “Come on, babe, you can’t imagine I’d have eyes for anyone except you.”
And Sophie. And Lorelei. And the girl from the coffee shop Dylan wanted to woo with Shakespeare quotes and roses just last week. But maybe Gigi is smarter than I thought, because she isn’t buying his Romeo act anymore.
“No! This isn’t working. You need to figure out what you need.” Gigi gives a tearful sniff. “Before you lose the best thing that ever happened to you.”
She turns on her (stacked, five-inch platform) heels, and sashays away.
“Well, that went well.”
I turn. Dylan is looking strangely cheerful for a man who just got dumped. “You don’t mind?” I ask, surprised.
“Mind what? She’ll come around.” He shrugs. “That’s what I have you for. I’ll take one of your apology packages. A sincere note, a couple of poems . . . She’ll be back in my arms by the weekend.”
I roll my eyes. “You’re incorrigible.”
“That’s why I’m your favorite client.” Dylan grins.
“My most frequent client,” I correct him. And it’s true. Dylan has been keeping the lights on with his commissions these past months.
His many, many commissions.
From flirty notes tucked inside massive bouquets, charming women into dates with him, to heartfelt apology notes when he inevitably lets them down, Dylan Griffin is a one-man seduction machine.
And I’m the voice behind the pen, helping it happen.
I sigh, strolling towards the exit. “Remind me again why I’m your accomplice in these crimes against true love?”
“Because you believe that even I deserve a chance to find my soulmate?” Dylan offers, teasing.
“Nope, try again.”
“Then it must be the cold hard cash.” Dylan pats me on the shoulder. “Oh, before I forget, I might have another job for you.”
“Another one?” I exclaim. “Seriously, where do you find the time? I can’t even get a moment to go take in my dry-cleaning, let alone juggle four different dates.”
“It’s an art,” Dylan agrees. “What can I say? I’m an excellent multi-tasker.”
“Don’t you ever get tired of it?” I ask, with equal parts admiration and disdain. “Or say the wrong name and mix them up?”
“That’s a rookie mistake,” he laughs. “You need to switch to general endearments. ‘Babe,’ ‘honey,’ ‘sugar lips.’ That way, you never get it wrong. Especially not in the . . . heat of the moment.”
He winks. Now he’s just messing with me.
“Sure thing, sugar lips,” I reply, shaking my head with a smile. “So, who’s the unlucky target this time?”
“All in good time,” he replies, mysterious. “I’ll let you know. For now, just focus on getting me back in Gigi’s good graces.”
“Chin up.” He grins. “This will be easy. Just use the line from that movie again.”
“I’m just a man, standing in front of a woman?” I suggest.
“That’s the one. They always go crazy for it.”
“Hugh Grant has a lot to answer for.” I sigh.
And so do I.
TO BE CONTINUED… 7/16!