Cupid Get's Struck - Page 3

One I earned on my very own.

Two

CUPID

I’m pacing the restaurant and counting down until Astrid arrives. When I check my watch, I see she’s still got seven minutes and eleven seconds until she’s due to be here, but I can’t stand the wait.

Seeing her at the wedding and her not recognizing me was a blow, but I won’t let it screw up my plan. It was the first time I’d seen her in years, and of course she didn’t recognize me. I’ve changed so much since the last time she saw me when I was only fifteen and she was thirteen.

My parents decided it was a great idea for us to move my sophomore year of high school, and back then, I didn’t have a cellphone or a way to get in touch with her. Plus, I would have been too damn shy to say anything anyway.

I was a chubby kid that hit puberty late and was still shorter than most of the guys in school. Bad acne, glasses, and a squeaky voice made me keep my chin down and stay silent most days, but when I got to see Astrid, it was like the sun came out just for me.

Sure, she was my best friend's little sister, but later on, when I got back in touch with Nick, I found out she was going to culinary school out west. She talked about that when we were kids, and I knew it was her dream. I just never considered what it would mean for her to move across the country and away from me. Well, maybe not away from me, but that’s what it felt like. I couldn’t chase after her and tell her to come home, but what I could do was build an empire for her to return to. So that’s what I did.

I’ve been in love with Astrid since I knew what love was, but she has no idea I exist. She proved that at the wedding. If she ever felt anything for me when we were young, she didn’t show it, or at least feel that same spark I did. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown about four feet and gained close to one hundred pounds in muscle since the last time she saw me. My hair got darker and I grew a beard, but part of me thought deep down she would still see me somewhere inside.

There was a lot going on that night, and we only spoke for a brief second before she spilled the drink on me, but it was still like being in the bright sunlight and surrounded by warmth being next to her.

When we were kids, I never went by my first name. My parents named me Cupid Austin Smith, so I went by my middle name in school and made sure no one knew my first name. It was embarrassing having the name Cupid, but eventually I didn’t hate it, and now everyone calls me Q. I use my mom’s maiden name Hart for business because it’s easier to separate work from my personal stuff, so even if Astrid knows me by Q Hart, she wouldn’t know right away that it was me.

Checking my watch, I see she’s got two minutes and seventeen seconds left before she’s late. I should have offered to pick her up, but that probably would have been weird.

The front door of the restaurant opens, and I turn around to see her coming in, carrying a white pastry box. Not even pretending to play it cool, I rush over as quickly as I can.

“Sorry, I would have been here sooner, but traffic was a mess.”

“You’re early,” I blurt out and try to play it cool. Normally I’m a confident person with a dozen businesses under my belt and a list of restaurants I manage and own. But one simple conversation with the girl that stole my heart when I was a kid and I’m a bumbling fool. “What’s in the box?”

“Desserts.” Her smile almost knocks me over, and I remind myself to breathe. “I thought it would be good to bring in a few samples. I know you liked the wedding cake, but I wanted to show you what else I was capable of.”

“I can’t wait to try them.” I take the box from her and then just stand there, memorizing her face because I haven’t seen her in so long.

“Um, should we sit down?” She bites her lip, and I want to kick my own ass for being so dumb.

“Yeah, I mean sure, Let’s go over here.” I nod toward one of the private tables close to the window and grab some silverware on the way.

The restaurant isn’t open until tonight, and it’s early in the day. The kitchen staff hasn’t arrived yet, and I’m happy to have her all to myself. Finally.

Tags: Alexa Riley Romance
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