My first cousin, Cupid, gets all the attention. He’s featured on greeting cards, in Saturday morning cartoons, in poetry, and on tattoos. Cupid’s one of the most famous beings on Earth, and among the most beloved, too, rivaled only by Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
I’m not jealous. After all, Cupid’s been slinging love arrows since 700 BC, while I only started mending broken hearts in 1877. But I will say that Cupid’s job is a lot easier than mine. Really. …
“Did you buy Ella an hourglass?” I asked. I didn’t think a breakable glass object was a good toy for a nine-year-old.
“She has an hourglass?” My wife shrugged. “Not my doing. Maybe she traded one of her dozen pandas for it.”
I padded upstairs and knocked on Ella’s door. “Enter,” she said. She was fiddling with a foot-tall hourglass enclosed in a wooden, three-column frame engraved with wild animals. Luminescent turquoise sand flowed from one bulb to the other.
“Are you timing something?” I asked.
Ella studied the hourglass. “Nope. I mean, yup. I’m watching the sand, Daddy.” She held the hourglass to her ear. …
Without his armor, Leofwin felt unnaturally light. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d been outside the castle walls unshielded by iron and bronze.
Last night’s sleep had been fitful, interrupted by nightmares of arrows piercing his naked flesh.
But this was a special mission. Stealth, not strength. The king commanded Leofwin to travel at night through the forest between their home, Bodiam Castle, and Waleran Castle, to arrive when it would still be dark and their enemies asleep. …
“Dani, wake up!” I shook her shoulder. Her makeshift bed of leaves and pine needles rustled underneath. The forest cast an ominous pitch black, too late at night for fireflies, too early for even the slightest hint of dawn.
The growling and hissing were getting louder, closer. We needed to hurry.
“What? What happened?” Her words sounded raspy and lost. I couldn’t see her face in the darkness.
My heart pounded, threatening to shatter a rib. I swiveled my head toward the advancing din, then back to Dani. “We have to go now. Leave everything. I — ”
“I hear them, too.” She gasped and bolted up. “They found…
Stu clapped his gloves together while Evelyn waved the GPS in a circle.
“That’s not how it works,” Stu said. “Just hold it.” His teeth clattered like they were transmitting a message in Morse code. “It’s frigging cold.” A bite of snow slipped through an opening in Stu’s jacket.
“You think?” Evelyn’s lips were bluer than the aurora borealis they watched last night from their inn in Hammerfest, Norway, the country’s northernmost town. “We’re almost there.” A low mist obscured the forest floor.
“Define ‘almost.’” Without waiting for Evelyn to respond, Stu added, “What are two linguists doing in this frozen wilderness? …
Mark cocked his head to the side, sizing up his new client. “From what you’ve told me, no lawyer could get you off. The statutes involved — destruction of property, computer invasion, information security damage, computer hacking, denial of service, cyber terrorism — are all serious crimes.”
Lionel leaned back against the thick, leather chair, the fabric squeaking as he settled in. One of his sneakers had become untied, and he took a moment to retie it before taking a sip of coffee. “And the penalty?” Lionel asked.
“This will be a prosecutor’s field day. The number and magnitude of these felonies add up to multiple life sentences.” …
“You jerk!” Angie shouted. She stomped across their bedroom floor.
Between her shouting and stomping, Cyrus thought the mirror above their bureau would shatter. He was certain that the elderly couple in the adjacent apartment heard her, too, and were moments away from pounding against the wall. He’d never seen Angie so angry, not even when she believed he was having an affair with his intern.
Angie had also never hit him before. Her slap sounded like thunder, and his cheek stung like lightning had pierced it.
“You’re an asshole.”
Cyrus rubbed his cheek. He might have to apply makeup before going to work. He checked his watch. Thirty-five minutes until he needed to leave to catch the train. …