Here I am. Putting one of my favorite stories out there. *deep breath* Not that I don’t want this baby published. I do. But this one… I think I may have to take Quentin and Lex into the world of self-pub. Since he is in the process of being copyrighted, I thought I would go ahead and post the first chapter, then link it into the MY STORIES ↑↑↑ menu ↑↑↑ above ↑↑↑ should anyone want more info about my Cupid. I haven’t decided if I am going to stick with just posting the first chapter or if I’m going to do up to five. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I do hope you enjoy my Cupid-in-training, high school senior, mister popular, OCD, over studious, overachiever Quentin Darrows. Quent. I would cast William Moseley as Quent in the movie…without the accent. Sometimes.
Title: Love, Darrows
Word Count: 90,000
Genre: YA LGBTQ Retelling of Cupid/Fantasy/Contemporary Mythology
Novel Summary: Quentin Darrows is training for the most important job, Cupid. He has control over everyone’s love life in Romulus High School but his own. What’s a Cupid to do when all he wants is to be with his best friend, Lex?
This novel is part one of a duology(duet), told through Quentin Darrow’s point of view.
Thank you for reading.
The morning scramble. Less delicious than it sounds. It consists of running around, last-minute, trying to not forget anything. Clothes, preppy and colorful. Teeth brushed, breath minty. Hair, every strand in place. Books. Shove books into backpack. Backpack on shoulder. Stairs. Overbearing mother.
“Quent, take a moment and eat something.”
“Sorry, Vee. No time. Lex will be here any minute.” The backpack takes a chair as I shove my arms into my jacket.
Overbearing mother sticks a banana in one hand as it emerges. She sticks a small glass of almond milk in the other hand as I shrug the jacket onto my shoulders. “Eat!”
There’s never any arguing with the self-proclaimed goddess of our household. The almond milk slides down my throat in a gulp. The banana is peeled and takes about three bites and a hamster cheek to fully consume. The peel hits the counter and I go for my backpack.
Saved by the blaring horn. A blissful poetic justice.
“Bye, Vee.” I book it to the front door, overbearing mother not too far behind me.
“Can’t you call me mom just once?”
I turn at the door and give Vee a quick kiss on the cheek. “You told me you were too young to ever be referred to as ‘Mom’.” I step into the cool humid air of a late, sunny September morning. Lex’s car is sitting at the curb. The windows are too darkly tinted to see him, though.
“That was in public. You are free to call me mom at home.”
“Bye, Mom.” Halfway down the short walk, I look over my shoulder. “Better?”
Vee is absolutely unamused. She looks bronze against the white column she leans on while wearing what most would consider unmentionables. Practically see-through, satin lingerie in a soft pink. As horrifying as it sounds. She tosses a small wave before folding her arms over stomach.
I can’t jump into Lex’s black convertible fast enough. The seatbelt buckle clicks as I slide the metal tongue into it. “Let’s go!”
The window hums as it retracts into my door. Lex leans into me, smelling of a raspberry-vanilla mocha and baby powder. Death would be welcome right about now.
“Good morning, Mrs. Darrows.” He says this with almost a sweet tone overlapping the sinister meaning underneath. A flirtatious whim.
Major mistake looking at my mother. She kicks one leg out in some sort of supermodel pose, the lace and silk lingerie hiking up her thigh. “Hi, Lexington.” Her hand waves as though she’s pageant queen on a float with a touch more exuberance. It’s as though she was waiting just for this moment.
I want to throw up.
“How many times have I asked you to call me Vee?”
Lex bares his teeth in a mirthful grin. He’s so close I can see how his two front teeth lean slightly to the left in the upper row of white. “Okay, Vee. We’ve gotta get going.”
The whole display is disturbing.
Lex fastens his seatbelt. The window rises from the door, separating me from my mother. Finally. “Your mom still looks like she’s twenty.”
“You know she’s fifty. Can we go now?”
Lex leans back in his leather seat. His left arm is straight, grip tight on the steering wheel. The Audi’s engine roars to life. The gear drops into drive and we pull away from the curb. Shocking the tires didn’t squeal.
“You’re such a buzz kill, Quent.”
“And you’re sick.”
“And you love it.”
He touches a button on the steering wheel and the radio blasts the interior of the car with music. If you can call what he’s listening to music.
“Are you single-handedly trying to reinstate Seattle grunge?”
He tosses a nonchalant shrug at me. “What?”
“The plaid shirt over the holey t-shirt. Jeans that seem to be hanging on by a thread.” I reach over and give a playful tug on the soft blue knit cap on his head. “This ridiculous beanie.”
He smacks my hand away. “It took two hours to get my hair and this hat just right.” His eyes take a quick roam to my side of the car. “Should I dress like you? Like Abercrombie threw up all over me after a drunken night out?”
“Hey, I’m not heading into the realm of cliché. We live in Washington state and you’re listening to Pearl Jam like they’re music gods.”
“In my defense, it’s the new Pearl Jam.”
“There is no defense for Pearl Jam.” I lean over and twist the knob next to the screen on the dash, searching through the available radio stations in the Olympia area. “I’ll let you keep the retro nouveau look, but I get control of your knob.”
Lex actually stops. Meaning I’m getting my boyfriend’s squinty-eyed, half playful, half serious grin. “What have I told you about using those double entendres?”
“Use them wisely.” I fly through the stations until I’m fully convinced real music just doesn’t exist on normal radio waves. I pull out my phone and connect it to the car’s Bluetooth. Music. A meta name for the only playlist I have. Spoon. Perfect.
The light flicks to green, and we speed off towards school. “Don’t fuck up my speakers with that indie crap of yours.”
“We wouldn’t be arguing over music if you hadn’t made sure I was grounded from my own car.”
“I told you I’ll pay for the ticket.”
“It’s your ticket. You were driving my car when the red light camera got you.”
He drives through our town like he’s Speed Racer trying to outrun Racer X. He manages to only hit the yellow lights this morning. One after another, the last one turning red as we’re in the middle of the intersection. When I see the hints of our high school behind the towering pines ahead, I couldn’t be more thankful.
Home of the Fighting Wolves. Go maroon and grey! RHS. Romulus High.
The place is situated on top of a hill overlooking the student and staff parking lots. There is one long, white concrete staircase, broken into four sets of ten, that leads you from the student lot to the red brick Administration Building. Our school is like a college. Each building is suited for the type of class. The English building sits to the right of Admin. Sciences behind and catty-corner near the cafeteria. The Math building is in the far back of the campus, right near the bus drop.
It’s where I have to go first thing.
School is a conundrum of emotional and mental states. Some of the kids absolutely hate it here. Others, this is the epitome of their lives. First loves. First heartache. Pregnancy scares. Cheating boyfriends and girlfriends. Drama. Comedy. Fights. Love, lust, and likes.
For Lex, school is popularity and friendship. Flirtations and flings. From the car to his locker, no matter how drizzly or sunny the morning starts, everyone pauses to greet him or whisper and point his way. He is attention-getting on his own, without his father’s political status or his mom’s PTA brown-nosery.
“I have football after school,” he says, taking notice in the direction of Anna Lynn Garrison, the perfect blonde of school. His eyebrows lift and he does a slight smile.
I can only roll my eyes. “Cool. I have SC today anyway.” I leave him to wander over to the land of giggles and girls. One day, he’ll walk with me to class. As my best friend and boyfriend. That day can’t arrive soon enough. Until then, I’m on my own. “See ya.”
For me, high school is a job. One of those eighty hour a week numbers that age you well beyond your years, both mentally and physically. I’d love a day off, but in my line of work, there are no days off. No vacation. No sick days.
It’s all ludicrous, though. Honestly, I could use some age on my face. Something to tone down my rounded cheeks and boyish grin. My senior picture looks exactly like my seventh grade picture with a different shirt. Cursed forever to look infantile. Even if I don’t shave, I’m looking severely illegal to the female staff at our school.
I hear things.
“Hey, Claire. How’s Stan?”
“He’s avoiding me as always. Why?”
“Just keep talking to him. He’ll come around.” I always wink at high school girls. They giggle and you feel like maybe you just made her day a little more special. All a part of my job.
The concrete steps can’t move fast enough for me this morning. I barely make it past the first two sets of steps before I’m being hailed from behind.
“Hey, Quent. Can we talk a moment?”
I turn around and fight the scowl from my face, putting on a happy grin as I see the over-eager assault coming my way. Thomas Janice. As two-faced as they come. You never know what his angle is.
“Is this about SC? Whatever you need should probably wait until the meeting this afternoon.”
“Actually, I wanted to find out why Lex has a sudden interest in Anna Lynn.”
Geez. I don’t have the time or the patience for him right now. I proceed on my original path and say, “I’m not my friend’s keeper, Thomas. What’s it matter to you?”
Thomas walks beside me, matching my right with his. Left with left. The only difference is he’s taking the steps as though they’re slippery stones in a river. “Look…” He takes the fabric of my jacket in his hand just so I have to stop. His beady eyes—that are far too close together in my opinion—dart around. He leans in as though a national secret is being passed between us. “I’ve got to know about Anna Lynn.”
“What?” My eyes narrow. I can’t hit a human. I can’t. “You have a thing for her?”
He tries to pull off innocence, but his head flips and I get nothing but arrogance in the shrug.
“What about Samara?”
“I’m going to break up with her. I just need to know if Anna Lynn is available.”
I hate him. Cheating douche. Samara is as gorgeous as a sunset and as kind as Mother Theresa. She deserves someone who will treat her like she is the air they need to breathe. He’s going to destroy her if I don’t do something.
“Look, stay with Samara. She walks on your every word like a ghost in the mist, floating peacefully in bliss.”
“Stop with the poetic crap, Quent. Does Anna Lynn want Lex?”
I make it like he’s pointing a six-shooter in my chest instead of his short, stubby finger. My hands may be up by my shoulders, but I am far from conceding. “Not my place. Ask Lex yourself.”
The last ten concrete steps and I’m home free, cutting through admin to get to my locker just outside of the Math building.
Now I don’t mind talking to this girl who says my name like it’s the best surprise in the world. “Lana. Didn’t you ride in on Gabe’s fire red pony today?”
The girl can do a hair flip any mean girl could be jealous of, though she has not a mean bone in her body. “Ha ha. I get it. Gabe has a Mustang.” She rests her arm on my shoulder, mesmerizing me with her chocolate eyes. “If my normal ride wasn’t grounded…”
“That’s Lex’s fault.”
“I know. Besides, I have a crush on Gabe and this gives me the chance to talk to him more when he’s not in tutoring. So thanks for that, Quent.” She looks around. “So…where is my brother?”
“Does he always have to hang out with the parking lot trash?”
She makes a great argument. “You know I can’t ever stop him.”
“Well, I love that you always watch out for him. Even if Lex never listens.” As an outsider, one would see her hug me and think we’ve been intimate for quite a while. The way she leans her whole body into mine while giving my cheek a kiss. As an insider, you’d know we’re good friends with a common interest—worrying about Lex as if he’s lost in the world. “Later, Q.”
She walks away with springs in her steps. Sway, sashay.
Thankfully, she looks nothing like Lex. Actually, none of his three younger sisters look anything like him. They all take after their father with their fair skin and light brown hair with hints of strawberry. Lex got his perma-tan and black-brown hair from his Mexican mother. Still trying to figure out where his magical eyes came from, though.
Time to surf through the students and get to my locker. I need to get this day started.
“Hey, Q.” Sarah Richards. Currently dating Dion Hayes, basketball center.
“Quentin. How’s it going?” Dexter Keating. Mathlete. Loves Eire, head cheerleader. Dates no one. Sad really.
“Quent, did you get number thirty-two on the calculus assignment?” Diana Durant. Sits behind me in class. Also has a secret crush. Her crush? Me. She’s never told a soul. I only know because it’s my job. Insider information.
“I’ll help you before tardy bell, okay?”
She smiles as though she’s been canonized. “Will you help me at lunch, too?”
“If you don’t mind Lex joining us.”
My locker. Just in time. Fourteen. Nine. Fourteen. Door open between us. I can’t look at the hurt on her face any longer. I hate that I have to break her heart on a daily basis. She’s not the one I’m falling for–Lex–but, she’ll find someone soon. I’ll make sure of it.
“It’s fine. I’ll see you at lunch.”
The misery of a downtrodden heart weakens me. It’s fairly painful. I hate it so much.
I check behind the locker door and see her turn the corner. Good. I hope I find a him for her soon. In the meantime, I have others that need tending to.
I pull out my phone and lean against the lockers. The app I need is hidden under the ‘Do Not Disturb’ menu on my phone. I roll my eyes every time I see it. Utterly ridiculous. The app takes a day and a half to load on the school’s shitty wi-fi.
“Mr. Darrows, I expect your texts to be complete before you head into math.” Mr. Sabine. Calculus teacher. See also, teacher advocate for Student Council. Lonely. Not married.
“Q, can you give this to Lex? It’s his government definitions.” Penelope Milner. Penny. Make out queen of Romulus High School. Bi-sexual. Straight A’s she hasn’t earned by studying.
I take the paper from her. She plants a kiss on the corner of my mouth and sends a quick, “Thanks,” before taking off.
Finally, the app is up and running. Nine choices under the arrow label on the menu. Each one carries its own weight and consequence. I have to pick the one that will cause the least amount of pain.
Send to: Samara Khatri.
Send From: Anonymous.
Message: Janice is lying to you. He wants Anna Lynn. You may want to dump him before he cheats on you and breaks your heart.
I send it without hesitation, knowing that in a few weeks a better guy for her will come along.
Duration: Two months with an option to renew.
Send to: Claire Ryan.
Send From:Stan Parker.
Message: Been thinking about you, Claire. Wanna meet up after school?
My thumb taps send.
“Who are you texting this time?” Lex pops open the locker next to me.
“Tempest from Omega Phi.”
A man with the expression of someone who just ate dirt looks at me. “Since when do you like a Greek?”
“Never. She texted me first.” I scope out the area behind Lex. Samara stops suddenly, staring at her phone. Her bronze skin pales instantly. Tears hug the rims of her dark eyes. I hate that I had to do it.
“Oh, trying to get practice for college next year, huh?” Lex grins like a devil. He knows better than that.
Fine. Two can play this silly little game. “Oh, look what I have. Penny asked me to give you this paper she wrote out for you? What’s that about?”
Lex snatches the paper from my hand and shoves it into his locker. “A drunken momentary indiscretion. Nothing more.” He slams his locker shut as the bell rings.
We surf into the wave of students, heading towards the Math building. Hordes of them schooling about. Chatting. Pushing. Quiet. Shying away. And one smile and bright brown-hazel eyes, a life saver in the chaos as Claire checks her phone to see the text she received.
I’m willing to bet it’s from Stan.