Chapter 1: Coeur the Cupid & The Christmas Eve Masquerade

For the masquerade, Cupid,” said Madame Joly as she handed over a carefully stitched mask made of delicate lace and black silk ribbon to the mistress of the maison.

“Merci beaucoup, Madame Joly.” Coeur Le Cupidon, better known as Cupid, quietly sashayed toward the balcony in her voluminous red ball gown and drew open the curtains, peering downward to see when her dear friend Monsieur Jacques Joubert would arrive to pick her up.

You see, Monsieur Joubert was a high ranking diplomat belonging to the French Council of Mysterious Comets, Asteroids & Meteors. He was a lonely man, an older man, a grandfatherly figure to Cupid who she met shortly after settling down in Paris. Afraid he would spend yet another lonely Christmas without his dearly beloved wife, who returned home one morning whilst in her sleep, Monsieur Joubert invited Cupid to the annual society masquerade held at the Musée du Louvre.

Without hesitation, Cupid accepted, one, because she could throw herself into the delightfully arduous task of hand stitching her own ball gown for the very umpteenth time, a skill she seemed to have brought with her into this world. Second, a masquerade is just what Cupid needed: an adventurous evening sharing a roof with souls, lots of souls — lonesome lovers flitting and flirting about in search of their one true love. Christmas was one of those times, Cupid knew, when the human heart was particularly open and receptive to giving and receiving love. With a handsome amount of tricks up her sleeve, she could be activating tons of magic tonight.

The chauffeur of Monsieur Joubert rang the doorbell to retrieve Cupid and off they all went to the masquerade. As they arrived, Monsieur Joubert took Cupid’s arm and wrapped it around his own. “Cupid,” he bellowed, “You are an angel for coming with me tonight. Thank you.” Cupid looked into his eyes, searching them to see if Monsieur Joubert had discovered her true identity, but realized that calling someone an angel was a term human beings used here on Earth. As she caught a glimpse of a giant electrical angel lit up on the façade of the Louvre, she smiled warmly at Monsieur Joubert, bemused by how much humans celebrate her kind. Suddenly, Cupid felt a warm and refreshing tingle along her back, reminding her that her wings were safely tucked away and concealed for her life here in Paris.

“Champagne for you, Madame?” The server with a masquerade mask approached Cupid and she accepted a flute. After toasting Monsieur Joubert, he was off to rendez–vous with his fellow senior diplomats while Cupid wandered around with her eyes wide, wide open. The room was vast and decorated to the nines in the kind of overwhelming opulence expected in Paris, but nothing was so enchanting as the sight of everyone’s hearts even though all of their eyes and identities tonight were concealed: who was happy, who was lonely, who was in love, who was in love with someone else. The possibilities, the stories, the connections, the healing, the love! It was enough to keep Cupid enraptured all night long. It was as if her gaze held all of your secrets, as if Cupid was a playful and mischievous version of the Mona Lisa, who also happened to reside in this very building.

Halfway through dinner, which she spent engrossed tuning into the passionate debates between Monsieur Joubert, his fellow diplomats and their lovely wives, Cupid excused herself and headed to les toilettes. As she surveyed herself in the mirror, so tickled that one can actually do that, she giggled at her own reflection and whispered a soft “I love you” to herself but was abruptly startled when the door banged open, filling the air with such commotion from down the hall. On the other side of the door was a tuxedo–wearing gentleman. Tall, handsome — no, exquisitely handsome — charming and seemingly daft, he rapidly slammed the door shut and locked it as Cupid studied his simply odd behavior. The look on his face was one of arresting beauty and pure foolishness, and yet his heart…

“You are an angel,” he announced to her, catching her by utter surprise again. How did they know?! Cupid wondered. “Please, hide me from the police.”

“How — ”

“I just took this from the jewelry exhibit,” he said as he flashed a wide smile across his face and pulled out a large, luminous, bright yellow, jewel–encrusted latticed enamel egg from his pockets and proudly showed it to Cupid. Her eyes immediately lit up, for it looked just like a sound travel communication device she used back home. Ingenious, she thought to herself about the human species. She took the egg from his hands, carefully cupping it into her own. Bewildered, her eyes got lost in the beauty of the sparkling jewels. Never before had she seen something so magnificent and striking. As Cupid opened the egg, she found yet another glorious surprise inside: an 18th century Imperial carriage complete with windows, doors, wheels, stairs, and a crown on the roof of the coach. The sight stunned Cupid to silence. And then, it hit her.

“You took this?” She asked this handsome stranger softly while reading his heart for the answer.

“Yes.”

Confused, Cupid pressed on. “But its owner is you. Why did you take it?”

This stranger offered a sheepish smile. “Yes, but they don’t know that…I love angering my father,” he grinned. “I mean, how else can I get his attention? Oh, this will really embarrass him tonight.”

“Embarrass him?”

“He’s done nothing but favor my older brother. In fact, the entire fortune is going to him. What do I have left? It’s just me and this stupid egg,” he lamented as he waved his hand toward the precious object. “Maybe that’s the only way I can get anything out of him. To blatantly take it. That’s how I’ve always survived in this family. Fend for myself. No one looks out for Alexander except me.”

Cupid set down the egg on the counter as she empathized with this handsome stranger who was pouring his heart out to her. She watched him silently, letting him unfold all of his feelings. He stepped close toward Cupid, reveling in her adorable beauty, gazing into her starlit, watery eyes. “You’re such an angel,” he whispered as he tilted Cupid’s chin up so their eyes could meet. “What do I do?” He asked with a genuine sense of loss of direction.

Cupid raised both of her hands to touch Alexander’s heart, sliding them across his chest, drawing him even closer as his hands clutched at Cupid’s waist. “I can feel how much you love your father, Alexander. And inside your heart, I see this tiny, tiny flame. It’s small, but it’s there and it’s radiant and filled with a glimmer of hope. Your father loves you, but you have to be the one to make the first move. He wants to communicate with you, but you have to be willing to see the man behind the veil, the real man that he is. Can you feel that, this flame?”

“Yes, yes. I realize my foolishness now. Though the thrill of meeting you makes all of tonight well worth my effort. Tell me, what is your name, how do I find you again?”

“You don’t need to know that, but you do need to remember this: forgive your father before this flame in your heart extinguishes. Do this, then go find your true love. Nothing else in this world will matter to you anymore once you have her. I promise you that.”

“Where, where do I find her? Is it you? It must be you.”

“It is not me, but it will be a woman who loves you more than anyone else in the world ever will. You’re not bored, Alexander, you are hungry for love. Forgive your father, let his fortune go, seek inside, and I promise you, you will gain it back. All of it.”

So mesmerized by the thought of falling in love and gaining back everything he had lost, this beautiful stranger boldly pressed his lips on Cupid’s lips in a pleasing, surprising Christmas Eve kiss. Little did he know that as their lips touched, Cupid instantaneously transferred magical, cleansing energy into his heart space, opening it up further for all kinds of love and release. Alexander must have sensed it somehow, because as he pulled his lips away, he brought his hand up to his own heart, feeling it intentionally. “Merry Christmas,” he expressed gently to Cupid.

Holding the egg in one hand and Cupid’s hand in the other, they both walked out of les toilettes and straight into the crowd of authorities who were still frantically searching for the bandit who stole this €20 million treasure. As the two of them approached the angry looking father, he took one look at his son carrying the precious egg and was about to unleash an explosive rampage. Alexander gripped Cupid’s hand in fright. “Send him love,” Cupid whispered to Alexander, who promptly did so. Instantly, the mood of the entire room shifted, as if all the anger was vacuumed away, leaving it transformed into peace. The father, no longer in a rage, breathed out a sigh of comforting relief, happy to see his son.

“I’m sorry father. Do you think we could talk alone later? Earnestly. Without interruption.”

Bewildered, the king–like figure warmly accepted his son’s open invitation to bond with him. “Of course, son, of course.”

“Father, there is one other thing. This woman, she saved my life. Please, could we give her this egg? I would very much like her to have it.”

The father swept his eyes at Cupid, instantly feeling lightened and peaceful by her presence. “What is your name, who are you?”

“My name is Coeur Le Cupidon. But you can call me Cupid.”

“Cupid?” Alexander whispers softly to her. “Who are you?”

Just then, out of the corner of her eye, a giant orb of white light turned the dimly lit room as bright as day. No one else seemed to have noticed as Cupid’s eyes widened into the largest it has ever been, her gaze intensely focused on the drawing power of this glow. She heard Alexander repeat her name, but it is as if he’s speaking to her from behind the wall and she can barely hear. She glanced down at her hand, seeing that her sapphire ring was pulsing with magnificent white light. Just like that, Cupid dropped his hand as Alexander called after her, and she followed this light in the distance all the way out the door of the Louvre. One moment before she could determine what she was seeing, in a dizzying zoom the light sped off across the grounds of the Louvre, disappearing into the darkness of the Paris night. At once, the pulsing white light dissipated on Cupid’s ring, returning to the rich sapphire color it was. Left in a daze and slightly disappointed, Cupid slowly retraced her steps back into the masquerade when Monsieur Joubert takes her arm. “Cupid, it’s time to bring you home.”

As Cupid returned to the coziness of her apartment, she removed her red ball gown, allowing it to flutter to the wood floor and sat on a plush, velve armchair. She hugged her knees close to her chest, reviewing the orb of white light that so mysteriously appeared and disappeared. Just what was that? Cupid peered at her ring, rotating it three times, speaking random commands for it to show its white light once more, but nothing. Heading to her bed, Cupid sprawled out Angel Paper before her, doodling in such excessive wonderment until she collapsed from total exhaustion. Then, she fluttered her eyelashes until her little windows shut for a midwinter night’s dream.

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