Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tall, Dark and Divine: Eros by Jenna Bennett Excerpt


Barnes and Noble

Eros, Greek god of love, has been down and out since ex-wife Psyche called him a workaholic and ran off with a Viking warrior with more brawn than brains. Drowning his sorrows in ambrosia-laced wine doesn’t make him feel better, nor does the nagging of the assorted minor and demi-goddesses helping him run his New York based matchmaking service.

When a misguided attempt to set up cute and lonely baker Annie Landon goes awry, Eros lends her his shoulder to cry on—not to mention a few other parts of his anatomy to take her mind off things. But falling for yet another mortal is the last thing Eros needs. Been there, done that, and not about to make the same mistake twice.

Thus begins his quest to find a mortal man for Annie, which will also rid him of the maddening desire to keep her for himself. It’s the perfect plan—if only Eros can bear to let Annie go.

Can a woman looking for love, and the matchmaking god who wants her to find it— with someone else—have a shot at a happy ending?

May the best god—or mortal—win!


Thunder boomed and lightning crackled across the sky. There was a moment of breathless silence, as if creation were gathering itself, and then the deluge started. Fat drops of rain hit the pavement like tiny bombs and exploded, and in a matter of seconds, the gutters ran high with water. The mortals on their way home from work huddled under umbrellas and folded-up newspapers as they scurried past the windows of Made in Heaven matchmaking service, while Eros watched, grimly amused.
The god of love rather enjoyed seeing the mortals in his charge struggle with life’s little inconveniences.
He hadn’t always. Once upon a time, he’d been full of the milk of human kindness and had wanted nothing but good for everyone. Especially the mortals—poor, pitiful creatures with their weak bodies and finite lives. They deserved what little happiness they could grasp in the short time allotted to them.
But that was before the love of his life, beautiful Psyche, had called him a workaholic and run off with some overdeveloped Viking warrior with braids and more brawn than brains. Some Norse godling without a thought in his head except fighting all day and fucking all night and then getting up to do it all over again the next morning. 
Ungrateful wench. And after everything Eros had done for her, too.
He lifted the bottle of ambrosia-laced wine and took a deep swallow as he watched a tall young man under an oversized umbrella hurry past the window.
Well, it would be the last time he made that mistake, anyway. Never again would he get emotionally involved with a mortal. It just wasn’t worth the trouble.
You spent years of time and effort pursuing them. You let work fall by the wayside, so people and animals didn’t fall in love, mate, or marry, while the earth grew dry underfoot. You braved the Underworld for them, you woke them from infernal sleep when they stupidly opened the box they were explicitly told not to open, and you lowered yourself and went crawling to mighty Zeus himself to ask for help in making them immortal, just so you could keep them with you forever. And then, after just a few thousand years, this was how they repaid you. By whining that you worked too much and didn’t love them enough before they left you for someone else.
Mortals. Couldn’t live with them. Couldn’t—unfortunately—live without them.
On the opposite side of the street, a sweet-faced young woman came out of the door to the dog bakery and stepped into the rain. Within five seconds, her soft brown hair was sodden and clung to her head like seaweed, while the thin T-shirt molded to her breasts in a way that would have brought a mortal man to his knees.
Eros scowled. She was late today. Had she come out a minute earlier, he could have made sure the young man with the umbrella—Harry Mitchell from the accounting firm down the block—offered to protect her from the rain. Once Harry got a good look at that T-shirt, chances were Eros wouldn’t even have to intervene. But now there was nothing he could do, at least not without exerting effort. Harry must have reached the subway stop on the corner by now, and Annie Landon was on her own. And she had missed another opportunity to make a match. Stupid chit.
He took another swig of wine and turned from the window as the door to the outer office opened. A sleek brown head popped through and a perfect nose wrinkled in disapproval.
“Drinking again?” Ariadne asked. “Do you really think this is the time and place to celebrate?”
Eros shrugged. “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
Ariadne, office manager of Made in Heaven and the minor Cretan goddess of the labyrinth, was not amused. She opened the door all the way and stepped through, slender hands on her hips. “It’s five o’clock here. That’s not the point. I feel like every time I see you lately, you’ve got that bottle in your hand.”
“It’s usually a different bottle.”
And because he could, Eros lifted today’s bottle to his lips and drained it. When he lowered it, Ariadne was still there. But now she had closed the door to the outer office and was leaning against it. Her voice was less disapproving and more concerned.
 “Don’t you think you should lay off the ambrosia, Ross? You don’t even use a glass anymore. Much more of this, and I may as well go to work for Dion.”
“It’s human wine.” Eros crossed the room to drop the empty bottle in the recycling bin he had installed after his drinking reached Olympic levels, before planting his butt in his ergonomically correct chair. Live a few thousand years and you start to appreciate the little things.
Ariadne stayed where she was, her back against the door. Eros continued. “It’s grape juice, basically. But if you want to join Dion and his band of drunks, I can’t stop you.”
He tilted the chair back and put his Italian-leather-shoe-clad feet on the desk. Ariadne’s eyes narrowed.
“You know I don’t. Dion and I don’t get along. And I like working for you. At least I like it when we actually do work. What I don’t like, is watching you sit around the office all day, draining bottle after bottle of ambrosia. And don’t bother denying it, because I know you sneak it in there.”
Eros shrugged. So what if he did? Human wine didn’t affect him, so if he wanted to get a little groove on, he needed something stronger. And a few drops of ambrosia never hurt anyone. It wasn’t like he’d die of alcoholism, after all. He was a god. Immortal. Any liver damage he caused just righted itself overnight.
“That’s not the point,” Ariadne said again, and Eros realized he must have spoken the words out loud. That wasn’t a good sign. “Ever since that tramp Psyche left you for what’s-his-name—”
“How could I forget? Erik and Psyche. Gods.” She shuddered. “Anyway, ever since she left, you’ve been moping around, drinking too much and hardly sticking your nose into anyone’s business. You do know that things are bad out there, don’t you? Divorce statistics on the rise, marriage stats plummeting, and the environment going to Hades in a hand basket? Floods, droughts, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions?”
Eros made a sound he thought she might take for confirmation. Sure, he’d known things were deteriorating. The sexual revolution and all that. But if the earth was starting to change, that wasn’t good. That hadn’t happened since he fell in love with Psyche and was too preoccupied to tend to business.
Ariadne continued, shaking her head in exasperation. “Silly mortals think it’s their fault. They’re making battery-operated cars and holding earth summits to try to reverse the damage. When what they should be doing is yelling for you.” She grinned.
“There’s a little more to it than that…” Eros tried, but he couldn’t help returning her smile. Ariadne was always beautiful, but when she smiled, she was stunning. A pity she didn’t move him the way Psyche had. She was almost as lovely, she was immortal, and she liked him. Maybe not in that way, but that was easily fixed. He still had his old bow and arrows stowed away in the closet. One little scratch, and Ariadne would fall at his feet like a ton of bricks.
 And it didn’t have to be Ari. Any of the minor or demi-goddesses who worked for Made in Heaven would be suitable. They were all immortal, they were all gorgeous, and they all adored him. If not in that way.
But he had promised himself he wouldn’t use the arrows anymore, not after what happened with Psyche. No more arrows for him. No more mortals, no matter how lovely. And next time, he’d make damn sure the girl he chose was a keeper, instead of someone who’d leave him after a mere three thousand years or so.
Ariadne cleared her throat, and he came back to himself. “What can I do for you, Ari? Time to leave for the day?”
Ariadne nodded. “A few of us are going out for drinks. I thought, if you’re going to drink anyway, you might want to join us.”
Eros tilted his head. “At Dionysus’s Bar?”
“For my sins,” Ariadne said.
“I thought you didn’t like Dion.”
“I don’t.” Her voice was dry. “Brita, on the other hand, likes him a lot. I think she’s considering bagging herself a god.”
More like shagging a god, Eros thought, but he didn’t say it. What the Cretan goddess of hunting did on her own time was none of his business. And he’d long ago given up on keeping Dion from sleeping around. He loved the guy—they went back millennia—but there was no denying the god of wine and debauchery was a dog. If Britomartis expected anything beyond a trip upstairs to Dion’s bachelor pad, she was bound for disappointment.
Still, it couldn’t hurt to keep an eye on things. There wasn’t much wine left upstairs anyway. He might as well stop by Dion’s with the girls and have a proper drink. In a glass. Get drunk with company instead of alone for a change. “Oh, all right. Fine. I’ll come.”
“I’ll wait for you. That way you won’t change your mind.” Ariadne made for the door. “I’ll let the others know to go ahead.”
Eros nodded. He waited until she’d gone into the reception area and closed the door behind her before he took his feet off the desk and headed for the adjacent bathroom. Being a Greek god was all well and good, but it didn’t mean he shouldn’t put his best foot forward when he went out.

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