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Duping Cupid (A Winter Short Story) Kindle Edition
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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After breaking up with a shallow ex-boyfriend, Vivi must attend a party...alone...at which her ex-boyfriend and his new (skinny) girlfriend are also in attendance; how humiliating! Sebastian "Bass" Lawrence, sees Vivi and is so intrigued by her that he steps in as her date. Bass has also been burned by romance, so he and Vivi, having both sworn off romance, become the best of friends. They even start a business, Cupid To Go, an escort service for people in need of a date. Vivi acts as Cupid, while Bass is a silent partner.
Enter Ava Featherstone, former super-model, soon-to-be-ex-wife of wealthy attorney Cecil Bannerman, and potential (demanding) client of Cupid To Go. When Bass comes to take Vivi to lunch -- as he often does -- Ava spots him and says HE is the one she wants to serve as her attentive boy toy, all to save face with the media. Vivi is surprised when Bass agrees.
After Vivi leaves her office, Ava points out to Bass that he's in love with his partner. Bass is shocked to realize she's right (this isn't a spoiler, I promise). He quickly agrees to Ava's plan to make Vivi realize she can't live without him. When he leaves Cupid To Go in Ava's company, Vivi realizes she's in love with Bass.
Here's where it gets painful -- but in a romantic-please-let-there-be-a-HEA kind of way. Ava's contract demands that Bass appear totally devoted to her, which means Vivi is suddenly spending a lot of time alone. Even the holidays, which she's always spent with Bass, are miserable affairs with her miserable family. Vivi is miserable, Bass is miserable -- the only people happy are Ava and the media, who are predicting wedding bells for "SebAva".
Vivi has the perfect Christmas gift for Bass. Bass has a great gift for her, too, but they can't see each other to exchange them. And now I'm getting close to spoilers, so I'm going to stop.
This truly was a sweet little romance. Part of me wanted to grab Bass and shake him and say, "Really? You're not this stupid!" Another part of me had to laugh at his cluelessness. I also enjoyed that we get both Vivi's and Bass' POV throughout the story. I highly recommend this novella as a short, sweet read!
Vivi Maxwell runs "Cupid To Go", who specializes in escort service for social events (no sex, total discretion), but her own love life was rather lacking. When a rich former model Ava Featherstone demanded a mature man for the entire winter season to escort her to events so she does not appear to have been dumped by her cheating husband, Vivi was about to pick through her portfolio when her platonic friend (and silent partner) Sebastian "Bass" Lawrence came to visit, and Ava immediately demanded Bass as her escort, over Vivi's protest. Indeed, Bass' rescue of Vivi at a social event years ago when her then beau Julian dumped her (for being frumpy) was what got the entire business started. Now Bass is stuck with Ava for several months, while Vivi misses Bass, both are denying they love each other. But Ava's sharp tongue made both realize they are really lying to themselves. But is there any love to be had when each was bound by non-disclosure agreements?
As the cliche goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it took this enforced separation for both to see what they mean for each other. The twist as the end made it even more satisfying.
Unlike most romance novels I have read, Duping Cupid revolves around best friends. So many involve people that just meet, fall in love, and are married within a couple of months. Ugh! Personally, I prefer a more realism to my romances when I deign to read them.
Vivian Maxwell, or Vivi to her friends, and Bass (Sebastian) Lawrence have been best friends for 8 years. They met shortly after both of them exited nightmare relationships of their own. Everything has been strictly platonic, and both think getting involved with the other would be too weird.
Vivi owns, along with Bass, a company called 'Cupid to go'. Due to her marketing campaigns, she is known to most of New York City as 'Cupid'. Most of their agents are actors, actresses or models in between paying gigs. There are also several university students working to help pay tuition. "Cupid To Go provides dates for women - and men - to steer them through an awkward social situation or to save face when packed into a corner by well-meaning matchmakers. Can't bear the idea of going to your high-school reunion because your wife's just left you? Call Cupid To Go and arrive with a gorgeous blonde on your arm. Trying to avoid social Siberia of the singles table at your cousin's wedding? Cupid To Go can provide a charming escort that will gain you the envy of all your relatives." And so on. In my opinion, I like the business plan!
Enter Ava Featherstone Bannerman. Ava is a former super model who gave up her career on the runway to marry Cecil Bannerman - New York financier and descendant of one of the country's oldest banking families. Ava informs Vivi that she requires a 'date' for the next 5 months. Cecil has just informed her that he's leaving her for his 'former' executive assistant, and Ava needs to socially 'beat him to the punch'. It's a day or two before thanksgiving, and most of the agents have been booked for events during the holiday season. In looking through the portfolios, Ava declares most of the men 'boys' and none will do. ...Then Bass shows up to take Vivi to lunch. Ava declares his perfect, and insists only he will do! Bass is already well known as the 'hunky doctor' from a TV series Our Small Town that was extremely popular several years. He has not lost any of his good looks or charm. Of course he'll do! And, he declares he's up for it.
Immediately, Ava realizes the relationship between Bass and Vivi is more than the platonic one they claim...and neither of them realizes it. She says as much to Bass, and it starts him really thinking about it. Ava tells him that by spending the next four months with her, they will dupe Cupid into realizing how she feels about him.
Because Vivi and Bass now need to cut off contact with each other due to Ava's demands - especially since the gossip-mongers and paparazzi are all over this new relationship like white on rice! Just how Ava wants it. Fortunately for Bass, he has not lost an ounce of his acting abilities...and every day he is grateful just to get through it! As he suffers at the shallowness of Ava's 'friends' and cronies, he misses Vivi more and more.
Vivi, whose family has high expectations for everyone in the family, continually belittles her about how she can't keep a guy long enough to marry her. Trust me, the way her family treats her - it's UGLY! If my family were like this, I doubt I would ever go back for the holidays.
Vivi is miserable without Bass, and misses him more and more each day. Bass is doing such a good job with his assignment with Ava, that even Vivi is fooled when the gossip websites publish a picture of Bass leaving Tiffany's with one of their signature bags. Bass knew going in that none of the employees will talk, but another customer tattles that they overheard a discussion around 'ring sizing'. Vivi, never considering the possibility, doesn't realize that while yes, he actually DID buy an engagement ring, it's for HER! Vivi assumes it's for Ava.
I could very easily keep going and tell you more about what happens, but you'll just have to read it for yourself!