“It’s been a while since I’ve seen you, Father,” Eros said as I stepped out of the elevator.
“I’ve been busy,” I replied as I walked to Dark Sparks. Smiling at the barista, I ordered a flat white, handed her some money, took the coffee, turned, and strolled toward the front door. While I loved my son, I hoped he would just…go away. There was enough going on without having to deal with any of his antics.
“A little bird has told me you’re having problems with your lady love,” Eros said.
Well, so much for hoping he’d go away. “Everything is just fine, thank you very much. I’m sure you have something to do, and I need to get back to work. Let’s have dinner soon,” I said as I pushed the door open.
“Hang on a minute,” he replied, following me outside. “I know for a fact that things are not fine.”
I spun around, causing Eros to run into me. My coffee exploded from the cup and all over me. I looked down at my shirt, then up at him. Shaking my head, I walked over to the nearest trash can, dumped my cup in it, and walked away.
Eros caught up to me. “Sorry about your shirt.”
“Not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” I muttered.
“No, that would be you getting cock blocked by your girlfriend’s mother.”
“Reginald has been talking again, I see.”
“Of course not,” Eros said quickly, which meant that Reginald had, in fact, said something to him.
“I swear I’m going to fire his ass when I get back to the office.”
“It wasn’t him. It was Nike.”
I stopped in my tracks. “Nike? Seriously?”
“She called me a little while ago because she’s worried about you. She thought there was something I could do to help you get your girl back.”
“Your kind of help doesn’t always work for me, Eros. And this isn’t something you can fix with one of your arrows, either.”
“What did γιαγιά say?” I just looked at him. “Well, I assumed you were at the Complex to talk to her. So what advice did she give you?”
I started walking again. “Basically, that I need to make a fool of myself to prove I love Kara.”
“She’s not wrong.”
“I’m the God of War, Eros,” I growled. “I don’t need to prove myself to anyone.”
“Oh, so you want her to just fall at your feet and worship you because you’re the big, bad man?”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“That’s the way you’re acting.”
“Look, I don’t know anything about…” I struggled to find the right word, “wooing a woman. I’ve never had a problem getting a woman to fall in love with me.”
“But the problem isn’t with Kara falling in love with you; it’s the bulldog guarding the door.”
“Well, I’m not about to woo her mother.”
“No, but you need to win Kara over enough that she steps over the guard and into your arms.”
“Yeah, good luck with that one,” I scoffed. “How about throwing some meat at the door and shooting her with a tranquilizer gun? Then Kara and I can just elope.”
Eros grabbed my arm, steering me back toward the God Complex. “Come on. I want you to watch something.”
“I don’t have time for any nonsense, Eros,” I said, jerking my arm out of his grasp. “I’ll figure this out on my own, without your help…or your arrows.”
“I give you my solemn promise not to use the arrows. But you do need my help.”
Reluctantly, I followed him back to the building, onto an elevator, and up to his apartment. “Have a seat,” he said, leading me into the living room as he walked over to the TV. He flipped through some DVDs, muttering under his breath. “Ah-ha, here it is!” He held a case over his head and waved it. “This holds the answers to all your problems.” He took out the disc and tossed the case to me.
Catching it, I looked at the title. “Say Anything? What’s this?”
“Guy meets girl. They fall in love. Overbearing father convinces the girl to break up with the guy, who wins her back.”
“One of your romantic comedies,” I said, unable to hide the disgust in my voice as I dropped the case on the couch next to me.
“I know how much you hate them, but this is one time where they are going to save your ass,” he replied. He put the disc in the machine, grabbed the remote, and joined me on the couch. “Trust me. This will work.”
An hour and forty minutes later, I wanted to jump out the window. “Explain to me how this is going to win Kara over.”
Eros pushed a button, reversing the movie until he got a particular scene. “Like this.”
“You’re nuts! I’m not doing that,” I said, getting to my feet. “Thanks for a lovely afternoon. I’m going to the gym to punch a bag and figure this out on my own.”
“Dad, please wait a minute.”
I sighed and turned to face him. “What?”
“Look, I know I’m a bit goofy at times, and perhaps I’ve shot you in the ass with an arrow one too many times. But please, trust me this time. I sincerely want to help you. Please.”
My son rarely said please to me. Studying his face, I could see his earnestness. Did I really want to put myself in his hands? This had disaster written all over it. “Okay.”
“Really?” Eros said, a look of surprise on his face.
“What have I got to lose?” I said. “My dignity, my reputation, the adulation of millions of women all over the world, no big deal, right?”
“You won’t regret this,” Eros said, rubbing his hands together. “Let’s get started.”
“This is ridiculous,” I said at the butt crack of dawn the next morning. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”
“Are you kidding me? This is fantastic!” my son replied as he whipped out his phone.
“You take one picture of this, one video, and I will make sure they never find your body.”
Pouting, Eros put his phone away. “The family is going to be so disappointed about missing this.”
“I’m willing to deal with their disappointment. Let’s just get this over with, shall we?”
“That’s the wrong attitude to have, Dad. You’re trying to win the heart of the woman you love.”
“I feel like a fool.”
How Eros managed to arrange everything in such a short span of time amazed me. I was standing in front of a light blue 1977 Chevy Malibu, wearing jeans, a black t-shirt, high-top sneakers, and a black trench coat. Sitting on the hood of the car was a boombox, something that was popular in the 1980s. Eros’s brilliant idea was to recreate a scene from the movie where the main character stands outside his girlfriend’s house, holding the stereo over his head while their song blared from the speakers.
“Kara is going to love it, I promise,” he assured me.
“She better, or I’ll never be able to date another woman in this city again.”
“This will work,” he insisted. Picking up the boombox, he handed it to me. He put a cassette tape in and pushed play. “Hold it up over your head, just like in the movie. I’ll be around the corner. You’ve got this.” He ran off before I could say anything else.
I grumbled a bit as I held the boombox aloft. Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes started to play, and I turned my attention to the upstairs window of Kara’s house. It only took a minute for the curtain to move to one side and for her face to appear. Her eyes widened in surprise, and I could see the amusement on her face as she raised the window. “What in the world are you doing?”
“Wooing you,” I replied.
“By reenacting that scene from Say Anything?”
“You’re talking to me, so it must be working.”
I heard yelling coming from the house, and Kara turned her head and said something in response. She looked down at me. “Give me a minute.”
Putting the boombox on the hood of the Malibu, I turned down the music and waited. Sure enough, Kara came out the front door, her mother hot on her heels. “You need to leave,” her mother yelled at me. “You’re bad luck for my daughter. She’s nearly died twice because of you!”
“Your daughter is a grown woman and can make her own decisions,” I retorted. “I love her, and I’m not going to let you, or anyone else for that matter, come between us. Either get used to the idea or go jump in the nearest volcano so you won’t have to see our happiness. Of course, you’ll miss out on spoiling your grandchildren, but I’m sure my family won’t mind not having to share them with a crotchety old lady who is preventing their son and brother from being happy.”
Her eyes grew wide at the mention of my family. No one ever wanted to get on their bad side. She spun on her heels and slammed the door closed.
“Wow, I’ve never seen her speechless before,” Kara said, clearly impressed. She crossed her arms. “So you love me, huh?”
I walked over to her and wrapped my arms around her. “Unconditionally.”
“If you want.” I tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and stroked her cheek. “I’m sorry for everything that has happened to you, Kara. I wish I could say that it won’t happen again, but we both know I can’t make that promise. I have enemies who will use anything and anyone against me to get the upper hand. I’ll do everything in my power to keep you safe, and I’ll give everything I have to make you happy. But I don’t want to spend another minute without you by my side.” I pulled a ring pop out of the trench coat and took her left hand in mine as I knelt in front of her. “Will you marry me?”
“No, she won’t!” her mother yelled from the upstairs window.
“Nobody’s talking to you, old woman!” I yelled back.
Cupping my face in her hands, she bent over and kissed me. “Yes, I’ll marry you, despite all the inherent risks to both of us. Because I’m sure my mother is going to find some way to kill you before we can say I do.”
I slipped the red ring pop on her finger, stood up, wrapped my arms around her, and kissed her.
Cheers, whistles, and applause erupted nearby. We turned to see my parents, some of my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles watching from across the street. “I’m going to kill that boy,” I muttered.
“I think it’s sweet,” Kara said as she put her arms around me and kissed me again.
Off to the side, Eros smiled as he filmed the romantic scene. “Perfect blackmail material,” he chuckled.