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Aphrodite's Complex

Aphrodite's Complex

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Aphrodite's Complex

219 Seiten
3 Stunden
May 3, 2017


You’d think that someone named after the Greek goddess of love would have no trouble with romance—but you’d be wrong. Klutzy, quirky, 39-year-old Aphrodite Aldo seems to simultaneously attract and repel prospective suitors.

Personal trainer Luke is mad for Aphrodite, and she certainly finds his sculpted good looks irresistible. Unfortunately, Luke’s Adonis-like features attract lots of love-struck ladies—and he loves them all. While Aphrodite tries to determine whether physical attraction equals love, her job as a reporter sends her falling headfirst (literally) into the arms of Rory Finn, an Irish novelist. One stalker ex-girlfriend , a barroom brawl, and a marriage proposal later, Aphrodite is convinced she’s found her soul mate—but then Rory abandons her and leaves for Ireland.

Convinced she’s destined to continue her family’s legacy of broken hearts, Aphrodite grabs her grandmother’s wedding dress and catches the next plane to Belfast, determined to find Rory. Irish legends, a supposedly cursed box, and a startling connection between their great-grandparents reunite Rory and Aphrodite; but Rory chooses to remain in Ireland. Devastated, Aphrodite returns home alone. Is she fated never to find true love?
May 3, 2017

Über den Autor


Aphrodite's Complex - Janette Calabro



Two days ago, I leaned against the mortuary wall just to be close to him. The setting sun shaded my vision into a mirage of shadows that enveloped my soul into a deep, dark abyss.

Can I help you? The older woman asked. I assumed it was the mortician who rounded the corner of the brick building, her soft-soled shoes making nary a sound.

Where is he?

You mean Patrick? The older woman eyed me curiously and then nodded as though she understood.

I have to be near him. Point me to what part of the building he’s in. I shivered against the cold brick.

The mortician leaned against the wall too, her slight build small against the vast wall. Her gray bun had started to unravel. You’re standing in the right place. He’s right behind you, against this wall. She tapped on the brick.

My spine softened and my fists unclenched. I didn’t know. I looked into her blank stare as though maybe she could help. He didn’t tell me he was married.

Perhaps it is too late to stand outside of a mortuary at night fall. She started to walk away and then hesitated. Are you the Arts writer for the Times?

Funny you should ask. Your timing is so thoughtful. I backed away from the wall as she looked at me in distaste. Have you ever been in love before?

Her face softened and she nodded. Yes. Married for 40 years.

You’re lucky.

Confidential is my first and last name. Maybe you will run upon some luck someday.

We turned away at the same time and walked opposite directions. She didn’t need to push the guilt any deeper. I was already at the bottom.

I opened my eyes and stared at the blank screen, my fingers positioned the same as before, sweaty palms resting against the edge of my desk.

Patrick had to remain a secret as sure as I couldn’t bury dirt. I shook out my hands to gain feeling back. No classic country-western song here. I pulled my shoulders back and placed my fingers back on the keyboard. I vowed to write as I always had, only more and better. I would write like a fiend, someone possessed, until I could bury dirt.

"I need the review on Romeo and Juliet." The arts editor breezed by my cube.

Hey, Corey, when do I get an office?

When you become an editor.

I breathed in his sarcasm and smiled at the familiar. My fingers began to move. I typed the review and deleted it twice. Even if Shakespeare whispered words in my ear, the fate of the doomed couple was sealed. The star-crossed lovers danced the same love story, this time on their toes in a ballet. Yet they would fail no matter how the story was told. The cost of love always came at a high price. Sigh. The characters danced passionately, forcing the audience to question their own destiny, but the curtain was guaranteed to fall, just as the famed lovers would indeed fall again.

Romeo and Juliet leaped and turned and glided into their own graves, I typed. An ageless love story danced into the hearts of the audience on tiptoes, and the watchers gasped and prayed, hoping for a miracle that somehow, this time would be different. With red eyes and an endless supply of tissues, theater patrons could only come to one conclusion. True love is to die for.

I finished the review and clicked submit to my editor.

Why do we cry even though we know the end of the story? I shouted over the top of my cube. Is anyone listening?

You’re the only one who cries around here, my editor shouted back from the other end of the newsroom. Just get the story done, said Corey.

Done. I swung the laptop over one shoulder. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon. Throughout the newsroom, keyboards clicked and conversations conflicted, as I tiptoed over emotions like they were a field of land mines.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, said Corey. Shakespeare be damned.

I drove home, past the same Psychic sign that I passed daily during my work commute. This time, Madame Bloom’s sign raised the hair on the back of my neck. A magnetic pull forced my car to break away from the herd. The Jeep swerved into Madame’s parking lot as though with a mind of her own.

"Oh, I’m driving Christine now?" I parked beneath the flashing sign, looked at my watch, waited, stalled.

The outline of a quarter moon illuminated the shop’s front window. Was that a reflection of the real moon or part of her signage? Confused and scared, I looked up psychic on Wikipedia.

Elaborate systems of divination and fortune-telling dated back to ancient times, Wikipedia stated. Some fortune tellers were said to be able to make predictions through some sort of direct apprehension or vison of the future. These people were known as seers or prophets, and in later times as clairvoyants.

I knocked on the door, a tightness squeezing my chest like I just ate a chili pepper soaked in cocaine. Surely I would die asking for advice.

Madame Bloom answered, wiping bright paint from her hands. I opened my mouth to ask if I would ever find true love, but no words came out. Better yet, when would I quit writing news stories and write my first best-seller to hit the New York Times? Oh, still no words.

Are you here for a reading today? She motioned me in. Her brightly colored hippie-chic skirt and low-cut beaded blouse fit the fortune teller theme perfectly. I just started a new painting, but am more than happy to take a break. What’s on your mind?

Well, isn’t that what you’re supposed to tell me?

She tilted her head sideways as if to say, oh, come on. It appears you’re a stressed out journalist.

How do you know that? I asked, truly impressed.

You’re wearing a press pass.

Oh yeah. I pulled off the pass and tossed into my bag, edging into her space. Did I look stressed or was that a read? I just feel I’m at a turning point, a crossroads, and I’m really lost in love.

You have lost a loved one recently.

A discreet tear followed the curve of my cheek. My secret was out. I’m so out of touch that I dated a married man and didn’t know he was married. None of the typical signs was there. No ring, no interruptions during a date. He simply traveled a lot.

I see. So, it’s over?

He’s…dead. She looked me in the eye as I looked away. No, I didn’t kill him. God, no.

Is it possible you didn’t want to know he was married? Do you make yourself available to unavailable men?

Brilliant. How much would she charge me for this obvious information? Oh, she would have to do much better than that.

I don’t have answers for you. I looked deep into her psychic eyes, girl to girl. "That’s why I’m here. I can tell you that I reviewed Romeo and Juliet and cried the whole time I tapped at the keyboard."

The ballet that just toured here? She asked, as though she knew something I didn’t.

Yes. As I watched the performance, something released, like a sore muscle when you get a massage—hopefully nothing that a six-pack of V-8 couldn’t cure. I’m totally at the end of my rope. Unraveling.

Good observation. Madame Bloom sat back in her chair and paused for emphasis. Any suicide tendencies?

No. Are you a therapist or a psychic?

Therapy works for a lot of people. I sense you think you’re too good for it. She lit seven candles of different colors and took my hands into hers. Long sandy hair fell over her shoulders as she examined my right palm like a blueprint. Your heart and head agree on nothing.

Is that unusual?

Not really, but there’s a lot of space between your heart line and your head line. She gently squeezed my palm. Your hands are cold, yet you’re sweating like you’re standing in the hot sun.

I’m nervous. I pulled away my hand. So far, external observations from stranger to stranger didn’t impress. I’d bet most people who came to her had sweaty palms and a dead loved one.

Your name is unusual. Aphrodite is not a common name to my knowledge. She glanced at my hands, now clasped together on my lap. Your golden-red hair frames your face much like a goddess on fire. At least, a restless fire in your soul.

That’s part of my curse. Tears continued their path across my warm face. I’m thirty-nine years old, and have nothing I want.

You have no children. She gently pried apart my right hand from the left and traced my pinkie finger. You’re an only child as well.

I’m okay, really. I wiped the tears, wanting to like her. What about my future?

Do you feel alone?

I’m surrounded by friends and colleagues every day. At the end of the day, I can’t wait to be alone.

There’s a difference between feeling alone and being alone. Which is it?

"I don’t feel alone as much as afraid. Afraid of the future and of the past. Afraid I’ll never find true love, never write that best-seller, and never amount to anything other than an arts reporter in Kansas City. Does that sounds like an age-old story? Is it always about love? Romeo and Juliet playing out like Groundhog Day?"

Not always. Let’s see what the tarot says. She lit another candle, this time a large white taper in a gold sconce surrounded by brightly hued paintings of different subjects.

Take three slow, deliberate breaths into the belly of your lungs. Breathe east and west. Focus only on the white candle.

I closed my eyes and followed instruction. Shallow breaths transported oxygen barely past my rib cage. I’m sorry for crying, I said in the middle of newly formed tears. I’m falling apart and living on a journalist’s income. I hate men, but I really love them. Or did you already know that?

She shuffled the deck and faced some cards down, some cards up. Clearly, you’re smart, quick-witted, and beautiful. Your name suits the common dilemmas of mythological proportions. You can overcome the goddess stigma, but you’re not out of trouble just yet. She flipped a few cards upright. You will find love, but be careful of playing the fool or falling for the fool. Her finely shaped finger pointed to the fool card, which depicted a hooded character with a cane, wandering to nowhere.

I’ll find true love?

More than once. Be careful of smug overconfidence. Contrary to your wishes, you can’t always have what you want. No one can. That path is for the fool. She paused and wrinkled her brow at the cards. You have made yourself invisible to the life you want.


You turn the other cheek to the truth. You have become complacent, comfortable with unavailable men. Your fear pushes you off the path for finding love, for writing your book. Your fear stops you from seeing the truth.

You’re seeing this in the cards? Oh, yes. I was beginning to like her a lot.

Madame stacked the cards and smiled as though she understood. This is where my power lies. The truth.

Isn’t that where everyone’s power lies?

Then don’t hide the truth, find it. Let yourself stand naked with no false ideas about who you are or who you should be. It’s up to you to change everything.

I stood up from the small candlelit table, drawn to her art. Madame Bloom? I asked.

How much are your paintings? What about that one? I pointed to a stream of orange, yellow, and blue-drenched butterflies weaving a trail through a remote forest.

Whatever you would like to donate.

Sold. I handed her five twenties. Is that enough?

She slipped the money in her pocket and wrapped the painting in paper. I believe your heart is on fire, but you need to keep your finger on its pulse and close the gap between head and heart.


Let the head and heart exist as one. She handed me the painting. See where the butterflies take you.

I slid the package under my arm. I think I believe you. I finally smiled. Thank you. I will be back.

She nodded appreciatively.

Are you married, Madame Bloom?

In a former life.

You mean a past life?

You could look at it like that.

Children? Or should I ask to see your pinkie finger?


She smiled and I did a double take as I left her lair. Did someone channel Stevie Nicks?

Once in a while, love dropped a fairytale at my feet when I least expected it. Take for example, my personal trainer. Luke knew almost everything about me except for, well, Patrick’s death or the fact that I even dated him.

I rested my head in my hands and closed my eyes, a welcome break from a story about kid’s sidewalk art. From the small space left in my mind’s eye, I envisioned myself on a raft made of sugar-snap peas, floating down a lazy river. I bobbed round and round, accompanied by circus clowns blowing horns and smiling perversely. Another raft passed mine. My personal trainer, Luke, was dressed as Romeo, adorned in an open white shirt with puffy sleeves. His chest muscles bulged like Hulk’s in a wrestling match, and his liquid Dial eyes glowed otherworldly. He waved as he passed and his boat bumped against mine like the Titanic against an iceberg. My clowns rolled off into the water. Not much harm done as their odd colored bodies floated down the river, laughing. Luke’s boat glowed, made of shiny orbs or maybe moons. We reached out for each other, hands outstretched, but never touched.

Aphrodite? A hand touched my shoulder. Are you all right?

Oh, God I rubbed my eyes. Just a little headache, I said, happy to escape delusions of grandeur. Was I going quite mad? I blinked twice and focused on the young intern delivering mail around the office. First day?

Second day. She set a bundle of mail on my desk. I read your review of the ballet. I wish I could live a love story like that. She walked away smiling. Someday.

Yeah, someday, I echoed.

I fell asleep watching Sleepless in Seattle and woke in a cold sweat. Awake and alone, I jumped out of bed and paced the house. The kitchen tile felt cold on my feet, so I settled in my favorite easy chair with a bottle of red wine. After two glasses, I lit a candle and fell to my knees in prayer.

Dear God, I prayed. "I may have a screw loose. I may have more than one.

All I want is to springboard into writing a bestseller. Not just any old bestseller, but one that will help people, and help change lives of women everywhere. In addition, while you’re at it, will you send me the perfect man? You know, a Romeo, maybe one that isn’t married or sick or poor or has major problems or even minor ones. Does he exist? I don’t want to die old and penniless, with no great works of art for loved ones to remember me by. You know that Rolling Stones song with the lyrics toothless, bearded hag. Oh God, please help. If I don’t hear from you in the next few days, I’m going to join a monastery."

I made the sign of the cross like a good Catholic girl, abandoned the wine, and drank some chamomile tea. When I woke, my head was on the living room floor and my feet were resting on the easy chair. I was twisted into some drunken yoga position, and my neck hurt terribly.

I called into work sick, which was completely unacceptable to my editor.

If you stay home today, Aphro, your workload will be overwhelming tomorrow, Corey said calmly.

Of course, this meant he was seething.

I’ll be of absolutely no value to you today, Corey.

You know my rule. If you’re not dying, go to work.

I might be dying.

I held the

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