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Authors: Mina V. Esguerra

Interim Goddess of Love

BOOK: Interim Goddess of Love
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Interim Goddess of Love

Mina V. Esguerra

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

This ebook belongs to vzyl at 64 70 67 72 6f 75 70 forum.
I hereby acknowledge that I have shared this book outside the forum without
permission from the original poster if I earn profit or rewards for providing access to this ebook.
I also accept responsibility for advertising and providing a hyperlink to this forum.

 

Contact the author:

[email protected]

http://minavesguerra.com

 

Cover art for this edition designed by Tania Arpa

Photography by Rhea Bue (
http://bebe-doll.net

Heart design by elizaletterist (brusheezy.com)

Interim Goddess of Love

 

College sophomore
Hannah Maquiling doesn't know why
everyone
tells her their love problems. She's never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn't stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn't be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she's going to have to take on this responsibility -- but
for all humanity
.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It
's a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world's obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

While she
's learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who's got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah's mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he's not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after -- or at least something that'll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he's so, well,
hot
.)

 

From an interview with Ivy Mira Alonzo, author of
Day of Hearts:

 

So what served as your inspiration for the novel?

When I was a kid, my lolo told me stories about the old gods and goddesses of our people,
from way before Spain brought Catholicism to our shores. He didn't have a TV so when I visited him in the summer he would instead entertain me with stories about the sun god Apo's controlling ways, moon god Maya's rivalry with her siblings, sea god Aman's forbidden love affair… I adored them, and kept asking what happened to them next, and he'd always have a new story.

 

Day of Hearts
is based on one of these stories, right? Did you do any other research into Philippine myths?

That
's the strange thing. I started my novel as a project in college but when I researched the myths, I couldn't find the ones my lolo told me. Or the stories would be similar but the names or some details would be different. I began to wonder if he had been making it up all along.

 

You never got to ask him?

No. He passed away years ago. But I wrote
Day of Hearts
anyway as a tribute to him, using the Sun God's love story that he told me about.

 

Are there any other of his stories that you want to use, someday?

Oh definitely. He had a story about Diya, the goddess of love. That one day she disappeared, and the gods scrambled to divide her power among them. But they were bad at it, because none of them knew love like she did. And they couldn
't inherit all her powers anyway because she wasn't
dead
, just missing, and after a long time, she returned, stronger than ever.

 

Did that show up in your research?

No. Lolo probably made that up too. But, I figure, he was just doing his part. His family liked to tell stories, and he grew up in this tradition.

 

Are you
excited about the movie version? Isn't that coming out soon?

Yes, and I'm very excited.
Casting's perfect. I had little to do with it, but the director showed me some scenes and it looks
amazing!

C
hapter 1

 

Disclaimer: I'm new at this.

It
's only been three weeks, I wanted to say. So if I do anything wrong, mess you up in any way, I shouldn't be held responsible. But the girl sitting in front of me, she didn't know that anyway. She didn't know that by walking into the College Guidance Office, seeking something as abstract as "guidance," she would instead find me, and be the first to summon me.

Quin told me that I would get better at
the diagnosis with each "project."

It helps if you
're familiar with the feeling
, he always said.
But it'll get easier.

Kathy
Martin had been sitting on the couch across from me for ten minutes, but I only noticed her there after a pencil rolled off my desk. I bent to pick it up and saw Kathy's shoes. Ballet flats so orange, they looked like they were on fire.

"
You scared me," I said, or maybe something with more profanity. "I didn't see you there."

"
I get that a lot."

"
Are they expecting you?" I asked, going into secretary mode.

Kathy
shook her head. "No," she said. "Should I have made an appointment? I thought I could just walk in here."

I
checked the calendars of the two guidance counselors who were in that day and saw that neither would be available for another four hours. And they were both out at the moment.

The disappointment on Kathy
's face was unexpected. No one ever wanted to see a guidance counselor that badly, at least not on the Tuesdays and Thursdays that I did filing work there.

"
You could come back at five," I offered.

"
Do you work here?"

I didn
't, not in the way Kathy meant with her question. Located just outside of Metro Manila, Ford River College was a relatively new school (compared to the over-a-century-old ones put up during the Spanish and American periods), but it already had a reputation for being the place to send your children if they were very smart, or if you were very rich. I was there on scholarship, but I didn't think that automatically put me in the camp of very smart. Maybe lucky.

One of the strings attached to the free education
was that I had to work in a "relevant administration office" several hours a week. If Kathy couldn't tell I was a student, I could guess why. Students of Ford River wore uniforms only on Mondays.

"
I'm just a student employee," was the gist of it.

"
Oh." More disappointment.

I could see what was coming, when her face lit up briefly.

"Can I talk to you instead?" she asked.

Could she? It wasn
't like I was idle. I had two hundred sheets of student personality tests to file, and they needed this yesterday. I was sure Kathy could see that, because they were all on top of the desk, a Great Wall of Papers between us.

"
You're fine that I'm just a student?"

She shrugged.
"I just want someone to talk to. I'm Kathy, by the way."

"
Hannah Maquiling. What do you want to talk about?"

She sighed.
"There's this guy who likes me. I don't know what to make of it."

I sighed too.
"Let's walk to the cafeteria and you can tell me about it."

"
You don't mind?" Her eyes were big and pleading, and I saw it, before I felt it pass my skin and get into my bones.

Longing.

I knew that, longing. The act of identifying it seemed to make it worse, and it felt like it slammed into my chest instead of crept in.

"
Nah," I said, trying to sound casual and not at all like her emotion was suffocating me. "It's my job, I guess."

I was told that they would find me, wherever I happened to be, and they would want and need
to talk about boys, and girls, and relationships, and what it all meant, and I had to make time for them.

For I am the interim goddess of love.

Chapter 2

 

When I first met him, I really thought he was a god.

Not literally
. More like the way a freshman girl sees a junior guy with chiseled features and perfect skin and assumes he looks like a marble sculpture of a god. I had never been to Italy or Greece, never seen those statues up close, but I was eighteen years old and my limited experience told me that they were probably modeled after guys like Joaquin Apolinario.

Besides, I didn
't
meet
any juniors. Didn't take any classes with them. The ones who happened to speak to me while I served time at the Guidance Office treated me like they would any barely-there admin employee. Sophomores were nicer. Seniors too, maybe because they were almost out of here. Juniors on the other hand were enjoying their first year as upperclassmen all too much.

But he wasn
't like that. He wasn't just the only junior who talked to me then. He was also the only junior who lingered at the Guidance Office, introduced himself, made small talk, stayed until five-thirty, helped me lock up, and walked me to the cafeteria because I was hungry.

He introduced himself as Quin, which I thought was an unusual name for these parts. I said my name was
Hannah.

"
What's your real name?" I asked.

"
Joaquin."

"
But you say 'Quin' differently in 'Joaquin.'"

"
Does it matter?"

"
It's not a proper nickname. You might as well call yourself something totally different. Like Bob."

As far as conversations went, my side of that one was icky and foolish and stereotypically
freshman
, but for some reason Quin was amused. For a second there I thought that this was it, my college romance is about to begin, and with a tall, gorgeous junior at that (my mom always did say I was an overachiever).

Instead, the gorgeous junior just kept wanting to
talk.
Kept asking me to lunch, walking me to class. He would casually tell me about his basketball games and practice (he was captain of the varsity team already) as if his life was so boring. I would tell him about my daily concerns, like what I ate for breakfast and oversleeping on quiz day, and he acted like he was actually listening.

Ten months later, as the school year ended, he said the thing that
explained everything, and nothing, about why he befriended plain old me:

"
Hannah, this might seem forward and a bit much for you to grasp, since I never said anything to you before about it, and it's a huge responsibility…"

My thoughts were along the lines of:
Will you agree to be the most hated person on campus and be my girlfriend?

But he said:
"We need you to be the goddess of love, for now."

I
must have had a blank look on my face for a full minute. I kept thinking, is that what people are calling it these days?

And then he explained it.

"Do I have to be trained for this?" I said, taking the news rather well.

 

BOOK: Interim Goddess of Love
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