01 | Aphrodite's Contract
"I think you have the wrong person. No one could ever love someone like me. I know my name is misleading but I'm not even beautiful," I explained. If I didn't have expectations, there would be no disappointments and my heart couldn't handle anymore heartbreak.
"You are Jiang Yingyue, right?" she asked. I nodded so she continued, "Beauty doesn't lie within a person's physical features. If your heart is beautiful, you will naturally gain physical beauty. And that's what this is all about."
'The author must be hell-bent on having me be the main character!' I thought in disbelief. "You don't really believe that, do you? Because I've done my best to help others and look where that's gotten me."
"In time, you will learn to love yourself and hopefully be able to choose the person you want to spend eternity with. People like you don't go unnoticed as much as your kind likes to assume. The gods see everything, we just can't help everyone. If we did, no one would be able to grow. Which is why we select a small number of people to assist."
Her explanation made sense and I found myself struggling to find any fault but came up empty. "What's in it for you?"
"I've always wanted to go to the Mortal Realm to experience everything first-hand as a mortal. It's difficult to try new things when you're a deity. Everything is amplified and perfectly perfect, it becomes a bore after a while." She twirled the ends of her hair with her forefinger.
My choices were laid out in front of me, I could either choose to return to my original body where everyone hated me or I could accept whatever proposition the goddess of love had in mind. But before I could make the decision, I needed to know what she was offering besides the opportunity to love. "What are your conditions?"
"I will return your world in your body and live life as I've always wanted and you get the opportunity to live as a goddess in my body. However, living in my body means you accept the duties that come with it, so pay close attention to the love prayers."
"How will I know what to do?"
"There is always someone who has troubles with love. All you have to do is listen and guide them as best you can without directly interfering. Never make your actions louder than Tyche. She will be upset if she finds you are interfering with a mortal's luck fate without her knowledge."
"I don't think I follow."
"Hold your hands out," she requested. I did as she instructed and with a puff of pink smoke, a book and a heart-shaped compact appeared. "The book has a list of different scenarios and suggested procedures. However, at some point, you will have to stop relying on the book and go with your heart and what you think is right. Love doesn't have an instruction manual."
"If only it was," I muttered. "What's the compact for?"
"This whole process isn't just about someone else loving you. It's also about loving yourself. With every lesson learned, you will unlock new abilities and see your outer beauty is just as beautiful as your inner beauty."
I opened the compact to view myself in the mirror, expecting to see my ugly reflection but it displayed nothing. "Is there anything else I should know?"
"Beware of Eris, the goddess of discord. Never trust anything she says or does. There is always a hidden agenda."
"I guess we better get this show on the road."
"Does this mean you agree?" The corners of her mouth turned up into a large, bright grin.
'It's not like I have any other choice! What would the reader do?' Aphrodite clasped her hands together, waiting impatiently for my answer. "Yes, yes. I'll do it. But no funny business."
"Consider it done!"