What I saw was the...absolute last thing I was expecting.
I felt like I was at some popular girl’s house on Friday night rather than Satan’s castle.
Music was booming in the air, there were humans and creatures alike dancing everywhere, and I coughed as various questionable kinds of smoke wafted over to us.
“What the hell is going on here?” I asked incredulously, trying not to look at the scantily clad group of bodies.
“My father’s partying again.” Eversio muttered, looking at his pocketwatch, “This is what happens when I’m five minutes late.”
I resisted the urge to gawk.
“So, um, how are you going to find him...in that?”
“You’re going to help me, recruit.”
Before I could protest he’d taken my hand and dragged me into the throng of revellers.
“Why are you taking me along?” I hissed, squeezing between two ogre-like beings, “I don’t even know what your dad looks like!”
“Just look for an older version of me.” He offered, scanning the crowd and yanking me further into the mess.
The smells of sweat and drugs were overpowering. I couldn’t help but feel that, there, I was truly experiencing the wrath of hell. Partying like hell.
“Gods...” Eversio muttered, turning back to face me so sharply that I almost bumped into him, “We have a problem.”
“What is it?” I asked, terrified, “Did someone pass out? Vomit?”
I’d heard way too many nightmare party stories.
“No, that...demon over there is my great-aunt June. If she recognizes me she’ll yammer on about her three boyfriends for the next eon.”
I followed his line of vision and spotted a curvy young woman who was breathing fire over a drink for an audience of goblin things. Great-aunt? Her? Hell was a weird place.
“Stop looking at her, you’ll only draw her attention.” He hissed, “Just tell me if she comes towards us.”
In a matter of seconds the object of his terror was gravitating in our direction, as if by fate.
“She’s getting closer. Three yards away. Two. One and a ha-”
I was cut off in my countdown as Eversio slammed his lips against mine, freezing in every fiber of my being.
“Play along, or we’ll both grow old and die here!” he hissed into my ear, confirming my thoughts.
I was a decoy. A way for him to hide his face from his great-aunt while blending in with the crowd.
The next time he kissed me I did my level best to kiss him back, trying not to feel anything as his gloves whispered against my cheek and neck.
As June passed he turned a bit to hide his face from view, and I managed to get a taste of his forked tongue.
He kissed like sin.
Before I knew what was happening the danger had passed and I was being dragged through the crowd again, my head whirling with shock and guilty pleasure.
I’d never been kissed before. I hadn’t ever been remotely near a kiss before – my love life had been a solid blank besides what I read in books and saw on TV.
I wasn’t ugly but I wasn’t pretty either. I was the kind of person that debated which I was all the time with myself. The fact that I had managed to get some action with someone that looked like Eversio was a miracle in of itself.
I wasn’t like the girls in most books; I wasn’t white or curvy or fairy-featured. I was bronzed, skinny with a face that was ordinary in all the wrong ways.
So where I should have forgotten about Eversio’s covert tactics immediately I still had them swirling in my head, wanting to forget but unable to.
Of course. It made sense that the only remotely romantic moment in my life was the result of me being used as a prop.
That was all I could ever be to anyone – a prop.
I was pulled out of my thoughts when Eversio sighed in relief.
“We’ve found him.”
I looked up, blinking in surprise. So this was Satan.