Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Lane here today on tour for her latest release Familiar Demon. Welcome, Amy.
Courting a Demon By Amy Lane
So, what’s it like to court a demon?
Well, in the case of Edward and Mullins, there’s quite a bit of preparation.
First, Mullins must be ready to get out of hell—it turns out that hell is mostly run by bozos and that the REAL devils are humans without restraint and without conscience who are given the power to hurt. With a judicious use of magic—and some self-realization on his part—Mullins is free to go.
Except, well, about that magic…
Turns out that the spell to release a demon from hell was cooked up a long time ago. All sorts of things—horns of ibexes, dodos eggs, dinosaur bones, three strands of hair from an elven king—are sort of hard to acquire.
And let’s talk about being ready to get out of hell. Lots of us live in hells of our own making. It’s comfy here. We know where the fridge is. The whips for self-flagellation are handy. We know who to blame when the world goes wonky. Why would we want to leave?
So talking Mullins out of staying in hell—and putting together the spell that will get him out when he’s ready—are two of the focal points of the book, and neither of them are easy. So how do you start a planetary scavenger hunt in a minivan and stop a demon for blaming himself for simple human failings?
Well, like so very much else in romance, it all starts with a kiss…
Familiar Demon—Exclusive Excerpt:
“Nice,” Edward said with a sigh. “This was one of few items I didn’t have in the minivan when it blew up.”
“Wait a moment!” Mullins protested. “You… you had most of the ingredients in the minivan before it blew up?”
“Yes. Yes, I did. And then we all went on a mission without Harry and they spotted us and were completely on our tail with guns and Emma pulled us out of the minivan with that boomerang thing she does in her sleep, and the minivan was sailing through the air like an unmanned cruise missile. Are you happy?”
“But… but you were doing this before? Without my knowledge? Edward—why?”
“Because I wanted it all done before we told you!” Edward exclaimed. “I wanted to offer it—and I know it’s silly and simplistic and sad—but I wanted to offer it, like a courting gift, and say, ‘Mullins, I’ve loved you forever. Will you leave hell for me?’ And then everything I’d collected went kaboom and….” Edward’s shoulders slumped. “Harry and Suriel were separated. And I know we told you about it afterward, but… but I thought I was going to lose my brother, Mullins. And I was terrified. So I gave up the search until Suriel was released from heaven, and now—”
“Now you’re ready to search again.” Mullins bowed his head. “Edward, you have nothing to be ashamed about. You should have asked me first—”
“So you could say no?” Edward demanded.
Mullins shook his head, eyes focused on Edward’s loopy scrawl. “I wouldn’t have said no,” he whispered. “Not to you.”
And Edward had to grin, his heart warming in his chest. “And that is the best thing I’ve heard all day. But about that last thing—”
“I’ll search for it,” Mullins told him soberly. “But sometime—not now—I think I’m going to have to tell you the story about how one young cotsman became a demon.”
“I’m waiting to hear it,” Edward whispered. “Mullins, you’re growing thin. Let me kiss you, and you can wear my love under your skin, to protect you until it’s time again.”
Growing thin was the expression Francis had coined for the transparency Mullins formed around the edges before Mullins asked for the words that would banish him back to hell.
Edward ignored him, turned his head, and cupped his jaw. His fingers slid through the façade of the beast like a photo projection on the wall, and he could feel the faint bristle of day-old beard abrade his palm. “I can see you, this close, Mullins. I know who I’m kissing. You are a very beautiful man.”
He found Mullins’s mouth unerringly, and Mullins’s gasp of surprise told Edward the touch was alien, and not unpleasant.
Edward breathed softly and found the seam of Mullins’s lips with the tip of his tongue, and Mullins’s breathy little moan sent wildfire ripping through Edward’s blood.
He slid his fingers along the back of Mullins’s round, human skull and plundered.
So many years of depending on this steady, practical demon. So many years wanting to escape the strictures of courtesy and magic that bound them.
And now Edward was tasting him, and he tasted rich, sweet, exotic—Turkish coffee and cinnamon.
Mullins groaned and lifted his hand to Edward’s temple—
And sliced his skin with the sharp edge of his hoof.
Edward gasped and Mullins jerked back, turning away and shrinking inward.
“Let me go,” he murmured, like the last hour of them working together, partnering as though they had a future, had never happened.
Edward reached for his chin and found it—still human under his fingers. He gave a little pull and Mullins reluctantly turned toward him. Edward couldn’t see him anymore, but he could feel him under his fingers. “That kiss is my vow to you, Mullins. I fell in love bit by bit, you understand? For the last fifty years, it’s been you, just you, in my heart, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been there from the very first. You and me, we have things to do together. This isn’t the end. I may let you return to your cell, to gain strength, to think about the challenges we have together, but trust me, I’ll be summoning you again. And if you don’t come, I’ll know you’ve been taken, and thanks to you, I’ve got a plan—”
“Enough. Enough of the plan.” Edward smiled and tapped his forehead, calling up his brother’s mantra when things got really hairy. “It’s all up here,” he said.
Mullins didn’t smile back. “You’re right,” he said quietly. “I do have a soul. But if you get hurt before we can make this come true, you’ll break my heart.”
Edward nodded, suddenly sober. “Understood. I’ll say the words to let you go, and I swear I’ll call you back again.” A drop of blood dripped over Edward’s forehead from the cut Mullins had left, and before Edward knew how to react Mullins leaned forward and lapped.
The buzz of magic that passed through the room left them both breathless.
“I’m sorry!” Mullins muttered. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did that—”
Edward’s cockiest grin took him by surprise. “I do. You locked that promise in blood, you clever boy. I’m sworn to it for real now—written right in the annals of hell, isn’t that how the blood oath goes?”
Mullins shut his eyes. “It was unconscionable—”
“It was heroic!” Edward crowed. “And I owe you the same sort of heart. I’ll get you out of there, beloved. Just hang on, understand?”
To his relief Mullins nodded, and Edward reached out and touched his face tenderly. “Get thee gone, demon,” he said, voice choking on the old words. “Return only when summoned, harm none in this house, harm none at my hearth. Get thee gone.”
And Mullins disappeared, fading into the air, leaving only the heat of his body and his hope behind.