And as there were requests for this and it seemed to fit in with the Mood of the Month...
Liannan turned away from them.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she remarked. “Summon one of you. Make you see what it’s like. I call on the one the Goblin Market calls a traitor. I call on the liar, the demon lover, the murderer. I call on Alan Ryves!”
Alan stepped out of the shadows of ruins and into the moonlight, limping across the night-gray grass to the circles where magic fires were blazing. There was a sudden hiss rising all around the Market, like a nest of snakes waking and uncoiling, ready to strike.
The demon smiled and beckoned Alan on.
“I do hope you won’t think I was being too harsh,” Liannan murmured.
“No,” said Alan. “It was just the truth.”
“It always is,” Liannan told him. “And people always hate hearing it.”
She was standing at the very edge of the place where the circles joined, magic glowing palely at her feet. Alan stopped about an inch away from her, still standing on shadowed grass.
“Come,” Liannan coaxed. “This little girl promised me a kiss, and you know what happens to her if she can’t keep her promise.”
The threat was clear and the thought — possession — like a blow to the stomach, but even though Mae felt sick and winded, she didn’t feel afraid. Alan wouldn’t let it happen. Not in a thousand years.
She opened her mouth, trying to think of some way to phrase, Sorry, I know saucy demon action wasn’t what you had in mind for tonight, but Alan looked at her and smiled with his ridiculous amount of charm.
“It’s all right, Mae,” he said. “It’s all right, Liannan,” he added in the same warm voice. “I don’t mind.”
“And what if the Market folk stone you to death?” Liannan asked. “Will you mind then?”
“I probably will mind that, yes,” said Alan, as calm as she was.
Liannan shrugged, a loose, sinuous movement. “Men have died for less than a kiss from me before now. What do you desire, Alan Ryves?”
They were watching each other. Mae was surprised at how disturbed she felt by the sight of them, both so clearly fascinated.
“Nobody’s ever safe,” Liannan said. “But you will come to no harm from me tonight. Now take it off.”
Alan put one hand up to his shirt collar and flicked open a couple of buttons, then drew out his talisman, crystals catching magic light in a brief moment of beauty. He reached into the circle and placed his talisman in Mae’s outstretched hand, the knotted leather the talisman hung from coiled neatly under it, Alan’s only protection gone.
He closed her fingers over the talisman with his own. Its warning glow was hidden from sight.
Alan stepped into the demon’s place where the circles overlapped and two worlds collided, where Liannan stood waiting for him.
He stood looking down at her. He wasn’t trembling as Mae had been. He looked across his breakfast table at a demon every morning, Mae thought. It made a strange kind of sense that he wasn’t afraid.
Liannan reached out and ran her icicle fingers down Alan’s cheek, light but still drawing blood at the first touch. A bead of blood welled up and then ran down his face to follow her hand, tracing down Alan’s throat to the exposed hollow where his talisman should have rested.
“I have a memory of you,” Liannan said slowly.
“Yes?” Alan asked. “Well, have another.”
Hope you enjoyed! Next up, Maureen and Sarah's Excellent Adventure.