Amanda kicked and screamed, the hardened brimstone ripping her pajamas to shreds. Crying, she landed on the blackened floor of an immense chamber. The demon let go of her ankle, and the gate slammed shut behind her.
For a while, only her ragged breathing echoed through the room. Then there was a crackle of fire.
“I apologize on behalf of Abaddon,” a silky voice said from the far corner of the room. “He can be a bit... inconsiderate at times.”
“What's happening?” Amanda said, rubbing her eyes. “Where am I?”
“Why, Hell, of course.”
“Why, what did I do wrong?”
“Oh, nothing, my dear. You wrote in your last letter that you wanted to meet before answering my proposal.”
Amanda stood up and her eyes suddenly narrow. “You’re Marc?”
“It’s actually pronounced with an s-sound as in Marcellixis. But yeah.”
Amanda looked at the silhouette sitting on the throne. His red eyes burned like hot iron in the darkness. “So… everything you wrote about hell and suffering and brimstone, that wasn’t metaphorical?”
Marc shrugged. “I do enjoy a bit of hyperbole every now and then, but no, most of it was literal.”
“So, what, you're going to try and make me fall in love with you now?”
“I’m not going to make you do anything, you came here of your own free will, remember?”
“This is preposterous!” Amanda said, pushing her shoulder against the massive doors.
“I've been accused of worse.”
The demon rose from the throne and sauntered up to her. His long mane of onyx hair swirled behind him like smoke. His pearly skin and chiseled face were not what she had expected.
“Let’s just have a date like we agreed on, and see where things lead,” he said.
“What if you fall in love with me, and I don't want you back?”
“What? It's a legitimate question.”
He leaned casually against the brimstone wall. A brilliant white smile parted his lips. He winked at her.
“I, um...” She looked down at her feet. “It... it doesn't matter. Looks don't matter.”
“You already know everything about me.” The demon leaned in, and the breath in her ear sent a shiver rolling down her spine. “The looks are just a bonus.”
“I think this is a bad idea…”
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
She swallowed hard. No way. He was evil incarnate. There was no way.
“Let’s go on that date, what do you say?” he continued, running a nail down her shoulder.
“You can’t make me fall in love with you if I don’t want to,” Amanda said finally.
“Oh, I would never dream of that.” He looked into the distance. “True love is precious. But if we end up just friends, I’m okay with that too. We’re friends, right?”
Amanda nodded. “One date.”
“That’s all I ask for.”
“Okay, then. But not here. On Earth.”
“Deal,” the demon said, grinning. “I've made a reservation at Le Guinness for eight o'clock. Don't be late.”
Amanda opened her eyes, gasping. The alarm clock on her nightstand showed 03:33. She groaned and rolled over, trying to go back to sleep. It had only been a dream.
That's when she noticed the letter on her pillow. In the light from her phone, she tore it open. There was a note inside.
I enjoyed our first meeting very much, and I'm looking forward to our first date!