Sammy stared at Bel wide-eyed, his cheeks burning as his fingers froze around the ribbon tied into his thick, curly hair. His five inch pumps scraped across the floor when he hedged forward.
“You have the worst timing.”
“Really?” Bel asked. The demon stretched his golden body across Sammy’s bed, his bloody irises swirling in the murk of his eyes.
“I’m not ready yet,” Sammy said.
“What’s left? Hair’s done. Make up’s set.”
“The wings are crooked.” Sammy gestured toward his eyes. “I have to redo them.” He snatched his yellow sash from Bel’s curious hands, winding the satin around his waist and knotting it expertly. He centered the bow and fluffed the petticoats under his polka dotted dress.
“Come on,” Bel rolled his eyes. “We’re lopping off your uncle’s head tonight. Who’s going to notice your eyeliner?”
“I will, dammit! Me!”
Sammy’s body clenched. Tears flooded his eyes as he pressed shaky fingers to his lashes. “I want my sissy ass to look perfect while I cut through his ribs and tear out his heart.” The teenager hurried to his vanity and picked up a tissue. But Bel held a hand to Sammy’s wrist.
“You are perfect. Just like this.” Bel smiled. His jagged, white teeth flashed from behind pale lips. He kissed Sammy’s cheek. The teenager shied away but Bel lifted Sammy’s blushing face. “If you’re looking for an extra spark…”
Smoke billowed from the demon’s palm. It swirled, eddying faster until two opal earrings formed within the haze. Sammy was mesmerized by the iridescent yellow streaking through the stone. “They’re like the ones Abuela let me borrow.”
“They’re exactly like them,” Bel giggled. “Took them off her corpse an hour ago.”
Sammy twitched. His heart sank.
“You always said you wanted them back,” Bel whispered. “Now put them on.”
“Put. Them. On.” Bel thrust the earrings into Sammy’s palm. His skin grew cold with anger.
Sammy nervously turned toward the mirror. He watched the opal stones dangle from their posts as he lifted them toward his ears.
“Now remember,” Bel went on. “I get to eat your tío’s heart after you kill him. It’s part of the deal.”
Sammy nodded, threading the earring posts through his skin.
“Will you want to kill the others tonight too? The ones your uncle sold you to?”
“Yes, Bel.” Sammy’s face darkened. “Every last one of them.” He opened the vanity drawer and retrieved the curved dagger Bel had given him the night they met. The demon giggled again, his bloody irises dancing like twirling flowers through the black of his eyes.
“I’m excited. Aren’t you?”
“Of course.” A trickle of mascara flowed past Sammy’s cheek, skipping down his neck and staining the white collar of his dress. “I’ve wanted this my whole life.”
Bel wrapped his golden fingers around the boy’s face. His red tongue licked away Sammy’s tears. “Me too, Samuel Torres. Me too.”