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N ightingale finished speaking and sat back. Robyn stared at him, her eyes wide in disbelief.

Youre mad, she said. You are stark raving mad.

Every word Ive told you is the truth, said Nightingale quietly.

Ainsley Gosling sold my soul to the devil before I was born?

To a devil. Yes.

A devil? How many devils are there?

A lot.

What do you mean, a lot?

Millions or billions, it depends who you talk to. Its the truth, Robyn. I know its hard to believe. But the fact that Marcus Fairchild killed those children and had you put away for it shows that there are dark forces at work that most people never even dream about. If someone else had told me this two months ago, Id have called them crazy too.

You know, Im starting to think that you should be in here with me. Maybe crazy runs in the family.

You may be right. But, the way I see it, doing something crazy is the only chance youve got of getting out of here, and of saving your soul.

You believe in souls, do you?

Nightingale stared at her for several seconds, then he nodded slowly. Im starting to, yes.

And how exactly are you proposing that I do this?

Okay, said Nightingale. This is how it works. There are three superior devils in Hell. Lucifer, Beelzebuth and Astaroth. Theyre the heavy hitters. Below them are six subordinates. And below them are seventeen ministers.

What are you talking about? said Robyn.

Im talking about doing a deal that will get you out of here, said Nightingale. With one of the seventeen ministers. His name is Sugart.

Would you listen to yourself? Thats a plan? To do a deal with one of Satans ministers? She sat back in her chair and folded her arms. You know, Jack, there are murderers in here who are a hell of a lot less crazy than you sound right now.

You dont deserve to be in here. If you want to get out youre going to have to fight fire with fire.

So I do a deal with the devil? Do you realise how crazy that sounds?

A devil, not the devil. Nightingale opened the carrier bag. You have to do this, Robyn.

This doesnt make sense.

None of this makes any sense. Look at me, Robyn. Please, look at me. He waited until she was looking into his eyes, then he reached over and held her hands. I need you to trust me. I cant tell you everything because if I do itll ruin it, but I swear on my soul, I swear on everything that I hold dear, on all thats holy, that I only want whats best for you. And I swear that if you dont do this, youll regret it for the rest of your life.

Robyn tried to pull her fingers away but he held her tightly. You dont know me, she whispered.

Youre my sister, he said. Youre the only family Ive got left. I wouldnt do anything to hurt you.

And on the basis of you being the big brother, the big half-brother that I have met only twice in thirty-one years, Im supposed to do a deal with the spawn of Satan?

Hes not a spawn. Hes more of a subordinate.

Have you heard yourself?

Please, Robyn. Do this for me. He forced a smile. Itll make up for all the birthdays and Christmases that you missed. You owe me a lifetime of presents.

You didnt get me any presents, either.

This is my present to you, he said. Getting you out of here.

And how do I do this deal with this devil?

Ill tell you how. And when. And you have to do exactly what I say and when I say.

Its not a sex thing, is it?


I dont have to dance naked around an oak tree or anything like that? Because they dont let me out.

You can do it in your cell, said Nightingale. He couldnt tell if she was joking or not.

They dont call them cells here. They call them rooms.

Your room will be fine. It doesnt matter where you do the ritual. What matters is that you do it right and you do it at the right time. It has to be done at midnight on New Years Eve. Literally as the clock strikes twelve. The timing is important and so is what you say. You have to follow my instructions to the letter. Its your only hope of getting out of here.

Why cant we just get another lawyer?

Because no one is going to believe us. Do you want to stay here for the rest of your life?

Robyn shook her head slowly. No, she whispered.

Youre only in here because Fairchild made you believe that you killed those children. But whats done is done. This is your only chance to get out.

How do you know itll work?

Nightingale swallowed. His mouth had gone dry. Because Ive already done it, he said. I called up Proserpine and I did a deal with her. It works, Robyn. The fact that Im here talking to you and not burning in the fires of Hell is proof of that.

But how can you prove that my soul has been promised to a devil?

There is one way, he said. Anyone whose soul has been sold has a mark. A pentagram. Somewhere on their body. It can be tiny or in somewhere inaccessible, but there has to be a mark.

Robyns right hand jerked up to touch the right side of her head, just above her ear.

Youve got it, havent you? said Nightingale. Youve got the mark?

Its a birthmark, she said. Its tiny. You can hardly see it.

Thats your proof, Robyn, he said. The pentagram is the proof.

Its a birthmark, she whispered. She continued to stare into his eyes for several seconds, then she nodded slowly. Okay, she said. Tell me what to do.

| Midnight | c