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51

N ightingale was sitting at his desk flicking through the Robyn Reynolds album when he heard the office door open. A few minutes later Jenny walked into his room. She looked tired and she groaned as she sat down on one of the chairs facing his desk. I almost didnt come in today, she said.

You could have taken the day off.

How could I stay at home with all this going on? she said. There was nothing in the papers about the bodies in the house.

Itll take time for them to be found.

You could make an anonymous phone call.

They always trace them, Jenny. Best to let things take their course.

She sighed. Shed tied her hair back in a ponytail and her eyes were red as if she had been crying. Ive been thinking about your sister.

Me too.

No, I mean Ive been thinking that you should just drop it. Drop the whole thing. Shes a child killer. Shes in a secure mental institution. Whether or not Gosling sold her soul to a devil doesnt seem to matter one way or another.

Nightingale frowned at her. How can you say that?

Jack, it seems to me that after what shes done, one way or another shes going to Hell. I dont see it makes any difference if she goes because Gosling did a deal with this Frimost or because shes turned into a monster.

Shes not a monster, Jenny, whispered Nightingale. Ive met her and I can tell you that shes not a monster.

Shes killed children, said Jenny. More than that, she butchered them.

Have you thought that maybe she turned out that way because of what Gosling did to her? That maybe its because he sold her soul that she became what she is?

Gosling sold your soul but you didnt turn into a child killer.

I hear what youre saying, said Nightingale.

But youre still going to try to help her, arent you?

Nightingale smiled thinly and nodded. Shes my flesh and blood.

So was Gosling, and look at what he did to you.

Shes all Ive got.

Thanks for that.

Nightingale groaned. I didnt mean it like that, kid. I meant shes the only family Ive got. He grinned. Any chance of a coffee?

You can do penance for your insensitivity by making coffee for me for a change. For the rest of the week.

Its only Tuesday.

Only three days, then. Milk. One sugar.

Nightingale walked over to the coffee maker and stubbed out his cigarette. Youre a hard taskmaster, Jenny McLean, he said. But Ive no idea what Id do without you. Hows Bronwyn getting on, by the way?

Caernarfon Craig got in touch. But so far its just chit-chat. He keeps asking for personal details, like my house and car, but Im keeping it vague. Most of the time we talk about how wed do it if we decided to end it all. He sends me links to sites where they talk about all the weird and wonderful ways that people use to kill themselves.

Has he asked to meet you?

Not yet.

Be careful.

Im not stupid. Besides, he only knows me as Bronwyn.

So whats your plan? Youre just going to toy with him online?

No, Im chatting away and hopefully hell let slip something that identifies him.

Sounds like a plan. Just be careful.

Look whos talking, said Jenny. If theres anyone who needs to tread carefully, its you.


JACK NIGHTINGALE. | Midnight | c