N ightingale didn’t get a chance to talk to Jenny on her own until late at night, when everyone was heading for bed, except for Jenny’s father and Fairchild, who had gone out onto the terrace for a last cigar. She took him upstairs to show him his bedroom.
‘Why didn’t you tell me about Fairchild?’ he asked her as they walked down a corridor that seemed to stretch to infinity.
She frowned. ‘What do you mean?’
‘He represented my sister in court. How could you not tell me?’
‘I didn’t know until this evening,’ said Jenny. ‘You got whisked into dinner as soon as you arrived and I didn’t want to say anything in front of anybody.’
‘And you told him about the messages? About my sister going to Hell?’
‘I didn’t tell him about Alfie Tyler or Connie Miller, obviously.’
‘Jack, what’s wrong?’
Nightingale fought the urge to snap at her. He took a deep breath and rubbed the back of his neck. ‘I don’t think you should have said anything.’
‘He was her lawyer. He knows her. He might be able to help. That’s what I thought. It came up in conversation, before you arrived. I wanted to tell you but we went straight into dinner and then after dinner you went outside with him for a smoke.’
‘I get that, but why would you tell him that people were telling me that she was going to Hell? Why’s that of any concern to him?’
‘He said that Robyn was disturbed a lot of the time. Unbalanced. He was asking about you, how you had reacted when you found out that she was your sister.’ She stopped in front of one of the doors. ‘This is yours,’ she said. ‘It’s the green room. Very restful.’
‘Yeah, I need restful,’ said Nightingale. ‘You told him that I’d been hearing voices, didn’t you?’
‘It wasn’t like that,’ said Jenny. She put a hand on his shoulder. ‘Jack, I’m on your side, you know that. Marcus was chatting away and he got me talking. That’s what he does, right? He’s a barrister. He gets people to open up, to reveal themselves.’ She took her hand away and folded her arms. ‘I’m not explaining this very well, am I?’
‘No, you’re not,’ he said. ‘That was personal, Jenny. And he’s a stranger.’
‘He’s an old friend of Daddy’s,’ she said. ‘I’ve known him for years. He’s not a stranger. Of course I wouldn’t have said anything to a stranger. But he’s Uncle Marcus. I’ve called him uncle for as long as I can remember.’
‘Did you tell him about the Ouija board?’
‘Of course not.’
‘You say “of course not”, but I don’t understand why you said anything about my sister in the first place.’
‘Why is that so important, Jack? What’s the problem?’
Nightingale opened the bedroom door and motioned for Jenny to follow him inside. She was right – it was restful, with pale green walls, a dark green carpet, and a large mahogany four-poster bed with fern-patterned linen. A fire was burning in a slate fireplace and there was a chocolate mint and a small posy of flowers on one of the pillows. Nightingale closed the door. ‘There’s something I didn’t tell you,’ he said. ‘Something that Wainwright told me when I went to see him at Biggin Hill. About Fairchild.’ Nightingale wiped his face with his hand and it came away wet with sweat. ‘He’s a Satanist. A devil-worshipper.’
‘I’m not making this up, Jenny. He’s a member of the Order of Nine Angles. And they believe in human sacrifice.’
‘Jack, why are you saying this? It can’t possibly be true.’
‘That’s what Wainwright told me.’
‘Then he’s lying.’
‘Why would he lie about something like that?’
‘People lie, Jack. You were a policeman so you know that people rarely tell the truth.’
‘I asked Wainwright for the name of someone in the Order of Nine Angles because that was the group that Gosling belonged to. He gave me Fairchild’s name.’
‘Why didn’t you tell me this before?’
‘Why should I? I didn’t know that he was a friend of your father’s. Or that he’d acted for my sister.’ He took out his cigarettes. ‘This is a mess.’ He put a cigarette between his lips.
‘Not in the house, Jack,’ said Jenny, putting a hand on his arm. ‘Mummy will freak out.’
‘How will she know?’ He pointed at the fireplace. ‘There’s a fire in the room.’
‘She can smell tobacco smoke a mile away, Jack. Please.’
‘What if I open a window?’
Jenny sighed. ‘Okay, but make sure all the smoke goes out.’
Nightingale went over to the window and opened it. In the distance were two tennis courts, one grass and the other with an orange synthetic surface. Both had a light dusting of frost.
Nightingale shivered and lit the cigarette. ‘What’s Mummy got against smokers anyway?’ he asked. He took a long drag and then leaned out of the window and blew smoke.
‘She used to be one,’ said Jenny. ‘She gave up about six years ago.’
‘The zeal of the convert,’ said Nightingale. ‘They’re the worst.’
‘I’m sorry,’ said Jenny.
Jenny forced a smile. ‘About talking to Fairchild. I can’t explain why I told him as much as I did.’
‘Maybe he hypnotised you,’ said Nightingale, only half joking.
‘Maybe,’ said Jenny. ‘He does have a way of looking right at you when he talks to you.’
‘Who mentioned my sister first?’ asked Nightingale.
‘Are you sure?’
Jenny nodded. ‘I haven’t seen him for a couple of years and I was asking him about his cases. He mentioned he’d represented a serial killer. Then he said it was Robyn Reynolds. That’s when I said that you were her brother.’
Nightingale blew smoke through the window. ‘This is just plain weird,’ he said.
‘As opposed to everything else that’s happened over the past four weeks?’
‘Something’s going on, Jenny. This can’t be a coincidence. Wainwright gives me Fairchild’s name. Then I come to your parents’ house and here he is, large as life and twice as whatever. Then it turns out he represented my sister the serial killer.’ He rubbed the bridge of his nose. ‘This is giving me a headache.’
‘It could just be that, a coincidence.’ Nightingale could hear the uncertainty in her voice.
‘Which bit? Fairchild being on my sister’s legal team? Or him being a Satanist like my dear-departed father?’ He took a long pull on his cigarette, then blew smoke out through the open window. ‘I don’t get what’s happening here. I really don’t.’
‘I’ve known him for years, Jack. He’s not a bad person.’
‘Not according to Joshua Wainwright. He says that Fairchild belongs to the Order of Nine Angles. Have you any idea what they do?’ Jenny shook her head. ‘They kill people,’ he said quietly. ‘Now do you see? How can that be a coincidence? Marcus Fairchild is in a cult that kills people and he helps my sister plead guilty to the murder of five children.’ Nightingale stubbed out his cigarette on the window ledge, then closed the window. ‘Why’s he here, Jenny?’
‘He’s one of Daddy’s oldest friends.’
Nightingale took the cigarette butt through to the en-suite bathroom and flushed it away. He shrugged. ‘I don’t know what to think,’ he said. He looked at his watch. It was just after midnight. ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow. Cold light of day and all that.’
‘You know we’re all going shooting after breakfast? Shooting on Christmas Day is a family tradition.’
‘So I gathered.’
‘It’ll be fun.’
‘I hope so,’ said Nightingale.