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He releases the journal and takes a step back.

“That is why I will earn my way back into your life. That magnitude of love only comes from you. Despite what everyone says, that is why you are your father’s favorite. Because how could you not be?”

He clears his throat and takes a step back as my eyes water for no apparent reason.

“Kill your father if you must, Paca. But you’re making a grave mistake if you succeed.”

He starts walking off, and I dart out to get in front of him.

“The earth was scorching under my touch. Was it because I was so far away from them, or was it because their bond was shaky.”

“Shaky?” he inquires, sounding confused.

“They weren’t together, and they’ve apparently fought a lot since my latest death. I was in severe physical pain, and—”

“You’re The Apocalypse. Topside, when your balance suffers, so does your control over your very strong, destructive nature. If their bond was severely hurting, then yes, you’d be likely to suffer the repercussions, and the world would pay the price.”

Great. So I can go kaboom by accident, after all. He’s a big fat lying liar.

That’d be a shitty thing to do—destroy the world by accident just because I’m imbalanced. Humans are a lot easier to kill than hell monsters, I’ve noticed.

“Can you tell me how to figure out my language?” I go on, not sharing my inner musings with him.

“The only one who thinks like you is you, Paca. Whatever it is you wanted yourself to know, you’ll figure it out. Just try to do it in time.”

He pats my cheek and walks away.

In time for what?

“I currently hate being touched by anyone who isn’t them,” I call to his back.

“I know,” he says without turning around.

Dick.

Chapter 17

I spin around and quickly move through the corridors, trying to ignore the ruthless and completely obnoxious heartbeat pounding in my chest. I’m about to have to be really good at acting.

And even better at manipulating.

Manipulation isn’t an impurity of mine, so I’m on my own with outwitting the Devil. Just awesome.

Or die. I could always die.

I’m starting to think this was a terrible idea.

Why do I think I can stick it to the Devil, exactly? Am I that arrogant with my vanity?

I start to turn around and abandon my mission until I’m more prepared, when I see a picture. It’s the Gemini Twins divided into two segments of the same image.

A dark twinkle rests in their eyes as they both smirk like they ate their teacher’s head or something. A shotgun on either hip, they stand proudly.

I read the plaque underneath, even though I should be leaving.

William “Devil Anse” Hatfield and Randolph “Ole Ran’I” McCoy

Casualties – minor

Historical effect—still the most legendary blood feud to-date

Unbelievable.

This is like the Devil’s version of hanging his children’s accomplishments on the fridge.

I move on, not paying attention to all the rest of the freaky hall of fame paintings. I do notice there aren’t any up of me, yet I’ve clearly led some wall-worthy lives.

After all, Lamar said I was Cleo-fucking-patra.

Changing course again, I end up turning and moving down the hall in the other direction, walking briskly with determined strides. Not destroying the world by accident takes precedent over pretty much everything else.

And I can’t help but wonder if maybe my death wasn’t to prevent such a thing. Why did my paintings come down? Why can’t my name be uttered in hell? What if I’m the bad guy? It’d clearly make sense.

We can’t keep searching for answers in a home that doesn’t have them, when all the answers are in hell. No matter how much we prepare, we don’t have enough information to ever truly be ready for what happens next.

Time to stop procrastinating and delaying the inevitable.

The wall in front of me suddenly vanishes, unlike last time when I came through here with Lamar.

There’s a room I don’t know in front of me. A huge, ornate bedroom with a large bed even bigger than the one the boys built for me at home.

I whirl around, trying to take in my surroundings and wondering how I just ended up in here, but I stop as a cold sweat breaks out over me.

Leaning against the wall like he’s been expecting me all day is none other than Lucifer himself.

He’s smirking at me, a dark, lethal look to his gaze.

“Hello, Paca. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Silence of the Lambs flashes through my mind. Along with Darth Vader. It’s a scary combo.

“That’s not creepy at all,” I mutter under my breath.

Clearing my throat, I stare at him like I’m not terrified. What a fearless fool I was to think this would be no big deal.

I’ve stood before him in the past without pissing myself. However, he’s a hell of a lot more intimidating when I’m in whole form.

“I came here to kill you,” I tell him, smiling darkly as I begin the ruse of pretending I’m really The Apocalypse.

“Oh?” he drawls, his lips curving out in a smile, as though that pleases him in some twisted way.

Lunatic.

Or maybe he’s just that unafraid of me, which means I likely can’t kill him. Damn it.

“But, thanks to last night’s movie night, I’ve just decided to take a different route,” I tell him, glancing down at my nails like they’re fascinating, while secretly watching him with a wary peripheral.

“And what, dear daughter, might that be?”

He’s still smirking when I look up.

With a steady voice and a creepy smile of my own, I answer, “I came to make a deal with the Devil.”

End of book 2

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