Dance with the Devil: Book One of the Devil's Gospel

You’ve been dancing the Devil’s game for seventeen years, and now he’s come to claim what is his…

Turning eighteen is a huge milestone for anyone, but for Naomi Burns, it means more than just being able to buy a drink in a pub. On the night of the eighteenth birthday party, she gets a visit from a strange being, claiming to be engaged to her, and now he wants to take her back to his home so he can get what he was promised: to marry her.
The thing is, the creature claims to be Lucifer, the Devil, and apparently he made a deal seventeen years ago that involves Naomi marrying him when she turns eighteen.
Naomi’s determined to get out of the deal, and she’s on borrowed time to change it. Not only has she got to figure out how to get out of the deal, she’s got to find a way to tell her best friends and boyfriend that she is now engaged to the creature from legends, the Devil himself, and that her new home is apparently Hell.

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11. Ten

    “You know, when one makes ground rules, or any kind of rules for that matter, they usually have to be stuck to, as a matter of … what is the word I’m looking for… ah, yes, respect at least. You, however,” Lucifer says, the look of anger radiating through the vessel as he stands from the chair by my desk and practically towers in my room, even though I’m standing just inside the doorway. “Naomi, you haven’t stuck to the rules, have you? Oh, no, you are still… seeing this boy and you told him and your two friends of the deal, didn’t you?” He sounds like a pissed off child, whining and complaining or something like that. I really want to tell him to just fuck off and leave me to do what the bloody hell I want, but then I remember that I’m treading on thin ice right now: I have in fact defied the rules, which means he could just jack it all in and take me down to Hell right this second, so I stay quiet and just look at him, not quite sure how to respond in a way that’ll not get me killed, literally. I remember the song ‘Oh Death’, thinking how apt that song is right now: ‘When God is gone and the Devil takes hold, who will have mercy on your soul?’  The singer has a damn point.

    “Are you not going to answer me because you have no excuse, or because you cannot think of a snide come back for once, Naomi?” Lucifer snaps, and I literally find myself gawking at him. I know he’s supposed to be the Devil, evil and whatnot, but literally… that yelling was… up till now he’s been so composed and managing to speak like what my father would sometimes call ‘a proper English person’ or what I would call ‘posh, probably from Oxford or in the Royal Family’, except he has a Scottish accent, but still… that was shocking…. and so accurate, and he sounded so bad-ass and full of sass.

    “Probably the second one, I literally can’t think up a decent comeback this time, you win Lucifer, you win,” I scoff, managing to at least come up with that. I raise my hands as if I’d been caught by the police and walk towards my bed, putting my bag down on it and standing properly again to look at the Devil.

    “I thought as much,” Lucifer says, arching an eyebrow at me. “I laid those ground rules for a purpose, Naomi, and I am insulted that you would go against them.”

    I scoff, “Oh, well, I do apologise for insulting Satan. I will be careful next time. I’m sorry, Lucifer, but I have three months left, and if I want to prepare the three people in my life that I love then I’m sorry but I don’t give a shit what you think, I will prepare them. And no, I will not leave my boyfriend, because I have three months left with him, and I’m going to spend them with him. Your ground rules make no sense and they are shit.”

    He shakes his head and sits back down on the chair, doing that thing he did before when he put his legs on the desk and making himself look bored while still looking graceful as the angel he is. Well, fallen angel, but whatever. “Also, do you really think you could just… begin trying to find ways out of the deal and keep it a secret from me? Do you really think I am that stupid?” He inspects his nails again, trying to keep looking bored, and I find myself still gawking at him. I guess I did think him to be that naïve, that dumb to not work out that I would be obedient and not find a way out. I guess I did forget that he is actually really the Devil, a fallen angel, a supernatural being and that he really does know a lot more than any human does, and he knows a god-awful more than I do. Hell, did I honestly think he wouldn’t work it out?

    “Ah, there it is, the shock,” Lucifer smirks, looking from his hand to me. He stays seated, but puts his hand down and focuses on my shocked expression. “What I don’t quite understand is why, Naomi? You and I, we both know this is a deal you cannot get out of. I was promised your soul, your hand in marriage, in exchange for your seventeen years and your father’s life. I gave you seventeen years and your father is alive, so I now want what I was promised. I have given you three months because, well, why not? It seems only fair that you do in fact get some time to adjust, to say goodbye, to put things in place like a will or whatever you people up here do, and well, after that, I want what I deserve and what I was promised. How is that not fair?” he sits up properly, taking his legs off the desk and swivelling on the chair to properly face me.

    “We both also know that I am no mere Crossroads Demon, I am not a mere demon. I am the Devil, I’m an angel. Deals with me are not done lightly, and I cannot be tricked, I cannot be played. People play my game, they give me what I want in return for what I gave them,” he places his hand on his chest to emphasise that it’s him he’s talking about and I take one step back as he stands from the chair. He approaches me, his hand still on his chest and I stay rooted to the spot, unsure what’s about to come. “It does not matter what you do, what you research, what you try, what you try and set up… none of it matters, Naomi Burns, because I am watching you, I am listening, I am following and I am constantly aware of it all. Every single thing. Everything you do, everything you say and everyone you speak to. You may have me fooled for a mere trickster, but I am the Devil. And I will get what I want, I will get what I was promised, and you will die, and you will come down to Hell and you will marry me, and you will be the Queen of Hell.”

    I open my mouth, wanting to respond, but for some reason my brain just comes up frozen and I don’t even know how to begin to respond, let alone knowing the words.

    But even before my brain can kick in, he disappears from the room into the distance, leaving his words resounding around me like a wind.

 

    I sit at my laptop the next day after college, reading the Wikipedia page on ‘deal with the Devil’. Apparently, it’s usually thought the person who makes a deal is in sexual relations with demons and endangers children. Well, in the olden days anyway.  I scoff; well fuck that. There is no way in any land; Hell, Earth, Heaven, wherever that that’s happening, marrying him or not. I read about how the pacts can either be written or oral, and both still stand, and apparently in an oral pact with the Devil, there is evidence in the form of a mark where the Devil has touched them for evidence.

    “Wait,” I gasp, moving my hand from the laptop to my cheek where the other day, I remember Isaac noting the freckle or something. I get up from the chair and head to my mirror, looking at the reflection: it’s a small, brown mark that I’ve never even noticed before, it looks exactly like a freckle, and I see what Isaac means about it looking a little like a star, when you look proper closely at it.

    Am I just freaking out, reading too much into shitty Wikipedia, or is it a proper Devil’s Mark? Could he have put it there when he made the deal with Dad, because it’s my soul he bargained for, or am I just being paranoid? I stare at the rest of my reflection, cursing every single thing under the sun that this is happening. I should be actually sorting out the rest of my life, applying for university, finding some sort of job, applying for a loan for university, not standing here, staring at my reflection and wondering whether I’ll find a way out of my deal with the Devil. I should be happy that I’m engaged to the man I love, and not fretting whether I’m actually really engaged to him and not the Devil in reality. I sigh and turn away, sitting back at my laptop. Staring at my reflection and moping about it isn’t going to get me anywhere, I know that much. I stare back at the article in front of me, seeing that it’s not much use on the ‘trying to get me out of the pact’ front, so I close it and look at the next one on some random fantasy fandom type website, something Isaac is probably signed up on or something like that. I laugh; this is literally like something out of a book or film, or TV show that Isaac would watch, and then get me roped into and we’d both fan over it together like usual. This is like something from the shows, not real life.

    I read the article through, from start to finish as if I were reading a news article, pretending this isn’t to save my life, because, after all, I have to be interested in this crap to fully take it in. As I take in everything the light-hearted geeky article just told me, I sit back in the chair and scoff.

    “Well, fuck me,” I marvel. This might hold a good answer: attempt one involves getting a woman to help manipulate the Devil. Well, I guess I can’t do that because how the hell would Mia (because she is the only woman who has a clue and she’s my best friend) outsmart him? How would any of us outsmart him without a clue? So that’s one option out. Option two is get religious, exorcise, repent self to God. Which would be good actually, even though I am in no way religious, but it could work if I run out of other options. Option three is to be and befriend a bad-ass, and beat him like in Buffy and Supernatural, beat him up. Now, that probably wouldn’t work. I’ve never punched anything but a punching bag or on the Wii sport thing, and somehow I don’t think that vessel would take well to punching, and I don’t think the Devil would fall for it. So that’s another one out. Option four is to outsmart him or find a loophole. Now that tale I read earlier of how the bridge built by the Devil in Wales would give him what he wanted from a woman who sold her soul is coming up again: she sent her dog across and the Devil’s bargain was set because he didn’t specify what soul he wanted, just the first living thing to cross the bridge. Now, for me, he’s specified he wants to marry me, but he hasn’t literally told me in the ground rules that I’m to marry him and go to Hell, he’s just bargained that I get three months here. I’ll speak to Mia on that one. The last one is to like what he’s selling. Well, that doesn’t work.

    But then I see it: the example from the Simpsons episode when Homer sells his soul to the Devil; Marge shows up to save him, showing that Homer actually gave his soul to Marge on their wedding day through true love.

    I grab my phone and dial Mia’s number: “What’s up Naomi?” she answers.

    “I think I have a couple of things,” I say.

    “I’ll get Isaac and we’ll come right over, phone Robb,” Mia says and I can hear her getting her keys. “See ya in a minute.”

 

    After explaining exactly what I’ve just read about the Devil’s Mark, and then the website with the ideas and then showing the three of them at least twice, we all stand around, staring at each other.

    “Does your Dad know about this?” Mia pipes up. “Any of it, like you telling us, what we’re doing, the fact that the Devil keeps turning up? Does he have any idea?”

    “No,” I say quietly, looking at the ground. “The last time we had an actual conversation apart from ‘please pass the sauce’ or something like that was when I told him this was all his fault and then stormed out the house to come tell you guys.”

    I watch Robb sigh so deeply, his shoulders rise and then fall again. “Naomi, you need to tell him what’s going on. Not being funny, but he’s your Dad, he may have done this, but you have three months, if this doesn’t work, then you have the rest of your time in Hell to hate him for it. He could help, he could find the answer we’re looking for. Don’t be mad at him, now especially.”

    I watch his expression. I know he still believes they can get me out of this, somehow. I watched his face light up at the last idea with the true love soul one, but hearing him say, even in passing, that if this doesn’t work, then I have the rest of my time in Hell to hate on my Dad for this, it hurts. The reality of this is suddenly settling in one me: if this doesn’t work, and the Devil gets exactly what he wants, regardless of whether I marry him or not, the fact still remains that I die. I will die, and I will be going to Hell, for the rest of my days. And as far as I know, I have no idea how long I will be ‘alive’ in Hell, I don’t know whether there is a lifetime down there, I don’t know what it entails. Will I become a demon, will I be immortal and doomed to only die if I come back to Earth and get exorcised or beaten? Will I stay the same as I am here but only become immortal?

    “Naomi?” Robb calls and at the sound of his voice, I look up from the floor to him, coming-to. “What are you thinking?”

    I shake my head. “Nothing important. I don’t know what we need to do, but we now have a start, right?” I look at Isaac for his approval. For some reason, with these ideas, I’m looking for his approval more than anyone, simply because of our shared geek and nerd personality, I know he would make more sense of it than Mia and Robb put together. I watch him think on something while looking into space and then turn to me, nodding.

    “Anything is better than nothing,” Isaac agrees. “And as far as finding a loophole…that is probably the best place to start.”

    “How the bloody heck do we find a loophole in this shit? I mean, he’s made it pretty clear he’s been promised Naomi’s soul, which means she has to go down to Hell, and he made it clear he was promised to marry her. Can’t exactly find loopholes in that can we?” Mia demands, pointing at me in the chair from where she sits on the bench while Robb finishes pouring everyone a vodka and begins passing them round. I take mine and stare at the liquid in the glass for a minute while I listen. “And if that really is a Devil’s Mark, then he ain’t gonna leave her alone is he? I mean, that’s a pretty clear sign that something is going on. I just… loopholes are things that lawyers find pretty easily, and I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t think any sensible, real lawyer is gonna help us out with a deal with the Devil, are they?”

    “No, but I have an idea,” Isaac says and I look up from the glass to find his eyes staring into space. “We get him to verbally tell us his contract, that way he can stipulate exactly what he wants. Once he’s done that, we find a loophole. Okay, so it might not work, but that’s the whole point of this isn’t it? Trial and error.”

    “You’re kidding me?” Robb scoffs. “It’s not gonna be that easy. If we get him to do that, he’s going to be exact. This isn’t some lawyer, this is the Devil. He’s not an idiot! He told her he’s watching her. Hell, he’s probably listening to us now sniffing onto what we’re doing, he’ll tell us exactly the terms so we don’t find a damn loophole. Then we’ll be in even more shit than we are now.”

    “Robb, calm down,” I say calmly, still staring at Isaac, thinking on what he’s just suggested. It could work; we could find a loophole, something he doesn’t stipulate exactly, like the bridge tale, which means when the time comes for him ‘to take me’ I could catch him out, make the deal void and I get to stay here on Earth, never to hear of this again. But then again, Robb could be right: he could be listening now, or even if he isn’t, he could stipulate exactly what the deal is, we might not find a loophole which means, yeah, we would be in even deeper crap than we are right now. But then equally, if we are, we just move on to the next plan, right?

    “I’m not going to calm down, Naomi, that plan is awful,” Robb retorts. I just look up at him from across the room, giving him the blankest look I can muster.

    “Robb, what else do we have right now? Honestly? I found a bunch of stuff, but honestly, thinking about it, truthfully, do we know that any of them are going to work? These are the only things we have right now, and if this gives me even an inch of hope, then I’m gonna do it. If it gets us deeper in, then so be it. To be quite honest, the worst that can happen is he takes me to Hell, and that’s what I’m facing in three months if we don’t try. It cannot get worse, so I have nothing to lose,” I say.

    “You’re right, that is the worst that could happen, and what happens if that is what happens? None of us want to lose you, Naomi, and none of us need this to get worse,” Robb says quietly, his voice thick with emotion.

    “I’m not, not doing this, Robb, I have to, otherwise three months will come by and I’ll be dead. I have to try, for my freedom, and for us, all of us,” I say and he just looks away from me. I know he’s uncomfortable with this, but at the end of the day, even if what I’m agreeing to is selfish, I would rather he be uncomfortable with me being alive than watching me die and marry the Devil.

 

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