The story unfolds on Carly Anderson’s 31st birthday.
An attorney of Cahill & Jackson, and a single mom of two, Carly had a surprise waiting for her. After the blissful day of hugs and kisses and handmade cards from her two daughters, she retired to her bedroom which she had occupied since her husband’s death two years ago.
There in the room, leaning against the writing desk, stood a dark haired man. He was dressed casually in a suit and a startlingly white silk tie.
The moment Carly saw him, she wanted to scream but nothing came out. Her mouth clamped shut as she realized her daughters were peacefully asleep and there was nobody else in the house.
A small smile smoothed the rough lines of his face. There was something dangerously beautiful of him, Carly admitted, and inspite of herself found him acutely attractive.
He pulled out a folded sheet of paper from his blazer and said, “Mrs. Carly Witterman Anderson?”
She nodded. His voice was music to her ears; soft and soothing with an accent she couldn’t quite place.
“Your daughters…how old are they?” he questioned.
It didn’t seem important for Carly to know who he was and how he entered her heavily secured home.
She simply answered, “Catherine is 4 and Serena is 6.”
“I see.” He said, smoothening his tie, “So you see your husband wants one of the daughters for himself.”
There was silence.
Ultimately Carly asked, “Who are you?”
The man lifted an eyebrow and very slowly, enunciating every word, he delivered her an answer, “The devil.”
It was the fourteenth day of December, on a wintry cold evening in the year 2011. Jack came home unusually late, brushing off the snow from his coat.
“It’s nearly 7” Carly told her husband as she went forward to help him with the coat.
And that was the moment when she caught the scent of a fragrance which reminded her vaguely of jasmines and summer.
And she never wore perfume.
“Work.” He snapped and went into study where he stayed for the rest of the evening.
For the next few days, Jack would often be late and Carly made sure she was near when he opened his coat to catch the whiff of perfume.
After almost a week, it must have been a Sunday; Carly barged in his study where he was on the phone. Abruptly he put his hand on the phone, “What do-”
“Save it. You can give me a divorce and soon. I am moving out today with the girls”
Immediately, Jack clicked off the phone and grabbed hold of her upper arm, “You think you can have the girls? I’ll give you a divorce, all right, Carly, but the kids belong to me.”
“While you strut around with your lover? I don’t think so.” She spat back.
That was the first time, Jack whipped his hand across her cheek, “Firstly, I make the rules, Carly. Either you abide by them, or else you’ll lose everything.”
He left her there in the study holding her stinging cheek.
Her first thought was to go to the police but soon another plan formed in her mind, and a slow smile spread on her face.
“Say something. I have other deals to strike, sweetheart” he spoke.
The devil. The what? Nonsense.
That’s what she thought but somewhere she knew he was true. She was a woman of religion and she believed in the existence of such like the devil.
“I-I” she was at a loss of words.
Her husband wanted one of the kids? Is that what she heard?
“Yes” the man more slowly this time as if reading her thoughts, “Your husband wants one of the kids.”
“That’s unfair.” She finally managed.
He gave a small musical laugh, “Everything in this world is unfair. It was also unfair to poor Jack Anderson when you cut his lifeline short. That was unfair to him, to his kids, to his parents, to his siblings.”
“He deserved it” she said defiantly.
“And what do you deserve? Happiness, isn’t it? 31? You turned 31 and I believe, if things had worked out, you would have actually been vacationing in Hawaii? That’s what Jack told me.”
“I-won’t. Nobody can take my daughters away, not even the…” she struggled with the word but it died somewhere in her lips.
Amusement sparkled in the depths of his cool dark eyes, “Sadly I make sure I complete my side of the deal. And Anderson’s request is one of the kids.”
“How can he be so selfish?” she yelled at him, “They have the right to live and grow up.”
“The amusing part is that” the man continued unfazed by the sudden burst of emotions, “He wanted you dead. I made him realize his young kids would have no one. So instead he changed his part.”
“No.” She said softly, “Why did you strike a deal with him?”
He paused for a few minutes, “That’s none of your business. The only thing you need to say is which one would you rather turn over. I am being kind enough to ask you first. Jack is not very choosy.”
“You-I-Go to hell…” and she starting cursing fluently, every word she knew spilled from her mouth directly at the man who claimed to be the devil.
Jack went out was on Christmas Eve. The girls protested but Jack left anyway. This time, she followed him to an apartment in Charleston Street.
And after the mildest enquiring, she found out that Jack had been coming here for the past few months to meet a certain Adelaide Watts.
Carly drove back home, went through all records and found that Adelaide Watts was a small time fashion designer.
Then she dialled Acton Nilsen, briefed him and told him what to do.
The next day, at around 5:30 am, Jack Anderson was found lying dead on the sidewalk of Evington Apartment. The matter of his death was claimed to be blood loss due to mugging. With that, his relationship with Adelaide Watts became public. Adelaide was disgraced, he lost all sympathy.
And in midst of all the drama, Carly sat down shedding the necessary tears, the grieving wife who lost everything.
But for Carly, it was only the beginning.
The moment she stopped to take a breath, Carly’s eyes shifted to the man. His eyes had gone steel cold and the temperature in the room dipped down.
Just then, the door creaked open, and a sleepy Catherine looked at her mom, “You were yelling” she said and yawned loudly.
Carly froze in the spot not knowing what to do.
Catherine gave the room a once over and pulled her sweater closer to her body, “It’s cold mommy.”
She looked at the angelic face of her daughter, the pretty blonde curls mussed up in her sleep.
“Is this your choice, Carly?”
“Catherine” Carly said, ignoring his question and looked at her daughter, “Go to your room. Now. I’ll see you in the morning.”
She fled immediately at the tone of her mother.
After a frightfully long time, Carly finally shifted her gaze towards the man.
“My husband made a deal. I’ll make a deal, a bigger one.” She said.
She couldn’t comprehend his expression when he said, “What do you have in mind?”
“Nothing. But I am ready to do anything. Anything not involving my family.”
“Anything?” he asked softly.
He pulled the knot of his tie and dropped the silk on the ground.
Her eyes travelled to the wasted piece of silk and for the first time, she notice faint shapes shifting in the tie.
“You see.” He said, “This tie holds the spirits of the damned. These souls can never reborn, never find peace and will be trapped in here forever at my mercy, and those you will spend eternity in my servitude.”
“So the deal, I’ll make is-when you die, you become one of the souls in tie. No, that’s not it. Along with it, your daughters will also be trapped in servitude for eternity after they die. Don’t take my words lightly, Carly. And after them, their children and then their children and so on will never enter the gates what you call…” the words caught in his throat but he didn’t make the effort of repeating them.
“And Carly,” he continued, “Deals with the devil are irreversible.”
“I accept.” Carly said quickly.
He nodded and handed her the folded paper he was holding all along. She unfolded it but before she could read, he was stalling next to her. He grasped her right hand and pressed hard on thumb.
It was excruciating pain.
“That’ll be all.” He said folding it back again, “I’ll see you soon, Carly Anderson.”
The moment he left, Carly realized he took her blood impression for the deal to be completed.
2 months later…
“…and today we gather to pray for the soul and hope that it’ll find peace in God.”
“Can you believe it?” the lady was whispering quietly to her husband, “she died in a car accident. Such carelessness! What will happen to her girls?”
The husband shushed her and they both stepped forward to lay a lone carnation of the tombstone.
The lady let her eyes move towards the two blonde girls standing next to their grandmother, unaware of what had happened. Then her eyes moved back to the words imprinted on the tombstone.
Carly Witterman Anderson
Beloved mother, daughter, wife
In the shadows, a black haired man watched the scenario with an almost imperceptible smile. “There’s two deals closed in the same time.” He said, smoothening his white silk tie.