Falling back against the cushions, Finn closed his eyes and released a sigh. It was a stretch limo, designed to carry at least eight without crowding.   

    A man's chuckle brought his eyes open and his head up.

     On the other side of the back seat, sprawled at ease, was someone he'd only met once, but would never forget. Short blond hair, lean face. Too dim to see his eyes, but Finn knew they were an unnaturally light blue.

     His hand flashed toward the door, but it was too late; a distinct click reached his ears.

     "Going somewhere?" The Devil smiled, looking more like a rock star than he did, black boots, polished to a high shine, with black jeans and a gray t-shirt. "No need to rush off. We have things to catch up on, you and I."

     Finn glanced quickly toward the driver's window; heavily tinted, and tightly closed. Somehow he knew there would be no help from that area.

     "We have nothing to talk about," he said flatly to his unwanted visitor, determined to brazen it out.

     The blond man shook his head, chuckling again. "Oh, but we do." The limo began moving, and Finn knew he was in for the ride of his life.

     "There was a time when you couldn't wait to see me," Satan said idly, watching him. "Remember how hard you worked to figure out how to call me forth from the depths of Hell? It was touching, really, how you pored over those dusty old books-you used to wear glasses as a teenager, didn't you?"

     "My time isn't up yet," Finn said, knowing the terms of the bargain as well as he knew his own name. He was barely thirty-six. "The bargain isn't over until I'm dead." He held up a fist, displaying a silver ring etched with a starburst of arrows.

     "Ah, yes, the Ring of Chaos." Satan's pale blue eyes danced with amusement. "The source of both madness and genius, coveted through the ages for the creative talent it inspires in its owner. Vincent Van Gogh only got to wear it a few years before it drove him insane. How many times have you wished you could take it off, I wonder?"

     Finn said nothing, lowering his fist to his knee.

     "Tell the truth, Finn... wearing the ring is a bit more challenging than you expected, isn't it? Everything you wanted-fame, fortune, the world at your feet-in return for knowing that you can only have it for so long. In the end, you'll go raving into darkness, a moldering pile of bones, a lost soul, forever writhing in torment."

     The Great Deceiver flashed a smile, teeth gleaming white against his tan. "Will you make it to forty, I wonder?"

     “Add a few black roses, and it sounds like a great design for a t-shirt,” Finn replied shortly, refusing to be intimidated. “I’ll get my merchandising people right on it.”


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