Chapter Nine- Christina

Christina sat in her chair, at a loss for words. Breath was coming hard to her and she was on the verge of fainting. "You would let an innocent man be condemned to death for the sake of your own gain?"

"I adore you Christina. I love you. Perhaps I am not as handsome as you Coulmier, but I can give you things a life with him would never permit. It wouldn't be as bad as you think. You could grow to love me," Johnson held his hand out and stroked her cheek. She hit it sharply.

"How can you be so cruel? I love him! You would do anything for me, quite obviously, don't you think I would do anything for him?"

"My dear, that is exactly what I am counting on you doing."

Christina got unsteadily to her feet and paced the room. "And what type of proof do those papers have anyway?"

"A journal. The good doctor's journal to be exact. I snuck into his office early this morning and founding. Really it isn't smart to leave personal information lying around," Johnson pulled a leather journal from the folder.

"What proof does that hold?"

"It says the doctor's entire fiendish plan. He framed the Abbe to stop the scandal he caused from leaking out. He killed the new Abbe. The doctor is the one who should be locked up," he placed it back into the folder and held it over the fire. "So, it is time for your choice."

Desperate and alone, Christina broke out in tears and fell to her knees, arms outstretched pleadingly. "Alright! I will marry you! Don't kill Coulmier, please..."

Johnson smiled and placed the folder under an arm. He walked over to the sobbing girl and knelt beside her. "Just know I do love you. I promise I will never waver from that love." With that he clamped his hands on the back of her head and forced her into a kiss. His acid breath burned her mouth, but she did not resist. She simply endured it limply. "Good girl," he whispered when he finished.

Johnson got up and went to the door and looked back. "I will tell out doctor that we are ready to travel to Paris for the Abbe's trial." Johnson shut the door and Christina sank all the way to the stone floor so that her body was pressed flat against it. There she stayed for more than an hour.

Coulmier was thinking about Madeleine. He thought about her a lot. He still loved her, but with Christina there seemed to be a lesser burden of guilt upon his heart. Madeleine seemed more and more like she had been a figment of his imagination. A siren sent to prove the lack of God. But God existed, of that the Abbe was certain. Only he wasn't the God everyone thought.

Death would be a relief. Even if it meant spending an eternity with Lucifer. At least hell was not these stone walls. He could hear footsteps, hurried and anxious. Christina's tear stained face appeared at his barred window.

"We are leaving soon," she whimpered. "The luggage is loaded and the doctor is on his way to get you."

"Good. I want this over. I hate to see you suffer so," Coulmier went to the door but stood an arms length away.

"My suffering has only just begun. But that is not what matters. You, my beloved, at least will be free."

With that a new wave of tears broke across her face and she turned sharply. Coulmier watched her fly down the hall, passing the doctor and his cronies on the way.

"Women are such timid and meek things. They have no concealment for emotions, do they?" the doctor mused as he unlocked the door.

"Are you the devil himself, Collard?" Coulmier said quietly.

"Perhaps. If not, we have a great many things in common and I must commend him on being so impeccably ruthless."

"Then you shall enjoy hell when you go there."

"Not likely. You will be there, a pebble in my shoe. Only just there, but that is enough to bring pain for the remainder of the day. Men, please take him to his carriage. We've a funeral to attend!"