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Devil's Den

April 8, 2019

Devil’s Den

A Chase Adams FBI Thriller

Book 6

 

Patrick Logan

<unedited>

 

 

Prologue

 

PRESENT DAY

 

FBI Special Agent Jeremy Stitts stumbled back from the bathroom. He knocked into an unoccupied stool tucked partway beneath the bar, before managing to pull himself up onto his own. Then he stared down at his half-empty beer. As he did, his vision started to drift in and out of focus and his blinks became more pronounced, prolonged.

 

It didn't matter that the bar was two-thirds full, that obnoxious pop music blared from cheap white-van speakers, or that people were constantly bumping into him as they struggled to get the bartender’s attention.

 

None of this mattered because none of it registered with Stitts.

 

Life had become a smudge, a smear, ever since what had happened with Chase and the others. The deaths he’d caused, the pain, the suffering.

 

Stitts brought the glass to his lips and gulped.

 

He told himself that it wasn’t really his fault, that his mother’s overdose had been her doing, that the Devil’s Den was the manifestation of pure evil, that Chase had led him that day after the visit to her father’s grave.

 

But he was a liar.

 

A liar, a fraud, a fucking murderer.

 

Someone jostled his left elbow hard enough to nearly knock the empty glass out of his hand.

 

"Sorry," a woman said, raising her arm to signal to the bartender.

 

Stitts didn’t even look up.

 

“Naw, I’m the one who’s sorry,” he slurred, before finishing his drink.

In his periphery, he saw the woman sidle as far away from him as possible, while still remaining in the queue for her beverage, of course.

 

Stitts didn’t blame her. After all, he could only imagine what he looked like: hair a mess, wearing the same t-shirt and jeans that he’d worn for nearly two full days—and slept in once—reeking of sweat and cigarettes.

 

But he didn’t care; what did a pinch mean to a beaten man?

 

"Tough day?" someone asked.

 

Stitts didn't want to turn in the man's direction, didn't want to acknowledge and thereby encourage him to continue speaking.

 

"Yeah, I've been having a rough day, too—ha, day. More like week or month, if we’re being honest with each other," the man continued without provocation.

 

Still staring at his empty glass, Stitts wondered if what his mother used to tell him as a kid was true.

Just ignore them, honey, and they’ll go away. Stitts breathed deep. Fuck, mom, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

 

He cleared his throat.

 

"Listen, I don’t know if I somehow gave you the wrong impression, but I just want to be alone."

 

"Yeah, I get that. Me? I've spent a lot of time alone, had a lot of time to think."

 

It wasn’t the strangeness of the comment so much as the tone that finally encouraged Stitts to turn and look at the man.

 

The man appeared to be in his early forties, with a heavily lined face. He was wearing spectacles that were slightly crooked, and a button-down shirt that looked a size-and-a-half too large.

 

And he was grinning.

 

"I just want to be alone, man," Stitts said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. As he spoke, he started to push his stool backward, but he nearly toppled and had to grab the bar to stabilize himself.

 

"I can see that. I can see a lot of things, Stitts."

 

Stitts’s eyes narrowed.

 

"How you know my name?" he mumbled, still gripping the bar tightly.

 

"Ha, I know a lot about you, Stitts. I told you, I’ve had a lot of time to think over the years."

 

"Wha—? Who are you?" Stitts managed, finally managing to push his stool back and pull himself awkwardly to his feet. As he did, an arm draped over his shoulder—but it wasn’t the man with the lopsided glasses and creepy grin’s arm, but the woman who’d bumped into him moments ago.

 

“I don’t need your help,” he said, trying ineffectively to shake free of her grasp. He turned, his upper lip curling. “I don’t—what?”

 

Stitts nearly collapsed then, making him a liar once more.

 

“Geo—Geo—Geo—" he was unable to finish her name.

 

It's not her, he thought, desperately trying to convince himself. You’re drunk, you were thinking about Chase, and now your brain is playing tricks on you. It can't be her.

 

Except the woman was smiling warmly as if being able to read his thoughts.

 

As if she somehow shared her sister’s talents.

 

Shaking his head, Stitts tried to pull away, but the last sip of beer had really taken its toll on him; his legs suddenly felt like lukewarm Jello and were barely able to support his weight let alone facilitate movement.

 

"Georgina," he managed to gasp at last. “What’s—what’s happening? What are you doing here? What—”

The smile on the woman’s face vanished.

 

"My name is Riley," she responded coldly. Before Stitts could fully grasp what was happening, he felt himself being led toward the door. His legs were moving, but not by his own accord; the arm around his shoulder, and the other that was now snaked around his waist, were doing most of the heavy lifting.

 

"And since we’re doing introductions, have you met my friend yet? His name is Dr. Mark Kruk—or Marcus Slasinsky. Between me and you, he seems to flip back and forth a lot, depending on his mood.”

 

 

Check back tomorrow for Chapter 1... and prepare yourself for the retail release of Devil's Den...

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©PATRICK LOGAN