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Chapter 1

April 9, 2019

<unedited>

PART I – The Confession

 

Chapter 1

 

ONE WEEK AGO

 

"I couldn't help but notice you staring at me from across the bar," the man said as he sidled up next to Chase. "I was thinking that maybe you wanted to buy me a drink?"

 

Chase rolled her eyes and reluctantly turned to the man. He was handsome, with blue eyes, the beginnings of a beard, and hair that, while receding just a little, was styled nicely to one side.

 

"I think you may have mistaken me for someone else," she said, with a subtle eyebrow lift. Then she brought her beer to her lips and took a big gulp. It was nearly empty, which she hoped was a signal to Louisa that it was about time to go. But when she looked at her friend and saw her patented smirk, she knew that the woman had other ideas.

 

"Don't say it," Chase grumbled with another eye roll. "I'm just going to finish this beer and get out of here."

 

Louisa checked her watch, sipped her own drink, a vodka soda, then shook her head.

 

"It's early—not even eleven yet. I thought you said that you were off for a few more days?"

Chase nodded.

 

"Yeah, coming up on three months since Washington—feels like three years. Boss called it required downtime, but it’s really just paid—"

 

"All right, all right," the man who had come up next to Chase interrupted, "maybe that was a bit too forward of me. How about I buy you a drink? I can see that you’re almost dry."

 

The man reached out for her then, not in an aggressive way, but simply to indicate that her glass was indeed almost empty. Still, Chase instinctively pulled back, and the man’s fingers inadvertently brushed over the back of her hand.

 

After Washington, she’d gotten into the habit of wearing gloves everywhere she went, but in the absence of a case, she’d gotten lazy over the past week or so. Lazy, and annoyed about having to make up an excuse for wearing gloves in the middle of the summer.

 

Now, however, she regretted the oversight.

 

"I said, I'm not interested."

 

Her smile gone now, she turned back to Louisa, this time making sure that her body language left nothing to be misinterpreted.

 

"Yeah, but the boss said that if there’s an emergency I can be called in at any moment.”

Louisa’s smile grew.

 

“Speaking of which, that means you’re going to be reunited with your partner, with Stitts?”

 

An image of the man’s perfect hair and handsome smile flickered in her mind. This was quickly followed by his lips on hers, sweat dripping from his forehead, their bodies—

 

Chase shook her head.

 

“One-time deal—a mistake,” she shot back quickly. “A moment of weakness after a very emotional time. To be honest, I haven’t spoken to him in weeks. But nothing—”

 

"Excuse me, but no woman should be without a—"

 

Chase growled and whipped around, her eyes blazing.

 

Take a fucking hint, buddy.

 

"Without what? Her husband? No woman should be without her husband? Yeah, I can see that. And I think your kids are missing you, too. It's been what? Two days?"

When the man's eyebrows lifted, and he recoiled as if he’d been struck, Chase pursed her lips.

 

"No, two and a half days, maybe three. Listen, buddy, I already told you I wasn't interested. So, either you go back home to your wife and your two kids, or you find someone else who’s willing to sleep with you. Because I can assure you, that person ain't me."

 

The man nearly slipped off his stool. His eyes wide, he started to back away from her.

 

"How did you—how do you know—"

 

"I read tarot cards for a living. Now beat it."

 

Finally satisfied, Chase looked to Louisa and was surprised to see that her expression matched that of the man she’d just berated.

 

"What the hell was that?” she asked. “How did you do that? You know him from somewhere? His wife, maybe?”

 

Chase shrugged.

 

"Naw, just a lucky guess."

 

Chase should've known that this reply would leave Louisa dissatisfied. The woman was a hound when it came to information and was incredibly fascinated not just by Chase’s job, but by Chase as well.

 

By how her mind worked, how she thought, and how she dealt with her past.

 

Not ideal for a person as secretive as herself, but the woman’s loyalty and compassion outweighed her forthright nature.

 

"No, seriously. That was amazing. I thought the guy’s eyes were going to fall out of his pretty head."

 

Chase shrugged again.

 

"It was nothing."

 

"It wasn't nothing; it was some strange voodoo, some clairvoyant shit. Look, you either tell me how you did that, or I'm gonna chase down Mr. Blue Eyes and ask him if what he said was true. Then I’m going to slip him your number."

 

Chase sighed.

 

"It’s just a profiling trick that the FBI taught us.”

 

Louisa still wasn't buying it.

 

"Nuh-uh. No way. Your partner’s the profiler, which makes you the muscle. Come on, spill the beans.”

 

Chase huffed, knowing that she wouldn't get out of this damn bar until she provided the woman with a satisfactory answer. She finished her drink, then began to speak.

 

"Well, for starters, I knew he was married because even though he wasn't wearing a wedding ring and had no tan line to speak of, he was holding his left hand just out of sight, where I could barely see it—a dead giveaway of a man who is conscious of the fact that he usually wears a wedding ring. His beard was also perfectly trimmed, both under his chin and on his cheeks. His neck, however, had about two days’ growth. The latter suggests that a woman is helping him groom, while the former is an indication that they haven’t been around for a day or two. He could have just been one of those metrosexual guys, but not in this joint. No offense, but based on his appearance and outfit, he’s here on business—doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the clientele, if you know what I mean. As for the kids? Just a guess, really. He was in his mid-thirties, married, and two kids are about the national average. I considered three, but I doubt his wife would let him go two or three days away from home if that were the case, business or not."

 

Chase finished with a little smile. All-in-all, she was actually impressed with herself. Sure, she’d seen all of those things, and she had no doubt that the details were accurate, but it was a difficult thing to verbalize. Chase was still trying to understand exactly how her ‘gift’ worked but was getting better at it as time bore on.

 

And yet, Chase had no idea how she knew that this was the first time the man had tried to pick up a woman in a bar in several years, or that his two kids were a boy and a girl. More disturbing still, was the fact that Chase was absolutely certain the girl was afflicted by some sort of palsy or seizure-inducing condition.

 

Evidently, there were some aspects of her ability that were just beyond the limits of her comprehension.

 

"Shit, for real? You got all that from the one second that you looked at him?" Louisa asked, amazement crossing her features.

 

No, Chase almost corrected. Not from staring at him; from touching him.

 

"Yep, I guess if this FBI thing doesn't work out, maybe I can get a job as a Carney, traveling the country, guessing people's ages."

 

Carny… County Fair… Franklin, Tennessee…

 

Chase swallowed hard and nodded at he bartender, indicating for him to come over.

 

"You know what, Louisa? I think I will have another drink."

 

 

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