Diabolical by Hank Schwaeble

Book: Diabolical by Hank Schwaeble Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hank Schwaeble
never-ending torment?”
    â€œNo, I hadn’t really thought about it. But thanks for reminding me.”
    â€œYou don’t know how much it hurts to hear you joke like that.”
    â€œI don’t know what you want me to say.”
    Her gaze sank into her cup, like she was trying to read something at the bottom. “Does it scare you?”
    â€œVivian, honestly, I try keep it out of my mind.”
    â€œMaybe they were just trying to get in your head. Sap your will, crush your psyche. Maybe it was a cruel lie, and that’s all.”
    â€œValentine sure seemed to believe it. Besides, whether any of it’s true or not, I don’t think God needs someone like me to be His special agent. There are plenty of people out there with military backgrounds who are in church every Sunday, guys who would literally kill for such an assignment. Sucking up to command has always worked in the past, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t now.”
    â€œBut don’t you see? The fact you fought for what was right, fought to prevent that evil man from fulfilling his plan, even though you didn’t necessarily believe you were saving your own soul, that’s what makes you such a warrior for Him. He knows your heart, Jake. He knows the kind of person you are, that you don’t act out of an expectation of being rewarded in the afterlife. You’re better than that. Better than most of those people who sit in pews out of self-interest.”
    His neck popped as he twisted it. The motion was uncomfortable, sent a twinge radiating into his back. He was sore, and the soreness was just beginning.
    â€œEven if all that’s true, what do you expect me to do?”
    â€œI expect you to do what God put you here to do. To follow your conscience. To use your God-given abilities to help people. Your nephew’s life is at stake, whether because of William and his men or whoever he thinks he needs to protect him from. But if William is right—and I think he is, Jake, at least partly—this may be much, much bigger than that.”
    Hatcher said nothing. His gaze drifted over the concrete surface of the table. It ended up resting on the cell phone.
    â€œVivian, I wouldn’t know how to find the Carnates if I wanted to. They’re not exactly in the phone book.”
    â€œYou found them before. You’re good at that kind of thing.”
    â€œI literally wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
    â€œWhy do you keep looking at my cell phone?”
    It took a second for the question to register. It was true, he had been staring at her cell phone. He wasn’t sure why. He raised his head but found himself looking past Vivian again. The guy in the sweats shooting hoops. Something had caught his eye, maybe a few times now, but he wasn’t sure what.
    Just as he started to pull his gaze back to her, he saw it once more. A glint. He watched for it this time. The guy put up a shot, trotted over it recover it, then turned to dribble away. There it was again. A tiny flash of sunlight. Reflecting off his ear.
    He looked down at the cell a final time. He gestured with his chin toward it, lowered his voice when he spoke. “Did they happen to give you that, by any chance?”
    Vivian started to speak, then stopped. “Why?”
    He picked up the phone, slid it out of its leather jacket. “You said you were pretty certain they didn’t know about us?”
    â€œNo,” she said. “I mean, yes. I don’t think so.”
    The phone was new. He ran his finger over the top, pressed a button to wake up the screen. He groped around the menu until he found the call log. Last call listed was from a private number. The entry indicated it ended less than a minute earlier.
    Hatcher’s head snapped up. A basketball rolled slowly across the cement court until it gently bumped against the chain-link fence. The guy in the sweats was gone.

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