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Jason just sat there, waiting.

Heller's eyes narrowed to a slit and with just a hint of a smile, he murmured, "Your father, Jason. That's why."

Bill Heller turned around, stepped inside the front door of the clinic, and disappeared from sight seconds later.

Jason sat very still in the darkness that seemed to be crowding around him.

"My father?"

Jason Armstrong returns in the second book of this series, Driver Chronicles. Book 2 – The Council, which is available right now on Amazon.com. Woohoo!

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Driver Chronicles – Book 2 – Chapter 1

The first punch woke Jason up like a smack addict waking from a cold-turkey dream. He felt like he'd been drowning inside his own head, caught in the middle of some horrible nightmare, and he'd only just surfaced for air. His mind still wasn't focusing the way he'd like it to, so reality at this point in time was a little bit fuzzy and a whole lot confusing. He knew he'd taken a beating, but he was having a lot of trouble remembering who was beating him, or even why they were doing that.

You see, being punched in real life is pretty much nothing like how it is in the movies. Movie punches are traded in multiples, with no one really getting hurt; you see some guy getting socked in the jaw twenty times, and he gets right back up again. But being punched in real life by some guy, with even just a little bit of anger toward you, is like having a small explosive set off inside your skull. Then, after the explosion comes the dull throbbing as your body tries to cope with the incredible amounts of pain coursing through your nerve endings. You're usually seeing stars and hearing bells shortly after being punched by anyone who knows what they're doing when it comes to actually throwing a punch in the first place. You can always tell the difference, too, by the way.

He wasn't any stranger to brawling, so he knew that whoever was working him over knew what they were doing. He could taste blood in his mouth again; it had that weird coppery taste to it that you can't really understand unless you've ever tasted it. Jason knew he was dealing with at least one complete badass here, and he was anxious to find out who they were and exactly what he'd done to grab so much of their violent attention.

All he could tell by glancing through the fog over his eyes was that he was in a very big room, with a very bright light source hanging over his head. The ache in his wrists also told him that someone had tied him up pretty good, and maybe even used some handcuffs to keep him still. Yup, he could feel them biting into his wrist. Handcuffs also meant these guys weren't amateurs, which wasn't exactly the best news in the entire world.

It's always a tough thing to guess exactly how big a big, dark room is, even if you haven't had your ass repeatedly kicked by a group of strange men just before you go playing that particular guessing game. He listened for anything that might give him a clue to where he was, but all he heard was empty space. Lots and lots of empty space.

Jason filled his lungs and yelled out, "Hello!?" as loudly as he could. This was partly in the hope that someone would answer him, and another part of it was trying to figure out how big this room was. He closed his eyes to listen. Okay...this place was obviously some kind of giant cave based on the fact he heard no real echo. There was also the chance he was in a prepared interrogation room, which meant these guys were professionals.

He suddenly became aware of movement to his right and turned his head quickly enough to see someone's fist slam into the side of his face with just enough force to hurt him, but not actually break his jaw. The same figure then moved silently back into the shadows as quickly as it appeared. His head swam a little from the sucker punch, but he hadn't passed out. Good. He had a feeling he'd passed out several times already though. In fact, he was sure of it.

“He's a tough sonofabitch, I'll give him that,” a voice said from somewhere in the shadows. Another voice seemed to grunt in approval, but that was the end of the conversation between them.

“Who the hell are you? What do you want with me?” Jason asked.

“Who we are isn't important, Mr. Armstrong. We know who we are, and we also know exactly who you are, too.”

Shit, these guys know my name, too. This wasn't just some elaborate mugging or college prank then. This was the real deal. He was officially being tortured, but not beaten to death. He counted his lucky stars for that right now. He was also thanking those same lucky stars that his night vision had taken the time to adjust to the room, allowing his eyes to focus on a single figure standing just within the arc of the light from the overhead lighting. His arms were crossed and a ski mask covered his features. You could tell, even in the dark, this guy was built, and more than capable of taking care of himself. Jason knew the mystery man wasn't alone though, because he could hear other feet shuffling around in the room from time to time.

“Well, if you know so much about me, why the hell are you pounding my face in?” Jason said.

“We need to be certain that you're not holding back. We need to be certain that you're telling us everything you know,” the voice growled.

Jason was having trouble remembering very much right now, so he decided to clarify things a little. “Tell you everything about what? If you keep rattling my brain around inside my skull, pretty soon, I'm going to forget my own name and start pissing my pants when I cough.”

A whisper of feet from behind him and a sharp open-handed slap to the back of his head was accompanied by, “Less of your funny yap-yap, taxi man.” Jason turned to explain how he felt about being slapped like that using very colorful language, but the figure had already disappeared back into the shadows of the room.

“Listen, guys, if you just tell me what you want to know, I'll be on my way, and you can get back to the terrorist clothing and minimalist lighting convention you're running here. How does that sound?”

He was sure he heard a snort of laughter from somewhere in the room. Then again, it might have been inside his own head. That happened sometimes.

“Mr. Armstrong, if you want to walk out of this room in one piece, we want to know every single goddamned thing you know about William Heller,” the main voice said.

The words 'Oh shit, on shit, oh shit' flashed on and off like faulty neon signs inside Jason's mind.

First, the crazy old man, and his stories, and now, these guys.

This had not been a good month. No, sir. Not a good month at all, and it didn't look like it was going to improve any time soon.



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