Inferno (SKALS #4)

By: Adriana Noir

~ Dedications~

SKALS has been one crazy, amazing journey. The road my readers travel isn’t easy, so I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sticking it out, for hanging in there, and for loving or hating the characters come what may. My deepest gratitude goes to my readers. Thank you for letting me steal a few hours of your day. Thank you for your support. It comes in so many ways. I can never express how much your comments, emails, and messages mean. Like seriously…never. Whatever success I may have, I owe it to each and every one of you. You make the journey so much fun.

SKALS Reconditioning Team! What can I say? You guys…I have no words. Thank you so much for all of the laughter, love, support and ass kickings you send my way. There’s no way I can ever repay you. You guys are the Josh to my Sebby. I don’t know where this next journey will lead, but I’m looking forward to the ride. Time to strap yourselves in, cupcakes! So much love to you all.

My dear sweet family I don’t know how you all put up with me. Thank you…for everything, but most of all for keeping me *somewhat* sane. Not an easy task, I know!

Mara…I owe you so many margaritas and quite possibly a house on the beach. It’s 5am and neither of us have gotten one minute sleep. That is the meaning of dedication. You are beyond awesome and a lifesaver at that. I love you my dear soul twin.

My ‘Cheshy’-- my mentor, my unspoken muse. So much of this is because of you. Your smile alone has carried me through more than you will ever know. I hope all of your dreams come true.

From the bottom of my dark but sappy little heart, I thank you all.


Sebastian plowed a hand through his hair, his pale stare never wavering from the building. Hatred and fear rolled in his stomach, pitching the meager contents of his lunch. The Benz’s stiff leather steering wheel creaked beneath his tightening grasp. One way or another, he was going to have to push thoughts of Project Blue aside. He was going to have to fight through the sickness knotting his gut, and he was going to have to face Marx without letting the smug bastard catch on to what he knew. Releasing a ragged breath, he pulled the key from the ignition with a rueful shake of his head. He’d never been one to shirk his responsibilities or push them aside, but after seven years of service, the prospect of stepping inside SKALS headquarters had never felt more cold or damning.

His shoulders slumped as he eased out of his vehicle and squinted against the midday sun. All too soon, the darkness and grim grey walls would close in around him. Today, it felt as if the bleached concrete complex would swallow him whole. Sebastian scrubbed a hand over his face and tried to pull himself back together. Death waited for no one here. It prowled the grim corridors and slithered beneath cold steel doors, claiming its victims at will. He held no illusions. One solitary misstep and it would claim him too. This was the devil’s playground. Here was where evil felt most at home.

A cold chill rippled down his arms when the first blast of air-conditioning washed over his skin. After nodding at the guards stationed inside, he made his way through the dimly lit labyrinth, his body on autopilot. Sometimes, it was better not to think, not to feel. Seeking distraction, he fished out his phone and scrolled through his messages. The silenced call from Josh stared back at him along with an accusing text message.

Where the hell are you, Baas? Call me back.

Brow knitting with his frown, he keyed in a quick response.

I’m here now. What do you want?

He shot the guard stationed outside his office a cursory glance. Tension hummed through the big man, and his expression was more anxious than usual. Their eyes locked and Sebastian knew Marx loomed, waiting on the other side of the door. Drawing a deep breath, he pushed it open, his narrowed gaze riveting on the broad span of the director’s back as he helped himself to a tumbler of whiskey. Marx downed the contents with a muffled grunt before turning. His full lips quirked at the corners, accenting the contented gleam in his eyes.

“There you are,” he said, his deep voice rolling like a low peal of thunder through the room. “I was starting to wonder if you were even going to bother showing up today.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Sebastian asked, shutting the door behind him. Giving Marx a wide berth, he strolled across his office and thumbed through the new stack of papers piled on the corner of his desk.

“It’s hard to tell with you lately, Baas. You seem to have acquired the habit of doing as you please. Where were you?”

Careful to keep his expression neutral, he studied the commander, trying to gauge his mood. It was a moot question. Little, if anything, escaped the director’s attention. Marx was fully aware he’d spent the morning talking to Colleen James. The suspicious glint fueling the dark pits of his eyes said as much, as did the stern set of his jaw. Shifting his attention, Sebastian straightened the paperwork before rounding the corner and stationing himself behind his chair. He was still reeling from the impact Project Blue had delivered to his system, and it was best to keep as much distance between them as possible until he had a chance to process that information and cool down.

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