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12th of Never

It's finally time! Detective Lindsay Boxer is in labor—while two killers are on the loose.

Lindsay Boxer's beautiful baby is born! But after only a week at home with her new daughter, Lindsay is forced to return to work to face two of the biggest cases of her career.

A rising star football player for the San Francisco 49ers is the prime suspect in a grisly murder. At the same time, Lindsay is confronted with the strangest story she's ever heard: An eccentric English professor has been having vivid nightmares about a violent murder and he's convinced is real. Lindsay doesn't believe him, but then a shooting is called in—and it fits the professor's description to the last detail.

Lindsay doesn't have much time to stop a terrifying future from unfolding. But all the crimes in the world seem like nothing when Lindsay is suddenly faced with the possibility of the most devastating loss of her life.

Prologue | A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

One

I WOKE UP to a sharp report, as if a gun had gone off next to my ear. My eyes flew open and I sat straight up in bed.

I yelled “Joe,” but my husband wasn’t lying next to me. He was in an airplane, thirty-five thousand feet above the heart-land, and wouldn’t be home until the morning.

There was another ferocious crack and my bedroom brightened with lightning that snapped and wrapped around the windows. A boomer shook the window frames and sheets of rain lashed the glass. I was so distracted by the vicious storm that it took me a second or two to register the wave of pain that came from my belly and washed right through me.

Oh, man, it hurt really bad.

Yes, it was my own fault for gorging on refried beans for dinner, then chasing down the Mexican leftovers with riga-toni marinara at ten.

I looked at the clock—2:12 a.m.—then jumped at the next seismic thunderclap. Martha whined from under the bed. I called to her. “Martha. Boo, honey, whatchoo doin’? It’s just a storm. It can’t hurt you. Come to Mama.”

She flapped her tail against the carpet, but she didn’t come out. I swung my legs over the bed and flipped the switch on the bedside lamp—and nothing happened. I tried a couple more times, but damn it—the light wouldn’t go on.

The power couldn’t be out. But it was.

I reached for my Maglite, accidentally knocked it with the back of my hand, and it flew off the night table, rolled under the bed, and went I don’t know where.

Lightning branched down and reached across the black sky, as if to emphasize the point that the lights were out as far as the eye could see.

I grabbed the cordless phone and listened to dead air. The phones were out, too, and now I was feeling that weird wave of stomach pain again. Yowee.

I want to be clear. I was feeling a wave, not a contraction.

My age classifies me as an “elderly primigravida,” meaning over forty, pregnant with my first child. I had seen my doctor yesterday morning and I’d checked out fine. The baby had checked out fine, and wasn’t due for another week.

I had booked a bed on the birthing floor at California Women’s Hospital, and although I’m not the organic granola type, I wanted to have the whole natural childbirth experience. The truth was, this baby might be the only one Joe and I would ever have.

Another wave of pain hit me.

To repeat, it was not a contraction.

I staggered out to the living room, found my handbag—an item I hadn’t needed in several weeks—and dug around until I found my iPhone. The battery bar was showing that I had only 10 percent of a full charge. Too damned little.

I leaned against a wall and went online to see what kind of storm was beating up San Francisco.

The squall was even worse than I thought. Twenty thousand families were in the dark. People were stuck in elevators between floors. Signs and other detritus had been flung through windows. Cars had skidded across roads, crashed, and flipped. All emergency vehicles had been deployed. Emergency rooms were flooded with patients and downed power lines were sparking on the streets.

This was shaping up to be one of the worst storms in SF history. Headlines quoted the mayor: STAY IN YOUR HOMES. THE STREETS ARE UNSAFE.

Martha slunk over and collapsed on top of my feet.

“We’re going to be okay,” I cooed.

And then that pain came over me. And it flipped me out.

“Go away,” I yelled at Martha. “Go away.”

She ran.

“I’m sorry, Boo,” I said to my whimpering dog. “These are false contractions. If they were real, I would know it.”

I grabbed my knees—and that’s when my water broke.

No way!

I could not comprehend what was happening—it could not be happening. I wasn’t ready to have the baby. It wasn’t due for another week. But ready or not, this baby was coming.

God help me.

My little one and I were really in for it now.

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by January LaVoy

January LaVoy is a New York-based voice, stage, and television actress. She has performed on and Off-Broadway, and appeared extensively in regional theatres across the country. She is best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.

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