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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

Two

I WANTED TO abandon my body.

Yes, that sounds insane, but that’s how I felt—and it was all that I felt. I clicked the light switch up and down, picked up the landline.

Still no power and no phones; neither would be restored until the sun threw some light on the situation. I had five minutes of battery left on my iPhone, maybe less.

I speed-dialed my doctor, left a message with her service, then called the hospital. A nice woman named Shelby asked me, “How often are your contractions coming?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t time them. I didn’t even know I was having them.”

“Lindy?”

“Lindsay.”

“Lindsay, your water breaking means you’ll be in labor for a while yet. You could deliver in three hours or three days, but don’t worry. Let me explain about three-one-one.”

I knew about 311. But still I listened as Shelby explained that 311 was the rule for what to do when your contractions come every three minutes, last for one minute, and that pattern repeats for at least one hour: you go to the hospital.

“Are you kidding me?” I screeched into the phone. “Because, listen! I’m alone and I’ve never done this before.”

“Do not come in until you’re in active labor,” Shelby said. “Stay home, where you’re comfortable.”

I yelled, “Thanks!,” snapped off my phone, and walked my enormous baby bump to the window. I was breathing hard as I looked up Lake Street in the direction of my chosen hospital. There was no traffic, no traffic lights. The street was closed.

A tremendous burst of lightning cracked the sky open and sent Martha skittering under the couch. It was crazy, but I was starting to like the storm, even though it had sucked all the air out of the room.

It was hot. Damned hot. I kicked off my XXL pj’s and another painful wave took my breath away. It was as if a boa constrictor had wrapped itself around my torso and was squeezing me into the shape of a meal.

I was scared, and it wasn’t all about the pain. Babies got strangled by umbilical cords. Women died in childbirth. Elderly primigravidas were more at risk than younger women, and old babes like me weren’t supposed to do childbirth by themselves. What if there were complications?

Claire Washburn is my best friend. She is San Francisco’s chief medical examiner—a forensic pathologist, not an obstetrician, but hell. She’d had three babies. I knew she could talk me through this. At least she could try.

I dialed and Claire answered with a groggy “Dr. Wazjjjbrn.”

“Claire. It’s too soon to go to the hospital, I know, but yow. I think I can feel the baby’s head down there. What should I do?”

“Don’t push!” my best friend shouted at me. “I’m calling nine-one-one right now.”

I shouted back at her, “Call a private ambulance service so I can go to the Women’s Hospital! Claire, do you read me?”

Claire didn’t answer.

My phone was dead.

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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