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Alex Cross, Run

Detective Alex Cross arrests renowned plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for sleeping with teenage girls. Now, his life ruined, Creem is out of jail, and he's made sure that no one will recognize him—by giving himself a new face.

A young woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window, and Alex is called to the scene. The victim recently gave birth, but the baby is nowhere to be found. Before Alex can begin searching for the missing newborn and killer, he's called to investigate a second crime. All of Washington, D.C., is in a panic, and when a third body is discovered, rumours of three serial killers send the city into an all-out frenzy.

Alex's investigations are going nowhere, and he's too focused on the cases to notice that someone has been watching him—and will stop at nothing until he's dead. With white-hot speed, relentless drama, and hairpin turns, ALEX CROSS, RUN is James Patterson's ultimate thrill ride.

Part One | WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW

Chapter 6

I GOT HOME AROUND FIVE THAT MORNING, HOPING TO CATCH A COUPLE HOURS of sleep.

And I guess that’s what happened. I barely remember crawling into bed next to my wife, Bree. The next thing I knew, light was streaming in through the windows, and we were under attack by a small band of munchkins.

“Wake up, wake up, wake up! Doo-do-doo! It’s a big day!”

Ali, my youngest, had already crawled right up the middle of the bed, and was kneeling there between us. My daughter Jannie stood at the end, all dressed and ready to go.

“It’s seven thirty, Daddy,” she said. “We’re supposed to be there by nine!”

“Oh...right,” I said.

“You didn’t forget, did you?”

“No,” I said. “Of course not. We’ll be right down.”

Of course—I had forgotten. I’d been planning on being at the ME’s office first thing for the morning briefing, and then sitting in on Elizabeth Reilly’s autopsy.

But the kids were right. Today was a big day.

This was lottery day at Marian Anderson Public Charter School, the best high school in Southeast, and one of the best in the city. Jannie, as well as Ava, who was living with us now, had both put in applications, along with four hundred and twenty other eighth graders, looking for one of the hundred and five spots available in that fall’s freshman class. By law, charter schools have to hold a lottery when supply exceeds demand—which it always does—and we were hoping against hope to get both girls in.

“You know, you don’t absolutely have to be there,” Bree said, rubbing my back on the side of the bed. “I saw the news last night. I know you’re buried at work. Nana and I can cover this.”

“No,” I said. “I’m coming. I just need to get this cement out of my head.”

Over the past several months, I’d missed Christmas Eve, Ali’s play, Damon’s quarterfinals, and most Sunday mornings at church, to name a few. This felt like my last line in the sand, and I wasn’t going to cross it. I’d call someone to cover for me at the ME’s office until I could get there.

Downstairs at breakfast, Nana Mama had the griddle fired up, and all the kids had stacks of pancakes in front of them when Bree and I came in. It was a full house these days, with Damon home for spring break, and now Ava bringing our total up to seven.

“Good morning, children,” Nana said, of course meaning me and Bree. She’s the undisputed matriarch of our family, and the kitchen is her throne room. “Blueberries or no blueberries?”

I went straight for the coffee.

“What’re you doing up? Didn’t you just get home?” Nana muttered at me from the stove. I mumbled back something about big day. I wasn’t thinking about a whole lot more than caffeine at that moment.

“So who’s feeling lucky today?” Bree asked from the head of the table.

Everyone’s hand went up but Ava’s. She just kept shoveling her food in, eating fast like she always did.

“What about you, Ava?” I said. “Are you excited?”

She shrugged, and answered with a mouthful of pancakes. “S’not like I’m gonna get in.”

“Don’t be so gloomy, Gus,” Nana said from the griddle. “Attitude is everything.”

If I’m being honest, though, it wasn’t hard for me to understand Ava’s pessimism at all. She was far brighter than she let on—maybe even brighter than she knew. It wasn’t about that, though.

She’d landed in our laps some months back after her mother, a junkie, had OD’d and left her to live alone on the streets of Southeast. There were still plenty of issues for Ava to work through, and I’d set her up with my own therapist, Adele Finaly. In the meantime, we had our good days and bad days.

Basically, Ava had been hardwired not to expect too much from life—and consequently, not to want too much. Every now and then I caught a smile, or an unguarded moment, and in a way it showed me the potential she had waiting for her, if we could just help her see it, too. The one thing she didn’t have was hope. It’s what I’d call an inner-city epidemic—and nothing holds a person back more than that.

If there was anything we could do to change the shitty hand life had dealt Ava so far, we were going to do it.

One good day at a time.

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by Michael Boatman & Steven Boyer

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