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Cross Fire

Wedding bells ring
Detective Alex Cross and Bree's wedding plans are put on hold when Alex is called to the scene of the perfectly executed assassination of two of Washington D.C.'s most corrupt: a dirty congressmen and an underhanded lobbyist. Next, the elusive gunman begins picking off other crooked politicians, sparking a blaze of theories—is the marksman a hero or a vigilante?

A murderer returns
The case explodes, and the FBI assigns agent Max Siegel to the investigation. As Alex and Siegel battle over jurisdiction, the murders continue. It becomes clear that they are the work of a professional who has detailed knowledge of his victims' movements—information that only a Washington insider could possess.

Caught in a lethal cross fire
As Alex contends with the sniper, Siegel, and the wedding, he receives a call from his deadliest adversary, Kyle Craig. The Mastermind is in D.C. and will not relent until he has eliminated Cross and his family for good. With a supercharged blend of action, deception, and suspense, Cross Fire is James Patterson's most visceral and exciting Alex Cross novel ever.

Part One | SHOOTER READY

Chapter 2

THEY WERE STILL laughing when they got back to Denny’s ancient Suburban, parked in Lot 9 by Lauinger Library on the Georgetown campus.

“That was awesome!” Mitch’s doughy face was shiny with sweat, but he wasn’t even out of breath. He was the type whose muscles looked a lot like fat. “‘What are you going to do?’” he parroted. “‘Shoot a homeless vet in the middle of traffic?’”

True Press, one dollar,” Denny said. “Lunch at Taco Bell, three dollars. The look on po-po’s face when he knows you got him? Priceless. Wish I had a picture.”

He plucked a bright-orange envelope from under his wiper blade and got in on the driver’s side. The car still smelled of chain-smoked cigarettes and burritos from the night before. Pillows and blankets were bunched up in a ball on one half of the backseat, next to a lawn-and-leaf bag full of returnable cans.

Behind that, under a stack of collapsed cardboard boxes, a few old carpet remnants, and a false plywood bottom, were two Walther PPS nine-millimeter pistols, a semiautomatic M21, and a military-grade M110 sniper rifle. Also a long-range thermal-optical site, a spotting scope, a cleaning kit for the rifles, and several boxes of ammunition, all wrapped up in a large plastic tarp and bundled with several bungee cords.

“You did good back there, Mitchie,” Denny told him. “Real good. Didn’t lose your cool for a second.”

“Nah,” Mitch said, emptying his pockets onto the plastic lunch tray between them. “I won’t lose my cool, Denny. I’m like one of them whatchamacallits. Cucumbers.”

Denny counted out the day’s take. Forty-five — not bad for a short shift. He gave Mitch ten singles and a handful of quarters.

“So what do you think, Denny? Am I ready or what? I think I’m ready.”

Denny sat back and lit one of the half-smoked butts in the ashtray. He handed it to Mitch and then lit another for himself. While he was at it, he lit the orange envelope with the parking ticket inside and dropped it, burning, onto the cement.

“Yeah, Mitch, I think maybe you are ready. The question is, are they ready for us?”

Mitch’s knees started to jackhammer up and down. “When do we start? Tonight? What about tonight? What about it, huh, Denny?”

Denny shrugged and leaned back. “Just enjoy the peace and quiet while you can, ’cause you’re going to be famous as shit soon enough.” He blew a smoke ring, then another, which passed right through the first. “You ready to be famous?”

Mitch was looking out the window at a couple of cute, short-skirted coeds crossing the parking lot. His knees were still bouncing. “I’m ready to start this thing, that’s what.”

“Good boy. And what’s the mission, Mitchie?”

“Clean up this mess in Washington, just like the politicians always say.”

“That’s right. They talk about it —”

“But we gonna do something about it. No doubt. No doubt.”

Denny extended his fist for a bump, then started up the car. He backed out the long way to get a good look at the ladies from behind.

“Speaking of tacos,” he said, and Mitch laughed. “Where you want to eat? We’ve got paper to burn today.”

“Taco Bell, man,” Mitch said without even having to think.

Denny pulled hard on the gearshift to get it into drive and took off. “Why am I not surprised?”

Copyright © 2010 by James Patterson

Read by Andre Braugher & Jay O. Sanders

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