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London Bridges

Alex Cross is back in his tenth and most explosive adventure yet.

In broad desert daylight, a mysterious platoon of soldiers evacuates the entire population of Sunrise Valley, Nevada. Minutes later, a huge bomb detonates a hundred feet above the ground and lays waste to homes, cars, and playgrounds: a town annihilated in an instant.

And so is the Wolf
Alex Cross is on vacation in San Francisco with his girlfriend, Jamilla Hughes, when he gets the call. The Russian supercriminal known as the Wolf claims responsibility for the blast. The Wolf is the deadliest nemesis Cross has ever faced, and the fact that he is still at large is agonizing for him and his new bosses at the FBI.

And so is the Weasel
Major cities around the globe, including London, Paris, and New York, are threatened with total destruction. The Wolf has proven he can do it - the only question is who can stop him in time. Surveillance film of the blast reveals the presence of another of Alex Cross's most dangerous enemies, the ruthless assassin known as the Weasel. The thought of these two dark geniuses joining forces makes Alex's blood run cold.

Now are you scared?

World leaders have just four days to prevent an unimaginable cataclysm. In a matter of hours, Cross is catapulted into an international chase of astonishing danger. Joining forces with Scotland Yard and Interpol, Alex fights his way through a torrent of false leads, impersonators, and foreign agents before he gets close to the heart of the crimes. Racing down the hairpin turns of the Riviera in the most unforgettable finale James Patterson has ever written, Alex Cross confronts the truth of the Wolf's identity - a revelation that even Cross himself may be unable to survive.

Part One: THE UNTHINKABLE

Chapter 6

WHEN EVERYTHING STARTED, I was blessedly out of the loop, on a four-day vacation to the West Coast, my first in over a year. First stop: Seattle, Washington.

Seattle is a beautiful, lively city that - in my opinion, anyway - nicely balances the funky old and the cyber new, with possibly a tip of a Microsoft cap to the future side of things. Under ordinary circumstances I would have looked forward to a visit there.

These were kind of shaky times, though, and I had only to look down at the small boy tightly holding on to my hand as we crossed Wallingford Avenue North to remember why. I had only to listen to my heart.

The boy was my son Alex, and I was seeing him for the first time in four months. He and his mother lived in Seattle now. I lived in Washington, D.C., where I was an FBI agent. Alex's mom and I were involved in a "friendly" custody struggle over our son, at least it was evolving that way after a very stormy couple of encounters.

"You having fun?" I asked little Alex, who still carried around Moo, a spotted black-and-white cow that had been his favorite toy when he lived with me in Washington. He was almost three, but already a smooth talker and even smoother operator. God, I loved this little guy. His mother believed that he was a gifted child - high intelligence, high creativity - and since Christine was an elementary-school teacher, and an excellent one, she would probably know. Christine's place was in the Wallingford area of Seattle, and because it's a pleasant walking neighborhood, Alex and I had decided to stay close to home. We started out playing in the backyard, which was bordered with Douglas firs and had plenty of room, not to mention a view of the Cascade Mountains.

I took several pictures of the Boy, per my instructions from Nana Mama. Alex wanted me to see his mother's vegetable garden, and as I expected, it was very well done, full of tomatoes, lettuce, and squash. The grass was neatly mown. Pots of rosemary and mint covered the kitchen windowsills. I took more pictures of Alex.

After our tour of the yard, we walked over to the Wallingford Playfield and had a catch-and-batting session, then it was the zoo, and then another hand-holding walk along nearby Green Lake. Alex was pumped up about the upcoming Seafair Kiddies Parade and didn't understand why I couldn't stay for it. I knew what was coming next and I tried to brace myself for it.

"Why do you always have to go away?" he asked, and I didn't have a good answer. Just a sudden, terrible ache in my chest that was all too familiar. I want to be with you every minute of every day, buddy, I wanted to say.

"I just do, buddy," I said. "But I'll be back soon. I promise. You know I keep my promises."

"Is it because you're a policeman?" he asked. "Why you have to go away?"

"Yes. Partly. That's my job. I have to make money to buy VCRs and Pop-Tarts."

"Why don't you get another job?" asked Alex. "I'll think about it," I told him. Not a lie. I would. I had been thinking about my police career a lot lately. I'd even talked to my doctor about it, my head doctor.

Finally, about 2:30, we made our way back to his house, which is a restored Victorian, painted deep blue with white trim, in excellent condition. It's cozy and light and, I must admit, a nice place to grow up in - as is Seattle.

Little Alex even has a view of the Cascades from his room. What more could a boy ask for?

Maybe a father who is around more than once every few months? How about that?

Christine was waiting on the porch, and she welcomed us back warmly. This was such a switch from our last face-to-face in Washington. Could I trust Christine? I guess I had to.

Alex and I had a final couple of hugs on the sidewalk. I took a few more snapshots for Nana and the kids.

Then he and Christine disappeared inside, and I was on the outside, alone, walking back to my rental car with my hands stuffed deep in my pockets, wondering what it was all about, missing my small son already, missing him badly, wondering if it would always be as heartbreaking as this, knowing that it would be.

Copyright © 2004 by James Patterson

Read by Peter J. Fernandez and Denis O'Hare
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