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Mary, Mary

Alex Cross travels to Hollywood to hunt for a brutal killer in his most terrifying case yet.

FBI Agent Alex Cross is on vacation with his family in Disneyland when he gets a call from the Director. A well-known actress was shot outside her home in Beverly Hills. Shortly afterward, an editor for the Los Angeles Times receives an e-mail describing the murder in vivid details. Alex quickly learns that this is not an isolated incident. The killer, known as Mary Smith, has done this before and plans to kill again.

Right from the beginning, this case is like nothing Alex has ever been confronted with before. Is this the plan of an obsessed fan or a spurned actor, or is it part of something much more frightening? Now members of Hollywood's A-list fear they're next on Mary's list, and the case grows by blockbuster proportions as the LAPD and FBI scramble to find a pattern before Mary can send one more chilling update.

Filled with the ruthless and shocking twists that make his fans hunger for more, Mary, Mary is James Patterson's most sophisticated thriller yet.

Chapter 4

MARY SMITH'S ALARM CLOCK went off at 5:30 A.M., but she was already awake. Wide awake, thinking about, of all things, how to make a porcupine costume for her daughter Ashley's school play. What would she possibly use for porcupine needles?

It had been quite a late night, but she never seemed to be able to shut off the mental ticker tape that was her "to do" list.

They needed more peanut butter, Kid's Crest, Zyrtec syrup, and one of those little bulbs for the bathroom nightlight. Brendan had soccer practice at three, which started at the same time as - and fifteen miles away from - Ashley's tap class. Figure that one out. Adam's sniffles could have gone either way in the night, and Mary could not afford another sick day. Speaking of which, she needed to put in for some second shifts at her job.

And this was the quiet part of the day. It wasn't long before she was at the stove, calling out orders and fielding the usual spate of morning-time needs.

"Brendan, help your sister tie her shoes, please. Brendan, I'm talking to you."

"Mommy, my socks feel weird." "Turn them inside out."

"Can I take Cleo to school? Can I please? Please, Mommy? Oh, please?"

"Yes, but you'll have to get her out of the dryer. Brendan, what did I ask you to do?"

Mary expertly flipped a portion of perfectly fluffed scrambled eggs onto each of their plates just as the bread in the four-slice toaster popped up.

"Breakfast!" While the two older ones dug in, she took Adam to his room and dressed him in his red overalls and a sailor shirt. She cooed to him as she carried him back out to his high chair.

"Who's the handsomest sailor in town? Who's my little man?" she asked, and tickled him under his chinnychin- chin.

"I'm your little man," Brendan said with a smile. "I am, Mommy!"

"You're my big little man," Mary returned, chucking him lightly under the chin. She squeezed his shoulders. "And getting bigger every day."

"That's 'cause I clean my plate," he said, chasing the last bit of egg onto a fork with the flat of his thumb. "You're a good cook, Mommy," Ashley said.

"Thank you, sweetheart. Now come on, let's go. B.B.W.W."

While she cleared the dishes, Brendan and Ashley marched back down the hallway in a singsong chant. "Brush, brush, wash, wash. Teeth and hair, hands and face. Brush, brush, wash, wash . . ."

While the older two washed up, she put the dishes into the sink for later; gave Adam's face a quick once-over with a wet paper towel; took the kids' lunches, packed the night before, out of the fridge; and dropped each one into the appropriate knapsack.

"I'm going to put Adam into his car seat," she called out. "Last one outside is a googly worm."

Mary hated the rotten-egg thing, but she knew the value of a little innocent competition for keeping the kids in gear. She could hear them squealing in their rooms, half laughing, half scared they'd be the last one out the door and into her old jalopy. Gawd, who said jalopy anymore? Only Mary, Mary. And who said Gawd?

As she strapped Adam in, she tried to remember what it was that had kept her up so late the night before. The days - and now the nights as well - seemed to blur all together in a jumble of cooking, cleaning, driving, list-making, nosewiping, and more driving. L.A. definitely had its majorleague disadvantages. It seemed as if they spent half their lives in the car, stalled in traffic.

She should really get something more fuel efficient than the big old Suburban she had brought west.

She looked at her watch. Somehow, ten minutes had gone by. Ten precious minutes. How did that always happen? How did she seem to lose time?

She ran back to the front door and ushered Brendan and Ashley outside. "What is taking you two so long? We're going to be late again. Jeezum crow, just look at the time," said Mary Smith.

Copyright © 2005 by James Patterson

Read by Peter J. Fernandez, Melissa Leo, & Michael Louis Wells
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