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Mistress
Mistress
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 0316211079
$27.99/U.S.
416 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455515892
$16.00/U.S.
448 pages
Grand Central Publishing

James Patterson's scariest, sexiest stand-alone thriller since The Quickie.

Ben isn't like most people. Unable to control his racing thoughts, he's a man consumed by his obsessions: movies, motorcycles, presidential trivia-and Diana Hotchkiss, a beautiful woman Ben knows he can never have.

When Diana is found dead outside her apartment, Ben's infatuation drives him on a hunt to find out what happened to the love of his life.

Ben soon discovers that the woman he pined for was hiding a shocking double life. And now someone is out to stop Ben from uncovering the truth about Diana's illicit affairs.

In his most heart-pumping thriller yet, James Patterson plunges us into the depths of a mind tortured by paranoia and obsession, on an action-packed chase through a world of danger and deceit.

Mistress
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 0316211079
$27.99/U.S.
416 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455515892
$16.00/U.S.
448 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Chapter 7

I take my motorcycle back the same way I came last night. The streets are relatively quiet, as it’s not quite seven in the morning, plus Congress isn’t in session, which means its coattails—staffers, interest groups, lobbyists, even reporters—have thinned out considerably. We’re still packed into the city like sardines, but everything’s relative. I can feel the heat index rise as I move down Constitution again. It’s going to be hotter than yesterday.

There’s so much I don’t know at this point. I don’t know what Diana was doing yesterday, either in the daytime or in the evening. I just know that my instruction was to be out of her apartment by ten o’clock.

Ten o’clock was Calvin Coolidge’s typical bedtime. He usually slept until somewhere between seven and nine the next morning, plus he took an afternoon nap. He used to joke, When I’m asleep, I can’t make any bad decisions. President Arthur rarely went to bed before two in the morning. President Polk routinely worked late into the night and rose early, but then he died from exhaustion three months after completing his one term. He did purchase California, though, which some people consider a plus.

What happened after I slipped out of her apartment a couple minutes before ten? The elevator door I heard opening—was that Diana? Was she alone? And why was it so important that I be gone by ten?

I feel my pulse ratchet up as I cruise along K Street, driving along the Georgetown Waterfront Park, watching some kayakers on the Potomac, approaching 33rd. Truman was our thirty-third president but the thirty-second to hold the office, as Grover Cleveland was elected to two nonconsecutive terms, losing his reelection bid to Benjamin Harrison in 1888 even though he won the popular vote. But then he thwarted Harrison’s reelection bid and won a second term four years after his first, when Harrison was unable to campaign because of his wife’s illness.

Maybe I should have taken my medication.

I take a right onto 33rd and ride north toward the canal and Diana’s apartment building. I park my ride a block short and walk up the street, sweating from the humidity— already—and probably some nerves, too.

I feel like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, returning to his apartment after he killed his boxing opponent and betrayed a mobster. If John Travolta were waiting for me inside, I’d ask him why he did Battlefield Earth. If I had a Bruce Willis film festival, I would watch The Sixth Sense, Die Hard, Unbreakable, and Pulp. And probably Ocean’s Twelve, even though he just played himself. Hey, it’s my film festival, my rules.

This could be risky. I have to be careful about being seen. I have a key to her place, but some people might recognize me. I wish I had one of those realistic masks like they wore in the Mission: Impossible movies, the ones they dramatically rip off to reveal their true identities. But it’s just lonely old Benjamin. I don’t particularly stand out. I’ve become good at blending into the woodwork. People used to tell me I look like my father, which they meant as a compliment, even though I welcomed it like a tetanus shot. Diana said I looked like Johnny Depp. Maybe I should be disguised as a pirate. Or John Dillinger. Or Willy Wonka.

As I get closer, I feel my chest constricting, my throat and mouth drying up, my limbs becoming unsteady. This is where Diana’s life ended last night. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ve been punched, but the bruise hasn’t yet formed. My brain knows it, and my body is physically responding, but somehow it doesn’t seem real yet.

And then it does. Then it crystallizes. The image of her falling comes into focus and I want to rewind time, like Superman did to save Lois Lane, and find out what was happening with Diana that I didn’t know, what caused someone to kill her or prompted her to take her own life. Tell me, Diana, give me something, tell me how I can figure

A man in civilian clothes is standing very close to the spot where Diana landed, looking up at the balcony. Unless he’s an architect or a real estate agent or a big fan of balconies, he’s probably one of DC’s finest. He looks over at me and I see the mustache, which seals it. This guy’s a cop, investigating Diana’s death.

And having lost myself in my thoughts, I’ve made a terrible blunder. I’m only ten feet from him, and now I’ve seen him and come to a complete, dead stop in response, in the middle of the sidewalk. Which, of course, makes me stick out to him. He turns and looks at me. I stare back. Neither of us says a word. This is getting worse with every second that passes. This is what Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction called an uncomfortable silence. I wonder if he can hear the throbbing of my pulse.

It’s way too late to start up again and walk past him casually. Headlong flight is an option, and, looking the guy over, I see that I could probably take him in a footrace, but all in all that seems like a last-resort idea, and maybe he saw me park my bike, so even if I got away clean, it would take him one call on his radio to know all about me—including the fact that I was in the neighborhood last night, driving erratically and acting upset.

Oh, this is really going well, Ben. Nice idea, coming here.

He takes a step toward me. He folds a stick of gum into his mouth and nods to me.

“Morning,” he says with a practiced calm. But I can tell. He can see it in my eyes. He’s better than handlebar-mustache patrol guy from last night. His antennae are up. He knows. He knows.

What now, smart guy?

“You live around here?” he asks, like it’s just idle curiosity, like he’s about to ask me for directions to the Washington Monument.

I don’t answer. Instead, my left hand reaches around behind my back. I move casually, with a smile on my face to keep his threat radar low.

In one seasoned, fluid motion, he disengages the cover on his hip holster and eases his hand over the revolver.

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Mistress
Fiction/General
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
ISBN: 1611130425
$34.98/U.S.
Hachette Audio
Read by Kevin T. Collins

Audio Excerpts (MP3)
Mistress
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 0316211079
$27.99/U.S.
416 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455515892
$16.00/U.S.
448 pages
Grand Central Publishing

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