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12th of Never

It's finally time! Detective Lindsay Boxer is in labor—while two killers are on the loose.

Lindsay Boxer's beautiful baby is born! But after only a week at home with her new daughter, Lindsay is forced to return to work to face two of the biggest cases of her career.

A rising star football player for the San Francisco 49ers is the prime suspect in a grisly murder. At the same time, Lindsay is confronted with the strangest story she's ever heard: An eccentric English professor has been having vivid nightmares about a violent murder and he's convinced is real. Lindsay doesn't believe him, but then a shooting is called in—and it fits the professor's description to the last detail.

Lindsay doesn't have much time to stop a terrifying future from unfolding. But all the crimes in the world seem like nothing when Lindsay is suddenly faced with the possibility of the most devastating loss of her life.

Prologue | A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

Three

MY RAGING RIVER of hormones was sending a single, unambiguous message.

Push.

Claire had said, “Don’t push,” and that sounded both insane and impossible, but I got her drift. The baby was safe inside me until help arrived.

It must have taken me ten minutes to walk to ease my throbbing, hurting self into bed.

I knew that Claire wouldn’t let me down, that she had probably thrown the weight of her office behind the 911 call. I put my birthing instincts in park and thought with my entire being, I’m in God’s hands now. All I can do is make the best of this and hope that the baby is safe. That’s all I can do.

Martha got up on the bed and curled up next to me. I put my hand on her head and I resisted my contractions. I heard noises, someone calling “Helloooo”—sounds that were far outside my tunnel of pain. I put my hands up against blinding flashlight beams and then, like a force of nature, all the lights went on.

The power was back.

My bedroom was filled with strapping men standing shoulder to shoulder in a line that stretched from the door to the bed and ran along both sides of it. There had to be at least twelve of them, all with stricken, smoke-smudged faces, all in full turnout gear. I remember staring at the reflective tape on their jackets, wondering why a dozen fire-fighters were crowding in on me.

I shouted, “Where’s the fire?”

A large young man came toward me. He was at least six four, with a buzz cut, a still-bleeding gash on his cheek, and a look of deep concern in his eyes.

He said, “I’m Deputy Chief Robert Wilson. I’m called Robbie. Take it easy. Everything is going to be okay.”

Really? Then, I realized that a fire rig had been closer to the apartment than an ambulance and so firefighters had answered the 911 call.

I said, “This is embarrassing. My place is a mess.”

I was thinking about my clothes strewn all over the place, dog hair on the bed, somehow forgetting that I was completely naked with my legs spread apart.

Robbie Wilson said, “How are you doing, Sergeant?”

“I’m having a baby,” I said.

“I know. You take it easy now.”

He fitted an oxygen mask to my face, but I pushed it away.

“I don’t need that.”

“It’s for the baby,” he said. He turned to the gang of firemen and shouted, “I need boiling water. I need towels. A lot of them.”

Did I have any clean towels? I didn’t even know. I pushed the mask away again and grunted at Robbie, “Have you ever delivered a baby?”

He paused for a long moment. “A couple of times,” he lied.

I liked him. I trusted him. But I didn’t believe him.

He said, “You can push now, Sergeant. Go ahead and try.”

I did it. I pushed and grunted and I lost track of the time. Had an hour passed?

It felt as though the baby were grabbing my rib cage from the inside and holding on with both fists. The pain was agonizing and it seemed that I would never get Baby Molinari out of my body and into the world. Just when I thought I had spent my last breath, my baby slid out of my body into Robbie’s baseball-glove-size hands.

I heard a little cry. It was a sweet sound that had the special effect of putting the pain behind me, hugging me around the heart.

“Oh, wow. She’s perfect,” said Big Robbie.

I peered into the light and said, “Give her to me.”

I wiggled my fingers in the air as someone cut the cord and cleaned up her little face. And then my baby was in my arms.

“Hello, sweet girl.”

She opened her eyes to little slits and she looked right at me. Tears fell out of my eyes as I smiled into my daughter’s face. A bond was formed that could never be broken; it was a moment I would never, ever forget.

My little girl was perfect and as beautiful as a sunrise over the ocean, as awesome as a double rainbow over swans in flight.

It’s too bad the word miracle has been overused, because I swear it’s the only word that fit the feeling of holding my daughter in my arms. My heart swelled to the size of the world. I only wished Joe had been here.

I counted my baby’s fingers and toes, talking nonsense to her the whole time.

“I’m your mommy. You know that, baby girl? Look what we’ve done.”

But was she really okay? Was her little heart beating at the right pace? Were her lungs filling with enough air?

The big dude said, “You should both have a thorough checkup. Ready to go to the hospital, Sergeant?”

“We’re going in the fire rig?”

“I’ll make room in the front seat.”

“Oh, good,” I said. “And please, amp up the sirens.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

Read by January LaVoy

January LaVoy is a New York-based voice, stage, and television actress. She has performed on and Off-Broadway, and appeared extensively in regional theatres across the country. She is best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.

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