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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 5

DENNY LED THE way, and Mitch followed like the man-child in that old Steinbeck book Of Mice and Men. “Right up here, bud. Let’s keep it moving.”

The tenth floor was also the top floor. Sheets of plastic hung over sections of two-by-four wall frame, with nothing but raw plywood underfoot. A stack of pallets by the Eighteenth Street windows made a good roosting spot.

Denny unrolled the plastic tarp and spread it on the floor. They dropped their packs. He put a hand on Mitch’s back and pointed to where they’d just come up.

“Primary exit,” he said, then turned ninety degrees to face another door. “Alternate exit.” Mitch nodded once each time. “And if we get separated?”

“Wipe down the weapon, dump it, and meet you back at the car.”

“That’s my man.”

They’d been over it maybe fifty times, beginning to end. Drilling was the key. Mitch had all kinds of raw talent, but Denny did the thinking for both of them.

“Any questions?” Denny asked. “This is the time to ask them. Later on, it won’t matter worth a damn.”

“Nah,” Mitch said. His voice had gone flat and distant, the way it always did when he was concentrating on something else. He’d already set the M110, fitted with a sound suppressor, on its bipod and was zeroing it out, calibrating the scope.

Denny assembled his own M21 and slung it flat against his back. If everything went according to plan, he’d never have to use it, but it made sense to have a backup. The Walther was also holstered on his thigh.

He used a compass-set diamond blade to cut a perfect two-inch circle in the window, then pulled the section away with a small suction cup. The streetlights outside sent up a glare that made the window act like a mirror from below.

While Mitch got into position, Denny cleaned another small spot just up and to the left, where he could practically look over Mitch’s shoulder and down the rifle barrel. Even their difference in height worked well.

He took his sighting scope out of its case. From here, they had a clear line to the entrance of Taberna del Alabardero. With the scope’s 100x magnification, Denny could practically see the pores on the faces of the people coming and going from the hot-shit restaurant.

“Here, piggy, piggy, piggy,” he whispered. “Hey, Mitch, you know when a pig knows he’s had enough to eat?”

“Nope.”

“When he’s stuffed.”

“Good one,” Mitch said, in the same dead voice as before. He was in his stance now — a slightly freaky looking, ass out, elbows cocked kind of thing, but it worked for him. Once he hit the position, he would not move or look away until it was over.

Denny made his final check. He eyeballed the steam coming from a vent across the way — how it traveled straight up. The air temperature was approximately sixty degrees. Everything was a go.

All they needed now was a target, and that would be arriving real soon.

“You ready to let this genie out of the bottle, Mitchie?” he asked.

“Who’s Jeannie, Denny?”

He chuckled low. Mitch was a beautiful piece of work, he really was. “Just the girl of your dreams, man. The girl of your wildest goddamned dreams.”

Copyright © 2010 by James Patterson

Read by Andre Braugher & Jay O. Sanders

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