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Cross My Heart

James Patterson raises the stakes to their highest level, ever-when Alex Cross becomes the obsession of a genius of menace set on proving that he is the greatest mind in the history of crime.

Detective Alex Cross is a family man at heart—nothing matters more to him than his children, his grandmother, and his wife Bree. His love of his family is his anchor, and gives him the strength to confront evil in his work. One man knows this deeply, and uses Alex's strength as a weapon against him in the most unsettling and unexpected novel of James Patterson's career.

When the ones Cross loves are in danger, he will do anything to protect them. If he does anything to protect them, they will die.

CROSS MY HEART is the most powerful Alex Cross novel ever, propelled by the ever-ingenious mind of James Patterson, the world's #1 bestselling writer.

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The First 4 Chapters

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Part One | SIXTEEN DAYS EARLIER...

Chapter 10

SENSING THE BED SHIFTING as a new weight compressed it, I came slowly to consciousness, feeling as if I’d gone to sleep only a few minutes before. But when I groggily opened my eyes, it was broad daylight and my beautiful wife, Bree, lay on her belly beside me, dressed for the gym. She was up on her elbows, her chin cradled in her hands. Tears clouded her eyes, but she was beaming.

“Sorry to wake you up, Alex. I know you got in late and the Mad Man Francones case and all. But I thought you’d want to know.”

I blinked dumbly, yawned, and said, “Know what?”

“Jeannie Shelton just called, from the lab?”

“Okay?” I said, glancing at the clock. Ten past nine. What ungodly time had I gone to bed? It had to have been after—

“Alex, the burned body in that old factory wasn’t Ava,” Bree said.

That was like guzzling a pot of French roast. I sat up, alert and jittery.

“But the identification, the necklace?”

“They ran Ava’s dental records against the burned girl’s,” my wife said. “Not even close to a match. Ava had congenitally missing teeth. The dead girl had a full set.”

Relief washed over me like a wave and I felt tears welling to match Bree’s. Ava Williams was still alive.

Nana Mama took Ava in when she was fourteen, an orphan and runaway from a foster home. She’d lived with us almost a year. For a time, life in our house seemed to have been good for Ava. Or at least it seemed that way to us. She’d bonded with Bree and seemed to tolerate the rest of us.

But then Ava had started hanging with the wrong crowd. We suspected drug use, maybe alcohol, and quicker and sadder than you’d think, she was gone, until a burned corpse was discovered in an old, abandoned factory in Southeast that was also a reputed hangout for junkies and the homeless. Ava’s silver bracelet, which she’d worn constantly, was on the dead girl’s wrist. So was a necklace my grandmother had given her. The news had been devastating.

“Isn’t that wonderful?” Bree asked.

“Better than wonderful,” I said, and wiped at my eyes. “But where is she? And who’s the dead girl?”

“Jeannie said no match on her yet. But Jane Doe is definitely not our Ava.”

Tired as I was, my mind has been conditioned over decades of police work to think a certain way, whether I want to or not. The relief I’d felt at learning that Ava was alive was replaced by a colder sensation as I considered the idea that the young runaway who’d found shelter under my roof could have killed another young woman, planted phony identification on her, and then set her on fire.

But because my wife and Ava had become so close, I said nothing.

“We have to find her,” Bree said. “Bring her home.”

I thought about Pete Francones and the other victims at the massage parlor and wondered how I was going to make time to search for Ava.

“Let’s start tonight if you get home at a reasonable hour,” Bree insisted.

“I don’t think there will be any reasonable hours for me for a long time,” I said. “The Francones case is going to be a media circus.”

“Already is,” she said. “And I get what a slam this is going to be for you, Alex. I really do. But don’t worry. I’ll start looking for Ava myself. When you can, you pitch in. Okay?”

I stroked her cheek, said, “You’re such a good person, Bree Stone.”

My wife kissed my hand, said, “You are, too, baby. The best man I know.”

Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson

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Read by Michael Boatman & Tom Wopat

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