Little, Brown and Company
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.
Little, Brown and Company
Let’s see what she has in her medicine cabinet. I mean, as long as I’m here.
Careful, though. Before you turn on the light, close the bathroom door. The rest of her apartment is dark. Best to keep it that way.
What do we have here...lotions, creams, moisturizers, lip balm, ibuprofen. What about the meds? Amoxicillin for a sinus infection...lorazepam for anxiety...
Diana has anxiety? What the heck does she have to be anxious about? She’s the most put-together woman I know.
And what’s this? Cerazette for...birth control. She’s on the pill? Diana is on the pill? She never told me that. She isn’t having sex with me. Not yet, anyway. So who is she having sex with?
Diana, every time I think I have you figured out, you remind me that you’re a mystery. A mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma—Joe Pesci’s line from JFK, though Winston Churchill first used it in a 1939 radio address to describe Russia. President Roosevelt, who grew very close to Churchill during the war, once wrote to him, It is fun to be in the same decade with you.
Diana, it is fun to be in the same decade with you. Now excuse me while I check out your bedroom closet.
Same drill: get inside, close the door, then turn on the light. Keep the light from filtering into the remainder of the condo.
Whoa. At least a hundred pairs of shoes, meticulously lined up. Stuart Weitzman stilettos. Black knee-high Manolo Blahnik alligator-skin boots. Roger Vivier heels with a satin-rose toe. Red Jimmy Choos. Pink Escada evening sandals. Black Chanel pumps, appropriate for the boardroom or a five-star restaurant.
Woodrow Wilson favored white dress shoes with his linen suits. Lincoln had the biggest presidential shoe, a size 14, while Rutherford B. Hayes had the smallest, a size 7.
You’ll have to excuse me. Sometimes my mind wanders. Kind of like Moses through the desert. Except that he had a better excuse. And a speech impediment—unlike me, unless you count putting your foot in your mouth.
Anyway, that’s a long story, so back to our regularly scheduled programming: Lady Diana’s Closet. And what do we have here, hanging behind a row of dresses, hidden from all but the keenest of voyeurs? Hmm...
Leather vests and headgear. Chains and whips. Vibrators of various kinds and colors. One of them is purple and curved on the end (I’m not sure why). Most of them are shaped like the male organ, but some have appendages for some reason. There are some black beads on a string...what are those for? Nipple rings—I get that, I guess. Creams and lotions. A long yellow feather—
Then I hear it and see it and feel it all at once—movement across the carpet, brushing against my leg, circling me—
“Hey, Cinnamon,” I say after the momentary terror dissipates and the prickling of my spine ceases. Diana’s Abyssinian cat, three years old. The word Abyssinian is Ethiopian, but the origin of the breed is believed to be Egyptian. Isn’t that weird? Abyssinians have bigger ears and longer tails than most cats. Their hair is lighter at the root than at the tip; only a handful of breeds have hair like that. I told Diana she should have named her cat Caramel, because it more accurately describes the color of her coat. Plus I just like caramel more than cinnamon, especially those candy chews.
Okay, time to get to work. I turn off the closet light before I open the door—still dark in the place. I feel like Paul Newman in Thief.
Start with the bedroom. There’s a desk on one side, near the balcony. Next to it, a pair of electrical outlets. I plug the AC adapter into the lower outlet and drag the cord behind the window curtain toward the desk. It looks just like any other AC adapter for a computer or appliance. But it’s a high-resolution, motion-activated video recorder with thirty-two hours of memory that will film the entire room in color. It can be switched to continuous recording if necessary, but motion activation is the smarter play here. I like this one because it doesn’t need a battery, as it’s plugged into the wall. And it doesn’t transmit signals—it only records them to an SD card that can be played on a computer—so it wouldn’t be detected in a bug sweep.
Keeping low, I move out of the bedroom into Diana’s main living space, which has an open floor plan that encompasses a small kitchen area and a large living and dining area. Her place is on the top floor of a condo building in Georgetown, which means she’s paying for location, not square footage.
I don’t want to use another AC adapter; if one is discovered, the other will be found. Diversify, I say. But this one will be more complicated than plugging something into a wall, so I need my night-vision goggles—like the serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs, except I’ve never murdered anyone, much less skinned them.
Murder can be made to look like suicide, and suicide can be made to look like murder.
Tired of worrying about house fires and home intruders? Want to spy on your party guests while you protect them from unwanted smoke inhalation? Introducing Benjamin’s functional all-in-one smoke detector and covert color camera. This easy-to-use gadget mounts to any ceiling and comes in three attractive colors to match any decor. Best of all, its 3.6-millimeter pinhole camera and audio microphone let you see and hear everything in the room. But that’s not all: if you act now, we’ll throw in a twelve-volt power adapter absolutely free!
Trust me, I’m not as normal as I seem.
Okay, all done. The kitchen looks the same as it did when I entered. I drop Diana’s old smoke detector and my nightvision goggles into my gym bag and stop for a minute to make sure I haven’t left anything behind.
I check my watch: it’s 9:57 p.m. My instructions were to be done by ten. So I made it with three minutes to spare.
I reach for the doorknob and then it hits me—I’ve made a terrible mistake.
Paul Newman didn’t star in Thief. It was James Caan.
How could I mix up Paul Newman and James Caan? Must be the nerves.
I lock up and move quickly down the hallway to the fire escape, accessible with a key. I pop the door open and slip into the night air just as I hear the ding of the elevator down the hallway.
Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
Little, Brown and Company