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Private Games

Private, the world's most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect over 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

The opening ceremony is still hours away when Private investigator and single father of twins, Nigel Steele, is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games' organizing committee and his mistress have been killed. It's clear that it wasn't a crime of passion, but one of precise calculation and execution.

Newspaper reporter Karen Pope receives a letter from a person who calls himself Cronus claiming responsibility for the murders. He also proclaims that he will restore the Olympics to their ancient glory and will destroy all who have corrupted the games with lies, cheating, and greed. Karen immediately hires Private to examine the letter, and she and Nigel uncover a criminal genius who won't stop until he's ended the games for good. "America's #1 storyteller" (Forbes) delivers an exhilarating, action-packed thriller that brings the splendor and emotion of the Olympics to a wildly powerful climax.


Chapter 3

WHERE ARE THE eggs of monsters most likely laid? What nest incubates them until they hatch? What are the toxic scraps that nourish them to adulthood?

So often during the headaches that occasionally rip through my mind like gale-driven thunder and lightning, I ponder those kinds of questions, and others.

Indeed, as you read this, you might be asking your own questions, such as "Who are you?"

My real name is irrelevant. For the sake of this story, however, you can call me Cronus. In old Greek myths, Cronus was the most powerful of the Titans, a digester of universes, the Lord God of Time.

Do I think I am a god?

Don't be absurd. Such arrogance tempts fate. Such hubris mocks the gods. And I have never been guilty of that treacherous sin.

I remain, however, one of those rare beings to appear on earth once a generation or two. How else would you explain the fact that long before the storms began in my head, hatred was my oldest memory and wanting to kill was my very first desire?

Indeed, at some point in my second year of life, I became aware of hatred, as if it and I were linked spirits cast into an infant's body from somewhere out there in the void, and for some time that's what I thought of as me: this burning singularity of loathing thrown on the floor in the corner, into a box filled with rags.

Then one day I instinctively began to crawl from the box, and with that movement and freedom I soon understood that I was more than anger, that I was a being unto myself—that I starved and went thirsty for days, that I was cold and naked and left to myself for hours on end, rarely cleaned, rarely held by the monsters that walked all around me, as if I were some kind of alien creature landed among them. That's when my first direct thought occurred: I want to kill them all.

I had that ruthless urge long, long before I understood that my parents were drug addicts, crackheads, unfit to raise a superior being such as me.

When I was four, shortly after I sunk a kitchen knife into my comatose mother's thigh, a woman came to where we lived in squalor and took me away from my parents for good. They put me in a home where I was forced to live with abandoned little monsters, hateful and distrustful of any other beings but themselves.

Soon enough I grasped that I was smarter, stronger, and more visionary than any of them. By the age of nine, I did not know exactly what I was yet, but I sensed that I might be some sort of different species, a supercreature, if you will, who could manipulate, conquer, or slay every monster in his path.

I knew this about myself for certain after the storms started in my head.

They started when I was ten. My foster father, whom we called Minister Bob, was whipping one of the little monsters, and I could not stand to hear it. The crying made me feel weak and I could not abide that sensation. So I left the house and climbed the back fence and wandered through some of the worst streets in London until I found quiet and comfort in the familiar poverty of an abandoned building.

Two monsters were inside already. They were older than me, in their teens, and members of a street gang. They were high on something, I could tell that about them right away, and they said I'd wandered onto their turf.

I tried to use my speed to get away, but one of them threw a rock that clipped my jaw. It dazed me and I fell, and they laughed and got angrier. They threw more stones, which cracked my ribs and broke blood vessels in my thigh.

Then I felt a hard smashing above my left ear followed by a Technicolor explosion that crackled through my brain like the crippled arms of so many lightning bolts ripping a summer sky.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Paul Panting

Paul Panting has narrated numerous audio books and has been featured in many BBC Radio Drama plays and readings. His television credits include Silent Witness, The Jury II, and Inspector Lewis.

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