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Roses Are Red

From James Patterson, the #1 bestselling author of Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, comes a dazzlingly frightening new thriller: Roses Are Red.

In this heart-pounding but touchingly romantic new thriller, Detective Alex Cross pursues the most complex and brilliant killer he's ever confronted — mysterious criminal who calls himself the Mastermind.

In a series of crimes that has stunned Washington, D.C., bank robbers have been laying out precise demands when they enter the building — and then killing the bank employees and their families if those instructions are not followed to the letter.

Detective Alex Cross takes on the case, certain that this is no ordinary bank robber at work — the pathological need for control and perfection is too great. Cross is in the midst of a personal crisis at home, but the case becomes all-consuming as he learns that the Mastermind is plotting one huge, last, perfect crime.

With twists and reversals that only the mind of James Patterson could create, Roses Are Red is by far the most explosive, surprising, and fast-paced novel of James Patterson's extraordinary career.

Chapter 5

I WENT ALONG WITH KYLE. The two of us stood over the Boy, who was now asleep amid colorful stuffed bears and balls in a port-a-crib in Nana's room. He held on to his favorite bear, which was named Pinky.

"The poor little boy. What a bad, bad break," Kyle whispered as he looked down at Alex. "He looks like you instead of Christine. How are you two doing, anyway?"

"We're settling back into things okay," I said, which wasn't the truth, unfortunately. Christine had been gone from Washington for a year, and since she'd been back, we hadn't done as well as I would have hoped. I missed the intimacy more than I could say. It was killing me. But I wasn't able to tell anyone about it, not even Sampson or Nana.

"Please, Kyle. Just leave me alone for tonight." "I wish this could wait, Alex. I'm afraid it can't. I'm on my way back to Quantico now. Where can we talk?"

I shook my head and felt anger building up inside. I led him to the sunporch, where I keep an old upright piano that still plays about as well as I do. I sat down on the creaky piano bench and tapped out a few notes of Gershwin's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."

Kyle recognized the tune and he grinned. "I am sorry about this."
"Not sorry enough, obviously. Go ahead."

"You heard about the Citibank-branch robbery out in Silver Spring? The murders at the bank manager's house?" he asked. "Manager's husband, their nanny, three-year-old son?"

"How could I not hear about it?" I said, and looked away from Kyle. The brutal, senseless murders had saddened me and knotted my stomach when I read about them. The story was all over the papers and TV. Even cops in D.C. were outraged.

"I didn't really understand what I heard so far. What the hell happened at the manager's house? The perps had the money, right? Why did they have to kill the hostages if they had the money? That's what you're here to tell me, right?"

Kyle nodded. "They were late getting out of the bank. The explicit order was that the crew member inside had to be out with the money by eight-ten exactly. Alex, the crew member at the bank was less than a minute late. Less than a minute! So they murdered the thirty-three-year-old father, the three-year-old boy, and the couple's nanny. The nanny was twenty-five, and she was pregnant. They executed the father, the three-year-old, the nanny. You see the murder scene, Alex?"

I rolled my shoulders, twisted my neck. I could feel the tension invading my body. I saw it, all right. How could they have murdered those people for no reason?

I really wasn't in the mood for police business, though, not even a bad case like this one. "Which brings you out to my house tonight? On my son's christening day?"

"Oh, hell." Kyle suddenly smiled and lightened his tone. "I had to come over to see the promised child, anyway. Unfortunately, this case is really intense. There's a possibility the crew is from D.C. Even if they're not from Washington, there's still a possibility somebody here might know them, Alex. I need you to look for the killers - before they do it again. We have the feeling this isn't a one-shot. Alex, your baby is a beauty, though."

"Yeah, you're a beauty, too," I said to Kyle. "You are truly beyond compare."
"Three-year-old boy, the father, a nanny," Kyle said one more time before he left the party. He was about to go through the door in the sunporch when he turned to me and said, "You're the right person for this. They murdered a family, Alex."

As soon as Kyle was gone, I went looking for Christine. My heart sank. She had taken Alex and left without saying good-bye, without a single word.

Copyright © 2000 by James Patterson

Read by Jason Culp and Keith David (abridged) & Peter J. Fernandez (unabridged)
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