Along came a spider, p.35
Along Came a Spider,
Part #1 of Alex Cross series by James Patterson
Without a word to Ethan, she cut between the rows of old desk seats and headed to the back of the room. She hopped up on the heating register under the windows.
Then Zoe reached inside her blue and gray uniform jacket and took out a small black lacquered case. Ethan recognized it right away. His sister had bought it in Beijing this past summer, on a trip to China with their parents.
“I’m all about a ciggie right now,” Zoe whispered. Then she grinned wickedly. “Come with?”
Ethan looked back at the door. “I actually don’t want to miss this assembly,” he said, but Zoe just rolled her eyes.
“Oh, please. Blah, blah, blah, Middle East, blah, blah. You can watch it on CNN any hour of the week,” she said. “But how often do you get a chance to ditch Secret Service? Come on!”
It was a totally no-win situation for him and Ethan knew it. He was either going to look like a wimp—again—or he was going to miss the assembly speech he’d been looking forward to all week.
“You shouldn’t smoke,” he said lamely.
“Yeah, well you shouldn’t weenie out so much,” Zoe answered. “Then maybe assholes like Ryan Townsend wouldn’t be all over you all the time.”
“That’s just because Dad’s the president,” Ethan said. “That’s all, right?”
“No. It’s because you’re a geek,” Zoe said. “You don’t see Spunk-Punk messing with me, do you?” She opened the window, effortlessly pulled herself through, and dropped to the ground outside. Zoe thought she was another Angelina Jolie. “If you’re not coming, at least give me a minute to get away. Okay, Grandma?”
The next second, Zoe was gone.
Ethan looked over his shoulder one more time. Then he did the only thing he could to maintain his last shreds of dignity. He followed his sister out the lecture hall window—and into trouble he couldn’t even begin to imagine.
No one could.
AS SOON AS THE DOOR TO THE LECTURE HALL SLAMMED SHUT BEHIND Agent Clay Findlay, he checked the knob—still unlocked. Then he checked the sweep hand on his stainless-steel Breitling. “I’m giving them another forty-five seconds,” he said into the mike at his cuff. “After that, we’ve got T. Rex going to assembly and Twilight headed to the principal’s office.”
Word from the president and First Lady had been to allow Ethan and Zoe as normal a school experience as possible, including their own conflicts—within reason. That was easier said than done, of course. Zoe Coyle didn’t always operate within reason. In fact, she usually didn’t. Zoe wasn’t a bad kid. But she was a kid. Willful. And smart, and devoted to her younger brother.
“l’m probably going to get reamed for this,” Findlay radioed quietly. “Tell you what, though. That Ryan Townsend kid’s a little prick. Not that you heard it here.”
“Like father, like son,” Musgrove radioed back. “Kid got what he was asking for, and more. Zoe really clocked the little shithead.”
There was some low laughter on the line. Ryan Townsend’s daddy was the House minority whip and a rabid opponent of virtually every move President Coyle ever made or even thought about. Sometimes the Branaff School could feel like Little Washington. Which it kind of was.
Findlay checked his watch again. Two minutes exactly. End of recess for the Coyle kids. Now back to work for everybody.
“All right, ladies and gentlemen, we’re on the move,” he said into his mike. Then he knocked twice on the lecture hall door and pushed it open.
“Time’s up, guys. You ready to… goddamnit.”
The room was empty.
No. No. No. Not this. Goddamn those kids. Goddamn Zoe!
Findlay’s pulse spiked to a new high, at least for today. His eyes leapt to the multipaned windows along the back wall.
Even as he moved toward them, he was opening all channels on his transmitter to address the Joint Ops Center as well as his on-site team.
“Command, this is Apex One. Twilight and T. Rex are unaccounted for.” His voice was urgent but flat. There would be no panicking. “I repeat, both protectees are unaccounted for.”
When he reached the windows, they were all pulled down to the sill, but one of them had been left unlatched. A quick scan of the grounds outside showed nothing but plush green playing fields all the way to the south fence.
“Findlay? What’s going on?”
Musgrove was there now, standing in the doorway from the hall.
“They must have snuck outside,” Findlay said. “I’m going to kill her. I really am. Long overdue.” This thing had Zoe written all over it. It was probably her idea of a big game, or a joke on her keepers.
“Command, Apex One,” he radioed again. “Twilight and T. Rex are still unaccounted for. I need an immediate lockdown on all exits, inside and out—”
All at once, a commotion broke out on the line. Findlay heard shouting, and the grating sound of metal on metal. Then two gunshots.
“Command, this is Apex Five!” Another voice blared over the radio now. “We’ve got a gray panel van. Just evaded us at the east gate. It’s proceeding south on Wisconsin at high speed. Sixty, seventy miles an hour! Request immediate backup!”
Read an extended excerpt and learn more about Kill Alex Cross.
About the Author
James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer, ever, according to Guinness World Records. Since his first novel won the Edgar Award in 1977, James Patterson’s books have sold more than 240 million copies. He is the author of the Alex Cross novels, the most popular detective series of the past twenty-five years, including Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Mr. Patterson also writes the bestselling Women’s Murder Club novels, set in San Francisco, and the top-selling New York detective series of all time, featuring Detective Michael Bennett.
James Patterson also writes books for young readers, including the Maximum Ride, Daniel X, Witch & Wizard, and Middle School series. In total, these books have spent more than 220 weeks on national bestseller lists.
His lifelong passion for books and reading led James Patterson to launch the website ReadKiddoRead.com to give adults an easy way to locate the very best books for kids. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.
For previews and information about the author, visit www.JamesPatterson.com.
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Books by James Patterson
Featuring Alex Cross
Kill Alex Cross
I, Alex Cross
Alex Cross’s Trial (with Richard DiLallo)
The Big Bad Wolf
Four Blind Mice
Violets Are Blue
Roses Are Red
Pop Goes the Weasel
Cat & Mouse
Jack & Jill
Kiss the Girls
Along Came a Spider
The Women’s Murder Club
10th Anniversary (with Maxine Paetro)
The 9th Judgment (with Maxine Paetro)
The 8th Confession (with Maxine Paetro)
7th Heaven (with Maxine Paetro)
The 6th Target (with Maxine Paetro)
The 5th Horseman (with Maxine Paetro)
4th of July (with Maxine Paetro)
3rd Degree (with Andrew Gross)
2nd Chance (with Andrew Gross)
1st to Die
Featuring Michael Bennett
Tick Tock (with Michael Ledwidge)
Worst Case (with Michael Ledwidge)
Run for Your Life (with Michael Ledwidge)
Step on a Crack (with Michael Ledwidge)
The Christmas Wedding (with Richard DiLallo)
Kill Me If You Can (with Marshall Karp)
Now You See Her (with Michael Ledwidge)
Toys (with Neil McMa
Don’t Blink (with Howard Roughan)
The Postcard Killers (with Liza Marklund)
Private (with Maxine Paetro)
The Murder of King Tut (with Martin Dugard)
Swimsuit (with Maxine Paetro)
Against Medical Advice (with Hal Friedman)
Sail (with Howard Roughan)
Sundays at Tiffany’s (with Gabrielle Charbonnet)
You’ve Been Warned (with Howard Roughan)
The Quickie (with Michael Ledwidge)
Judge & Jury (with Andrew Gross)
Beach Road (with Peter de Jonge)
Lifeguard (with Andrew Gross)
Honeymoon (with Howard Roughan)
Sam’s Letters to Jennifer
The Lake House
The Jester (with Andrew Gross)
The Beach House (with Peter de Jonge)
Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
Cradle and All
When the Wind Blows
Miracle on the 17th Green (with Peter de Jonge)
Hide & Seek
The Midnight Club
Black Friday (originally published as Black Market)
See How They Run (originally published as The Jericho Commandment)
Season of the Machete
The Thomas Berryman Number
For Readers of All Ages
Witch & Wizard: The Manga, Vol. 1 (with Svetlana Chmakova)
Daniel X: Game Over (with Ned Rust)
Daniel X: The Manga, Vol. 2 (with SeungHui Kye)
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (with Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park)
Maximum Ride: The Manga, Vol. 4 (with NaRae Lee)
ANGEL: A Maximum Ride Novel
Witch & Wizard: The Gift (with Ned Rust)
Daniel X: The Manga, Vol. 1 (with SeungHui Kye)
Maximum Ride: The Manga, Vol. 3 (with NaRae Lee)
Daniel X: Demons and Druids (with Adam Sadler)
Med Head [Against Medical Advice teen edition] (with Hal Friedman)
FANG: A Maximum Ride Novel
Witch & Wizard (with Gabrielle Charbonnet)
Maximum Ride: The Manga, Vol. 2 (with NaRae Lee)
Daniel X: Watch the Skies (with Ned Rust)
MAX: A Maximum Ride Novel
Maximum Ride: The Manga, Vol. 1 (with NaRae Lee)
Daniel X: Alien Hunter (graphic novel; with Leopoldo Gout)
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (with Michael Ledwidge)
Maximum Ride: The Final Warning
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
Maximum Ride: School’s Out—Forever
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
FRONT COVER IMAGE
PROLOGUE: LET’S PLAY MAKE-BELIEVE (1932)
PART ONE: MAGGIE ROSE AND SHRIMPIE GOLDBERG (1992)
PART TWO: THE SON OF LINDBERGH
PART THREE: THE LAST SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN
PART FOUR: REMEMBERING MAGGIE ROSE
PART FIVE: THE SECOND INVESTIGATION
PART SIX: THE CROSS HOUSE
EPILOGUE: FRONTIER JUSTICE (1994)
A PREVIEW OF KISS THE GIRLS
A PREVIEW OF KILL ALEX CROSS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BOOKS BY JAMES PATTERSON
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Copyright © 1992 by James Patterson
Excerpt from Kiss the Girls copyright © 1995 by James Patterson
Excerpt from Kill Alex Cross copyright © 2011 by James Patterson
Author photograph by Deborah Feingold
Cover copyright © by Hachette Book Group, Inc
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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First e-book edition: February 2001
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James Patterson, Along Came a Spider
(Series: Alex Cross # 1)
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