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I, Alex Cross (Alex Cross, #16) by James Patterson Read Online (FREE)

I, Alex Cross (Alex Cross, #16) by James Patterson

Read I, Alex Cross (Alex Cross, #16) by James Patterson full novel online for free here.

Prologue

 

FIRE AND WATER

 

One

 

HANNAH WILLIS WAS a second-year law student at Virginia, and everything that lay ahead of her seemed bright and promising—except, of course, that she was about to die in these dark, gloomy, dismal woods.

Go, Hannah, she told herself. Just go. Stop thinking. Whining and crying won’t help you now. Running just might.

Hannah stumbled and staggered forward until her hands found another tree trunk to hold on to. She leaned her aching body into it, waiting for the strength to take another breath. And then to move another burst of steps forward.

Keep going, or you’ll die right here in these woods. It’s that simple.

The bullet lodged somewhere in her lower back made every movement, every breath an agony, more pain than Hannah had ever known was possible. It was only the threat of a second bullet, or maybe worse, that kept her on her feet and going at all.

God, the woods were almost pitch-black back in here. A quarter moon drooping over the thick forest canopy did little to light the ground below. Trees were shadows. Thorns and brambles were invisible in the underbrush; they pierced and raked her legs bloody as she pushed through. What little she’d been wearing to begin with—just an expensive black lace teddy—now hung in shreds off her shoulders.

None of that mattered, though, or even registered with Hannah anymore. The only clear thought that cut through the pain, and the panic, was Go, girl. The rest was a wordless, directionless nightmare.

Finally, and very suddenly—had it been an hour? more?—the low canopy of trees opened up around her. “What the…” Dirt turned to gravel underfoot, and Hannah stumbled to her knees with nothing to hang on to.

In the hazy moonlight, she could make out the ghost of a double line, showing the curve of a country road. It was like a miracle to her. Half of one, anyway; she knew she wasn’t out of this mess yet.

When a motor sounded in the distance, Hannah leaned on her hands and pushed up off the gravel. Summoning strength she didn’t know she still had, she stood again, then staggered into the middle of the road. Her world blurred through sweat and fresh tears.

Please, dear God, don’t let this be them. This can’t be those two bastards.

You can’t be so cruel, can you?

A red truck careened around the bend then, coming at her fast. Too fast! Suddenly, she was just as blind as she’d been before, in the woods, but from the truck’s headlights.

“Stop! Please stop! Pleee-ase!” she screamed. “Stop, you sonofabitch!”

At the last possible second, the tires squealed on the pavement. The red pickup skidded into full view and stopped just short of flattening her right there into roadkill. She could feel heat coming off the engine through the grille.