The Black Book by James Patterson Read Online (FREE)
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PATTI HARNEY stops her unmarked sedan two blocks shy of her destination, the narrow streets packed with patrol cars, the light bars on top of the units shooting a chaos of color into the night. Must be twenty squad cars at least.
Patti ditches her car, puts the lanyard around her neck, her star dangling over her T-shirt. The air outside is unseasonably cold for early April. Still, Patti feels nothing but heat.
She runs a block before reaching the yellow tape of the outside perimeter, the first officer stepping forward to stop her, then seeing her star and letting her pass. She doesn’t know that perimeter cop, and he doesn’t know her. All the better.
Getting closer now. The sweat stinging her eyes, the T-shirt wet against her chest despite the cold, her nerves jangling.
She knows the condo building even without following the trail of police officers to the place where they’re gathered under the awning outside. One of those cops—a detective, like Patti—recognizes her, and his face immediately softens.
“Oh, Jesus, Patti—”
She rushes past him into the lobby of the building. It’s more like a funeral than a crime scene, officers and plainclothes detectives with their eyes dropped, anguished, their faces tear-streaked, some consoling each other. No time for that.
She works her way toward the elevator, casting her eyes into the corners of the lobby for security cameras—old habit, instinct, like breathing—then sees a group of techies, members of the Forensic Services Division, working the elevator, dusting it for prints, and she spins in her gym shoes and pushes through the door to the stairs. She knows it’s on the sixth floor. She knows which apartment.
She takes the stairs two at a time, her chest burning, her legs giving out, a riot breaking out in her stomach. Woozy and panicked, she stops on the third-floor landing, alone among the chaos, and squats down for a moment, grabbing her hair, collecting herself, her body trembling, her tears falling in fat drops onto the concrete.
You have to do this, she tells herself.
She motors up the remaining stairs, her legs rubbery, her chest burning, before she pushes through the door to the sixth floor.
Up here, it’s all business, photographs being taken, evidence technicians doing their thing, blue suits interviewing neighbors, and Ramsey from the ME’s office.
She takes a step, then another, but it’s as if she isn’t moving forward at all, gaining no ground, like she’s in some circus house of horrors—
“Can’t go in there.”
“Detective Harney. Patti!”
A hand taking hold of her arm. As if in slow motion, her eyes move across the face of the Wiz, the bushy mustache, the round face, the smell of cigar—
“Patti, I’m—Mary, mother of God—I’m so sorry.”
“He’s…he’s…” She can’t bring herself to finish the sentence.
“They all are,” he says. “I’m sorry as hell to be the one to say it.”