WITHOUT ANY WARNING
NOTHING EVER STARTS where we think it does. So of course this
doesn't begin with the vicious and cowardly murder of an FBI agent
and good friend named Betsey Cavalierre. I only thought that it
did. My mistake, and a really big and painful one.
I arrived at Betsey's house in Woodbridge, Virginia, in the middle
of the night. I'd never been there before, but I didn't have any
trouble finding it. The FBI and EMS were already there. There were
flashing red and yellow lights everywhere, seeming to paint the
lawn and front porch with bright, dangerous streaks.
I took a deep breath and walked inside. My sense of balance was
off. I was reeling. I acknowledged a tall blond FBI agent I knew
named Sandy Hammonds. I could see that Sandy had been crying. She
was a friend of Betsey's.
On a hallway table I saw Betsey's service revolver. Beside it was a
printed reminder for her next shooting qualifier at the FBI range.
The irony stung.
I forced myself to walk down a long hallway that led from the
living room to the back of the house. The house looked to be close
to a hundred years old and was filled with the kind of country
clutter that she'd loved. The master bedroom was situated at the
end of the hall.
I knew instantly that the murder had happened in there. The FBI
techs and the local police were swarming around the open door like
angry wasps near a threatened hive. The house was strangely, eerily
quiet. This was as bad as it gets, worse than anything else.
Another one of my partners was dead.
The second one brutally murdered in two years. And Betsey had been
much more than just a partner. How could this have happened? What
did it mean? I saw Betsey's small body sprawled on the hardwood
floor and I went cold. My hand flew to my face, a reflex I had no
The killer had stripped off her nightclothes. I didn't see them
anywhere in the bedroom. The lower body was coated with blood. He'd
used a knife. He'd punished Betsey with it. I desperately wanted to
cover her, but I knew I couldn't.
Betsey's brown eyes were staring up at me, but they saw nothing. I
remembered kissing those eyes and that sweet face. I remembered
Betsey's laugh, high-pitched and musical. I stood there for a long
time, mourning Betsey, missing her terribly. I wanted to turn away,
but I didn't. I just couldn't leave her like this.
As I stood there in the bedroom, trying to figure out something
coherent about Betsey's murder, the cell phone in my jacket pocket
went off. I jumped. I grabbed it, but then I hesitated. I didn't
want to answer.
"Alex Cross," I finally spoke into the receiver.
I heard a machine-filtered voice and it cut right through me. I
shuddered against my will.
"I know who this is and I even know where you are. At
poor, dear, butchered Betsey's. Do you feel a little bit
like a puppet on a string, Detective? You should," said the
Mastermind. "Because that's what you are. You're my favorite
puppet, in fact."
"Why did you kill her?" I asked the monster. "You didn't have to do
He laughed a mechanical laugh and the hairs on the back of my neck
stood up. "You ought to be able to figure that out, no? You're the
famous Detective Alex Cross. You have all those big, important
cases notched on your belt. You caught Gary Soneji, Casanova. You
solved Jack and Jill. Christ, you're impressive."
I spoke in a low voice. "Why don't you come after me right now? How
about tonight? As you say, you know where I am."
The Mastermind laughed again, quietly, almost under his breath.
"How about I kill your grandmother and your three kids tonight? I
know where they are too. You left your partner with them,
didn't you? You think he can stop me? John Sampson doesn't have a
chance against me."
I hung up and ran out of the house in Woodbridge. I called Sampson
in Washington and he picked up on the second ring.
"Everything okay there?" I gasped. "Everything's fine, Alex. No
problems here. You don't sound too good, though. What's up? What
"He said he's coming for you and Nana and the kids," I told John.
"Not going to happen, sugar. Nobody will get past me. I hope to
hell he tries."
"Be careful, John. I'm on my way back to Washington right
now. Please be careful. He's crazy. He didn't just kill
Betsey, he defiled her."
I ended the call with Sampson and I sprinted full-out toward my old
The cell phone rang again before I got to the car.
"Cross," I answered, still running as I spoke, trying to steady the
phone against my chin and ear.
It was him again. He was laughing maniacally. "You can relax, Dr.
Cross. I can hear your labored breathing. I'm not going to hurt
them tonight. I was just fucking with you. Having some fun at your
"You're running, aren't you? Keep running, Dr. Cross. But you won't
be fast enough. You can't get away from me. It's you I want. You're
next, Dr. Cross."
Excerpted from VIOLETS ARE BLUE © Copyright 2001 by James
Patterson. Reprinted with permission from Time Warner. All rights
Violets Are Blue