didnÌt look like a bank robber or a murderer * her pleasantly
plump baby face fooled everyone. But she knew that she was ready to
kill if she had to this morning. She would find out for sure at ten
minutes past eight.
twenty-four-year-old woman wore khakis, a powder blue University of
Maryland windbreaker, and scuffed white Nike sneakers. None of the
early-morning commuters noticed her as she walked from her dented
white Acura to a thick stand of evergreen trees, where she
She was outside
the Citibank in Silver Spring, Maryland, just before eight. The
branch was scheduled to open in ninety seconds. She knew from her
talks with the Mastermind that it was a freestanding bank with two
drive-through lanes. It was surrounded by what he called big-box
stores: Target, PETsMART, Home Depot, Circuit
oÌclock on the dot, Brianne approached the bank from her
hiding place in the evergreens under a colorful billboard
obnoxiously offering McDonaldÌs breakfast to the public. From
that angle she couldnÌt be seen by the female teller who was
just opening the glass front door and had momentarily stepped
A few strides from
the teller, she slipped on a rubbery President Clinton mask, one of
the most popular masks in America and probably the one hardest to
trace. She knew the bank tellerÌs name, and she spoke it
clearly as she pulled out her gun and pressed it against the small
of the womanÌs back.
Jeanne Galetta. Then turn around and lock the front door again.
WeÌre going to see your boss, Mrs.
Her short speech
at the entrance to the bank was scripted, word for word, even the
pauses. The Mastermind said it was crucial that a bank robbery
proceed in a specific order, almost by rote.
"I donÌt want
to kill you, Jeanne. But I will if you donÌt do everything I
say, when I say it. ItÌs your turn to talk now, darling. Do
you understand what IÌve just told you so
nodded her head of short brown hair so vigorously that her
wire-rimmed glasses nearly fell off. "Yes, I do. Please donÌt
hurt me," she gasped. She was in her late twenties, attractive in a
suburban sort of way, but her blue polyester pantsuit and sensible
stack-heeled shoes made her look older.
managerÌs office. Now, Ms. Jeanne. If IÌm not out of here
in eight minutes, you will die. IÌm serious. If IÌm not
out of here in eight minutes, you and Mrs. Buccieri die. DonÌt
think I wonÌt do it because IÌm a woman. I will shoot you
both like dogs.Chapter TwoSHE LIKED THIS
AURA OF POWER and she really liked the new respect she was suddenly
getting at the bank. As she followed the trembling teller past the
two Diebold ATMs and then through the meeter-greeter area of the
lobby, Brianne thought about the precious seconds she had already
taken. The Mastermind had been explicit about the tight schedule
for the robbery. He had repeated over and over that everything
depended on perfect execution.
It even matters
that it's Citibank we've chosen to hit today,
The robbery had to
be exact, precise, perfect. She got it, she got it. The Mastermind
had planned it on what he called "a numerical scale of 9.9999 out
With the heel of
her left hand, Brianne shoved the teller into the manager's office.
She heard the low hum of a computer coming from inside. Then she
saw Betsy Buccieri sitting behind her big executive-style
"You open up your
safe every morning at five past eight, so open it for me," she
screamed at the manager, who was wide-eyed with surprise and fear.
"Open it. Now!"
"I can't open the
vault," Mrs. Buccieri protested. "The vault is automatically opened
by a computer signal from the main office in Manhattan. It never
happens at the same time."
The bank robber
pointed to her own left ear. She signaled with her finger for Mrs.
Betsy Buccieri to listen. To listen to what, though? "Five, four,
three, two -" Brianne said. Then she reached for the phone on the
manager's desk. It rang. Perfect timing.
"It's for you,"
Brianne said, her voice slightly muffled by the rubbery President
Clinton mask. "You listen carefully." She handed the phone to Mrs.
Buccieri, but she knew the exact words the bank manager would hear,
and who the speaker was.
The scariest voice
of all for the bank manager to hear was not that of the Mastermind
making very real but idle-sounding threats, but someone even
Steve. There's a man here in our house. He has a gun pointed at me.
He says that unless the woman in your office leaves the bank with
the money by eight-ten exactly, Tommy, Anna, and I will be
eight-oh-four." The phone line suddenly went dead. Her husband's
voice was gone.
Tears flowed into Betsy Buccieri's eyes and rolled down her cheeks.
She stared at the masked woman and couldn't believe this was
happening. "Don't hurt them. Please. I'll open the vault for you.
I'll do it now. Don't hurt anyone."
the message the bank manager had already heard. "Eight-ten exactly.
Not one second later. And no stupid bank tricks. No silent alarms.
No dye packs."
"Follow me. No
alarms," Betsy Buccieri promised. She almost couldn't think. Steve,
Tommy, Anna. The names rang loudly in her head.
They arrived at
the door of the bank's Mosler vault. It was 8:05.
"Open the door,
Betsy. We are on the clock. We're losing time. Your family is
losing time. Steve, Anna, little Tommy, they could all
It took a little
less than two minutes for Betsy Buccieri to get into the vault,
which was a polished steel thing of beauty with pistons like a
locomotive. Stacks of money were plainly visible on nearly all the
shelves --- more money than Brianne had ever seen in her life. She
snapped open two canvas duffel bags and began filling them with the
cash. Mrs. Buccieri and Jeanne Galetta watched her take the money
in silence. She liked seeing the fear and respect for her on their
As she'd been
instructed to, Brianne counted off the minutes as she filled the
duffel bags. "Eight-oh-seven . . . eight-oh-eight... " Finally, she
was finished with her part in the vault.
"I'm locking you
both inside the vault. Don't say one word or I'll shoot you, then
lock your dead bodies up."
She hoisted the
black duffel bags. "Don't hurt my husband or my baby," Betsy
Buccieri begged. "We did what you ---"
the heavy metal door on Betsy Buccieri's desperate plea. She yanked
her President Clinton mask from her sweaty face.
She was running
late. She walked across the lobby, unlocked the front door with
plastic-gloved hands, and went outside. She felt like running as
fast as she could to her car, but she walked calmly, as if she
didn't have a care in the world on this fine spring morning. She
was tempted to pull out her six-shooter and put a hole into the big
Egg McShit staring down on her. Yeah, she had an attitude, all
When she got to
the Acura, she checked her watch: 52 seconds past 8:10. And
counting. She was late - but that was the way it was supposed to
be. She smiled.
She didn't call
Errol at the Buccieri house where Steve, Tommy, and the nanny,
Anna, were being held. She didn't tell him she had the money and
she was safely in the Acura. She had been told not to by the
Mastermind. The hostages were supposed to die.
ROSES ARE RED (c) Copyright 2000 by James Patterson. Reprinted with
permission from Warner Vision & Co. All rights