Roses Are Red
The bank robber handed the phone to Betsy, but she knew the exact words the manager would hear, and who the speaker was.
'Betsy, it's 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 killed.
The phone line suddenly went dead. Her husband's voice was gone.
A series of meticulously planned bank robberies ends in murder, and Alex Cross must pit his wits against the bizarre and sadistic mastermind behind the crimes. Although torn between dedication to his job and commitment to his family, Cross cannot ignore the case, despite the risks he knows will come with hunting down a killer and the heartbreaking cost.
James Patterson's new bestseller takes us from deep inside the crazy world of a psychopath's masquerade right to the heart of fiction's most brilliant detective. Alex Cross is back in an explosive tale where mind games lead to violence, and the slightest mistake will be punished with death.
ROSES ARE RED
Roses are Red is for Charles and Isabelle; Lorraine and OB; Maryellen and Andrew; Carole, Jimmy, Brigid and Meredith; Theresa and Rick; Suzie and Jack; Artie, Harriette, Richard, Nancy, Gideon and Adam all the families that inspire the Cross family.
Prologue Ashes, Ashes
Brianne Parker didn't 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.
The 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 hid.
She was outside the Citibank in Silver Spring, Maryland, at a little before eight. The branch was scheduled to open in about 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, PET sMART Home Depot, Circuit City.
At eight o'clock on the dot, Brianne approached the bank from her hiding place in the evergreens under a colorful billboard obnoxiously offering McDonald's breakfast to the public. From that angle she couldn't be seen by the female teller who was just opening the glass front door and had momentarily stepped outside.
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 teller's name, and she spoke it clearly as she pulled out her gun and pressed it against the small of the woman's back.
'Inside, Ms Jeanne Galetta. Then turn around and lock the front door again. We're going to see your boss, Mrs. Buccieri.'
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 don't want to kill you, Jeanne. But I will if you don't do everything I say, when I say it. It's your turn to talk now, darling. Do you understand what I've just told you so far?'
Jeanne Galetta nodded her head of short brown hair so vigorously that her wire-rimmed glasses nearly fell off. 'Yes I do. Please don't hurt me!' she gasped. She was in her late twenties, attractive in a suburban sort of way; but her blue polyester pantsuit and sensible, stacked-heeled shoes made her look older.
'The manager's office. Now, Ms Jeanne. If I'm not out of here in eight minutes, you will die. I'm serious. If I'm not out of here in eight minutes, you and Mrs. Buccieri die. Don't think I won't do it because I'm a woman. I will shoot you both like dogs.'
She 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 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.
Minutes matter, Brianne.
Seconds matter, Brianne.
It even matters that it's Citibank we've chosen to hit today, Brianne.
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 of 10.'
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 desk.
'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!'