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Cross Country

Cross Country

Titel: Cross Country
Autoren: James Patterson
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    The surname of the family was Cox, the father a very successful trial lawyer, but the target was the mother, Ellie Randall Cox. The timing was right now, tonight, just minutes away. The payday was excellent, couldn’t be better.
    The six-foot-six, two-hundred-fifty-pound killer known as “the Tiger” had given out guns to his team — also a gram of cocaine to share, and the only instruction they would need tonight:
The mother is mine. Kill the rest.
    His secondary mission was to scare the American meddlers. He knew how they felt about home invasions, and their precious families, and murders in cold blood. They had so many rules for how life ought to be conducted. The secret to beating them was to break all their silly, sacred rules.
    He settled down to watch the house from the street. Wood blinds in the first-floor windows drew horizontal lines across the family members as they moved around inside, unaware of the murderous forces gathered outside.
    The boys waited restlessly at the Tiger’s side, and he waited for
to tell him it was time to move on the house.
    “Now,” he said, “we go!”
    Then, with only the slightest bend and whack of the knees, he began to run, breaking out of the camouflaging shadow of an evergreen, his strides almost too fast to count.
    A single, powerful leap and he was up on the stoop of the house. Next came three splintering blows to the front door. It seemed to explode open, and they were inside, the kill team, all five of them.
    The boys, none older than seventeen, streamed in around him, firing Berettas into the living room ceiling, waving crude hunting knives, shouting orders that were hard to understand because their English was not at the level of the Tiger’s.
    The children of the house screamed like little piglets; their lawyer father leapt up and tried to shield them with his flabby, overfed body.
    “You are pitiful!” the Tiger shouted at him. “You can’t even protect your family in your own house.”
    Soon enough, three family members were corralled against the living room mantel, which was covered with birthday cards addressed to “Momma” and “My Darling Ellie” and “Sweetness and Light.”
    The leader nudged the youngest of his boys forward, the one who had chosen the name Nike and who had a contagious sense of humor. “Just do it,” the Tiger said.
    The boy was eleven years old and fearless as a crocodile in a muddy river. He raised a pistol much larger than his own hand and fired it into the shivering father’s forehead.
    The other boys howled their approval, shooting off rounds in all directions, overturning antique furniture, breaking mirrors and windows. The Cox children were weeping and holding one another.
    One particularly scary, blank-faced boy in a Houston Rockets jersey emptied his magazine into the wide-screen television, then reloaded. “Rock da house!” he shouted.

    THE MOTHER, “DARLING Ellie,” “Sweetness and Light,” finally came running and screaming down the stairs for her
    “Leave them out of this!” she yelled at the tall and very muscular leader. “I know who you are!”
    “Of course you do, Mother,” said the Tiger as he smiled at the tall, matronly woman. He had no desire to harm her really. This was just a job to him. A high-paying one,
important to somebody here in Washington
    The two children scrambled to get to their mother, and it became an absurd game of cat and mouse. His boys shot holes in the sofa as the wheezing American young ones squeezed behind it.
    When they emerged on the other side, the Tiger was there to pluck the squealing son off the floor with one hand. The young girl in the Rugrats pajamas was a little more clever and ran up the stairs, showing little pink heels at every step.
    “Go, baby!” her mother yelled. “Get out a window! Run! Keep running!”
    “Won’t happen,” said the Tiger. “No one gets away from here tonight, Mother.”
    “Don’t do this!” she begged. “Let them go! They’re just children!”
    “You know who I am,” he said to her. “So you know how this will end. You knew all along. Look at what you brought on yourself and on your family. You did this to them.”

Chapter 1
    THE HARDEST MYSTERIES to solve are the ones you come to near the end, because there isn’t enough evidence, not enough to unravel, unless somehow you can go all the way back to the beginning — rewind and replay everything.
    I was
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