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Women's Murder Club [07] 7th Heaven
 

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Women's Murder Club [07] 7th Heaven


  Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  Little, Brown and Company

  Hachette Book Group USA

  237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

  Visit our Web site at www.HachetteBookGroupUSA.com

  First eBook Edition: February 2008

  The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  ISBN: 978-0-316-02903-2

  Contents

  Prologue

  One

  Two

  Part One

  BLUE MOON

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Part Two

  HABEAS CORPUS (Produce the Body)

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Part Three

  HOME COOKING

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Part Four

  HOT PROPERTY

  Chapter 80

  Chapter 81

  Chapter 82

  Chapter 83

  Chapter 84

  Chapter 85

  Chapter 86

  Chapter 87

  Chapter 88

  Chapter 89

  Chapter 90

  Chapter 91

  Chapter 92

  Chapter 93

  Chapter 94

  Chapter 95

  Chapter 96

  Chapter 97

  Chapter 98

  Chapter 99

  Part Five

  BURNING DESIRE

  Chapter 100

  Chapter 101

  Chapter 102

  Chapter 103

  Chapter 104

  Chapter 105

  Chapter 106

  Chapter 107

  Chapter 108

  Chapter 109

  Chapter 110

  Chapter 111

  Chapter 112

  Chapter 113

  Chapter 114

  Chapter 115

  Chapter 116

  Chapter 117

  Chapter 118

  Chapter 119

  Chapter 120

  Chapter 121

  Chapter 122

  Chapter 123

  Chapter 124

  Chapter 125

  James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club Series

  7th Heaven (coauthor Maxine Paetro)

  The 6th Target (Maxine Paetro)

  The 5th Horseman (Maxine Paetro)

  4th of July (Maxine Paetro)

  3rd Degree (Andrew Gross)

  2nd Chance (Andrew Gross)

  1st to Die

  The Novels of James Patterson

  FEATURING ALEX CROSS

  Double Cross

  Cross

  Mary, Mary

  London Bridges

  The Big Bad Wolf

  Four Blind Mice

  Violets Are Blue

  Roses Are Red

  Pop Goes the Weasel

  Cat & Mouse

  Jack & Jill

  Kiss the Girls

  Along Came a Spider

  THE JAMES PATTERSON PAGETURNERS

  The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

  The Final Warning: A Maximum Ride Novel

  Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

  Maximum Ride: School’s Out — Forever

  Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

  OTHER BOOKS

  You’ve Been Warned (coauthor Howard Roughan)

  The Quickie (Michael Ledwidge)

  Step on a Crack (Michael Ledwidge)

  Judge & Jury (Andrew Gross)

  Beach Road (Peter de Jonge)

  Lifeguard (Andrew Gross)

  Honeymoon (Howard Roughan)

  santaKid

  Sam’s Letters to Jennifer

  The Lake House

  The Jester (Andrew Gross)

  The Beach House (Peter de Jonge)

  Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

  Cradle and All

  Black Friday

  When the Wind Blows

  See How They Run

  Miracle on the 17th Green (Peter de Jonge)

  Hide & Seek

  The Midnight Club

  Black Friday (originally published as Black Market)

  See How They Run (originally published as The Jericho Commandment)

  Season of the Machete

  The Thomas Berryman Number

  For more information about James Patterson’s novels, visit www.jamespatterson.com.

  To our spouses and children: Susie and Jack, John and Brendan

  Our thanks and gratitude to these top professionals, who were so generous with their time and expertise: Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, Captain Richard Conklin, Chuck Hanni, Dr. Allen Ross, Philip R. Hoffman, Melody Fujimori, Mickey Sherman, and Dr. Maria Paige.

  And special thanks to our excellent researchers, Ellie Shurtleff, Don MacBain, Lynn Colomello, and Margaret Ross, and to Mary Jordan, who keeps it all together.

  Prologue

  THE CHRISTMAS SONG

  One

  TINY LIGHTS WINKED on the Douglas fir standing tall and full in front of the picture window. Swags of Christmas greenery and dozens of cards decked the well-appointed living room, and apple logs crackled in the fireplace, scenting the air as they burned.

  A digitized Bing Crosby crooned “The Christmas Song.”

  “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose . . .”

  Henry Ja
blonsky couldn’t see the boys clearly. The one called Hawk had snatched off his glasses and put them a mile away on the fireplace mantel, a good thing, Jablonsky had reasoned at the time.

  It meant that the boys didn’t want to be identified, that they were planning to let them go. Please, God, please let us live and I’ll serve you all the days of my life.

  Jablonsky watched the two shapes moving around the tree, knew that the gun was in Hawk’s waistband. He heard wrapping paper tear, saw the one called Pidge dangling a bow for the new kitten.

  They’d said they weren’t going to hurt them.

  They said this was only a robbery.

  Jablonsky had memorized their faces well enough to describe to a police sketch artist, which he would be doing as soon as they got the hell out of his home.

  Both boys looked as though they’d stepped from the pages of a Ralph Lauren ad.

  Hawk. Clean-cut. Well-spoken. Blond, with side-parted hair. Pidge, bigger. Probably six two. Long brown hair. Strong as a horse. Meaty hands. Ivy League types. Both of them.

  Maybe there really was some goodness in them.

  As Jablonsky watched, the blond one, Hawk, walked over to the bookshelf, dragged his long fingers across the spines of the books, calling out titles, his voice warm, as though he were a friend of the family.

  He said to Henry Jablonsky, “Wow, Mr. J., you’ve got Fahrenheit 451. This is a classic.”

  Hawk pulled the book from the shelf, opened it to the first page. Then he stooped down to where Jablonsky was hog-tied on the floor with a sock in his mouth.

  “You can’t beat Bradbury for an opening,” Hawk said. And then he read aloud with a clear, dramatic voice.

  “ ‘It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.’ ”

  As Hawk read, Pidge hauled a large package out from under the tree. It was wrapped in gold foil, tied with gold ribbon. Something Peggy had always wanted and had waited for, for years.

  “To Peggy, from Santa,” Pidge read from the gift tag. He sliced through the wrappings with a knife.

  He had a knife!

  Pidge opened the box, peeled back the layers of tissue.

  “A Birkin bag, Peggy. Santa brought you a nine-thousand-dollar purse! I’d call that a no, Peg. A definite no.”

  Pidge reached for another wrapped gift, shook the box, while Hawk turned his attention to Peggy Jablonsky. Peggy pleaded with Hawk, her actual words muffled by the wad of sock in her mouth. It broke Henry’s heavy heart to see how hard she tried to communicate with her eyes.

  Hawk reached out and stroked Peggy’s baby-blond hair, then patted her damp cheek. “We’re going to open all your presents now, Mrs. J. Yours too, Mr. J.,” he said. “Then we’ll decide if we’re going to let you live.”

  Two

  HENRY JABLONSKY’S STOMACH HEAVED. He gagged against the thick wool of the sock, pulled against his restraints, smelled the sour odor of urine. Heat puddled under his clothes. Christ. He’d wet himself. But it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was to get out alive.

  He couldn’t move. He couldn’t speak. But he could reason.

  What could he do?

  Jablonsky looked around from his place on the floor, took in the fire poker only yards away. He fixed his vision on that poker.

  “Mrs. J.,” Pidge called out to Peggy, shaking a small turquoise box. “This is from Henry. A Peretti necklace. Very nice. What? You have something to say?”

  Pidge went over to Peggy Jablonsky and took the sock out of her mouth.

  “You don’t really know Dougie, do you?” she said.

  “Dougie who?” Pidge laughed.

  “Don’t hurt us —”

  “No, no, Mrs. J.,” Pidge said, stuffing the sock back into his captive’s mouth. “No don’ts. This is our game. Our rules.”

  The kitten pounced into the heap of wrapping paper as the gifts were opened; the diamond earrings, the Hermès tie, and the Jensen salad tongs, Jablonsky praying that they would just take the stuff and leave. Then he heard Pidge speak to Hawk, his voice more subdued than before, so that Jablonsky had to strain to hear over the blood pounding in his ears.

  “Well? Guilty or not guilty?” Pidge asked.

  Hawk’s voice was thoughtful. “The J.’s are living well, and if that’s the best revenge . . .”

  “You’re kidding me, dude. That’s totally bogus.”

  Pidge stepped over the pillowcase filled with the contents of the Jablonskys’ safe. He spread the Bradbury book open on the lamp table with the span of his hand, then picked up a pen and carefully printed on the title page.

  Pidge read it back. “Sic erat in fatis, man. It is fated. Get the kit-cat and let’s go.”

  Hawk bent over, said, “Sorry, dude. Mrs. Dude.” He took the sock out of Jablonsky’s mouth. “Say good-bye to Peggy.”

  Henry Jablonsky’s mind scrambled. What? What was happening? And then he realized. He could speak! He screamed “Pegg-yyyyy” as the Christmas tree bloomed with a bright yellow glare, then went up in a great exhalation of flame.

  VOOOOOOM.

  Heat rose and the skin on Henry Jablonsky’s cheeks dried like paper. Smoke unfurled in fat plumes and flattened against the ceiling before curling over and soaking up the light.

  “Don’t leave us!”

  He saw the flames climbing the curtains, heard his dear love’s muffled screams as the front door slammed shut.

  Part One

  BLUE MOON

  Chapter 1

  WE SAT IN A CIRCLE around the fire pit behind our rental cottage near the spectacular Point Reyes National Seashore, an hour north of San Francisco.

  “Lindsay, hold out your glass,” Cindy said.

  I tasted the margarita — it was good. Yuki stirred the oysters on the grill. My border collie, Sweet Martha, sighed and crossed her paws in front of her, and firelight made flickering patterns on our faces as the sun set over the Pacific.

  “It was one of my first cases in the ME’s office,” Claire was saying. “And so I was ‘it.’ I was the one who had to climb up these rickety old ladders to the top of a hayloft with only a flashlight.”

  Yuki coughed as the tequila went down her windpipe, gasping for breath as Cindy and I yelled at her in unison, “Sip it!”

  Claire thumped Yuki’s back and continued.

  “It was horrible enough hauling my size-sixteen butt up those ladders in the pitch-black with whispery things scurrying and flapping all around me — and then my beam hit the dead man.

  “His feet were hovering above the hay, and when I lit him up, I swear to God he looked like he was levitating. Eyes and tongue bugged out, like a freakin’ ghoul.”

  “No way.” Yuki laughed. She was wearing pajama bottoms and a Boalt Law sweatshirt, her hair in a ponytail, already drunk on her one margarita, looking more like a college kid than a woman nearing thirty.

  “I yelled down into the dark well of that barn,” Claire said, “got two big old boys to come up and cut the body down from the rafters and put Mr. Levitation into a body bag.”

 
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