Hide and Seek


By James Patterson

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The world’s favorite singer is on trial for murdering a glamorous athlete . . . but in a ruthless world of power and privilege, life and death aren’t what they seem.

It was the trial that electrified the world. Not just because of the defendant, Maggie Bradford, the woman whose songs captivated the world’s heart. Not just because of the victim, Will Shepard, the world’s most glamorous athlete. But also because everyone said Maggie had murdered not just one husband, but two. And because in Maggie’s world — the world she feared and despised but could not escape, the world of the powerful, the rich, and the ruthless — both death and life could never be what they seemed.

From James Patterson, bestselling author of the Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series, comes a brilliantly realized thriller that will shatter your expectations . . . and hold every last one of your nerves in thrall with each twist of the plot and every turn of the page.


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.

Copyright © 1996 by James Patterson.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Warner Books

Hachette Book Group

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New York, NY 10017

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The Warner Books name and logo are registered trademarks of Hachette Book Group.

First eBook Edition: December 1996

ISBN: 978-0-446-40929-2


Featuring Alex 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 Women's Murder Club

4TH of July (and Maxine Paetro)

3RD Degree (and Andrew Gross)

2ND Chance (and Andrew Gross)

1ST to Die

Other Books

The Lifeguard (and Andrew Gross)

Maximum Ride

Honeymoon (and Howard Roughan)


Sam's Letters to Jennifer

The Lake House

The Jester (and Andrew Gross)

The Beach House (and 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 (and Peter de Jonge)

Hide & Seek

The Midnight Club

Season of the Machete

The Thomas Berryman Number

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


I LAY WITHOUT moving in the low, narrow crawl space under the front porch of our home near West Point. My face was pressed tightly against the brutally cold, frozen ground littered with dry leaves and scratchy brambles. I knew I was going to die soon, and so was my baby girl. The words from a song, Crosby, Stills, and Nash—"Our house is a very, very, very fine house"— played in my mind.

"Don't cry … oh please don't cry," I whispered into my baby's ear.

There was no way out—no escape from here, at least not carrying the baby. I was smart, and I'd thought of every possible escape route. None of them would work.

Phillip was going to kill us when he found our hiding place. I couldn't let him. I just didn't know how I could stop it. I kept my hand lightly over Jennie's mouth. "You mustn't make a sound, sweetheart. I love you. You mustn't make a sound."

I could hear Phillip raging above us inside the house. Our house. He was rampaging from floor to floor, ransacking rooms, overturning furniture. Angry. Relentless. Absolutely crazy. Worse than he'd ever been. It was cocaine this time, but really it was life that Phillip couldn't handle very well.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are, Maggie … come out, Maggie and Jennie … it's only Daddy. Daddy's going to find you anyway," Phillip screamed over and over until he was hoarse. "Come out, come out, Maggie … game's over.

"Maggie, I command you to come out wherever the hell you're hiding, you disobedient little bitch."

I lay shivering under the old sagging porch. My teeth were chattering again. This couldn't be happening. It was unthinkable. I gently held my little girl, who had wet her pants. "You mustn't cry, Jennie. Please don't cry. Don't cry. You're such a good little girl. I love you so much."

Jennie nodded, and stared into my eyes. I wished that this were a nightmare. That it would go away. But it wasn't a bad dream. This was as real as my mother's fatal heart attack when I was thirteen years old and the only one home. This was even worse.

I could hear my husband, my husband, stomping up and down the stairs of the house. He was still screaming … hadn't stopped screaming for over an hour. Pounding his fist against the walls. Captain Phillip Bradford. Math instructor at the Academy. Officer and gentleman. That was what everyone believed, what they wanted to believe, what I had believed myself.

The hour stretched to two hours.

Then to three hours in the pitch-black, freezing-cold crawl space—in this living hell.

Mercifully, Jennie had finally fallen asleep. I held her to my chest, tried to keep her warm. I wanted to sleep myself, give up the fight, but I knew I mustn't do that. It was very early in the morning. One of Phillip's witching hours—maybe three A.M.? Maybe four?

I heard the front door slam like a clap of thunder in the night. Loud footsteps exploded on the porch just over my head.

Jennie woke up. "Shhh," I whispered. "Shhh."

"Maggie! I know you're here. I know it! I'm not a stupid man. There's nowhere to run to."

"Daddy … Daddy!" Jennie cried out, the way she had so many times in the safety of her crib.

A flashlight suddenly shone under the porch. Bright, terrifying light blinded me. A thousand sharp splinters in my eyes.

"Peekaboo! There you are! There's Jennie and Maggie. There's my two girls," Phillip shouted in triumph. His voice was so hoarse and raw, it was nearly unrecognizable. I could almost make myself believe that this insane man wasn't my husband. How could he be?

Two deafening shots came from his gun. He fired right at us. He meant to kill either Jennie or me, maybe both of us.

I had a surprise for Phillip, just this one time.

Peekaboo yourself!

I fired back.


SOMETIMES, I FEEL as though I'm wearing a horrifying scarlet letter—only the letter is M, for Murderess. I know this feeling will never completely go away and it seems so unfair. It is unfair. It's inhuman and indecent.

The memories are jagged and chaotic, but at the end so vivid and horrifying that they are etched into my brain. They will be with me forever.

I'll tell you all of it, sparing no one, especially myself. I know that you want to hear. I know this is a "big news story." I know what it is to be "news." Do you have any idea? Can you imagine yourself as a piece of news, as cold black type that everybody reads, and makes judgments about?

Area newspapers from Newburgh, Cornwall, Middle-town called the first shooting the worst "family tragedy" in the history of West Point. To me, at the time, it seemed as though it had happened to someone else. Not to Jennie and me, or even to Phillip, as much as he may have deserved it.

Yet a dozen years later, after time and my own denial had clouded the events still further and made even my emotions hazy, a second killing has forced me to remember West Point in all of its horrible vividness.

I obsessively confront the questions that pound in my brain: Am I a murderer?

Did I kill not one, but two of my husbands?

I don't know anymore. I don't know! As crazy as that sounds, I honestly don't.

It gets terribly cold here—sometimes it seems as cold as it was that Christmas Eve when Phillip died. All I can do is sit in this prison cell, in torment, and wait for the trial to begin.

I decided to write it all down. I'm writing it for myself—but I'm also writing it for you. I'll tell you everything.

When you've read it, you decide. That's how our system works, right? A jury of my peers.

And, oh yes, I trust you. I'm a trusting person. That's probably why I'm here, in all of this terrible trouble.


Early winter, 1984

More snow. Another Christmas season. Almost a year after Phillip's death—or as some would have it, his murder.

I sat back in the yellow cab as it bounced and plowed through the slush-filled New York streets. I was trying to put my mind in a calm place, but it wouldn't be still for me. I had promised myself I wouldn't be afraid—but I was very afraid.

Outside the streaked, wet taxi window, even the Salvation Army Santa Clauses looked miserable. Nobody sane or sensible was out walking today; those who were would not take their hands from their pockets to make a donation. The traffic cops looked like abandoned snowmen. The pigeons had disappeared from every window-sill and rooftop.

I glanced at my own reflection in the cab's window. Very long, blond hair, mostly with a mind of its own, but my best physical attribute, I thought. Freckles that no amount of makeup would ever cover. Nose a little out of proportion. Brown eyes that had, I knew, regained at least some of their half-forgotten sparkle. A small mouth, thickish lips—made, as Phillip joked in the happy days, for fellatio.

The thought of him made me shudder. The idea of sex still makes me afraid, and much worse.

It had been a year since the terrible shooting at West Point. My recovery was slow, both physically and mentally, and it wasn't complete. My leg still hurt, and my brain didn't function with the clarity I'd once taken pride in. I found myself frightened by small noises. I saw threats in nighttime streets when none existed. Previously in pretty good control of my feelings, I had lost that control. I would cry for no reason, grow angry at a neighbor's kindness, be suspicious of friends and afraid of strangers. There were times when I hated myself!

There had been an investigation, of course, but no trial. If Jennie hadn't been so badly beaten, if it had been only me with bloodied hair and a damaged leg, I might have been sent to prison that first time. But the fact that my three-year-old was injured too made our claim of self-defense more convincing.

No prosecutor wanted to take on the case, and the military academy was only too happy to have it hushed up.

Officers, it was a well-known fact, did not attack their wives and daughters. Wives and daughters really didn't exist at the Point. We were decorative.

So I took flight, and traveled to New York City, where I rented a two-bedroom apartment. It was a second-floor walkup in a dreary brownstone on West Seventy-fifth Street. I located a day school for Jennie. Our lives began to move at a slower pace.

But I hadn't found what I wanted most: an end to the pain, a beginning to a new life.

I was twenty-five years old. I wore the letter M. I had taken someone's life, even if it had been in self-defense.

No guts, no glory, I urged myself on. I was definitely moving on sheer guts that day. I was chasing a dream I'd held on to and cherished for more than a dozen years.

Perhaps today that new life would start. But was I doing the right thing? Was I ready for this? Or was I about to make a horribly embarrassing mistake?

I tightly held a briefcase in my lap, filled with songs I had written during the past year. Songs—the music and the words—were my way of exposing my pain and expressing my hopes for the future.

Actually, I'd been writing songs since I was ten or eleven. Mostly in my head, but sometimes on paper. The songs were the one thing that everybody seemed to like about me, the one thing I did well.

Were they any good? I thought maybe they were, but Jennie and a squirrel named Smooch were the only ones who had heard them, and, eager for praise as I was, I knew enough not to trust the opinion of a four-year-old, or a squirrel.

Soon, though, there would be another listener. I was on my way to audition the songs for Barry Kahn, the Barry Kahn, the singer-composer who had electrified America a decade ago and now was one of the most important record producers in the world.

Barry Kahn wanted to hear my songs.

Or so he said.



And then it got much worse.

"You're late," he said. Those were his very first words to me. "I work on a very tight schedule."

"It was the snow," I said. "It took forever to find a cab, and then it kept skidding. I guess I was nervous and asked the driver to go faster, only he went slower, and—"

Jesus, I thought. You sound like a dumb parakeet. Pull yourself together, Polly. Right now!

He was unmoved. Seemed like a real bastard. "You should have left earlier. My days are full. I plan ahead. So should you. Would you like coffee?"

The question, the sudden politeness, took me by surprise. "Yes, please."

He rang for his secretary. "Cream and sugar?" I nodded. His secretary appeared. "Coffee for Ms. Bradford, Lynn. The works. Danish?" I shook my head. "Nothing for me," he instructed, his voice filled with the huskiness that made his singing so distinctive.

He dismissed Lynn with a wave, then sat at his desk with his eyes closed, as though he had all eternity. I wondered: Who the hell is this guy?

He was in his early forties, I guessed, with a receding hairline and brown hair, a long nose, thin mouth, and a slight perpetual stubble on his chin. A homely face (the fans who think he's "sexy" are attracted by his soul, not his looks), but its lines suggested struggle and its repose peace. At our first meeting he was dressed casually, in gray flannel slacks and a blue shirt, open at the neck, obviously expensive but worn with lack of care. Barry Kahn looked rather sweet and harmless.

Single, I deduced, and living alone. I wasn't interested in him that way, but I noticed anyway. I'm good with details. I always notice things, especially about people.

Lynn returned with coffee in a china cup, and I took it from her, splashing it on my wrist. Not very relaxed. Indeed, kind of an ass. That's how I felt at the time anyway.

Petrified! As in woodthat never, ever moves.

Barry stood to offer assistance, but I waved him away. "I'm fine." I'm in control. I'm cool. Pay no attention to the scarlet M.

Barry sat back down. "You're quite a letter writer," he said. I guess it was a compliment.

In the hospital, as my recuperation progressed and I began composing song after song, I had planned to write only one letter to him, telling him that I admired him and hoped I could audition for him someday. But the one letter gave rise to another, and by April, I was writing him nearly every week, letters from deep inside my heart, to a person I had never met. Hooo boy!

Weird, I know, but that's what I'd done. I sure couldn't take the letters back now.

He didn't answer any of them, and I wasn't even sure he read them. I only knew they were never sent back unopened. But I continued to write the letters. Actually, the letters kept me going. Talking to somebody, even if the person didn't talk back.

In a way, I think writing the letters helped me recover. I gradually got stronger, began to believe that one day I would be all right again. I knew Jennie would be okay, or at least as okay as you can be if, at age three, you've witnessed horrible mayhem in your own house.

My sisters traveled from upstate New York, and took turns watching her. The hospital let Jennie visit as often as they could bring her. She was fascinated by my wheelchair and the electric bed. And she could thrill me whenever she hugged me and pleaded, "Sing me a song, Mommy. No. Make up a new song, and sing it."

I sang to Jennie often. I sang for both of us. I wrote a new song a day.

Then, an amazing thing happened. A miracle. A letter arrived for me at West Point Hospital.

Dear Maggie, the letter said.

Okay, okay, you win. I've no idea why I'm answering you, but I guess I'm an easy mark even though I don't like to think so and if you tell anybody else, that'll be it for us forever.

In fact, your letters moved me. I get lots of mail, most of which my secretary throws away without showing to me. And the letters she does give me I throw away.

But youyou're different. You remind me that there are real people out there, not just sycophants wanting to get into my studio. I feel I've actually come to know you a little bit, and that says a whole lot about what you've written so far.

I was impressed with some of the lyrics you sent me. Amateur stuff—you need a songwriting educationbut powerful all the same because they say something. None of this means that (a) the education will do you any good; or (b) you can write music for a living, but okay, okay. I'll give you the half hour of my time you asked for "to find out once and for all if I've got a talent for songwriting or not."

When you get out of the hospital, call Lynn Needham, my secretary, to set up an appointment. But in the meantime, please don't write me any more letters. You've taken up enough of my time already. Don't write to mewrite more songs!


HE SIGNED THE letter "Barry," and now here I was and he was looking at me, and I felt hopelessly out of place, one of those "sycophants" he had grumbled about. I definitely hadn't overdressed—that wasn't my style. I had on a white peasant's blouse, pink camisole, a long black skirt, flat shoes.

But at least I was here. I was going for it.

I was trying so hard not to have any negative thoughts … but things like this, really good things, never happen to people like me. They just don't.

"Do you sing your songs, or do you just write them?" he asked.

"I sing them too, at least I hope you'll call it singing." Stop apologizing, Maggie. You don't have to apologize for anything.

"Ever performed professionally?"

"I did some backup singing in clubs around West Point, Newburgh. But my husband didn't like it when I did."

"He didn't like much, did he?"

"He thought I was exposing myself. Couldn't stand other men looking at me." So I shot himthree times.

"But you'd be willing to try it now? Sing in public? You could do that?"

My heart raced at the thought. "Yes, I could." It seemed the right thing to say.

"Good answer." He gestured toward a beautiful, shining black Steinway at the far end of his office. "But your first test's in private. Did you bring anything?"

I picked up my briefcase. "Lots. Do you want to hear ballads? Blues?"

He winced. "No, Maggie. Just one. This is an audition, not a gig."

One song? I thought. My heart sank.

I had no idea which song to pick. One song? I had brought at least two dozen, and now I stood rattled and confused, as though I were standing naked in front of him.

Put it in gear. He's human. He just doesn't act like it. You've sung these songs a thousand times before.

"Go on," he said, looking at his watch. "Please, Maggie."

I sucked in a deep breath and sat down at the piano. I'm fairly tall, self-conscious about it, so I prefer to sit. From the seat I could see the silent chaos of Broadway through his window.

Petrified wood.

Okay, I thought. You're here. You're actually auditioning for Barry Kahn. Now, knock his socks off. You … can … do … it.

"This is a song called 'Woman in the Moon.' It's about a … a woman who works nights cleaning buildings in a small town. How she always sees the moon from a certain window while she works. What she dreams about all night in the offices she cleans."

I looked over at Barry Kahn. Jesus, I was in his office. I was the Woman in the Moon. He was sitting back, feet on the bottom drawer of his desk, fingers steepled together, eyes closed. He didn't say a word.

Musically, "Woman in the Moon" was like Barry's own "Light of Our Times." I began to play, to sing in a soft, uncertain voice that suddenly seemed dreary and ordinary to me. As I sang, I sensed I was losing him.

I finished. Silence. I finally dared to look at him. He hadn't changed position, hadn't moved. Finally he said, "Thank you."

I waited. Nothing more came from Barry Kahn.

I put the music back in the briefcase. "Any criticism?" I asked, dreading his answer, but wanting to hear something more than "thank you."

He shrugged. "How can I criticize my own child? It's my music," he said, "not yours. My voice, imitated by yours. I'm not interested."

I could feel a deep blush redden my face. I felt so humiliated, but also angry. "I thought maybe you'd be pleased. I wrote it in honor of you." I wanted to run out of the room, but I forced myself to stay.

"Fine. Okay, I'm honored. But I thought you were here to play your songs. If I want echoes, I'll sing in a subway tunnel. Are all your songs like mine?"

No, goddamn you. They're not like anybody else's songs! "You mean do I have something more original?"

"Originality's what I'm looking for. Originality's a start."

I began leafing through my sheet music. My fingers felt numb and unsure. A full marching band was stomping around inside my head. "Would you listen to one more?"

He stood up. He was shaking his head, trying to stop me from going on. "Really, Maggie. I don't think—"

"I do have one. Many. My own, not yours." I had promised myself I wouldn't be embarrassed.

He sighed, having already given up on me. "Since you're here … one more song. One song, Maggie."

I plucked out "Cornflower Blue." It was a little like an old Carole King hit. Maybe not original enough. Too precious. Too clever. More bullshit. The noise inside my brain had become a loud roar like the sound of an approaching subway train. I felt as though I were about to be run over.

I stuffed "Cornflower" back in the briefcase and chose another song—"Loss of Grace." Yes. This was a better choice. I had written it recently, since I had come to New York.

One song.

I could feel Barry Kahn's eyes on me, feel his growing impatience. The room felt hot. I didn't look at him. Just at the music for "Loss of Grace."

The song was about my marriage to Phillip. It was deeply personal. The initial ecstasy, the love I'd felt, or thought that I did. Then the mounting terror. The horror of that first fall from grace … and never being able to stop falling.

One song.

I turned to the piano, took one deep breath, and began to play.

I sang very softly at first, then with mounting passion as the song gripped me and I remembered exactly what had inspired it. Phillip, Jennie, myself, our house near West Point.

I could sense something new in the room as I sang, a kinship and understanding I had longed for in my letters, a bond between me and the man sitting silently at the other side of the room.

I finished, and waited for what seemed like forever for him to say something. Finally, I turned around. His eyes were closed. He looked as though he had a headache. Barry Kahn opened his eyes.

"You shouldn't rhyme 'time' with 'mine,'" he said. "It's a false rhyme, and while you might get away with it in a country song it's distracting when you're trying something serious."

I began to cry. I couldn't help it. It was the last thing in the universe I wanted to do. I was furious at myself.

"Hey," he said, but I had already jammed the song into my briefcase and was heading for the door. I almost started to run. I wouldn't run though.

"Hey," he repeated. "Stop crying. Hold on a minute."

I turned to him. "I'm sorry I took up so much of your precious, valuable time. But if all you can talk about is one lousy rhyme, when I've just sung my heart out, then there's no way we can work together. And don't worry. I won't bother you again."

I rushed out the door, past an astonished Lynn Need-ham, and took the fancy Deco elevator to the lobby. Screw him. Screw Barry Kahn.

I was tough enough to deal with this—I had to be. I had a little girl to take care of, not to mention myself to look out for. That was why I had written to half a dozen music companies besides Barry Kahn's from West Point Hospital. Tomorrow I would see one of the others. And then another. And another after that if I needed to.

Somebody was going to like my music, my songs. They were too good, too true, for somebody not to listen, and to feel something.

It's your loss, Barry Kahn, Mr. Big Shot. Mr. My-Time-Is-So-Precious!

You missed out on Maggie Bradford!


DID YOU EVER want to say, even to shout out loud, Hey, I'm smart. I'm an okay person. I have some talent.

I shouted those very words in Times Square. No problem. Nobody even noticed. I fit right in with the rest of the loony-birds there.

I wandered for a couple of hours, oblivious to the falling snow, then went to pick up Jennie at her school on West Seventy-third. I felt like absolute crap and hoped I didn't look it. Sheesh, what a day.

"Let's celebrate," I said. "Tomorrow starts the Christmas holiday. Give your favorite mom a big hug, and we'll go to some fancy New York restaurant. Just the two of us. Where do you want to eat? Lutèce? Windows On The World? Rumpelmayer's?"

Jennie carefully thought the offer over, wrinkling her forehead and pulling on her chin, as she always does when she has to make an important decision. "How 'bout McDonald's. Then we can go see a flick."

"Quarter Pounders it is!" I laughed, and took her small hand. "My sweet bunny rabbit, you're what's important. And you like my songs."

"I love your songs, Mommy."

The two of us began to babble at each other—just like always. We were "best friends," "girlfriends," "the original motormouths," "soul sisters," "the odd couple." We would "never be alone, because we would always have each other."

"How was your day, Sweetie? Boy, you've got to be tough to make it in New York. Fortunately, we're tough."

"School was fun. I made another new friend named Julie Goodyear. She's real funny. Mrs. Crolius said I'm smart."

"You are smart. You're also pretty, and you're a very nice person. You're awfully short though."

"I'm going to be bigger than you, don't you think so?"

"Yes, I think so. I think you'll be around seven foot or so."

On and on and on like that.

The motormouths.

Best friends.

We were both doing pretty well actually; getting used to New York—kind of; getting over Phillip as well as we could.


On Sale
Dec 1, 1996
Page Count
368 pages

James Patterson

About the Author

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

Learn more at jamespatterson.com

Learn more about this author