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Things That Go Bang
in the Night
THE BOY WOULD be famous around the world one day, but there was no way he could imagine that now. What little kid could predict the future, or begin to understand it? Seven-year-old Ned Sinclair reached out in the darkness, his hand blindly feeling for the wall as he stepped outside his bedroom. He didn't dare turn on a light in the hall. He didn't dare make a sound. Not even a peep. Not yet.
Slowly, Ned tiptoed down the long, narrow hallway, the chill of the hardwood floor in the dead of an Albany winter reaching right up through his footed Superman pajamas. He was shaking, ice cold, his teeth on the verge of chattering.
Searching for the railing at the top of the stairs, Ned's arm waved back and forth like a delicate branch caught in the wind. He felt nothing… still nothing… then—yes, there it was—the smooth curve of the lacquered pine against his fingertips.
He gripped the railing, white-knuckled, all the way down to the first floor, one quiet step at a time.
Earlier that day, Ned almost forgot how terrified he was of the night. His big sister, Nora, had taken him to see the new movie in town, a sequel, Back to the Future Part II. He'd been too young to see the original four years earlier.
Sitting in the dark theater with a big bucket of buttered popcorn in his lap and an RC Cola, Ned was completely and wonderfully transfixed by the film, especially that DeLorean car.
If only I could travel through time, he wished afterward. I don't want to be here anymore. I don't like it here.
He wouldn't care where he went, just so long as it was away from his house—and the terrible bogeyman who haunted it late at night. He and Nora would make their great escape and live happily ever after. A new town. A new house. And in the garden of the new house? Nothing but yellow lilies, Nora's favorite.
He loved his sister so much. Whenever the other kids on the block made fun of his stutter—Ne-Ne-Ne-Ned, they would cruelly tease—Nora always stood up for him. She had even fought for him. Nora was as tough as any boy. Maybe wherever they went it would be okay to marry your sister.
But for now, he was still stuck in his house. A prisoner. Trapped. Lying awake each horrible night waiting for the sound he prayed would never come… but always did.
Always, always, always.
NED TURNED RIGHT at the bottom of the stairs, his hands still guiding him in the darkness as he made his way through the dining room and den, covered in beige shag carpeting, before stopping at the door to his father's library, where he wasn't allowed inside, not ever.
He froze as the baseboard heating gurgled and then clanked a few times, as if it were being hit hard and fast with a hammer. The noise was followed by the sound of a river of water rushing through the old, rusty pipes. But nothing more than that. There were no other footsteps, no voices in the house. Just his own heart pounding madly against his chest.
Go back to bed. You can't fight the bogeyman now. Maybe when you're bigger. Please, please, please, go back to bed.
Except Ned no longer wanted to listen to that voice inside his head. There was another voice talking to him now, a much stronger one. Bolder. Fearless. It told him to keep going. Don't be afraid! Don't be a scaredy-cat!
Ned walked into the library. By the window was a mahogany desk. It was lit by the hazy glow of a small electric clock, the kind with those flip-style numbers that turned like those on an old-fashioned scoreboard.
The desk was big, too big for the room. It had three large drawers on the left side of the base.
The only drawer that mattered, though, was the bottom one. It was always kept locked.
Reaching across the desk with both hands, Ned gripped an old coffee mug that was used to hold pencils and pens, erasers and paper clips. After a deep breath, almost as if he were counting to three, he lifted up the mug.
There it was. The key. Just as he'd found it weeks before. Because curious seven-year-old boys can find most anything, especially when they're not supposed to.
Ned took the key in his hand, pinching it between his thumb and forefinger before easing it into the lock on the bottom drawer.
He gave the key a slight twist clockwise until he heard the sound. Click!
Then, ever so carefully, slowly, so as not to make a sound, Ned pulled open the drawer.
And took out the gun.
OLIVIA SINCLAIR SHOT up in bed so fast it made her a little dizzy. Her first thought was that the heat had come on, that god-awful clanking noise from the pipes that would practically shake the house.
But that's why she always wore the wax earplugs when she went to bed, so she could sleep through it all. The earplugs always worked, too. Not once did she remember waking up in the middle of the night.
If that noise wasn't the heat and the pipes, what was it? It had to be something.
Olivia turned to her left to see the time. The clock on the nightstand said 12:20 a.m.
She turned to her right to see the empty pillow next to her. She was alone.
Olivia took out her earplugs and swung her legs off the bed, her bare feet quickly finding her slippers nearby. The second she flipped on the light, she was jolted by another noise. This one she recognized instantly. It was a horrible scream, just awful.
Bursting out of the bedroom, Olivia sprinted down the long, narrow hallway toward her daughter's bedroom, where the light was on.
When she turned the corner at the doorway, she felt worse than dizzy. She felt sick to her stomach.
There was blood everywhere. On the floor. On the bed. Splattered on the pink-painted wall between posters of Debbie Gibson and Duran Duran.
Olivia's eyes pinballed around the rest of the room. She took in a breath. The smell of the gunshots was still thick in the air. In one quick and utterly horrifying moment, she realized what had happened.
And what had been happening for more than a year.
Oh, my God! My daughter! My sweet and innocent daughter!
Nora sat curled up in the tiniest ball by the headboard of her bed. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her knees. She was naked. She was crying. She was looking at her brother.
Across the room in the corner, Ned, pale as the winter's snow outside, was standing frozen like a statue in his Superman pajamas. He couldn't even blink.
For a second, Olivia stood frozen, too. The next second, though, it was as if she'd suddenly remembered who she was. These were her children.
She was their mother.
Olivia rushed over to Ned and kneeled down to hug him, her arms squeezing him tight against her chest. He started to mumble something, repeating it over and over and over. "The bogeyman," it sounded like.
"Shh," Olivia whispered in his ear. "Everything's okay. Everything's okay, honey."
Then, very carefully, she took the gun out of his hand.
Slowly, she walked over to the door, looking back one more time at the room. Her daughter. Her son.
And the "bogeyman" lying dead on the floor.
Moments later, she picked up the phone in the hallway. She stood there holding the receiver for a long moment, then she dialed.
"My name is Olivia Sinclair," she told the 911 operator. "I just killed my husband."
The Strange Case
of the O'Haras
ETHAN BRESLOW COULDN'T stop smiling as he reached for the bottle of Perrier-Jouët Champagne chilling in the ice bucket next to the bed. He'd never been happier in his whole life. He'd never believed it was possible to be this happy.
"What's the world record for not wearing clothes on your honeymoon?" he said jokingly, his chiseled six-foot-two frame barely covered by a sheet.
"I don't know for sure. It's my first honeymoon and all," said his bride, Abigail, propping herself up on the pillow next to him. She was still catching her breath from their most daring lovemaking yet. "But at the rate we're going," she added, "I definitely overpacked."
The two laughed as Ethan poured more Champagne. Handing Abigail her glass, he stared deep into her soft blue eyes. She was so beautiful and—damn the cliché—was even more so on the inside. He'd never met anyone as kind and compassionate. With two simple words she'd made him the luckiest guy on the planet. Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?
Ethan raised his Champagne for a toast, the bubbles catching a ray of Caribbean sunshine through the curtains. "Here's to Abby, the greatest girl in the world," he said.
"You're not so terrible yourself. Even though you call me a girl."
They clinked glasses, sipping in silence while soaking everything in from their beachfront bungalow at the Governor's Club in Turks and Caicos. It was all so perfect—the fragrant aroma of wild cotton flowers that lingered under their king-size canopy bed, the gentle island breeze drifting through open French doors on the patio.
Back on a different sort of island—Manhattan—the tabloids had spilled untold barrels of ink on stories about their relationship. Ethan Breslow, scion of the Breslow venture-capital-and-LBO empire, onetime bad boy of the New York party circuit, had finally grown up, thanks to a down-to-earth pediatrician named Abigail Michaels.
Before he'd met her, Ethan had been a notorious dabbler. Women. Drugs. Even careers. He tried to open a nightclub in SoHo, tried to launch a wine magazine, tried to make a documentary film about Amy Winehouse. But his heart was never in it. Not any of it. Deep down, where it really counted, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He was lost.
Then he'd found Abby.
She was loads of fun, and very funny, too, but she was also focused. Her dedication to children genuinely touched him, inspired him. Ethan cleaned up his act, got accepted at Columbia Law School, and graduated. After his very first week working for the Children's Defense Fund, he got down on one knee before Abby and proposed.
Now here they were, newly married, and trying to have children of their own. Really trying. That was becoming a joke between them. Not since John and Yoko had a couple spent so much time in bed together.
Ethan swallowed the last sip of Perrier-Jouët. "So what do you think?" he asked. "Do we give the DO NOT DISTURB sign a break and venture out for a little stroll on the beach? Maybe grab some lunch?"
Abby nudged even closer to him, her long, chestnut-brown hair draping across his chest. "We could stay right here and order room service again," she said. "Maybe after we work up a little more of an appetite."
That gave Ethan an interesting idea.
"Come with me," he said, sliding out of the canopy bed.
"Where are we going?" asked Abigail. She was smiling, intrigued.
Ethan grabbed the ice bucket, tucking it under his arm.
"You'll see," he said.
ABBY WASN'T SURE what to think at first. Standing there naked with Ethan in the master bathroom, she placed a hand on her hip as if to say, You're joking, right? Sex in a sauna?
Ethan put just the right spin on it.
"Think of it as one of your hot yoga classes," he said. "Only better."
That pretty much sealed the deal. Abby loved her hot yoga classes back in Manhattan. Nothing made her feel better after a long day at work.
Except maybe this. Yes, this had great potential. Something they could giggle about for years, a real honeymoon memory. Or, at the very least, a tremendous calorie burner!
"After you, my darling," said Ethan, opening the sauna door with good-humored gallantry. The Governor's Club was known for having spectacular master bathrooms, complete with six-head marble showers and Japanese soaking tubs.
Ethan promptly covered the bench along the back wall with a towel. As Abby lay down, he cranked up the heat, then ladled some water on the lava rocks in the corner. The sauna sizzled with steam.
Kneeling on the cedar floor before Abby, he reached into the ice bucket. A little foreplay couldn't hurt.
Placing an ice cube between his lips, he leaned over and began slowly tracing the length of her body with his mouth. The cube just barely grazed her skin, from the angle of her neck past the curve of her breasts and all the way down to her toes, which now curled with pleasure.
"That's… wonderful," Abby whispered, her eyes closed.
She could feel the full force of the sauna's heat now, the sweat beginning to push through her pores. It felt exhilarating. She was wet all over.
"I want you inside me," she said.
But as she opened her eyes, Abigail suddenly sprung up from the bench. She was staring over Ethan's shoulder, mortified.
"What is it?" he asked.
"There's someone out there! Ethan, I just saw somebody."
Ethan turned to look at the door and its small glass window, barely bigger than an index card. He didn't see anything—or anyone. "Are you sure?" he asked.
Abby nodded. "I'm sure," she said. "Someone walked by. I'm positive."
"Was it a man or a woman?"
"I couldn't tell."
"It was probably just the maid," said Ethan.
"But we've still got the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door."
"I'm sure she knocked first and we didn't hear her." He smiled. "Given how long that sign's been out there she was probably wondering if we were still alive in here."
Abby calmed down a bit. Ethan was probably right. Still. "Can you go check to make sure?" she asked.
"Of course," he said. For a laugh, he picked up the ice bucket and put it in front of his crotch. "How do I look?"
"Very funny," said Abigail, cracking a smile. She handed him the towel from the bench.
"I'll be back in a jiff," he said, wrapping the towel around his waist.
He grabbed the door handle and pulled it toward him. Nothing happened.
"It's stuck. Abby, it won't open."
"WHAT DO YOU mean the door won't open?"
In a split second, the smile had disappeared from Abby's face.
Ethan pulled harder on the handle, but the sauna door wouldn't budge. "It's like it's locked," he said. Only they both knew there was no lock on the door. "It must be jammed."
He pressed his face against the glass of the little window for a better view.
"Do you see anyone?" Abigail asked.
"No. No one."
Making a fist, he pounded on the door and shouted, "Hey, is anyone out there?"
There was no response. Silence. An annoying silence. An eerie silence.
"So much for it being the maid," said Abby. Then it dawned on her. "Do you think we're being robbed and they've locked us in here?"
"Maybe," said Ethan. He couldn't rule it out. Of course, as the son of a billionaire, he was less concerned about being robbed than being locked in a sauna.
"What do we do?" asked Abby. She was starting to get scared. He could see it in her eyes, and that frightened him.
"The first thing we do is turn off the heat," he answered, wiping the sweat from his forehead. He hit the Off button on the control panel. He then grabbed the ladle sitting by the lava rocks and held it up to show Abby. "This is the second thing we do."
Ethan wedged the ladle's wooden handle into the doorjamb as though it were a crowbar, leaning on it with all his weight.
"It's working!" she said.
The door shifted on its hinges, slowly beginning to move. With a little more muscle Ethan would be able to—snap!
The handle splintered like a matchstick, sending Ethan flying headfirst into the wall. When he turned around, Abby said, "You're bleeding!"
There was a gash above his right eye, a trickle of red on his cheek. Then a stream. As a doctor, Abby had seen blood in almost every conceivable way and always knew what to do. But this was different. This wasn't her office or a hospital; there were no gauze pads or bandages. She had nothing. And this was Ethan who was bleeding.
"Hey, it's fine," he said in an effort to reassure her. "Everything's going to be okay. We'll figure it out."
She wasn't convinced. What had been hot and sexy was now just hot. Brutally hot. Every time she breathed in, she could feel the sauna's heat singeing the inside of her lungs.
"Are you sure the sauna's off?" she asked.
Actually, Ethan wasn't sure at all. If anything, the room was beginning to feel hotter. How could that be?
He didn't care. His ace in the hole was the pipe in the corner, the emergency shutoff valve.
Standing on the bench, he turned the valve perpendicular to the pipe. A loud hiss followed. Even louder was Abby's sigh of relief.
Not only had the heat stopped, there was actually cool air blowing in from the ceiling vent.
"There," said Ethan. "With any luck, we've triggered an alarm somewhere. Even if we didn't, we'll be okay. We've got plenty of water. Eventually, they'll find us."
But the words were barely out of his mouth when they both wrinkled their noses, sniffing the air.
"What's that smell?"
"I don't know," said Ethan. Whatever it was, there was something not right about it.
Abby coughed first, her hands desperately reaching up around her neck. Her throat was closing; she couldn't breathe.
Ethan tried to help her, but seconds later he couldn't breathe, either.
It was happening so fast. They looked at each other, eyes red and tearing, their bodies twisted in agony. It couldn't get worse than this.
But it did.
Ethan and Abby fell to their knees, gasping, when they saw a pair of eyes through the small window of the sauna door.
"Help!" Ethan barely managed, his hand outstretched. "Please, help!"
But the eyes just kept staring. Unblinking and unfeeling. Ethan and Abby finally realized what was happening. It was a murderer—a murderer who was watching them die.
IF I'VE SAID it once, I've said it a thousand times. Things aren't always as they appear.
Take the room I was sitting in, for instance. To look at the elegant furniture, plush Persian rugs, and gilt-framed artwork adorning the walls, you would have thought I'd just walked into some designer show house out in the burbs.
Definitely not some guy's office on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Then there was the guy sitting across from me.
If he had been any more laid-back his chair would have tipped over. He was wearing jeans, a polo shirt, and a pair of brown Teva sandals. In a million years you'd never have guessed he was a shrink.
Up until a week ago, I seemed pretty laid-back, too. You'd never have known that I was on the verge of trashing a somewhat promising eleven-year career at the FBI. I was hiding it well. At least that's what I thought.
But my boss, Frank Walsh, thought otherwise. Of course, that's putting it mildly. Frank basically had me in a verbal headlock, screaming at me in his raspy, two-pack-a-day voice until I cried uncle. You have to see a shrink, John.
So that's why I agreed to meet with the very relaxed Dr. Adam Kline in his office disguised as a living room. He specialized in treating people suffering from "deep emotional stress due to personal loss or trauma."
People like me, John O'Hara.
All I knew for sure was that if this guy didn't ultimately give me a clean bill of mental health, I would be toast at the Bureau. Kaput. Sacked. The sayonara special.
But that wasn't really the problem.
The problem was, I didn't give a shit.
"So, you're Dr. Grief, huh?" I said, settling into an armchair that clearly was supposed to make me forget that I was actually "on the couch."
Dr. Kline nodded with a slight smile, as if he expected nothing less than my cracking wise right from the get-go. "And from what I hear, you're Agent Time Bomb," he shot back. "Shall we get started?"
- PRAISE FOR HONEYMOON:
- "[Patterson] again shows his usual flair for brisk narrative, strong suspense and genuine twists...nearly impossible to stop reading."—Publishers Weekly
- "Whether you're cuddled up in front of a fire or basking on a sunny beach, Honeymoon will be over all too soon."—BookReporter.com
- "Honeymoon has the quick-cut pacing and visual snap of a screenplay."—BookPage.com
- On Sale
- Feb 4, 2014
- Page Count
- 432 pages
- Grand Central Publishing