NYPD Red 6 - James Patterson

Prologue

* * *

THE WEDDING OF THE CENTURY

ONE

IT TOOK BOBBY a week to decide where to park. It had to be close to the wedding, but not too close. And since he could be sitting in a stolen truck for two, even three hours, it had to be a stretch of real estate where the cops almost never patrolled.

It was a critical decision. Son of Sam had gotten tripped up by a thirty-five-dollar parking ticket.

Learn from the mistakes of others, his father used to tell him. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

He finally decided on West Twenty-Ninth Street between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues. The entire block was lined with city sanitation trucks waiting for the next morning’s run. The stench alone was enough to keep the street clear, but on the off chance that NYPD did drive by and ask what he was doing there, he’d explain that his alternator had crapped out, and he was waiting for a tow.

He arrived at 16:45. Two-plus hours later, not a single cop had passed by. He killed time reading the papers.

The Times didn’t give the wedding much ink, just one piece on page 14 of the Sunday Styles section. But the Daily News and the Post understood that Erin was American royalty, and they gave her the kind of coverage she deserved. Front page, dozens of pictures, plus detailed diagrams of the Manhattan Center.

Of course, Bobby already had all that information. He’d made three recon runs to the venue in the past three weeks. The first time was strictly to get the lay of the land—two recording studios, a dozen offices, and two spectacular ballrooms, the Hammerstein and the Grand.

The second time, he spent the day working with a catering crew and managed to get what he came for—a master key to almost every lock in the building.

Two days ago he’d set up the live feed. Wearing a baseball cap and a shirt with a logo that said bd rentals, he entered the complex through the loading dock and headed upstairs. The Hammerstein was packed with the army of people it would take to get the twelve-thousand-square-foot space perfect for what the network had billed as “the Wedding of the Century.” But the Grand was dark, and he made his way to a storage room under the massive stage. At 0100 hours, with the cleaning crew long gone and a lone watchman stationed in the lobby, he’d installed the four wireless pinhole cameras.

The rest of the world wouldn’t get to see the wedding footage until ZTV fed it to them one episode at a time, but Bobby now had a live view on his iPad.

The ceremony, which had been scheduled for 1700 hours, did not come off as planned. Which, of course, was part of Erin’s plan. She loved to keep the world waiting. And guessing.

By 17:05 the Twitterverse was crackling with rumors, speculation, and general fan mania. She got cold feet. She caught Jamie cheating. She’s holding up the network for more money.

And then, at 17:43, a wedding guest posted the tweet Erin’s fans were waiting for: Here comes the bride. #TheWeddingIsOn.

The ceremony itself was stomach-turning. Bobby wanted to pummel whoever wrote Erin’s vows. Lifetime of growing. Falling more in love with you every day. Pure garbage. But he had to admit her last one was kind of funny. I vow never to keep score—even if I am totally winning. That was the Erin he loved.

It was now 18:55, and the reception was in full swing. He changed the configuration on the iPad so he could fill the screen with the single image from the ballroom camera. The resolution was excellent, and he watched her dancing with her new husband.

Jamie Gibbs was thirty-two, five years younger than Erin. He had a reputation for being something of a player, but Bobby wasn’t impressed. How hard is it to be seen with a beautiful woman on your arm when your mother owns one of the top modeling agencies on the planet? Erin Easton, on the other hand, was completely out of Jamie’s league.

“Dude,” Bobby said to the smiling image of Gibbs moving around the iPad screen. “You’re the heir to a gold mine. Did you think she married you because you’re so great in the sack?”

When the dance was over, Jamie and Erin took the stage and made their surprise announcement: Erin was going to change, and then she was coming back to put on a show.

Bobby had watched the dress

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