Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

“OK,” Tracy said brightly. “You get some rest. I’ll track down that doctor and see what’s what.”

She didn’t have to go far. Dr. Neil Sherridan was already walking down the hall towards her as she closed Nick’s door behind her. Tracy knew Dr. Sherridan from the hospital fund-raiser she’d been to with Blake last summer. She remembered she’d worn a red ball gown and the diamond earrings Jeff had given her on their wedding day. Blake had beamed with pride to be escorting her, even though everybody knew they were mother and son. It all seemed like another life now.

“Mrs. Schmidt?”

“I felt a lump,” Tracy blurted. “On his head. Is he OK?”

“I’m afraid not,” Dr. Sherridan said gravely.

Tracy felt her stomach lurch, as if she were in an elevator and someone had just cut the cable. “What? What do you mean you’re afraid not?”

“We need to operate immediately.”

Tracy blinked, uncomprehending. At the gala, she remembered thinking that Dr. Sherridan was handsome. Now he looked hideous, like a devil. Why was he saying these dreadful things?

“I have the consent forms here.”

Tracy looked at the doctor, then at the forms he’d thrust in front of her.

“B . . . but,” she stammered. “He was talking to me. Just now.”

“I understand that. It’s not uncommon after car accidents. These sorts of head trauma often take hours to present.”

“But, he was fine,” Tracy insisted. “He is fine.”

Dr. Sherridan placed a hand on Tracy’s arm.

“No, Mrs. Schmidt. We ran the tests. He’s not fine. I’m sorry. The lump you felt is the result of a massive trauma to his brain. He was lucky not to have been killed instantly.”

Tracy wobbled. I’m going to faint.

“He still stands a solid chance of recovery,” the doctor informed her. “However, without an operation, your son will die.”

The word “No” formed on Tracy’s lips. But no sound came out.

“I’m sorry to be so blunt about it but time isn’t on our side here. I need you to sign these forms, Mrs. Schmidt. Right now.”

Tracy stared at the pen in her hand. Her throat was dry. She tried to swallow but nothing happened. Looking back over her shoulder she watched an unusually tall nurse slip into Nicholas’s room. She had mud on her sneakers that left a trail on the clean hospital floor. Tracy fixed her eyes on the mud stains, trying to hold on to anything real. Because what Dr. Sherridan was telling her wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.

This is a practical joke. A really, really awful one.

When I sign my name with this pen, water will squirt in my face and we’ll all start laughing.

“Right here.”

Dr. Sherridan pointed to the bottom of the paper.

Tracy scrawled her name.

“Thank you. We’ll prepare him for surgery right away.”

“He will . . . be OK?” Tracy croaked. She hated the fear in her own voice. “Once you operate? You can fix this, can’t you, Dr. Sherridan?”

Dr. Sherridan looked her in the eye.

“We’ll know more once the operation’s under way. I’m hopeful. But scans only tell us so much.”

“But . . .”

“I promise to let you know as soon as we’re done, Mrs. Schmidt.”

He walked away.

TRACY SAT OUTSIDE THE operating theater, praying.

She didn’t believe in God. But she tried to make a deal with him anyway.

Let him live and I’ll do anything you ask.

Let him live and take me instead.

If only she hadn’t had that stupid argument with Blake! He was always such a careful driver. Had he been distracted because he was still upset with her?

I shouldn’t have let him take Nick out. Not until he’d calmed down.

The what ifs rolled endlessly through Tracy’s mind until she couldn’t think anymore. What if I’d sent Nick to his room instead of out on the ranch? What if I’d taken him out instead of Blake? What if they’d taken another route home? Exhausted, she put her head in her hands. She wished Blake were here to hold her hand. But Blake Carter would never be here again. Blake was dead, gone forever, and Tracy hadn’t even found a second to mourn him. Nick filled every atom of her being.

Just let him live, God. Please, please, let him live.

Dr. Sherridan was the best brain surgeon in Colorado, and one of the very best in the whole country. Never mind God. Dr. Sherridan would save Nick.

A shadow fell over Tracy and she jolted awake.

How could I have fallen asleep at a time like this? she thought guiltily.

Then she looked up into Dr. Sherridan’s face and the guilt was replaced with something else. Something far, far worse.

The last thing Tracy heard before she lost consciousness was the sound of her own screams.



Jeff Stevens felt Lianna climax beneath him and grinned. Jeff never tired of the thrill of giving a beautiful woman pleasure. Many women had told him over the years what a wonderful lover he was. But each new girl was a new challenge.

“What about you, darling?” Lianna rolled over on top of him, her wonderful, heavy breasts resting on Jeff’s chest like twin jellies turned out of their molds. Dean Klinnsman was a lucky man. With her blond hair and endless legs this girl was phenomenally sexy, although in the absolute opposite way to Tracy.

Jeff never slept with girls who looked like Tracy. They broke his heart.

“Don’t you want to come too?” Lianna cooed. “What can I do for you?”

She gave Jeff a knowing look and began to work her way down his body, snaking towards his groin.

“Actually, Angel,” Jeff said, pulling her gently back up, “all I really want right now is some food. I’m starved. D’you fancy a Byron Burger?”

“But . . . you’re not satisfied?” The girl pouted.

“On the contrary, I’m very satisfied,” Jeff assured her.

It was partly true. The simple truth was he was too tired to come. At least not without putting in some effort. Now that Lianna was satisfied, his mind was already drifting to other things. Specifically a bacon cheeseburger with all the trimmings.

Not that Jeff didn’t still enjoy sex. Jeff adored women. All women, give or take the odd humorless feminist, although even they provided an interesting challenge. But these days he kept his sexual liaisons strictly compartmentalized. He had been in love twice in his life, and had married both women. Louise Hollander, his first wife, was a twenty-five-year-old, golden-haired heiress who’d hired Jeff to work on her yacht and promptly seduced him. Jeff had loved Louise, right up until the day he learned she’d been cheating on him with a string of wealthier lovers. After their divorce, Jeff swore he’d never become vulnerable to a woman again.

Of course, that was before he met Tracy Whitney.

Tracy was not so much a woman as a force of nature, the adored love of Jeff’s life. After their last job together in Holland, brilliantly stealing the Magellan diamond from under the nose of both local and international police, Jeff and Tracy had married. Perhaps, with hindsight, that had been their mistake? The beginning of the end? Domestic bliss had certainly proved a lot more elusive once the adrenaline of their old life was gone.

But if we’d never married, we’d never have had Nick, Jeff reminded himself.

“You should go home, darling,” Jeff told Lianna, kissing her on the cheek as he pulled on his jeans. On reflection, stunning, twenty-three-year-old Russian models were rarely big cheeseburger fans. “We don’t want your future husband getting suspicious.”

“No,” she agreed. “But I will see you again? You’ll call me, won’t you?”

There was already a hint of doubt in her voice.

“Of course,” Jeff said.


“Just as soon as it’s safe,” he assured her. Which of course would be never if she really did marry Dean Klinnsman. Bedding Lianna once had been dangerous. Making a habit of it would be positively suicidal.

As soon as he heard the front door to his flat close, Jeff let out a sigh of relief. These days he didn’t know what he enjoyed more—really great sex, or a really great burger afterwards, safe in the knowledge that he would never have to see the girl in question again.

He was about to head out the door when his phone rang.

Jeff sighed. Damn it. Lianna could only just have left the building. She hadn’t seemed like the clingy type earlier at the bar, nor just now in bed. He sincerely hoped he hadn’t misjudged her. Playing dodge-the-bunny-boiler while Dean Klinnsman attempted to have him beaten to death was not Jeff’s idea of a merry Christmas.

He let the call go to message.


Tracy’s voice tore through him like an arrow. Lunging for the phone, he tripped over a pile of books, almost concussing himself in his desperation to reach it in time.

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon