Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

Cameron’s eyebrow shot up playfully. “Really? Greg told me you were a retired art specialist.”

Tracy laughed loudly. “That’s one way of putting it I suppose.”

“What’s another way? Come on. I’m curious. I won’t breathe a word, I promise you.”

“It’s complicated,” said Tracy. “I spent some time in prison in my twenties. But I’m sure I never knew Althea there.”

“What for?” Cameron found it hard to imagine this poised, beautiful, intelligent woman behind bars.

“Something I didn’t do.” Tracy smiled sweetly. “I’ve also worked in banking, as a computer specialist.”

“That sounds more Althea-like.”

“It does,” Tracy agreed. “But I was the only woman I knew at that time in my bank, other than the secretaries. Later I, er, developed an interest in fine art,” Tracy said tactfully. “And very expensive jewelry.”

“Other people’s very expensive jewelry?” Cameron guessed.

“Not for long.” Tracy grinned. “I was living in London then but traveling a lot. I met a lot of interesting people in that chapter of my life, but still no one like Althea comes to mind at all. Then, after my marriage ended, I moved back to the States with my son.”

She hadn’t intended to mention Nick. It had just slipped out naturally. As if he were still alive. The instant Tracy said it a cloud passed across her face. The change in her was so sudden and so total, Cameron couldn’t fail to notice it.

“Tracy?” Without thinking he reached across the table and put his hand over hers. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Tracy lied. She was trying not to meet Cameron’s eyes. There was something incredibly intense about his eyes that made her feel panicked. It was only in that moment that she realized what it was.

He reminds me of Jeff.

Cameron said kindly. “You’re not fine. Please tell me what’s wrong.”

To her own surprise, Tracy looked up and heard herself say, “My son died.”

She wasn’t sure if she’d ever said those words before out loud. She realized now she’d been holding them in, as if by not saying them she could make them less real. Of course, it hadn’t worked. Blurting them out to Cameron Crewe, an almost total stranger, was a profound relief.

“I’m so sorry.” Cameron squeezed her hand more tightly. “What was his name?”

“Nicholas. He was killed in a car accident.”


“Six weeks ago.”

Cameron couldn’t hide his shock. “Six weeks ago? My God, Tracy, that’s horrible. This just happened?”

Tracy looked at him blankly. Had it just happened? It felt like a lifetime ago to her. Eons of loss had come and gone since the day of the accident.

I must stop calling it an accident. It was murder.

Althea, whoever she is, murdered my son.

Her face hardened.

“You shouldn’t be here, you know. Working,” Cameron said. “You must give yourself some time. Six weeks is nothing. It’s the blink of an eye. You can’t possibly have processed what happened yet, never mind come to terms with your grief.”

Tracy said simply, “If I didn’t work, I’d die.”

Cameron nodded. He understood this better than anybody. It was a mistake. But he understood it. The need to be distracted. The need to find a purpose, any purpose, beyond the pain.

“I lost a son too, you know,” he told Tracy. “Marcus. He was fourteen.”

“I know,” Tracy said numbly. “The same age as Nick. He had leukemia. Your foundation has made large donations towards cancer research and developing stem cell treatments.”

She’s reciting from my file, Cameron realized. Poor thing. It was as if she were in a trance. He’d been there himself, in those early, dark months after Marcus’s death.

“That’s right,” he said calmly. “Marcus was sick for a long time. That was hard, but it also meant we had time, his mother and I. To prepare. I’m so grateful for that now. I’m not sure I could have coped with losing him suddenly. Like you did with your boy.”

“How did you cope?” Tracy found herself asking. Cameron seemed so calm, so together. Not like her. Was there a trick to this, a path of some sort that she’d missed?

Cameron quickly disabused her of that notion.

“Very badly,” he replied. “Charlotte and I tried to hold it together afterwards. But we grieved so differently. She needed to talk. I needed to work.”

Like me.

“And I know it sounds stupid, but just looking at her face was a constant reminder of Marcus.” Cameron added. “I couldn’t handle it.”

Tracy thought about Jeff. How Nick had been his clone, alike in every way. How the thought of seeing Jeff again and talking to him about Nick had filled her with such indescribable panic, such dread, that she’d run out on both him and her old life in Colorado, slamming the door so hard behind her that its echo was no doubt reverberating through the mountains to this day.

“Greg Walton thinks Althea may have been involved in Nick’s death,” she told Cameron. It was bizarre the way the words kept tumbling out of her mouth, as if her body were vomiting out a sickness. “That’s why I’m here. Why I agreed to get involved. He thinks she may have sabotaged the car that my son was riding in that night. She may even have meddled with his drugs at the hospital later, when the doctors were trying to save his life.”

“Jesus Christ,” Cameron gasped. “Why?”

“To force my hand? So I would try to find her? Or just to hurt me. I don’t know, because I don’t know who she is. But I will know,” Tracy said darkly. “I’ll know everything in the end.”

Knowledge won’t make you happier, Cameron thought. It won’t bring him back. And it won’t bring you closure, because there’s no such thing.

“Being Nick’s mother made me a different person. A better person. But now that he’s gone, that side of me is gone too,” Tracy announced. “All the softness. All the caution, the holding back, the setting a good example. There’s no one to protect anymore.”

“Except yourself,” Cameron reminded her.

“But that’s just it,” Tracy said. “I’m not sure I have a self now, at least not one I care about. It sounds terrible but it’s actually amazingly freeing. I have no boundaries, no limits. I feel reckless.” Incongruously, she started to laugh. “I daresay I sound like a lunatic!”

“Not to me.”

As suddenly as it had started, Tracy’s laughter stopped. When she spoke again she was deadly serious.

“She was here, in Geneva. Althea. I know she was. I lost her this time but I’m getting closer.”

“Well, if I can help in any way, any way at all, I’d like to,” said Cameron. Reluctantly releasing Tracy’s hand, he pulled a business card out of his pocket. Scrawling a separate, private cellphone number on the back he handed it to her. “Call me any time, Tracy. About anything.”

Tracy took the card. “I will,” she said gratefully. “And thank you for dinner.”

“The pleasure was mine.” Cameron stood up. “I’d better go. I have early meetings tomorrow.”

Tracy watched him leave. She still couldn’t quite believe she’d spent the entire evening talking so intimately with a man she barely knew. But perhaps it was because they barely knew each other that she felt able to talk to Cameron Crewe. To reveal her true feelings, her true pain. We’re like two Vietnam vets. Strangers, but also family in a way, bonded by the loss of our children.

The curtain of loss that had fallen over both their lives had given them a sort of emotional shorthand. Like a fast forward button in their relationship. But fast forward to what?

Tracy could still feel the warmth of Cameron’s palm over hers. Guiltily, she recognized the long-forgotten stirrings of arousal in her body. Faint traces of a part of her that had once been there, once known intimacy of a different kind.

Life goes on. Isn’t that what people say? Tracy didn’t agree. It seemed to her that life had no business going on, not without her darling Nicholas. What she was doing now wasn’t living. It was existing. A mere mechanical matter. Inhale, exhale. Eat, sleep. Day, night. Anything more would be a betrayal.

Tonight had felt like something more. Talking to Cameron Crewe, looking into his sad, intense eyes. It had felt good.

That mustn’t happen again.

BACK AT HIS GENEVA apartment—Cameron Crewe kept apartments in every city where he did business—Cameron lay awake, staring at the ceiling.

That mustn’t happen again.

He’d been too open with Tracy Whitney. Too unguarded. Cameron knew from experience how dangerous it was to open one’s heart. What devastating consequences could follow.

And yet he’d felt a powerful connection to Tracy. He’d felt compassion. And kinship. And something else too. Something much more dangerous.


Cameron wanted Tracy.

The realization filled him with excitement, and with fear.

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