Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

“That doesn’t matter.”

“It does to me,” Tracy said hotly. “It was Frank Dorrien, wasn’t it?”

“Like I said, that’s not the issue.”

“He made it clear yesterday he didn’t trust me.” Tracy could feel her anger growing. “But you know what? The feeling’s mutual. He’s more involved in all this than he lets on. Hunter Drexel doesn’t trust him.”

“How do you know that?”

Tracy filled Greg in on yesterday’s meeting with Sally Faiers. He was excited.

“That’s huge, Tracy. Great work. We’ll have the Brits subpoena her phone records.”

“No, don’t,” Tracy said hurriedly. “Let’s keep them out of this for now. Sally trusts me. If she feels she’s being used or spied on, she’ll shut down. She dislikes General Dorrien almost as much as I do.”

“Hmm.” Walton didn’t sound happy. “I don’t know about that . . .”

“You won’t find anything anyway. Hunter Drexel’s a pro. He’s bound to be on disposable phones.”

“All right. We’ll leave it for now. But stay close to her. And remember, General Dorrien’s on our side. You’re there to find Althea, not to investigate the general.”

“But what if the two are connected?”

“They aren’t, Tracy.” A note of firmness had crept into Walton’s voice. He quickly replaced it with a warmer, more flattering tone. “I’ll be sure to tell the president about your great work over there. Believe me, he’ll be delighted to learn that Drexel’s still alive at least. That’s a lot more than we knew yesterday.”

“Hopefully it’s only the beginning. There’s a lot more I need to do here. Althea’s not part of MI6, I’m sure of that. But . . .”

Greg Walton cut her off. “Actually, Tracy, I’d like you back in the States by tomorrow, Thursday at the latest.”

“What? Why?” Tracy was bewildered.

“Agent Buck has some potential new leads.”

“What new leads? The best leads we have are right here in London.”

“Buck will fill you in when you get back here,” Greg Walton said, in a way that made it clear Tracy’s return was a command, not a suggestion. “Like I said, we’re grateful for what you’ve achieved. But diplomatically it’s important you come home.”

“OK,” Tracy said, deadpan.

Walton seemed relieved.

“There’ll be a ticket waiting for you at the BA desk at Heathrow.”


“Good job again.”

Walton rang off.

Tracy sat in bed for a long time, staring at the phone in her hand.

Something’s wrong.

Someone wants me gone.

Is it General Frank Dorrien? Good old, upright, squeaky clean Frank?

She started to get dressed.

GREG WALTON HUNG UP the phone. He was seated in the Oval Office, across the desk from the president; Agent Buck of the FBI sat beside him.

President Havers looked at Walton. “So he’s alive?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“But we don’t know where?”

“No, Sir. Not yet.”

President Havers stared bitterly past his intelligence chiefs to the framed picture of himself on the wall above their heads. It had been taken on his inauguration day, less than a year ago. He must have aged a decade since then, thanks to Hunter Drexel.

Havers’s reelection campaign would begin in earnest in a few months’ time. Some of his big donors had already written checks. But others, including Cameron Crewe, were hesitating, waiting to see how the Group 99 crisis resolved itself. The situation in Europe was as tense as it had been in decades. The president needed a win and he knew it.

“What about Whitney? How much does she know?”

“She knows nothing,” Agent Buck sneered. “She’s a tool. Nothing more.”

President Havers hoped Buck was right. Tracy Whitney had proved useful in tracking Althea to London and in getting a lead on Hunter Drexel. But her skills of deduction could be extremely dangerous if she wasn’t kept in check. She was already showing an unhealthy interest in the unfortunate events at Sandhurst Academy. Not to mention antagonizing British intelligence into the bargain.

A secretary stuck her head around the door.

“So sorry, Mr. President. But I have the British Prime Minister on the line. I don’t think she’s too happy.”

President Havers sighed deeply. Since the disastrous Bratislavan raid, Julia Cabot was the only friend he had left in Europe. He needed her.

Turning to the two intelligence officers, he hissed, “Get Tracy Whitney back here. She’s causing too many waves.”

“Yes, Sir.” Greg Walton stood up. “It’s already done.”

“And keep her on a tight leash from now on.”

As Walton and Buck left the room, they heard the president putting on his warmest, most conciliatory voice.

“Julia!” Havers was practically purring. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

CAMILLA AND RORY DALEY lived in a handsome Georgian rectory on the outskirts of one of Hampshire’s most sought after villages. The immaculate gardens and grounds sloped gently down to the River Test, where generations of Daleys had enjoyed exclusive rights to some of the best trout fishing in the country. Inside, polished parquet floors liberally scattered with antique Persian rugs led into spacious, elegant rooms, with original sash windows, generous fireplaces and traditional English furniture. Two Turner watercolors hung on the drawing room walls, above a Knowles sofa on which two rather scruffy wire-haired dachshunds slept soundly at opposite ends.

All in all, Tracy thought, it was quite the most charming, upper-class, English country house she’d been in since Gunther was alive. Clearly Captain Bob Daley’s parents were paid up members of the top 1 percent, if not the top 0.1 percent.

“Are you sure I can’t get you a cup of tea, Miss Arkell?” Lady Daley asked, for at least the third time. Tracy had adopted a perfect, cut-glass English accent and introduced herself as Harriet Arkell, an author, researching a biography on their son. She felt bad lying to the sweet, elderly couple. But she knew that the moment she mentioned the CIA, or the Daleys heard an American accent, they would be on their guard. Years living in England had taught Tracy that the English upper classes were far more forthcoming among those they perceived to be one of their own.

“It’s very kind of you but I’m fine, thank you,” Tracy said. “I won’t intrude too long. I really only wanted to clear up a few minor points about Bob’s time at Sandhurst.”

“Of course.” Camilla Daley beamed, her eyes twinkling the same cornflower blue as her country casuals twin-set. She clearly relished any opportunity to talk about her son. “Bob adored Sandhurst. Absolutely loved the place, didn’t he, Rory?”

“Both times,” the old man confirmed. “As a cadet with the Welsh Fusiliers, and then later as an instructor. I don’t think he missed active service at all.”

Lord Daley had jowls that quivered when he talked, like a bulldog’s, and pale, rheumy eyes. He seemed older and more tired than his wife. Tracy wondered whether their son’s gruesome murder had hit him harder and felt her guilt at her deception redouble.

“Did he have many friends at the academy?”

“Oh, Bob had masses of friends. From school, from the regiment and of course from Sandhurst too.”

“Anyone who stands out?”

“Well, yes.” Lady Daley’s face fell suddenly. “Although he probably stands out for the wrong reasons. Poor Achileas.”

“Prince Achileas? Of Greece?”

“I daresay you read about him.” Camilla nodded sadly. “He and Bob were great friends. He came here more than once you know. But I’m afraid the poor chap killed himself. We hadn’t the slightest idea he was depressed. It was the same week that Bob . . . that we lost Bob.”

Tracy’s mind raced. General Dorrien’s words rang through her skull like a clanging church bell: They may have passed on the parade ground. But it was no more than that. They weren’t friends.

Tracy thought, You little liar, Frank!

“Achileas was an officer cadet,” Tracy observed. “So he was a good deal less senior than your son. A lot younger too. Do you know how they became close?”

“Greece,” Lord Daley said wheezily from his chair. “Bob was a classicist, you see. Obsessed with Greece since he was a small boy. He was in Athens, you know, when these cowards took him.”

“Of course Harriet knows that, darling,” said his wife, rolling her eyes. “She’s written a book about what happened.”

“I thought she was writing a book about Robert?” The old man sounded confused suddenly. He reminded Tracy so strongly of her father in his later years, it was all she could do not to run over and hug him.

“I am, Lord Daley,” she assured him. “I am.” Turning back to Camilla she asked, “I don’t suppose you have any photographs of Bob with Achileas?”

“I’ll have a look.” Camilla frowned. “I don’t think so though. We’re not huge picture takers. And of course, Achileas being a royal and all that. I’m not sure he would have liked us snapping away at him like a pair of goggle-eyed tourists.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon