Any two people less like “goggle-eyed tourists,” Tracy couldn’t imagine.
“We were so upset though, when we heard what happened,” Lady Daley went on. “According to some of Bob’s friends, somebody broke into Achileas’s rooms after he died and pinched things. Can you believe it? Royal souvenir hunters gone mad. I mean really, who would stoop so low?”
“I can’t imagine,” said Tracy, suitably horrified.
Although in fact she could imagine very well.
CAMERON CREWE WAS JUST stepping out of his home gym in New York after a grueling session with his trainer when Tracy called.
It took him a moment to place who it was. He hadn’t heard from Tracy Whitney since their dinner in Geneva, much to his disappointment, and didn’t know if he ever would again.
“Tracy!” he panted, leaning against a wall for support. “What a nice surprise.”
“Are you OK?” she asked. “You sound like you’re having an asthma attack.”
Cameron laughed. It was wonderful to hear her voice. More wonderful than it should have been.
“I’m fine. Just old. And unfit. Where are you?”
“I’m in London. Walking up Wandsworth Bridge Road, to be precise.”
“Listen, I need some advice.”
Cameron Crewe allowed himself a small smile.
She wants my advice. She trusts me.
For the next ten minutes, Tracy gave him an edited version of developments in the Group 99/Althea/Drexel case since they last met. Without divulging anything classified, she gave him a summary of her meeting with Sally Faiers and managed to convey her suspicions about British Intelligence, and in particular Major General Frank Dorrien.
To Tracy’s surprise, Cameron already knew about the Group 99 hack on the CIA and FBI systems. She kept forgetting that Cameron had also worked with Greg Walton for many years. She wasn’t the only outsider the agency had ever called on for help. But he didn’t know Tracy had traced the hack back to MI6, nor that Hunter Drexel was definitively still alive. He listened intently while she filled him in.
Finally, Tracy told Cameron about her trip to see Bob Daley’s family.
“I’d call that serious progress in five days,” Cameron said, when she finally drew breath. “I’m guessing Greg Walton’s loving your ass right now.”
Tracy said, “You’d think so, wouldn’t you?”
She explained that the CIA had recalled her to Washington. That she was supposed to be on a plane tomorrow, in fact.
“I’m telling you, General Dorrien’s gotten to them somehow. He’s behind this. He made some trumped-up complaint against me and now he’s got everyone running scared. But the fact is he lied to me outright about Daley and the Prince not being friends. I know that for a fact now.” She was speaking very quickly, excitedly. Cameron found it hard to keep up.
Tracy said, “I think he was the one who stole the Prince’s stuff.”
“I’m confused,” said Cameron. “Dorrien is MI6?”
“As was Captain Daley.”
“And you think he stole things from the dead Prince’s room at Sandhurst?”
“Yes. Including his computer.”
“And the Prince’s death is connected to Group 99 . . . how?”
“I don’t know,” Tracy admitted. “But I think Dorrien knows. That’s what I need your advice about.”
“OK.” Cameron waited.
Tracy took a deep breath. “I’m thinking of breaking into his house.”
Cameron started to laugh, but stopped in the face of Tracy’s silence.
“You’re not serious?”
“Completely. I break in, find the computer and whatever else it was he took and doesn’t want me to find. And I bring it back to Walton as a fait accompli.”
“Right. May I suggest an alternate plan?” said Cameron.
“Get on the plane tomorrow, come to New York and have dinner with me.”
“Come on. I really need your advice.”
“My advice on breaking and entering?” Cameron laughed. “I just gave it to you! Don’t do it, Tracy. What you’re suggesting is utter madness. Walton would hit the roof and he’d have every right to.”
“But if I found proof Dorrien’s not who he says he is? Prove that there’s a link between Group 99 and Hunter Drexel’s story about fracking, and the Prince’s death, and that Major Dorrien’s involved up to his neck . . .”
“You won’t find proof!”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you’ll be arrested, Tracy! Or worse, you’ll break your neck. Either way you’ll cause a major international incident. Look, I hate to be the one to rain on your parade. But really, what the hell do you know about housebreaking?”
Tracy allowed herself a small smile.
“Hold that thought on dinner,” she said, and hung up.
JEFF STEVENS WATCHED FROM the corner of Studdridge Street as Tracy ended her phone call, glanced quickly around her, and hopped onto a number 19 bus towards Chelsea.
She was wearing skinny black jeans and a dark green sweater, and her chestnut hair blew in the breeze behind her and she stepped up into the bus, flashing her Oyster card at the driver. She looked beautiful.
Jeff felt a sharp, stabbing pain in his chest.
He recognized it as longing.
“I’m right behind you, Tracy,” he whispered out loud, sticking his arm out and hailing a black cab.
Waving a fifty-pound note at the driver he said, “Follow that bus.”
TRACY’S OLD FRIEND, THE fine-art dealer, Jacob Bodie, had prepped the job for her.
Thank God for Jacob.
Now a sprightly sixty, Jacob Bodie no longer stole art himself. It was a very, very long time since he’d broken into a gallery or a private home. But he’d been the best in his day, and he still worked with the best, thoroughly researching and vetting every job he was involved in. Like Tracy and Jeff, Jacob only ever stole from the underserving: philistines, cheats and hoarders.
Tracy trusted him.
“Mrs. Dorrien—Cynthia—always goes out to bridge on a Tuesday night. She leaves the house at six on the dot and is usually back by nine,” Jacob explained to Tracy in his deep, gravelly voice.
“Usually. Come along, Tracy. There are no guarantees, you know that. But that’s a three-hour window for a three-minute job. You go in, get what you need, get out. Simple.”
Tracy felt sick.
How many times had she heard that word, “simple”?
It was what Conrad Morgan had told her before her first job, stealing Lois Bellamy’s jewels from her house in Long Island. She could hear Conrad’s voice now, low and soothing, like a snake charmer’s song.
It’s ridiculously simple, Tracy.
But of course it wasn’t. Tracy had come within a hair’s breadth of being caught that night, of being sent back to the Louisiana Penitentiary for good.
I wasn’t caught though, Tracy reminded herself. I outsmarted the police, and Jeff Stevens too. I’m good at this. This is what I do.
Jacob Bodie had provided her with a plan of the Dorriens’ modest house, as well as the code to the couple’s safe and burglar alarm, and a copied front door key.
“How on earth did you pull all this together so quickly?” Tracy asked him.
Jacob gave a satisfied smile. “I have my ways, dear girl. Although I must say I’m thrilled to have impressed you. It’s not easy to impress the great Tracy Whitney.”
Tracy wanted to say that the “great” Tracy Whitney had died a long time ago. If she ever really existed. But she didn’t.
“What about the general?” she asked.
“He’ll be at the barracks, don’t you worry,” said Jacob. “He’s a workaholic. Almost never gets home before ten.”
Tracy didn’t like that almost. Not one bit.
“And this Tuesday he definitely won’t be back early,” Jacob reassured her. “There’s a review meeting for all the senior officers up at the military academy. Dorrien’s leading two of the sessions.”
Tracy left Jacob Bodie’s Bond Street gallery feeling confident and well prepared.
THE NEXT NIGHT, SITTING in the pitch dark outside Frank Dorrien’s house in a rented car with the engine switched off, all her confidence had deserted her. Tracy was as frozen with fear as she had been on the Bellamy job, and every job since.
What the hell am I doing here?
There’s a plane ticket waiting for me at Heathrow. If I leave now, I’ll still have time for dinner before takeoff. Maybe a nice, relaxing glass of red wine.
But it was too late for that now. Tracy was here. The decision was made.
She opened the car door.
In black overalls, gloves and boots and with a cap pulled low over her head, she was close to invisible as she approached the house. Not that it mattered. The entire street was deserted. The Dorriens’ neighbors were all at home watching the Strictly Come Dancing final on TV, their curtains firmly drawn.
Tracy’s heart was beating so loudly, she could hear nothing else. She’d forgotten quite how nauseous adrenaline made her.
She was at the front door now, Bodie’s copied key in her hand. Once she opened it she was committed.