Tracy gasped, closing her eyes. His hands on her back felt heavenly, warm and rough. Doubt and fear and guilt all came flying at her like bullets whizzing through a jungle. But they all fell short of their target, melting into nothing against the raging heat of her desire. It was as if she’d descended, body and soul, into a thick, hot soup of longing. And she wanted nothing more than to drown.
“Make love to me. Please. Now.”
The back of Tracy’s hand brushed against Cameron’s leg. Beneath his jeans, his thighs were tight and muscular and rock hard, like concrete.
“Are you sure, Tracy?” Cameron’s voice was hoarse with his own need. “This is what you want?”
And suddenly she found that she was. Totally, blissfully sure.
Cameron carried her to his bedroom. The room was both grand and oddly impersonal, all taupe carpets and black silk table lamps, like a very expensive hotel suite. Not that either of them was focused on the décor.
Peeling off Tracy’s underwear, Cameron laid her down naked on top of his extra-wide king bed. Then, taking off his own clothes, he knelt over her, gazing down at her body in wonder. Every ounce of blood in his body raced to his groin. He was so aroused it was painful.
“You’re beyond beautiful.”
Tracy reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck. Pulling him lower, she coiled both legs around his waist, encircling him, her willing prisoner.
“No more talking.”
Cameron didn’t need to be told twice.
The next few hours were like magic. Tracy had the body of a girl half her age but the sensuality and sexual confidence that only older women possessed. For her part, she found Cameron to be an incredible lover, skilled and responsive and loving and greedy, all at the same time. They made love for hours, again and again, till it was almost light and neither one of them had the energy to move another inch. Then they lay in each other’s arms and, as the sun rose, spoke to each other about their dead sons, their grief and their guilt, their memories and their pain, each knowing that the other would understand in a way that nobody else ever could.
As they drifted off to sleep, Tracy rested her head on Cameron’s chest.
“You will help me, won’t you?” she whispered.
Cameron stroked her hair. A part of Tracy Whitney would always be on the job. That was her nature. Pleasure and business went hand in hand.
Something else we have in common, he thought.
If I’m not very careful indeed, I’m going to fall in love with this woman.
But Cameron Crewe was careful. He had to be.
“You know I will,” he told Tracy. “Good night, my darling.”
IT WAS A GLORIOUS morning in Neuilly-sur-Seine. The sun shone warmer than it had for weeks and the blue sky dazzled, a first promise of the coming summer and the longer, carefree days ahead.
Lexi Peters had had misgivings about spending the year in France. Turned down by Teach for America—You have a lot of promise. It’s just that the bar was set really high this year. We’d love you to reapply.—she still wanted to make a difference. She’d been about to take a post at a tiny school in rural Kenya when her dad told her about the Camp Paris job.
“The pay’s great. You could actually save something. And Teach for America specifically said a second language would boost your application next year.”
Lexi still wasn’t sure. Yes, the pay was great, but that was because the camp for wayward teens in the exclusive Parisian suburb of Neuilly was so outrageously expensive, only the super-rich could afford to send their kids there.
“I’m not interested in pandering to a bunch of spoiled, entitled rich kids,” she told her father. “I want to do something meaningful.”
“Don’t be such a reverse snob,” Don Peters countered robustly. “You think rich kids don’t suffer? You think addiction and mental illness give a shit how much your mom and dad are worth? Camp Paris kids all have problems, Lex. Helping them would be meaningful. I think you’d learn a lot.”
Well, he was right about that, Lexi thought, leaning her bicycle up against the stable wall. I’ve learned so much here. I’ll be sad to go home.
The château that housed Camp Paris was a ridiculously grand, pre-revolutionary pile, complete with stable blocks for equine therapy, three different swimming pools and six of the most perfectly manicured lawn tennis courts Lexi had ever seen. Most of the staff left their bikes or cars at the stables, a short walk up a beautiful tree-lined drive to the school.
Pulling a pile of psychology books out of her bike basket, Lexi started towards the stable yard gate when a dark gray Nissan pulled in.
The driver stepped out and looked around him. He was very handsome, and oddly familiar, although he didn’t work at Camp Paris. There were only fifteen full-time staff and Lexi knew them all.
“Bonjour,” she said cheerily. “Vous êtes nouveau ici?”
“You could say that.” He smiled back.
“Oh, you’re American. Me too. I’m Lexi Peters.”
“I’d be happy to . . .”
The first bullet blew a hole in Lexi’s chest the size of a plum. She staggered backwards. The second and third shots hit her shoulder and neck, and the fourth cleanly bored through her skull.
It had started.
CAMERON CREWE WAS ON a business trip in Poland when the news broke. Tracy was his first call.
“Have you seen the reports?”
Tracy’s voice was hoarse with emotion. “I’m watching the news right now. Twenty-six dead, they’re saying. Four teachers, twenty-two kids. I can’t bear it.”
“It’s definitely Group 99?”
“Looks like it. Four gunmen. One shot at the scene, but three still unaccounted for. How is that possible? How did the French police let them get away?”
Cameron said grimly, “I don’t know.”
For a moment both he and Tracy were silent. The senseless slaughter of teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them had revolted the entire world. But Cameron and Tracy felt it more keenly than most.
“I wish you were here,” Tracy heard herself saying.
“Me too. I miss you. Has Walton said anything? About what happened in England?”
“No. Everyone’s focused on Neuilly now.”
“I’m actually on my way into Langley,” Tracy said. “Most of the kids were American. President Havers is expected to make a statement in the next few minutes.”
Cameron’s ears pricked up.
“According to our sources, guess who popped up in Paris last week?” Tracy said.
“Our old friend Hunter Drexel. Have you noticed how, wherever Drexel is, people start to die?”
Cameron Crewe had noticed.
He put the phone down with a deep sense of foreboding.
ALTHEA WAS AT HOME in her New York apartment when she saw the news flash up on her computer screen ticker.
Tragedy in Paris suburb. Group 99 massacre 26 in school shooting.
She turned on the television. Children, screaming, bloodied and terrified were running into the arms of police. Teenage corpses, some not even covered, lay where they fell, brutally murdered as they tried to flee.
No! No no no!
She felt the bile rise up in her throat.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t what Daniel would have wanted. No sane person would want this.
She ran into the bathroom and vomited. For a full minute she knelt on the tiled floor, pressing her forehead against the cool porcelain, trying to calm herself down, to think clearly.
Perhaps it wasn’t us.
Perhaps it was someone else? Another group, trying to blacken our name?
One of the attackers had been shot dead. Within hours, details would come out about who it was. In her heart, she already knew the dead man would be one of them.
A sadist like Apollo? Or just another angry, misguided boy, poisoned by the Greek’s rhetoric, firing off his gun as if it weren’t real, as if he were in some violent computer game?
How had it come to this? How had it all unraveled?
And her money, her support had helped make it happen.
She clutched her head. A violent throbbing had replaced the nausea. Dark spots swam before her eyes.
Was Tracy Whitney watching this too?
Tracy would blame her. The whole world would blame her. And yet she was the one who’d been wronged! All she’d ever tried to do was win justice, justice for Daniel.
Staggering to her bedroom she pulled the curtains tight and curled up in the darkness.
SOMEHOW SHE SLEPT. WHEN she woke, hours had passed. Almost a whole night. Yet she still felt utterly exhausted.
No rest for the wicked.
Drawing back the curtains, she watched the first faint rays of sun bleed dark red into the city skyline.