Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

But he was finding it increasingly hard to focus.

According to Google, Hawaii suffered an average of three shark attacks per year.

Was it too much to ask that Crewe be one of the three?

TRACY SAT AT HER computer, cross-referencing French intelligence files on Henri Mignon, the dead Neuilly shooter, with CIA data on known Group 99 operatives working within the United States. A number of survivors from Camp Paris had confirmed that one of the masked gunman had an American accent. So far Tracy had failed to find a single link.

Rubbing her eyes tiredly, she decided to take a break and try something else.

Hunter Drexel. If the sightings were accurate and he really was in Paris, he was doing a good job of living under the radar electronically. He wasn’t using a credit card or a mobile phone or any of his known email addresses. He’d also managed to cross a number of European borders without a passport, or any ID. That meant one of two things was happening. Friends were helping him. And/or he was living on cash.

“Poker.” Tracy said aloud.

“Hmmm?” Cameron wandered in from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. He’d spent most of the afternoon in the hotel gym while Tracy worked, and had just taken a long shower prior to dragging her away from her computer and out to dinner.

“Hunter Drexel plays poker. I’ll bet that’s where he’s getting his cash.”

“Maybe,” Cameron said. “Does that help us?”

“It might.” Tracy looked up at him excitedly. “I could go to Paris, posing as a dumb Texan divorcee with a gambling habit and money to burn. Get myself invited to all the high-stakes games in town.”

“And what, run into him?” Cameron asked skeptically.

“Stranger things have happened,” said Tracy. “Even if I don’t find him, I’ll hear rumors. Pick up clues. Maybe learn what alias he’s using, what his plans are . . . something. It’s worth a shot.”

“Greg Walton will have you shot if he finds you’re still hunting for Drexel when you’re supposed to be looking for Althea,” Cameron reminded her, pulling on a pair of white linen pants.

Tracy said, “I don’t care about Greg Walton. Besides, I am looking for Althea. That’s exactly why I need to find Hunter before they do.”

A knock on the door interrupted them.

Cameron scowled. “Who the hell can that be?”

“Did you order room service?” Tracy asked.


The knocking was getting louder and faster. Hammering.

“What on earth . . . ?” Tracy got up to answer it when Cameron suddenly grabbed her.

“Wait. Don’t open the door.”

“Why on earth not?”

“We can’t afford to take chances, Tracy.”

Pushing her to one side, Cameron pressed his face to the glass peephole. Tracy saw his shoulders relax and his jaw tighten. Tension was replaced with irritation. He sighed deeply.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“Who is it?” Tracy asked.

Cameron pulled open the door. “My ex-wife. Tracy, meet Charlotte. Charlotte, this is Tracy.”

Charlotte Crewe burst into the suite like a Greek Fury, slamming the door behind her. She wore simple white shorts and tennis shoes, with her hair tied back in a girlish ponytail.

She’s terribly pretty, Tracy thought. And so young.

But the most striking thing about Cameron’s ex-wife was the expression of boiling, tight-lipped rage on her face. With her clenched fists and almost comically aggressive body language, Charlotte Crewe looked like a human bomb that might go off at any moment.

“What are you doing here?”

Cameron’s greeting was less than affectionate. Perhaps understandably given the way Charlotte was glaring at him. It was all rather odd. Cameron had told her the marriage ended amicably, and the CIA files said the same thing.

“Take a wild guess,” Charlotte hissed.

“I really have no idea.” Cameron sounded bored. “Although, whatever it is, I can’t imagine that we couldn’t have discussed it over the phone.”

“Oh, you can’t imagine? Is that right? You, who haven’t taken a single one of my phone calls, or my lawyer’s phone calls, in the past eighteen months, can’t imagine why I didn’t just ring?”

Tracy stepped forward for the first time. “Tracy Whitney. Nice to meet you.”

She offered Charlotte her hand. To her surprise, Charlotte took it and shook it warmly. “You too.”

Was it Tracy’s imagination, or was there suddenly something compassionate, even pitying, in Charlotte’s tone?

Whatever it was, it evaporated the moment she turned back to her ex-husband.

“You haven’t made a payment in eight months,” she snarled at Cameron.

“That’s not true,” Cameron said smoothly.

“It is true! You know it’s true. You’re one of the richest men in America, sitting here like Croesus on your dirty empire of shale gas. And I’m being evicted from my apartment while you live it up here in the Presidential Suite with your latest, trusting little girlfriend. No offense to you, Miss Whitney,” she added to Tracy. “It’s not your fault he’s a lying, conniving snake.”

Tracy frowned. Dirty empire. What did Charlotte Crewe mean by that? Was it just a bitter ex-wife talking? It could be, of course. And yet something seemed off. Charlotte and Cameron had had a son together after all. Lost a son together. Didn’t that mean anything? For all her ranting and raving, Charlotte didn’t come across as the spiteful type to Tracy.

She found herself watching Cameron closely for his reaction.

“Charlotte, this is ridiculous,” he said curtly. “Please stop. You’re embarrassing me and you’re embarrassing yourself. No one’s evicting you. This is a complete fantasy.” He glanced apologetically at Tracy. Then turning back to his ex, he asked, “When did you last see Dr. Williams?”

That seemed to push Charlotte over the edge.

“Fuck Dr. Williams!” she yelled. “And fuck you, Cameron. You’re a disgrace. Playing these pathetic little power games, with all the money you have? Marcus would be ashamed of you.”

Something very close to hatred flashed in Cameron’s eyes. “Don’t you dare bring Marcus into this.”

“I’ll bring Marcus into it whenever I want,” Charlotte said defiantly. “He was my son. You don’t own his memory, Cameron. You can’t buy that, like you buy everything else. And you can’t fucking silence me!”

She turned back to Tracy. “Do you think I’d be here if I weren’t completely desperate? I could barely afford the flight. Please. Talk some sense into him. Tell him to pay what he owes.”

“Charlotte.” Cameron’s tone was measured but firm. “You are not well. You need help, and I will get you that help. No one is evicting you. But I need you to leave now. I don’t want to call security, but I will if I have to. Please, darling. Go home.”

He reached for her arm but she shrugged him off furiously.

“Like I have a home to go to. Don’t worry, I’m leaving. But you haven’t heard the end of this, Cameron. I want my money and I’m going to get it. You do not scare me.”

She emphasized the word “not” by jabbing him in the chest with a finger. Tracy saw a small muscle in his jaw leap twice, then go quiet. He looked positively murderous.

A prickle of unease swept over her. She felt the hairs on her forearms stand on end.

“Goodbye,” Charlotte said to Tracy. “And good luck.”

She left, slamming the door behind her.

For a moment, neither Tracy nor Cameron said anything. Then Cameron pulled Tracy into his arms.

“I’m sorry about that. You OK?”

“I’m fine,” Tracy lied. “Just surprised. I thought you said that you and Marcus’s mother had a good relationship.”

Cameron let go of her and sat down on the edge of the bed.

“We do,” he said.

Tracy’s eyebrows shot up.

“When she’s well,” Cameron explained. “You mustn’t judge Charlotte too harshly. It’s no wonder she’s mentally unstable. She’s been through hell, as you know.”

“Yes,” said Tracy. She did know. And the truth was, she wasn’t judging Charlotte harshly. The woman had seemed perfectly sane to her. Angry, certainly, and emotional. But not crazy.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her like that.” Cameron shook his head sadly.

“Like what?”

“Well, you saw her. Delusional. Lashing out with these insane conspiracy theories.”

“So she’s not being evicted?” Tracy asked calmly.

Cameron looked wounded. “Evicted? What? No! Of course not. I would never let that happen. Financially Charlotte has more than she could ever need, and she always will.”

He stood up, walked over to the wardrobe and pulled out a jacket. Savile Row tailored, classically cut, it fit him perfectly. Walking back to Tracy, he kissed her on the top of the head.

“Don’t let it worry you, angel. You have enough on your plate. I’ll call Dr. Williams first thing tomorrow, see if I can get him to reach out to her. I’ll also talk to the trustees, just to check she hasn’t been wiring all her alimony checks to Scientology or something. She’ll be OK. I promise. Let’s have dinner and try to forget the whole thing.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon