Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

“Ok. I’ll put some makeup on.”

She slipped into the bathroom and locked the door behind her, gazing intently at her reflection in the mirror.

Everything Cameron had said made sense.

Grief could make people delusional. And the CIA files had described Charlotte Crewe’s divorce settlement as financially generous, including the deeds to their Park Avenue apartment and a large monthly allowance.

If he’s honoring those terms, Tracy thought.

But then, why wouldn’t he be? Wasn’t it more likely that a grieving mother was still struggling with paranoia, than that a man as rich as Cameron would nickel-and-dime an ex-wife he clearly still cared for?

Of course it was.

I’m being silly, Tracy told herself.

By the time she’d finished fixing her makeup, she almost believed it.

LUCY GREY SMILED WARMLY at the young woman perched nervously on her couch.

“It’s been a long time, Kate. How are you?”

“Fine.” The young woman didn’t smile back. Instead she carefully smoothed out a crease in her skirt and stared out of the window.

Dr. Lucy Grey had been a therapist for more than twenty years, and she had counseled hundreds of patients. But few of them made as much of an impression on her as Kate.

It was always the failures that Lucy remembered.

The young widow had first started coming to therapy five years ago, right after her husband died. She’d attended sessions regularly for more than a year before gradually drifting away, although she’d come back intermittently since. And yet Lucy was ashamed to say she’d made no real headway with her in all that time. She still knew next to nothing about Kate’s daily life. About her job, her social world, her friendships. Lucy did know about Kate’s grief. About the longing for her dead husband that consumed her, like a fireball burning gas. But that was all she knew, all that existed between the two of them. It was almost as if Kate Evans was her grief. And that shouldn’t be the case. Not after five years.

Having smoothed out her skirt to her satisfaction, Kate now flicked a barely visible piece of lint off her cashmere sweater. As usual she was immaculately groomed, her long legs perfectly waxed and her mane of dark hair gleaming like an oil slick as it spilled over her shoulders.

That was another thing that bothered Dr. Lucy Grey about Kate Evans. How careful the young widow was. How cautious, how controlled, her every movement and utterance measured to the last degree. Somehow it made things less real between them. Less honest. More insulated.

It made Lucy feel as if she were in a play, playing the role of therapist. Which was extremely disconcerting.

“Why are you here?” she asked gently.

Kate looked up at her with tortured eyes. “Have you ever done something, started something, for the right reasons, that ended up having consequences beyond your control? Terrible consequences?”

Lucy looked at her steadily. “I’ve done things that didn’t turn out as I’d expected. As I’d hoped.”

“But nobody died. Did they? Because of your mistakes?”

“No, Kate. Nobody died. Do you want to tell me what this is about?”

She shook her head. She did want to tell Dr. Grey. Desperately. To tell someone, anyway. To unburden herself. But how could she? If only Daniel were here!

Then again, if Daniel were here, none of this would have happened.

Since Hunter Drexel’s call she’d barely slept. He wanted to see her, to meet. She couldn’t do it! Just the thought brought her out in hives.

As Althea she’d been powerful, protected, invincible. But Hunter Drexel knew the truth. He’d called her Kate. Just the sound of his voice had undone everything, shattered the illusion like Dorothy pulling back the Wizard of Oz’s curtain.

But it wasn’t just Hunter who haunted her. Images of the teenagers from Neuilly, their young bodies riddled with bullets, flooded her head day and night. Henry Cranston’s death was different. Unnecessary, yes, and excessive. But it was hard to shed too many tears for such a loathsome man. But those children!

Had she started all this violence, this horror, by orchestrating Captain Daley’s death?

Had she opened Pandora’s Box?

She’d been so sure of that at the time, so certain. After what Bob Daley did it had felt right. Just. Necessary. But now she’d started to doubt even that decision. It was as if she’d lost the ability to tell right from wrong. What had seemed so clear, so black-and-white, now looked murky and gray.

Was that what it was like for you, Tracy? On the run from the law for all those years? On the run from us? Did you always feel like one of the good guys—like Robin Hood—or did you ever doubt? Wake up in the night and think to yourself, “What have I become? I’m just a liar and a thief.”

Tracy Whitney had changed, of course. Gone straight. Settled down.

But could you ever really escape your past? The dark side of your nature?


Dr. Lucy Grey’s voice broke her reverie. She wondered how long she’d been sitting there, lost in thought.

“Please let me help you. Tell me what’s happened. You obviously came here today for a reason.”

Kate Evans stood up.

“I can’t. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come.”

She was about to leave when a sudden, searing pain shot through her head, as if she’d been struck by lightning. With a terrible moan she sank back onto the couch, pressing both hands against her skull.

“What just happened?” Lucy rushed over to her patient. “Are you OK?”

Kate moaned again, a terrible, animal sound, full of anguish.

“I’ll call an ambulance.”

“No! Please.” Panic flashed in the young widow’s eyes. “It will pass. It’s those children. In France. Their bodies, shot to pieces . . . I can’t stop seeing them!”

Lucy’s ears pricked up. This was a clue. This was something.

She was talking about the Camp Paris shootings, at Neuilly. They’d been all over the news.

Kate’s husband, Daniel, had been killed in Iraq, on some mission for the CIA. Probably shot. Had the latest Group 99 atrocity brought back painful memories? Perhaps the haunting images on television reminded Kate of Daniel’s death? Or the children that the two of them would never have.

“You’ve been dreaming about the Neuilly School shootings?”

Leaning forward suddenly, Kate grasped the therapist’s hands. “Dreaming, yes. But it happened. I made it happen.”

Lucy said, “It may seem that way to you, Kate. But you didn’t cause this. You don’t have that power. No one does.”

“But that’s just it. I do!” Kate wailed. “Daniel’s gone. Those kids are gone. Gone, gone, gone. Dead and gone. Never coming back.”

“That’s right,” Lucy said calmly. “They are never coming back. But you’re not responsible. For their deaths, or your husband’s.”

Kate slumped back again, clutching her head and moaning, as if she were in labor. It was distressing to watch. But Dr. Grey felt on firmer ground now. She’d seen these episodes countless times in her career. Psychotic breaks, brought on by stress, or grief, or a single, traumatic event.

She would call her psychiatrist friend, Bill Winter.

Bill would get Kate on the right meds. After that it was just a question of rest.

“You lay here for a while.” She covered her client in a blanket as you would a sleeping child. “I’m going to make a call.”

AN HOUR LATER, DR. Lucy Grey watched as a heavily sedated Kate Evans was driven away in an ambulance.

“You did the right thing to call me,” Bill Winter assured her. “Two weeks of sleep and she’ll be a new person.”

“I hope so,” Lucy said. “I really do. She’s been through so much. And I don’t feel I’ve helped her. Not really.”

“I’m sure you have.” Bill got into his car. “By the way, does she work? Will her insurance cover an in-patient stay?”

“Oh yes.” Dr. Lucy Grey smiled. “That’s one thing she doesn’t have to worry about. Kate’s husband, Daniel, was a CIA lifer. He died in Iraq on some special op, but the agency still pays all her bills. She’s covered for life, I believe.”


HUNTER DREXEL ADMIRED HIS reflection in the mirror.

He’d been nervous about the blond hair. That it would look like an obvious dye job. But actually it worked. Cropped short, and paired with newly dyed blond eyebrows, it transformed his appearance. He looked younger, tougher, cleaner cut. He looked like a soldier.

Which, in a way, he was. A warrior for truth.

Laughing at his own pretensions, he pulled on a fake Rolex watch and began fastening his cuff links.

His current rooms were a step down from what he’d been used to. After Neuilly, the entire city was swarming with police, searching for the three escaped gunmen. Hunter had immediately left the expensive hotel where he’d been staying on Avenue Montaigne and moved here, to a much more low key pension close to the Bois de Boulogne.

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon