Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

At least, Tracy hoped it was. Frank Dorrien, damn him, had begun to make her doubt. Did Cameron think of himself as her boyfriend? Did he imagine them having a future together?

Slathering lavender shower gel over her body, Tracy struggled to untangle her emotions. Thinking about Cameron Crewe made her feel happy and sad at the same time. Happy because, in so many ways, he had brought her back to life. He was interesting and funny and passionate and Tracy loved being in his company. But she felt sad too, because she knew she was no longer capable of the sort of love that would make him happy. Cameron had shown her that there was life after Nick’s death. But he’d also confirmed what Tracy already knew: that a part of her had died with her son. Yes, she could still feel pleasure. She could still taste food and savor music and experience affection, perhaps even love. But these things were only an inch deep now, where once they’d been bottomless. Tracy felt them on her skin, but not in her soul. Her soul was deep beneath the Colorado earth, with Nick.

Before Tracy met Cameron Crewe, that hadn’t mattered to her.

Now it did, if only for his sake.

Drying herself, Tracy slipped into a toweling robe and wrapped her hair up turban style in one of the hotel’s butter-soft towels. Walking to the bathroom window, she gazed out at the Paris skyline. The rooftops of the city were a world of their own, a mishmash of tiles and stone and copper, of piercing spires and majestically curved domes. In the distance, above it all, the Eiffel Tower loomed, iconic, watching over everything like an amused wrought-iron god, surveying his kingdom.

Tracy loved Paris. France, generally, was a country of happy memories. The Château de Matigny at Cap d’Antibes, where she and Jeff had made off with two million dollars’ worth of jewels and a Leonardo; Biarritz, where she’d outsmarted the repellent Armand Grangier. But Paris had always held a special place in Tracy’s heart, perhaps because she’d never pulled off a job here. To her and Jeff, Paris had meant pleasure, a respite from the stress and adrenaline of their lives as con artists. Paris meant food and art and love. Paris meant beauty.

Tracy had always meant to bring Nicholas here one day, when he was older.

But of course, Nicholas would never be older.

There were no more “one days.”

She was still gazing out at the city when she heard it. A very soft click so quiet it was almost inaudible. But Tracy’s trained ear recognized it as a door being opened.

She froze. The door to her suite was locked. She hadn’t ordered room service, and the maids never cleaned at this time. Besides, if it were housekeeping they would make more noise.

Someone’s breaking in.

The bathroom door was open a crack. In the mirrored wall, Tracy glimpsed movement, a man’s shadow crossing the room. Her mind raced. Any second now he could come into the bathroom and attack her. Her suite was eight floors up and it was a sheer drop from the bathroom window. No ledges or fire escapes. She could make a run for the bathroom door, try to lock it from the inside. But he would likely get there before her. And even if he didn’t, assuming he had a gun he could blow off the bolt in seconds.

Deciding attack was not just her best but her only form of defense, Tracy picked up a heavy marble soap dish from beside the bath, wielding it over her head and ran screaming like a banshee into the bedroom. The man was standing over the bed with his back to her. He’d pulled one of her dresses out of the closet and was holding it up to the light admiringly. He only had time to half turn in surprise as Tracy leaped on him, bringing her right arm down with as much force as she could towards his skull.

But his reflexes were quicker than she’d bargained for. In an adrenaline-fueled haze, Tracy felt his fingers grip her arm like a vice, forcing it backwards painfully and shaking it like a terrier shaking a rat until the soap dish fell from her hand and clattered noisily onto the floor.


She was struggling so hard, she didn’t hear her name.

“Tracy, for God’s sake, relax. It’s me.”

For the second time in as many minutes, Tracy froze.

He let her go and for a long moment the two of them sat on the bed in shock, staring at each other.

Then Jeff Stevens smiled broadly.

“Put this on.” He handed Tracy the dress he’d been holding, a red silk Chanel shift. “I’m taking you to dinner.”


WELL, THIS IS NICE, isn’t it, darling? Just like old times.”

Tracy and Jeff were sitting in a corner table, tucked away at the back of a nondescript bistro about a hundred yards from Tracy’s hotel. Jeff looked as dapper as ever in a perfectly tailored dark suit. Tracy was wearing a lightweight black sweater and knee-length skirt, with no jewelry and minimal makeup. She’d purposefully refused to wear the red dress that Jeff had picked out for her in the hotel room. Partly because Jeff had picked it out. Tracy didn’t like having decisions made for her. And partly because the dress was far too sexy. Whatever tonight’s dinner turned out to be, it wasn’t a date.

“What are you doing here, Jeff?” It wasn’t a question so much as an accusation.

Jeff sipped his wine. “Having dinner with a stunning woman.”

“I mean what are you doing in Paris,” Tracy said firmly.

“It’s a beautiful city.” Jeff snapped a breadstick playfully. “And I hear the poker’s wonderful here.”

“I wouldn’t know,” said Tracy.

“Of course you wouldn’t, darling.” Jeff chuckled to himself. He’d always loved playing these games with Tracy. They both knew that the other had been there at Montmartre that night, but neither of them would be first to admit it.

“I mean it, Jeff. Why are you here?” Tracy said, suddenly serious. “The truth, please.”

Jeff looked hurt. “When have I ever lied to you?”

Tracy’s eyebrows shot up so far they almost disappeared altogether.

“OK, OK,” said Jeff. “The truth. I’m working for British intelligence.”

Tracy burst out laughing. “You?”

“And why is that so funny?”

“Well now, let me think . . . Perhaps because the last I heard you were on their Most Wanted list?”

Jeff shrugged. “Times change. You’re working for the CIA, after all. Or is it the FBI?”

“That’s different.”

“How? In a world where you and Agent Buck are colleagues, I’d say we’re all pretty far down the rabbit hole. Wouldn’t you?”

Tracy couldn’t deny this. Even so, she found it very hard indeed to picture Jeff as an MI6 stooge.

“OK. So you’re working for the Brits. On what? Group 99?”

Jeff nodded, dropping his voice to a whisper. “I’m here for the same reason you are. The British want to find Hunter Drexel. Badly. Julia Cabot doesn’t trust President Havers as far as she can spit. She wants MI6 to find Drexel first so that they can discover whatever it is the Americans are hiding.”

“And what does she think that is?” Tracy asked.

“No idea,” said Jeff. “Let’s order.”

They both ordered green salads. Tracy followed hers with a light bouillabaisse. Jeff, predictably, opted for steak frites.

“This whole thing clearly has something to do with fracking,” Jeff said, once the salads arrived. “Europe’s being carved up according to an underground map of shale gas reserves. It’s the new Wild West, with billions of dollars at stake. Right now the U.S. is the world leader in that industry with China close behind. But that could change. Poland, Greece, Bratislava, they all have gas. Ordinary people there are suffering, yet they have a fortune in natural resources quite literally sitting beneath their feet.”

“You can see why that angers Group 99,” Tracy agreed. “It’s the same old story. Like Africa’s diamonds or Saudi Arabia’s oil. A tiny minority are becoming unimaginably wealthy while the rest of the people starve.”

“But the governments let it happen because the tax revenues are huge.”

“And the GDP soars up.”

“Right.” Jeff smiled. It was wonderful talking with Tracy again. Seeing through the bullshit together. Seeing eye to eye. He’d missed this.

“So that’s the backdrop,” Tracy said. “I understand MI6’s interest. But where do you fit in? What’s your connection?”

“My connection?” Jeff laughed. “My connection is you, Tracy.”

She looked confused.

“I was brought in to keep tabs on you. To find out what you were doing for the Americans. And what you might be doing behind their backs,” Jeff added knowingly. “They had other applicants, but I was the only one with twenty years of experience following you around the globe.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon