Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

“Ah, Mr. Stevens, there you are.” Jane, the hugely overweight receptionist, smiled at Jeff warmly. “I’m so sorry, but the young lady just left. She waited more than an hour but I think she had to get to work in the end. I would have called you but I didn’t have a number and—”

“What young lady?” Jeff interrupted her.

Jane blushed. “Oh Lord. How stupid of me. All this time she was here and I never got her name. She was young. Blond. Very attractive.”


“She left you this.”

The receptionist picked up a sealed brown paper envelope in her pudgy hands and passed it to Jeff.

His heart rate shot up. He could feel immediately that there was a USB chip inside.

Bounding up the hotel stairs two at a time, Jeff hurried into his room, locking the door behind him. Drawing the curtains, he sat down at his computer and loaded in the chip.

The footage was time-stamped. There was a little under two hours’ worth in all. Thank you, Karen! Images were streamed from the Yampa Valley Medical Center’s car park, front entrance, reception desk and waiting room, and from three corridors inside the building. One clearly led to a surgery suite of some kind. The others looked like regular corridors on a ward, with patients’ rooms to the right and left.

Jeff settled back to watch, not sure what he was looking for exactly, but hoping it would jump out at him when he saw it.

Minutes rolled by. Ten. Twenty. Thirty. An hour.

When he finally saw the figure, sauntering confidently up to the reception desk, he had to pause the footage and rewind.

It can’t be. Jeff leaned forward, staring at the screen as if he’d seen a ghost. It can’t possibly be.

Jumping up, he pulled open the bedside drawer and started reassembling his phone, sliding in the sim card and battery.

I have to call Tracy. Right now.

Waiting impatiently for the home screen to load, Jeff tried to think of what he was going to say exactly. What words would he use to break this news? To tell Tracy she was wrong. To tell her . . .

The phone rang loudly, startling him.

“Hello?” He answered without thinking.

Frank Dorrien’s voice boomed in his ear, angry and doom-laden. “Stevens! Where in Christ’s name have you been?”

“I can’t talk now,” Jeff said dismissively. “I need to speak to Tracy.”

“Jeff . . .”

“I’m sorry, Frank. This can’t wait.”

“Well, it’ll have to,” Dorrien shot back hurriedly, before Jeff could hang up. “Tracy’s in a coma, Jeff.”

Jeff froze. The room had started to spin.


“She was attacked the night you left Paris. Bludgeoned from behind.”

Jeff held on to the desk for support. He felt terribly light-headed suddenly. Dark spots swam before his eyes. When he spoke his voice sounded strangled. “I don’t understand. Who attacked her?”

“We’re not sure. Various witnesses—”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“We tried,” said Frank. “Repeatedly. None of us could reach you.”

“Well, what have the doctors said? I mean, she’s in a coma. But she’s going to recover, right? She’s going to be OK?”

“She hasn’t woken up since it happened,” Frank said bluntly, although not without compassion. “I’m sorry, Jeff, truly I am. But it doesn’t look good.”


TRACY HEARD BLAKE CARTER’S voice first, out in the corridor.

“Where is she? I need to see her. I need to explain.”

And the doctor. “She’s not up to visitors yet, Mr. Carter.”

I am up to visitors!

Blake’s alive? He’s been alive all this time? And now he’s here to see me?

Blake! She sat up in bed, tried to call out his name, but no sound came out. Then the pain came back, the agony, like a herd of elephants stampeding across her skull, pulverizing her bones into dust one after the other. Blake, I’m here! Don’t leave!

She passed out.


Tracy couldn’t see him. She couldn’t see anything. She couldn’t move, or speak, or do anything except breathe. And listen.

“Who’s her next of kin?” the doctor was asking.

General Dorrien’s voice. “She doesn’t have one.”

“Is there no one we can notify? A friend?”

“No. We’ll take care of it.”

“But there must be . . .”

Frank’s voice again, more hard-edged this time. “There isn’t. Come on, Doctor. Let’s be honest. We both know she isn’t going to wake up. So it’s all a moot point anyway.”

Tracy thought, I’m not going to wake up.

Profound peace overwhelmed her.

She would be with Nick at last.


Someone was shaking her. Shining a light in her eyes.

She’d been having the most wonderful dream. She and Nick were playing chess, back in the kitchen at Steamboat. Blake wasn’t there—he’d gone out riding—but Jeff was, whispering in Nick’s ear, teaching him how to cheat, or at least how to outsmart his mother. They were both laughing. Tracy didn’t approve but she was laughing too.

Until Althea walked in, her long dark hair billowing behind her, her face a mask of death. Sitting down at the table, she swept away the chess pieces. Tracy watched, frozen, as they clattered to the floor. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.

“I hate chess. Let’s play poker.”

And then the kitchen was gone, Nick too, and they were at a table in a casino—the Bellagio?—and Hunter Drexel was dealing. But the cards weren’t playing cards, they were Tarot cards, and Tracy turned over the Lovers and Althea looked at Jeff and started laughing and laughing and then Hunter Drexel grabbed Tracy by the shoulders and shouted:

“WAKE UP! Look at the light! The truth’s right in front of you, Tracy! Wake up!”

Tracy opened her eyes.

Loving, familiar eyes stared back at her.

“It’s you!” she smiled.

And sank back into the darkness.

IT WAS THE LONGEST night of Cameron Crewe’s life. Longer, even, than the night he lost Marcus. He’d been numb then, too shocked to process fully what was happening. He remembered Charlotte sitting beside him at Marcus’s bedside, the two of them holding hands. If someone had taken a photograph then and given it a title, they would probably have called it United in Grief. Except, of course, that grief didn’t unite anything. All it did was destroy. Dismantle. Unravel.

Cameron Crewe hadn’t known that then but he knew it now, watching Tracy fight for her life. Seeing her struggle up into the light, only to lose her footing and tumble back down, helpless, into the darkness.

It was Greg Walton who called him, a full twenty-four hours after Tracy was attacked. Cameron was furious.

“Why the hell didn’t anyone contact me sooner?”

“We didn’t know ourselves,” Greg Walton insisted. “Agent Buck’s in Paris but the FBI have been running their own investigation, separate from what Tracy’s been doing for us. It was the Brits who alerted us. MI6.”

“General Dorrien?” Cameron practically spat out the name.

“Yes.” Walton sounded surprised. “Do you two know each other?”

“No. But Tracy knows him. And she doesn’t trust him an inch.”

“The British think it may have been Hunter Drexel who attacked her. Despite my express instructions it appears Tracy’s been trying to track Drexel alone, off-book. You wouldn’t know anything about that, I suppose?”

But Cameron wasn’t interested in CIA guessing games. Instead he flew his G650 directly into Le Bourget airport, making it from his New York apartment to Tracy’s bedside in under ten hours. Once there, he pulled every string in the book to make sure that Frank Dorrien and any other intelligence officers were refused all further access. Luckily Don Peters, the new U.S. ambassador to France, was a close personal friend. So was Guillaume Henri, the hospital’s largest donor.

“Tracy Whitney’s a friend of mine. I’m the closest thing she has to family,” Cameron insisted to Guillaume. “Nobody sees her but me.”

“Your wish is my command, old friend. She must be quite a woman.”

“She is,” Cameron said.

Within hours of his arrival, Tracy had opened her eyes and spoken for the first time.

“It’s you!” she said when she saw him. And then she smiled, that bewitching, sad, intelligent smile that danced on her lips but always started with her moss-green eyes. The smile that had conquered Cameron Crewe from the very beginning.

But seconds later the smile had faded and Tracy’s eyes had closed once again.

That was two days ago.

Now, according to Greg Walton, Jeff Stevens was on his way. The British government was up in arms, demanding to be allowed to see Tracy and assess her condition.

“They’re pissed. MI6 are saying she’s compromised their operation against Drexel, that it’s our fault for failing to control her. And they want your head on a plate.”

“Too bad.”

“They’re claiming Stevens is her next of kin,” Greg Walton said. “If that’s true you won’t be able to stop him seeing her. And he’ll bring Frank Dorrien and anyone else Dorrien wants in with him.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon