Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

“Yes. I . . . shit. They’re coming out.”

Wordlessly, Jeff slipped the phone into his pocket without hanging up and stepped back into the shadow of the Basilica.

“Stay away from me!” The woman was crying. “You’re a liar!”

“No, I’m not. I know what happened to Daniel. I know, Kate.”

“I mean it. Stay away!”

With a sob, she physically pushed Hunter backwards, so hard that he slammed against the wall just feet from where Jeff was standing, frozen like a statue. Then she took off into the night like a gazelle, her long hair flying behind her

“Kate!” Hunter yelled after her, giving chase. “Come back! Kate!”

Jeff pulled out his phone the instant Hunter took off.

“Did you hear that?” he asked Frank Dorrien.

“Every word.”

“What should I do?”

Frank hesitated for a second. Then he said “Forget Drexel. Follow the girl.”


ARE YOU SURE YOU won’t ride with me to the airport?”

Cameron was standing by his chauffeur-driven Mercedes in the driveway of his French château. Tracy had come outside to see him off.

“Or better yet, come to New York?”

“Soon, I promise.” She kissed him. “I have a few loose ends to tie up here first.”

After five days spent recuperating in Cameron’s mansion outside Paris, sleeping, reading and generally being waited on hand and foot, Tracy felt better. Better, and bored, and itching to get back to the job of finding Althea and Hunter before Jeff stole too much of a march on her.

Greg Walton had visited her in person yesterday. Cameron had been persuaded, reluctantly, to let him in. What he had to say was disturbing, to say the least.

“We now know for a fact that Hunter Drexel visited Camp Paris on no less than four occasions in the days leading up to the shooting. Multiple witnesses place him there. He was posing as a theater producer by the name of Lex Brightman, and had offered jobs to some of the students. Including Jack Charlston.”

“Richard Charlston’s son.”

“Exactly. Heir to Brecon Natural Resources and the first victim to be shot, after the poor teacher in the parking lot. There’s no good reason for Drexel to be there, Tracy,” Greg said grimly. “None that I can think of anyway.”

“No,” Tracy murmured. “Me neither.”

“Tell me about Montmartre,” said Greg. It was such a non sequitur, it caught Tracy completely by surprise. Which presumably had been his intention. “You were there, weren’t you? When the shots went off.”

“I’m guessing you know I was,” said Tracy.

“Did Hunter show up at the poker game?”

“No. But he was expected. And he was still using the Lex Brightman persona. Obviously I wasn’t the only person who knew that. Whoever was on that motorbike was there for him.”

“Who told you that?” the CIA chief asked archly. “Jeff Stevens?”

Tracy sighed. There didn’t seem much point in denying it now.

“How about we’re honest with each other, Tracy. I know I can’t trust the British. But I need to trust you.”

“Fine,” Tracy replied. “As long as it works both ways.”

Greg grinned, and Tracy remembered what it was she’d liked about him in the first place. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

So Tracy filled Greg in on her conversation with Jeff, minus his unfounded suspicions about Cameron, and their private words about their son.

“MI6 have pictures of Hunter with a young French student. He may have been shot in the leg and this girl was helping him. They think he was heading for Belgium. That was the last I heard before . . .” She touched her head where her hair covered the stitches.

“Well, let me update you,” Greg said. He wasn’t grinning any-more. “The girl, Hélène Faubourg, is dead.”

Tracy looked aghast. “How?”

“Poisoned, apparently. Her sister found the body, still slumped over a bowl of ramen noodles. She’d ingested enough polonium to kill an ox.”

“Do we know who . . . ?”

“We never know who,” Walton said darkly. “All we know is, you meet Hunter Drexel, you die. He did go to Belgium, by the way. Sally Faiers met him there. Drove him to Bruges.”

“How is Sally?” Tracy brightened. “Is she talking to you directly now?”

“No. She’s dead too.”

Tracy listened horrified as Greg gave her the details.

“Someone went in before the police could get there. Cleaned the place up so there were no prints, no nothing. Except Faiers’s corpse.”

“Don’t.” Tracy winced. Somehow Sally’s death made this whole nightmare much more personal. “What about Hunter?”

“Evaporated,” Greg said. “We had a team on him. But the guy’s slipperier than an eel in a vat of oil. We think he’s left Belgium. At any rate he never went back to the bungalow again, where he and Faiers were staying.”

Tracy processed all this in silence.

“Why was Agent Buck so anxious to keep me out of the hunt for Drexel?” she asked Greg Walton directly. “Every time I asked him anything, he shut me down.”

“Because it was dangerous,” Greg said simply. “When I brought you into this the idea was for you to track Althea via her computer trail. I wanted you safe on the other side of a screen. Not out in the field in harm’s way.”

“You sent me to Geneva, Greg,” Tracy reminded him.

“I know. And maybe I shouldn’t have. But this is different. Hunter Drexel is a dangerous man, Tracy,” Walton said. “He’s not who he seems to be. We think he’s been part of Group 99 from the beginning.”

“It’s possible,” Tracy admitted.

“More than possible. We believe he faked his own kidnapping to get Group 99 national attention. In our view he was complicit in Bob Daley’s death—maybe he and Althea planned it together? We can’t tie him to the Geneva bombing yet, but we will. We know he was at Neuilly. In all probability one of his 99 buddies killed Hélène Faubourg, a totally innocent student whose only crime was to try to help him. We think another executed Sally Faiers.”


“My guess is that both those women knew too much. Saw through him, maybe, in the end.”

Tracy rubbed her temples. She felt terribly tired all of a sudden.

“What do you need from me?”

“Number one, honesty. Whatever you learn from Stevens about Drexel, or anyone else, you share that intel with me or Agent Buck.”

“Jeff hasn’t contacted me since that night,” Tracy said, unable to keep a note of disappointment out of her voice. Jeff must have known she’d been attacked. The British would have told him. Yet he’d made no attempt to visit her at the hospital, or afterwards. That hurt.

“He will,” Greg said. “In the meantime, go back to Neuilly and any other contacts you have here in Paris who might be able to help us. Once the hysteria about the shootings dies down and the media moves on to the next story, my guess is Drexel will be back. I don’t think he’s done here.”

It was a sobering thought.

Now that Cameron was leaving, Tracy could devote herself full-time to the hunt for Hunter Drexel. It wasn’t only about Nick anymore, and what Hunter might be able to tell her about Althea. It was about Sally Faiers too. And Hélène Faubourg, and all the other people who’d lost their lives because they’d somehow gotten in Hunter Drexel’s way.

Poor Sally. She loved Hunter the same way I loved Jeff.

The difference was, she trusted him.

Tracy wasn’t about to make the same mistake.

“Promise me you’ll get some rest. You won’t push yourself too hard,” Cameron said, closing the door of the car and leaning out of the window to say his goodbyes.

“I promise,” said Tracy.

Uncrossing her fingers, she walked back into the house and began making calls.

Who do I know in Paris who might have seen Lex Brightman?

Where would a rich, gay, poker-playing New York theater producer hang out?

A FEW HOURS LATER, Tracy stopped by an old friend’s jewelry boutique on the Left Bank.

Not that she thought Hunter would have been one of Guy de Lafayette’s customers. But because Guy was the epicenter of Paris theater—land gossip, and the comings and goings of the left bank’s rich and famous residents.

Tracy described Hunter to Guy.

“He may be going by the name Lex Brightman. Or Harry Graham, or any number of other pseudonyms. It’s vital that I find him.”

Guy said, “That’s funny.”

“What’s funny?”

“Jeff said exactly the same thing to me a few days ago.”


“Yes. He told me the pair of you are working together again. Something ‘top secret.’ ” The old man gave a conspiratorial wink.

“Did he now?” said Tracy. The sneaky little so-and-so. Back in Paris already and not so much as a call.

“Oh, Tracy, darling, do tell me the two of you are back together again,” Guy gushed. “I could die happy if that were the case, I really could.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon