Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

“You’re not safe! And it does matter.”

He sounded utterly desperate. Tracy felt terrible.

“I called to say goodbye,” she blurted. “And thank you. And I wish you happiness.”

“Stop.” Cameron’s voice became stern. “Tracy, listen to me. We can talk about ‘us’ later. But right now I believe you are in grave danger. You’ve found Drexel, haven’t you?”

Tracy was silent.

“If you’ve found him, trust me, it’s because he wants to be found. It’s a trap, Tracy.”

“I don’t think so,” she said quietly. “I have to go.”

“For Christ’s sake, Tracy, wake up!” Cameron said desperately. “It’s a trap! Hunter wanted you to find him.”

“And why would he want that?”

“Because he knows you’ll try to confront him alone. And when you do, he’ll kill you.” Cameron’s tone softened again. “Please, darling. Tell me where you are. Tell me where Drexel is. I won’t tell Walton or Buck, I swear it. I’ll help you myself. Just don’t do this alone.”

Tracy’s eyes welled with tears. She looked at her watch. In six more seconds he’d be able to trace the call.

“Goodbye, Cameron. And good luck.”

She rang off, ripped the battery out of her handset and hurled it into the fire.


Frank Dorrien scowled at Jeff Stevens. They’d agreed to meet at the Café Italia on Locarno’s Piazza Grande at noon. It was now 12:03.

“Hardly.” Jeff glanced at his Patek Philippe and sat down. In linen trousers and a loose, short-sleeved shirt, topped off with a panama hat, Jeff was perfectly dressed for the warm weather. Unlike the general, who’d turned up in a twill shirt, a heavy tweed jacket and brogues with socks.

Jeff thought, If the man got any more English they’d put him in the British Museum.

“What do you mean ‘hardly’? Late is late,” Frank snapped. “You do realize it’s entirely your fault we’re in this situation as it is? Time is running out, Jeff.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Sorry won’t save Tracy. Or any of the other people Drexel and his Group 99 cronies are right now planning to kill.”

“Jesus, Frank, I get it, OK?” Jeff’s voice was breaking. “I fucked up. I thought Tracy and I . . .”

He left the sentence hanging.

Frank Dorrien took a sip of his tea and grimaced. It was lukewarm and disgusting, like every cup he’d had since he got to Italy. Unconfirmed sightings by British agents of Alexis Argyros near the Italian Lakes had been enough for James MacIntosh to fly Frank out there.

If Apollo was in Northern Italy, chances were that Drexel was there too. Although the Greek Group 99 leader was a target in his own right.

Ironically it was Frank Dorrien who had insisted that Jeff Stevens be brought along too.

“Absolutely not.” Jamie MacIntosh was still smarting over Jeff’s ill-advised decision to disappear with Tracy. “Mr. Stevens has made it quite clear where his loyalties lie. And it’s not with us.”

“I don’t care about his loyalties,” Frank said bluntly. “He’s still our best chance of finding Tracy Whitney. And she’s still our best chance of finding Drexel.”

In the end, reluctantly, MacIntosh had agreed. The Americans had lost control of Tracy Whitney completely. Having Jeff Stevens on their team, combined with this new intelligence on Argyros, put MI6 in the driving seat once again.

If only we knew where we were going, Frank Dorrien thought bitterly.

“Argyros has gone to ground, for the time being at least,” he told Jeff. “Right now our priority has to be finding Tracy.”

“Agreed,” said Jeff. “Where do you suggest we start?”

There were times when Major General Frank Dorrien could cheerfully have strangled Jeff Stevens.

“Where do I suggest . . . ? You’re the one who’s supposed to be able to outthink her, remember? Although after her little stunt on the train I’d say that theory’s seriously in doubt.”

Jeff looked miserably at his shoes.

“Think, man. Drexel’s here, somewhere. Tracy finds him. She thinks she’s the only one who knows he’s here, but she’s wrong. Argyros is right behind her.”

“Or ahead of her,” said Jeff. “Maybe Argyros has already found Hunter.”

“Maybe. And maybe he’s killed him. Or maybe, he never had any intention of killing him. Maybe he’s here to meet Hunter as a compatriot. A friend. A co-conspirator. Maybe they’re planning their next Neuilly together.”

Jeff shivered. “Let’s hope not.”

“But Tracy doesn’t know this,” Frank continued. “She thinks she’s alone.”


“So what’s her plan? What would her next move be?”

Jeff closed his eyes, praying for inspiration. To his astonishment as much as Frank Dorrien’s, it came.

Sitting up suddenly, he said, “I have an idea.”

TRACY SHUT OFF THE speedboat’s engine as she drew up to the Villa Michele’s outer wall.

She was dressed in sky-high platform heels, fishnet stockings and a skintight black Lycra dress that left little to the imagination. Her breasts, not usually her best asset, looked enormous this evening and very much front-and-center thanks to her amply padded bra. As it was not the sort of outfit that allowed one to conceal a gun easily, Tracy carried a small quilted purse, a cheap Chanel knockoff made of shiny, wipe-down plastic.

She felt cold, uncomfortable, and ridiculous. But her getup had done its job. The old man at the dock who’d rented Tracy the boat hadn’t given her a second glance, still less asked for any ID. All the girls who went to the villa as Mr. Trent’s guests paid cash on return. Hookers were good customers, regular, reliable and they rarely needed the boat for more than a couple of hours.

Tracy fit right in.

When she reached the Viscontis’ island, the old man had explained, Tracy was to moor the boat by tying a heavy rope onto a large iron ring, bolted to the private harbor wall. Arriving in pitch-darkness it took her a while to locate said ring. When she did, it looked like something out of a medieval dungeon, rusted and creaking and huge. By the time she’d secured the boat, her hands were freezing and rubbed raw, and there were dirt and rust stains on her palms.

A real whore would have wet wipes in her purse, Tracy thought. All I have is a pistol, a new cellphone, a recording device and some wire.

Jumping out of the boat onto the thin strip of grass at the base of the wall, she wiped her hands as best she could on the turf. To her right, a set of steep stairs led up to a wooden door, that in turn led into the formal gardens and then to the villa itself. A CCTV camera directly above her head looked blindly out over the lake into the darkness. Tracy slipped beneath it to the foot of the stairs and began to climb.

She’d come prepared to pick the lock, but she found the wooden door had been left open. Cameron Crewe’s voice rang in her ears. He wants to be found. It’s a trap!

Maybe it was true.

If so, Hunter Drexel should be careful what he wished for.

Tracy’s heart hammered against her ribs as she crossed the manicured, Italianate garden. She waited for alarms to go off, for a spotlight to suddenly catch her or guards to come running, roused from their drunken slumbers. The crunch of her feet on the graveled path sounded deafeningly loud to her own ears as she weaved her way in and out of the shadows of the poplars. According to her research there were no dogs at the villa. But Tracy still half expected to hear the heavy, panting breaths of slavering Dobermans, intent on ripping her limb from limb. She’d spent half of her adult life breaking and entering expensive homes, but the adrenaline never left her.

The last time she’d broken in anywhere was at Frank Dorrien’s house. Tracy remembered now how triumphant she’d felt that night, finding the hard drive from Prince Achileas’s computer, and the first images of Althea—Kate. Those pictures had proved that the general had lied, about Captain Bob Daley and his relationship with the dead prince, and about other things too. They were also still the only known images of Kate. The woman who had killed Nick, and claimed to know Tracy, but who remained as much of a mystery now as she had done when this all started.

With luck, in a few short minutes, that mystery would be solved. Tracy would be talking to Hunter Drexel face-to-face, finally learning the truth. The whole truth.

At last she approached the house itself. Crouching low beneath the height of the ground-floor windows, she flattened herself against a wall, scratching her legs badly on the rose bushes that clung to the villa like thorny limpets. Lights were on inside. Tracy listened. She could hear classical music—a sonata of some sort, coming from deeper within the house—but no voices. The whole place, in fact, was eerily quiet. Peaceful, but not in a good way. There was a faint smell of cooking, garlic and anchovies and lemon coming from a few yards away. Tracy saw that the French doors to the drawing room had been flung wide open to the garden, presumably to allow in the cool evening air.

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon