Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless

“Not President Havers?”

“No, no. Kidnap’s far too messy. He’d have had me killed.”


Hunter shook his head.

Tracy frowned. “Then who?”


Tracy and Hunter both spun around.

Cameron Crewe lounged in the doorway, smiling broadly. He had a drink in one hand and a Colt Python Elite in the other.

It was pointed directly at Tracy’s head.



Cameron was still smiling at Tracy. It was the same easy, warm smile she remembered, from Geneva, and New York, and Hawaii and Paris. The smile that had made her feel safe. That had brought her back to life after Nick’s death.

It was true Tracy had never felt the same deep passion for Cameron that she had with Jeff. But Cameron had given her something else in their short time together.




Now Tracy felt all three slipping through her fingers like so many grains of sand.

“Your gun, Tracy. Put it on the table, please. Slowly.”

Cameron’s tone was calm, gentle even. But his pistol was still pointed firmly between Tracy’s eyes.

“Do as he asks,” Hunter said softly.

Cameron watched like a hawk as Tracy stood up and carefully placed her gun on the walnut coffee table next to the fireplace. With each step she struggled to adjust to the new reality.

Cameron Crewe wasn’t her protector.

He wasn’t her friend.

He hadn’t come here to “save” her from Hunter Drexel or anything else.

He was the one Tracy needed saving from.

“Thank you,” Cameron said. “Now sit. You too.”

He jerked his gun casually towards Hunter, who sat down next to Tracy on the couch. If Hunter was afraid he didn’t show it, crossing his legs and making himself comfortable, as if the three of them were old friends settling in for a fireside chat.

Cameron turned to Tracy. “I’m sorry it has come to this, darling. I really am. I’d hoped for a different ending. But when you ran out on me after Paris . . . when you insisted on going after Drexel alone . . . you really left me no choice.”

Tracy fought back an unhelpful urge to laugh. The entire situation suddenly seemed so ridiculous. The three of them here in this magnificent room, like characters in a play, acting out a scene. Except they’d all been given the wrong lines. Now Cameron was playing the evil terrorist, and Hunter the misunderstood hero.

And what does that make me? Tracy wondered. The damsel in distress?

I don’t think so.

When she looked up at Cameron, there was no fear in Tracy’s eyes. Only curiosity. Now, at long last, she was to learn the whole truth.

“So it was you?” she asked him. “You had Hunter kidnapped?”

“I did. A mistake in retrospect. I should have had him killed. But you live and learn.”

Tracy had never heard him speak like this before, so callously. It was as if a completely different person had somehow invaded Cameron’s body.

Was this the person Charlotte Crewe knew? The man that she tried to warn me about?

Was this why Charlotte had gone “missing”?

“So you were bankrolling Group 99? They worked for you?”

“Pond scum like Alexis Argyros will work for whoever writes them the biggest check. These people’s life blood is greed. Greed and envy, prettily packaged as social justice. Isn’t that right, Mr. Drexel?”

“It is. That’s what I found out, after I spoke to Prince Achileas at Sandhurst,” Hunter explained to Tracy. “Group 99 were taking bribes too. Even the so-called good guys were corrupt. Crewe Oil totally owned them, and Apollo and his cronies were making out like bandits from day one. They carefully targeted all Crewe’s competitors but left him untouched. They took out Henry Cranston specifically so that Crewe would wind up with the Greek shale gas, and at a bargain price too.”

“You murdered Henry Cranston?” Tracy could no longer hide her shock. “Is that why you were in Geneva?”

Cameron shrugged. “I’m a businessman. I protected my business interests.”

“By bombing your competitors?”

“If necessary. I wouldn’t waste your tears on Henry though, darling. Believe me, he wasn’t worth it.”

Tracy stared at him. She didn’t say a word but her face spoke plainly: Who are you?

How was it possible that she’d read a person so wrong, so terribly, fatally, completely wrong?

Jeff had tried to warn her, but she’d assumed he was simply jealous.

She owed Jeff an apology.

She wondered if she would live to give it to him.

“Let me get this straight,” Tracy said. “Hunter knew that you controlled Group 99?”


“And that you were using them to launch attacks on your competitors?”

“And on governments where he wanted to exert leverage,” Hunter interrupted, “including the U.S. and Britain. It was Cameron who recruited Kate into Group 99. He got close to Greg Walton, wormed his way in as a CIA asset, and then helped orchestrate the devastating cyberattack on the Langley systems, as well as a whole slew of embarrassing government leaks.”

“But . . . you were a donor to Jim Havers’s election campaign,” Tracy said. “You supported him.”

“Openly, yes. And he supported me. But there’s no such thing as trust in politics. Or in life for that matter. One must keep one’s friends close but one’s enemies closer.”

Hunter said, “The day I was kidnapped, I was on my way to Crewe’s offices. I wanted to confront him with the evidence, to hear his side of the story. By then I already knew that Group 99 were receiving major cash injections from a U.S.-based source. Althea—Kate, as I later learned—was being set up to look like that person. But she was obviously a cover. I quickly realized there had to be someone else behind her, someone far wealthier, and with far more to gain. Crewe made sense. His fracking interests had miraculously never been hit by Group 99, yet his competitors had all suffered heavy losses. Cameron had both the means and the motive to buy control of Group 99 and that’s exactly what he did. Within two years, Crewe Oil became the most profitable fracking company on earth.”

Cameron nodded appreciatively at Hunter’s description of his boardroom prowess.

“He was smart about it too,” Hunter went on. “He made sure he developed excellent connections on both sides of the fence. Back in the U.S. he had the CIA eating out of his hands. They already considered him an asset, so it never occurred to them to dig in that particular backyard. As for the Havers administration, Crewe Industries had made a vast contribution to the president’s campaign. Plus everyone in the fracking industry saw him as one of the good guys. He had all these charities, all these NGOs . . .”

“That’s right,” said Tracy, turning to Cameron. She was still clutching at straws, trying to piece something back together of the Cameron Crewe she first met, the man she’d liked from the first moment she saw him. “You gave back. You did. You cared about the local communities where you operated.”

He looked back at her pityingly.

“It’s a charming idea, Tracy. But no.”

“Most of them weren’t charities,” Hunter explained. “They were fronts. Money laundering operations designed to help fund a variety of terrorist or extremist groups, often with conflicting aims. Crewe’s policy was a simple one: he gave cash to everyone. So there was Group 99, who specifically opposed the wealthiest one percent; but he also supported extreme rightwing, anti-immigration groups. He gave money to political separatists, pro-Islamic groups, anti-Islamic groups, republicans, nationalists. The idea was to do everything possible to destabilize the regions he’d targeted—and that could be anywhere that was rich in shale gas. Poland, Greece, China, the U.S.—and then exploit that political uncertainty to push out his competitors. In my piece I called it ‘chaos economics.’ ”

“Chaos economics!” Cameron grinned. “That’s very good. I like that.”

“It was brilliant,” Hunter said, turning to Tracy. “It worked. Of course it was also utterly morally repugnant. Cameron here is an object lesson in shameless greed. Human misery, the innocent suffering of others, means nothing to him. Frankly I wouldn’t wipe the guy off my shoe.”

The smug smile disappeared from Cameron’s face.

“Spare me the high-handed lectures,” he snarled at Hunter. “The simple fact is that most countries have no idea how to capitalize on their own natural resources. Either they don’t have the infrastructure to do it, or they don’t have the political will. Fracking is a vote loser. But someone was going to make a fortune out of all that shale gas. That much was certain. All I did was do my best to make sure it was me.”

“By funding murder and terrorism?” Tracy shot back at him. “By helping sadists and killers take over a peaceful organization like Group 99?”

Cameron rolled his eyes. “Oh, please. Don’t be so naïve, darling. Group 99 were itching to blow somebody’s head off long before I came along. They were always going to turn to violence in the end, with or without my help. Argyros and his cronies are base, bloodthirsty animals. Just look at what they did at Neuilly. They would have started killing people sooner or later.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon