“And all you did was make sure it was sooner,” Tracy observed caustically. Although inside she felt desolate and ashamed.
I trusted you! I fell in love with you. At least, I thought I did.
How can this be happening?
Hunter looked at Cameron quizzically. After his exchange with Tracy, his smug smile was back.
“You do realize you’re mentally ill?” Hunter said.
Cameron turned slightly and leveled his gun squarely at Hunter. “Be quiet,” he snapped. “No one’s interested in your opinion. You can see why I had to have him kidnapped,” he said to Tracy. “Here was this self-important nobody, this womanizing gambling addict, planning to destroy not only me but my company, everything I’d worked for.”
Hunter laughed. His lack of fear seemed designed to antagonize Crewe. It was working. “You’re a psychopath.”
“I SAID BE QUIET!” The gun shook in Cameron’s hands. “I’m talking to Tracy, not you.
“I’m not a psychopath,” he told Tracy, looking suddenly vulnerable. “At least, no more than you are. No more than anybody who goes through what we’ve been through and realizes they have nothing left to lose. After Marcus died, everything changed.”
For a split second Tracy’s heart went out to him and she felt at one with him again. The old connection between them, the spark that had been lit so unexpectedly in Geneva, came back. Cameron had lost Marcus, and Tracy had lost Nicholas, and that had been enough to bring them together, to fuse them emotionally for a time. Because for a time, losing Nicholas had been the only thing in Tracy’s life. The only event, the only emotion, the only thought, the only point to her existence. Cameron had found her in that moment—or had she found him?—and they’d fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.
But no more.
It wasn’t only that Cameron had clearly never been the man Tracy thought he was. That he was deranged and dangerous, a killer. Tracy was different too.
The pain of Nick’s death would never leave her. But it wasn’t the only thing anymore. There was a whole world out there, a world full of other people, other lives, other hopes and dreams. Tracy might not know those people. But they mattered. Humanity mattered. Truth mattered. At least to her.
Cameron kept talking.
“Before Marcus’s death, I had a life outside the business. But afterwards, Crewe Oil was all I had left. People talk about morality, about justice, about right and wrong, about God.” He snorted derisively. “It’s all nonsense. Life and death are arbitrary. When Marcus died, I knew there was no God. No justice. No right or wrong. No mercy. Continuing to act as if there were would just have been . . . irrational.”
He looked at Tracy pleadingly, as if willing her to understand.
“Tell me about Althea,” Tracy asked him, playing for time. “About Kate Evans. You recruited her?”
“Yes. We met at a conference in New York. Looking into her eyes was like looking into a mirror.” Cameron sighed nostalgically. “Not like you and me. There was no physical attraction. But I recognized Kate’s despair from the outset. Her need to lash out against a world that had robbed her of the only thing she cared about. This woman didn’t care if she got shot. She didn’t care what happened to her. My purpose was Crewe Oil. Kate’s was destroying the CIA. But we understood each other, Kate and I. She was prepared to follow my directions, at least at first.”
“Did you tell her to kill my son?” Tracy glared at Cameron, forcing herself to keep her voice steady.
“No!” He sounded genuinely horrified. “Absolutely not. I had nothing to do with Nick’s accident, Tracy. You must believe that.”
Tracy studied his face, looking for any sort of clues. Did she believe it? She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything anymore.
“Think about it,” said Cameron. “Why would I lie?”
“Because it’s what you do?” Hunter interjected.
Cameron swung around furiously. For one awful moment Tracy thought he was going to shoot Hunter then and there. But he held back. For the moment at least he was more interested in Tracy.
“After Bob Daley’s execution, I lost contact with Kate completely,” he went on. “Group 99 had already served their purpose for me. I have no idea why Kate decided to involve you, and I sincerely wish she hadn’t. What we had was real, Tracy. That night in Geneva. Hawaii . . . I developed feelings for you. Real feelings. Feelings I thought I would never have again.”
Tracy held up a hand. “Please, don’t.”
“It’s the truth. I tried to keep you close. To control the situation. I still hoped, somehow, to spare you. But when the Brits brought in Jeff Stevens, and the two of you began closing in on Drexel together, I knew there was no hope. Once you found Hunter, he would tell you the truth about me. Between you, you would make sure his story got published. I couldn’t let that happen. But I did love you, Tracy. I did want . . .”
Before he could finish, Hunter exploded off the couch like a missile. With an earsplitting noise that was half scream, half roar, he launched himself at Cameron. Tracy watched as if in slow motion as Hunter flew through the air, head down, arms outstretched, reaching for Cameron’s gun like a rugby player diving for the ball.
It was so unexpected, it took Cameron a fraction of a second longer to react than it should have.
But not long enough.
Tracy saw Cameron’s expression change from surprise, to anger, to determination. Then a shot rang out like a single clap of thunder.
The bullet hit Hunter at such close range, he seemed to stop in midair, as if someone had pressed freeze frame on a movie, or an unseen hand had reached down and grabbed him from above. Then, like a sack of rocks, he dropped to the ground.
Tracy stared down in horror.
Lying on his back, his arms spread wide, Hunter’s lifeless eyes gazed emptily upwards, at nothing.
THERE WAS NO TIME for tears. No time for shock. No time for anything.
Hunter Drexel was dead, and in a few seconds Tracy would be too.
Tracy’s gun was still on the coffee table, about twenty feet away. More in desperation than in hope, she made a run for it.
“Oh no you don’t.”
Cameron lunged after her, grabbing hold of the back of her leg. Tracy felt herself falling forwards, with the same slow-motion sensation she’d had for the last, agonizing minute, as if she were watching this happen to someone else, yet somehow remained utterly powerless to stop it. Her head smashed painfully into the table. Blood gushed down her forehead into her eyes, partially blinding her. Cameron tightened his grip on her legs as Tracy’s fingers scrambled desperately for the gun. By some miracle she grasped it, gripping the cold black metal for dear life. But there was no chance to shoot. Cameron was on top of her now, his full body weight pressing Tracy down against the hard wood of the table, crushing her, squeezing the breath from her body like air from an old set of bellows. Blood, warm and thick, oozed from the gash on her forehead.
“Don’t fight me, Tracy. Don’t make this harder.”
Tracy could feel Cameron’s breath in her ear and his heartbeat hammering against her back.
She managed to twist her body slightly to one side, just enough to bring a knee up into Cameron’s groin. It was a move she’d learned years ago from a friend of Gunther’s, Tai Li, a martial arts expert whom Gunther had said she and Jeff ought to meet.
“Self-defense can be important in your line of work, my dears,” Gunther had told them. “Spend a few hours with Tai. You won’t regret it.”
That was a long time ago. Tracy still remembered how she and Jeff had dissolved into giggles during Sensei Li’s classes. Tai Li was old and wizened, with a face like a pickled walnut—although, as Jeff used to say, a walnut would have had more of a sense of humor. The old man took Jujitsu very seriously, barking instructions at Tracy and Jeff like a drill sergeant. Tracy remembered almost none of what he’d taught her. But this particular move had stuck with her, and it had come in handy more than once.
Cameron yelped in pain and rolled off her. His gun had dropped to the floor in the melee. Tracy kicked it aside, sending it skidding across the parquet floor like a puck on an ice rink.
“Bitch!” he hissed. The pain had made him angry.
It was now or never. Aiming her gun towards Cameron’s leg, Tracy fired. But this time he was too quick for her, knocking her arm upwards, so the gun flew out of her hand and the bullet lodged uselessly in the ceiling. Shards of plaster rained down like snow. The next thing Tracy knew Cameron had grabbed her by the shoulders. He was forcing her down on to the table but this time on her back, so that she was looking up at him. Sweat poured from his forehead and dripped onto Tracy’s skin. His face, the same face she had loved and that had made love to her just weeks earlier, was unrecognizable now, contorted in an ugly combination of anger and pain. His blond hair stuck to his scalp like the wet pelt of a dog.