The Tides of Memory by Sidney Sheldon

“That’s nice,” said Summer, more because it was expected of her than because it was what she really felt. Her mom’s close friendship with Alexia still made her uncomfortable, but she could hardly say that to Teddy.

“It is nice,” Teddy agreed, smiling. “Alexia’s been through so much this past year. First, Michael and now this.”

“Hmm.” Summer chased her fish around the plate with her fork. Obviously she wouldn’t wish an assassination attempt on anyone. But she didn’t find it so easy to forgive and forget Alexia’s neglect of Michael, or the callous way she’d behaved since his crash.

“The problem is she’s so very bad at saying no, especially when it comes to her work,” Teddy went on. “My wife has such a strong sense of duty, you see. Of public service. Not very fashionable these days, but there you have it. Alexia never thinks of herself.”

Summer almost choked. “Uh-huh.” Is he really that deluded? Did the bullet ricochet off Alexia’s rib cage and lodge itself in Teddy’s brain?

“Anyway, enough about my family. What about you?” Teddy went on. “What brings you to London? Culture or shopping?”

“Neither, actually. I’ve been looking into something.”

Summer told Teddy about Michael’s motorbike and her mission to the Walthamstow garage. A cloud descended over Teddy’s kindly features.

“Do you think that’s wise, my dear? Tinkering around with the ghastly thing?”

“Why not?”

“Well, surely if the police thought there were anything untoward going on, they’d have examined the motorbike themselves?”

“This may come as a shock to you, Teddy, but the police aren’t infallible. As it turns out, there was a fault with the bike.”

Teddy set his wineglass down carefully on the table. “Was there?”

“Well,” Summer backtracked, “they couldn’t be a hundred percent sure. But the mechanic at St. Martin’s said the markings on the brake cables and the way they’d frayed suggested that they may have been tampered with before the crash.”

“Tampered with?” Teddy’s mind raced.

“Yes. Someone may have wanted Michael to crash that day.”

Teddy shook his head. “No. I don’t believe it. That can’t be true.”

“Does Michael have any enemies, that you know of?”

“Enemies? The boy was an events organizer, not a spy.”

He still is an events organizer, thought Summer, but she held her tongue.

“I daresay he may have pinched the odd fellow’s girlfriend over the years,” said Teddy, adding tactfully, “Before he met you, obviously, my dear. But I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hurt him. Not seriously.”

“Maybe it wasn’t Michael they wanted to hurt,” Summer suggested. “Maybe it was you. Or Alexia. Maybe Michael was just a means to an end.”

Teddy pushed his plate to the side. “You said the chap that you showed the motorbike to wasn’t sure.”

“Not absolutely sure, no. The evidence might not hold up in court. Not on its own, anyway. But it’s a start.”

“A start of what?” Teddy reached across the table for her hand. “Don’t take this the wrong way, Summer. But do you not think that, perhaps, you might be hearing what you want to hear?”

Summer bridled. “I’m not making this up, you know.”

“I’m not suggesting for a moment that you are. But by your own admission, the evidence is inconclusive. The brake cables could have frayed when Michael saw the lorry hurtling toward him at God knows how many miles per hour. Could they not have?”

“Technically, yes, they could have,” Summer said grudgingly.

“You want there to be a meaning to all this. A reason for your pain, and for Michael’s suffering. But the truth is, there is no reason. Any more than there’s a reason why that lunatic Drake took a shot at Alexia. Bad things just happen.”

“You don’t know there’s no reason for what happened to Michael.” Summer was surprised to find herself close to tears. Teddy really knew how to push her buttons. “Someone may have tampered with those brakes.”

“You can torture yourself with ‘may have’ Summer, but it won’t bring Michael back to us.”

“No. But it may bring us the truth.”

“But why, my dear?” Teddy sounded exasperated. “Why would anyone want to kill my son?”

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out.”

“By ignoring the answer that’s staring you in the face? The answer is: they wouldn’t! Michael didn’t have enemies. This wasn’t some dastardly plot. This was an accident. Brake cables fray in accidents.”

Summer tried a different tack. She’d hoped the news from Walthamstow might rouse Teddy’s curiosity at least, but he seemed determined to dismiss it. Instead she asked him the same question she’d asked Roxie at Kingsmere weeks earlier.

“Did Michael talk to you about a secret in the weeks leading up to the summer party? Something troubling he’d discovered.”

“No. He didn’t.”

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure. Roxie already asked me about this, so I’ve given it some thought. She said you mentioned this ‘secret’ to her too. But I’m afraid neither of us has the faintest idea what you mean. Michael was fine before the party. Nothing was troubling him.”

“But he told me—”

“Summer.” Teddy interrupted her. “You’re building quite a conspiracy theory here. Mysterious secrets, frayed brake cables. Can’t you see it’s all smoke and mirrors?”

A heavy silence fell across the table.

“If I really believed someone had harmed my son deliberately, don’t you think I’d be calling the police right now? Don’t you think I’d want to know the truth as much as you do?”

Summer nodded.

Cupping a hand under her chin, Teddy lifted her face so her eyes met his and said, gently but firmly, “It. Was. An. Accident. Now . . .” He smiled broadly, breaking the tension like a snapped twig. “Let’s order some pudding, shall we? The Eton mess here has to be tasted to be believed.”

In her room at the Orange a few hours later, Summer threw her few paltry overnight things into a bag.

Why does nobody believe me?

Why does nobody take me seriously?

Tears of frustration welled in her eyes. She remembered what her boss at the New York Post had said to her when he turned down a story on gang intimidation Summer had been working on for months.

“Don’t bring me conjecture, Miss Meyer. Bring me the facts. This is a newspaper. We don’t print fairy tales.”

Was her theory about Michael a fairy tale? Had his crash really just been an accident, like Teddy De Vere and the rest of the world seemed to think?

Rubbing her eyes, she felt dizzy with exhaustion.

I need about a year of sleep.

Back in the Mayfair office of his hedge fund, Kingsmere Capital, Teddy De Vere closed the door, took off his suit jacket, and sank into his plush leather Herman Miller task chair. Closing his eyes, he took a deep, calming breath.

One mustn’t panic.

It wouldn’t do to panic. Terribly un-English.

He picked up the phone.

“Yes, it’s me. Look, I’m sorry to call when you’re resting. But I think we need to talk.”

Sergei Milescu was frightened.

He’d been sure Sir Edward Manning would get him what he needed—enough dirt on Alexia De Vere to force her out of office, so that his paymaster could replace her with a more suitable, amenable candidate as home secretary. But having squeezed the old queen like a lemon for over a year, Edward’s drips of information were running out. So was Sergei’s paymaster’s patience.

“I paid in advance, in good faith.”

He wore a Savile Row suit and spoke in the measured, educated tones of a businessman. But he was not a businessman. He was a merciless killer. Brought up on the streets of Tbilisi with nothing but his wits to recommend him, he had lied and threatened and robbed and deceived and bludgeoned his way to the top of the heap in the new Russia. Now he owned oil wells and diamond mines and chemical plants and nuclear power stations. The JPMorgans and Goldman Sachses of this world all courted him. In London, he mixed in the highest society, dated aristocratic girls, and gave lots of money to charity and to “helpful” political parties. The Tories had been very helpful, until that jumped-up bitch Alexia De Vere had had the temerity to question his business dealings, closing tax and other legal loopholes that he and his fellow London-based oligarchs relied on. The home secretary had crossed him, a grave mistake. Beneath the veneer of sophistication, he remained a ruthless savage.

Sergei Milescu had witnessed his savagery firsthand. A Ukrainian prostitute who’d shortchanged him had had her eyes gouged out. Rumor was he’d let her off lightly because she was a woman.

Sergei felt the sweat soak through his shirt.

“I’ll return the money.”

“I have no interest in the money. I want what I paid for.”

“You’ll get it.”



Sergei’s paymaster clapped his hands. Two armed heavies burst into the room. Sergei mewled like a terrified kitten.

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon