The Tides of Memory by Sidney Sheldon

“Your daughter doesn’t seem to find that idea preposterous.”

“My daughter’s in shock. Where’s my husband? I want to speak to my husband.”

“You know you’re not helping yourself, or your wife, by refusing to answer our questions.”

A few doors down the corridor from Alexia, Teddy De Vere was also being interviewed. Inspector Henry Frobisher, one of the Oxford police’s most talented officers, had been drafted in by Chief Inspector Wilmott on the grounds that Teddy might open up more to “another poshy.”

No such luck. With his arms folded across his chest and his head turned resolutely away, Teddy repeated the mantra he’d been intoning ever since he left Kingsmere. “I want my lawyer.”

“When did you last see Andrew Beesley alive?”

“I want my lawyer.”

“Are there any grounds for your daughter’s belief that your wife may have been responsible for Mr. Beesley’s death?”

“I refuse to answer any questions without my lawyer.”

“Mr. De Vere, were you aware that Mr. Beesley was in fact dead, and had not returned to Australia as you told your daughter?”


Inspector Henry Frobisher switched off the tape. “Get his solicitor here,” he barked at his sergeant. “Now. And make sure someone’s with the daughter. We need a statement as soon as she wakes up.”

Alexia De Vere was becoming more strident.

“I demand to see my daughter.”

“I’m not sure you’re in a position to demand anything just now, Mrs. De Vere.”

“Turn off that tape recorder.”

Chief Inspector Wilmott considered the request for a moment, then did as he was asked. Breaks in a case often happened when witnesses, or suspects, agreed to talk off the record.

“Is there something you want to say to me, Mrs. De Vere?”

“Yes, there is.”

Chief Inspector Wilmott felt his excitement building. This is it. She’s going to confess.

“I want to remind you that I’m still the home secretary of this country. And that as such, your boss, and your boss’s boss, report to me. I could have you suspended. Like that.” She snapped her fingers imperiously.

If he hadn’t felt so disappointed, Chief Inspector Wilmott would have laughed. Alexia De Vere might be the Iron Lady, but she didn’t scare him, and neither did her powerful friends.

“On what grounds?” He squared his shoulders. “A young man was shot to death on your estate, Mrs. De Vere. You may not care about that fact. But I do. What’s more”—he paused for effect—“I think you killed him.”

Alexia’s upper lip curled. “Based on what? Roxie’s paranoia? An old watch?”

“As it happens, I found your daughter to be a very convincing witness. I’ve a feeling a jury may feel the same. I mean, let’s face it, ordinary voters haven’t exactly been warming to you recently, have they? And that’s all juries are, Mrs. De Vere. Just twelve ordinary voters.”

Alexia eyed the fat policeman contemplatively.

“Turn on the tape.”

Chief Inspector Wilmott pressed a button.

“Interview resumed, three-fifteen P.M.”

Roxie De Vere opened her eyes.

Everything was white and bright and beautiful. For a moment she felt a rush of intense happiness. I’m in heaven. I’m in heaven with Andrew. He never left me. He loved me, he loved me after all.

Then she saw the uniformed policeman standing by the door and her dream crumbled to dust.

This wasn’t heaven. And Andrew wasn’t some luminous white angel.

He was a rotted corpse, with dogs chewing the putrid flesh still hanging from his bones.

Her screams echoed down the hospital halls.

Chief Constable Redmayne of the Thames Valley police read the statement for a second time, carefully weighing each word, before handing it back to Chief Inspector Wilmott.

The chief constable was a vastly fat man with ruddy cheeks and a shock of white hair that gave him a jovial, Father Christmas–like air. In fact, Cyril Redmayne had a razor-sharp mind and was driven by the sort of ruthless ambition normally associated with politicians or rock stars. He was not at all happy to hear that the home secretary had been dragged down to Oxford police station like a common criminal. One misstep in a case like this and Cyril Redmayne’s brilliant career could be over in a blink.

On the other hand, a man had been murdered. And no one, not even the likes of Alexia De Vere, should be able to consider themselves above the law.

Chief Inspector Gary Wilmott asked, “What do you think, sir?”

“What do you think, Gary?”

“I think she’s lying. Through her perfectly white teeth.”

The chief constable considered this.

“Hmm. I’ve had a call from Downing Street, you know. The prime minister wants to know if we’re going to charge her.”

“I can’t. Not yet. I’d like to keep her in for questioning, though.”

“Absolutely not.”

“For another day at least. The husband too.”

“Out of the question.”

“But, sir . . .”

“Gary, she’s the home secretary.”

“So? She’s involved in this, sir, I know she is.”

“Then prove it. Find this psychologist. See if she corroborates Mrs. De Vere’s story.”

Chief Inspector Wilmott looked uncomfortable. “We have.”


“And she does corroborate the story. But that means nothing. They could easily have cooked it up together. Made a contingency plan, in case the body was ever found. I need more time with Mrs. De Vere.”

“Well, you can’t have it. Not without more evidence.”

Chief Inspector Wilmott got up to leave. The chief constable called after him.

“She might be telling the truth, you know. Just because you don’t like her. It is a possibility.”

“Pigs might fly.”

After Wilmott had gone, Cyril Redmayne read through Alexia De Vere’s statement for a third time. If it were true, then a lot of people had misjudged the home secretary. Not least her own daughter.

Statement to police,

Andrew Beesley was an Australian tennis coach who came to work for my family eight years ago. Shortly afterward, he began a romantic relationship with my daughter, Roxanne, which quickly became serious. Too quickly, in my view, although it was my husband who most vehemently disapproved of the match. Teddy felt Andrew was a blatant gold digger, and that it was our duty to protect Roxie and stop her from marrying him.

We discussed the idea of offering Andrew money to leave. I was against it, mostly on the grounds that I thought it unlikely the boy would accept, and that he might well tell Roxie we’d approached him, which would only make things worse between our daughter and ourselves. We agreed that our son, Michael, would talk to Andrew privately instead and see if he could warn him off. Anyway, not long after that, Andrew disappeared. He failed to show up for work one day, and that was that. Initially I didn’t question it. I was delighted he’d pushed off; we all were. But weeks went by, and Roxie was becoming increasingly distraught and unable to cope. She couldn’t accept that Andrew had dumped her so suddenly. That’s when Teddy told me that he had paid Andrew off, even though I thought we had agreed not to. The boy had bitten his hand off apparently, and was only too eager to hightail it back to Australia with Teddy’s check in his pocket.

The problem was Roxie. She’d suffered from depression as a teenager, quite badly, and her mental health was fragile at the best of times. Teddy and I had a private meeting with Dr. Lizzie Hunt, Roxie’s psychiatrist, to discuss how we should handle Andrew’s departure. Lizzie felt that having been abandoned by one man she loved, Roxie would not be able to cope with a second betrayal from Teddy—that she would see her father’s intervention as a betrayal. So we agreed, the three of us, that I would allow Roxanne to believe it was me who had bribed Andrew to leave. That way Roxie’s relationship with Teddy would remain intact, and hopefully she would one day rebuild enough trust in men to start a new, more appropriate romantic attachment.

Of course, things didn’t work out as we’d hoped. Instead of facing her demons head-on, my daughter attempted suicide. She was lucky to survive. She wouldn’t have recovered had it not been for her close, intensely close relationship with her father. So in that regard, I don’t regret deceiving her. But Roxanne spent the next eight years of her life, right up until a few weeks ago, hating me for what she believed I did. That’s been difficult.

I know that Teddy was telling the truth about paying Andrew off. Partly because he’s a very honorable man. But also because Andrew cashed the check Teddy gave him. I saw that money leave our account. As far as Teddy and I knew, Andrew Beesley was still living somewhere in Australia. I have no idea how or when he died, and no explanation to offer as to how he came to be buried at Kingsmere. However, I can state categorically that I had nothing whatsoever to do with his death or the disposal of his remains.

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon