The Tides of Memory by Sidney Sheldon

“It’s true,” Alexia said bleakly. “They found a body. It was Andrew, Roxie’s ex.”

Lucy gasped. “No way.”

“I know. It’s insanity, Luce. The police are still questioning Teddy.”

“But surely they don’t think Teddy—”

“I don’t know what they think. I’ve resigned from the cabinet.”

“Oh my God, Alexia, no! You can’t.”

“I had to. Roxanne’s had a collapse. I really . . . I can’t begin to describe how bad things are.” Her voice was breaking. Aware that people on the street were staring at her, Alexia ducked into an alleyway. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go.”

“I do,” Lucy said immediately. “Come here.”

Alexia pictured Lucy in her kitchen at Martha’s Vineyard, apron on, hands covered in flour. How she longed for that wholesomeness, that normality, that safe, stable predictable cocoon in which Lucy Meyer lived her life. A life without ambition, without risk, without tragedy.

“You’re so sweet.”

“I’m not sweet,” said Lucy. “I’m serious. Come here. You need to recuperate anyway. It was only a couple of weeks ago that you got shot, for God’s sake. You’re not superwoman.”

“So it would seem,” Alexia said sadly.

“So do it. Get on the plane. Ride out the storm somewhere private and far away. Summer said you were thinking of coming anyway.”

“I was. But that was before.”

Why am I saying no? What’s wrong with me? This is exactly what I want. What I need. I need to be far away. I need to be safe.

“I can’t. Thanks for the offer, but Teddy’s still in Oxford being questioned, and Roxie’s in a terrible way.” An insistent beep beep on the line told her someone else was trying to get through. “That might be the hospital,” Alexia told Lucy. “Or Teddy. I’ve gotta go.”

With infinite reluctance, she dropped Lucy Meyer’s call.


“Are you still in the vicinity?” Angus Grey sounded shaken.

“Yes. I thought you were in court.”

“I should be. I will be in five minutes. But I just received a call from Thames Valley police.”

“Oh, thank God. They’ve let him go. Is he on his way to Kingsmere?”

“I’m afraid not, Alexia.”

“Then what?”

“Teddy’s been charged with murder.”

For a moment Alexia slumped back against the wall of the alley, winded with shock. But she quickly pulled herself together.

“That’s impossible. That’s ridiculous. You said so yourself, they don’t have any evidence.”

Angus Grey said, “Unfortunately, they don’t need any evidence. Not anymore. Teddy’s made a full confession.”

Chapter Thirty-two

The room was more like an office than a prison cell. Teddy sat at a desk, his legs stretched out in front of him as if he were at home in front of the fire, while Alexia paced nervously back and forth.

Things had moved quickly. By the time Alexia and Angus Grey arrived in Oxford, Teddy had already been in front of a crown court judge and remanded into custody pending trial. In less than an hour he’d be transferred to a secure wing of Oxford Prison.

Alexia asked, “Is it true?”

“Is what true, my dear?”

“Did you really kill Andrew?”

She felt as if she were talking to a stranger. As if this were all some awful, bizarre dream and she would wake up at any moment.

“I did,” Teddy said calmly. “Somebody had to. I hadn’t planned to confess, but there was no other way. Not with that dreadful man Wilmott on the scent, like a dog with a bone. If I’d kept quiet any longer, it would only have dragged things out. I didn’t want the family name sullied any more than it needs to be. Better to get the thing over with now.”

Alexia clutched her head. This can’t be happening.

Angus Grey said, “Can you tell us exactly what happened, Teddy?”

“Surely.” Teddy smiled, as if recounting an amusing anecdote. “I went to meet Beesley at the Garrick, as Alexia knows. I offered him money to push off back to Australia.”

Alexia nodded. “He took the money. I checked our accounts myself. That check was cashed.”

“So it was, my dear.”

“And he moved back to Australia.”

“He did. But some vestige of conscience must have got the better of him, because about a month later, blow me down with a feather if the little shit didn’t come back. I remember it vividly. I was at Paddington station about to catch the train when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there he was, bold as brass. Beesley. Told me he’d had a change of heart, that he was in love with Roxie and he wanted to return the three hundred grand.”

Angus Grey asked, “What happened then?”

“Well, I was shocked, obviously. Had to think on my feet. He was talking about marrying Roxie. Clearly I couldn’t let that happen.”

“But why not? He came back for her, Teddy!” Alexia had tears in her eyes.

Teddy’s expression darkened. “Came back for more money, you mean. He knew we’d never cut her off. That if he married her, he’d be set for life. Besides, darling, be reasonable. The man was a tennis coach! Hardly an appropriate match for a De Vere.”

Alexia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The man opposite her looked like Teddy. He sounded like Teddy. But the things he was implying—that he’d murdered a man out of nothing more than snobbery—that wasn’t the Teddy De Vere that she knew. Thought she knew.

Teddy went on. “I told him to come and see me the following day, at Kingsmere. We’d go shooting and talk about things.”

“Did you intend to kill him?” Angus Grey asked bluntly.

“I did. I was worried I might not be able to go through with it. I didn’t know for sure if I could . . .”

“If you could shoot him?” Alexia whispered.

“Yes. But it was easier than I thought. He was such an oaf, trying to play the big man, telling me he would marry Roxanne with or without my permission, that there was nothing I could do to stop him. You should have heard him, Alexia. If ever a fellow got what was coming to him, it was Andrew bloody Beesley.”

Angus and Alexia exchanged horrified glances. Neither of them had ever seen this side of Teddy before. He told the story without a shred of remorse.

“What happened after you shot him?” Angus asked calmly. As Teddy’s senior counsel, he needed to have a handle on all the facts, however damning.

“Nothing happened,” said Teddy. “That was the beauty of it. I dug a hole, buried him, and that was that. I kept waiting for something to happen, for the police or his family to knock on the door. But there was nothing.”

Alexia looked away. She remembered a time, long ago, when she too had waited for retribution, for justice that never came. Thinking about it now, she could still feel the prickle of anxiety on her skin, the gnawing fear churning in her stomach and tightening like a knot in her chest. How did I not see that in Teddy? I was there. How did I miss the signs?

“Then poor old Rox had her accident,” said Teddy. “To be perfectly honest, I forgot about Beesley after that. Roxanne was all that mattered.”

“You forgot?” asked Angus.

“I’m afraid so. The years passed. I had no reason to remember. Beesley was dead and buried and the secret was safe. I didn’t think I’d left him so close to the pagoda site, but I suppose I must have. In any case, when I buried him it was far too deep for an animal to uncover. Michael must have found the body and moved it.”

Alexia shook her head. She had to believe in Michael’s innocence at least. “No. He would have said something.”

Teddy said gently, “I suspect that he recognized the watch, just like his sister did, and put two and two together. Remember, as far as Michael knew, it was you who’d scared Beesley off, not me. That was the story we agreed on, you see,” Teddy explained to Angus. “For Roxie’s sake. Michael probably thought you’d done Andrew in. I imagine he was trying to protect you, Alexia.”

Alexia began pacing again, walking faster and faster until she was almost running. Teddy’s theory had a hideous ring of truth to it.

Michael crashed that bike believing that I’d done it. That I’d executed that boy in cold blood. That’s why he was so distracted. He thinks I’m a murderer, and now I may never have a chance to tell him I’m not.

Angus Grey tried to be practical. “All right, Teddy. Well, you’ve been very honest. As far as sentencing goes, I think the key will be to acknowledge that honesty and to make it clear that you sincerely regret what you did.”

Teddy looked confused. “Regret it? Why should I regret it, Angus? My duty, my purpose in life, is to protect my family and to preserve the good name of the De Veres. Andrew Beesley got what was coming to him. He threatened the family and I neutralized that threat.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon