The Tides of Memory by Sidney Sheldon

“Where are you?” Lucy Meyer’s voice was as warm and conspiratorial as ever.

Alexia grinned. “You know where I am. I’m in New York, the city that never sleeps.”


“Still. I fly to England tomorrow.”

“I see. So, have you solved the case yet, Sherlock Holmes?”

“No, not yet. I’ve been chasing my tail, as usual. What’s going on with you?”

“Look out of your window.”

Alexia did a double take. “Look out of my window? Now?”

“No, in two weeks’ time. Yes, now!”

“But why?”

“Just do it!”

Alexia walked over to the window and jimmied it open. Below her, on the street, stood Lucy, grinning like the cat that swallowed the canary. She had her cell phone in one hand and a cluster of Barneys shopping bags in the other.

“I thought I’d come and check on you!” she shouted up. “So where are you taking me for dinner?”

They ate at Elaine’s, at Lucy’s insistence.

“I only get to New York once in a blue moon, so I may as well treat myself.”

“I thought I was getting dinner?”

“That’s right, you are. Even better. Think I’ll go for the caviar, the lobster ravioli, and a nice bottle of vintage Chablis. And you can explain what on earth you’ve been doing here all this time, not to mention when you decided to go to London. I thought you said you weren’t planning to go to the sentencing.”

“I wasn’t. But I changed my mind.”

“Because . . . ?”

Alexia took a sip of her white wine. “Teddy’s done a lot of terrible things. But then so have I, in the past. He’s still my husband.”

“And that makes it all okay, does it?”

There was a bitterness to Lucy’s tone that Alexia hadn’t expected, a hard edge she didn’t remember hearing before.

“No, of course not. Nothing can make it okay. But it means I should at least try to forgive.”

“I don’t see why.” Lucy hid her face behind the menu, so Alexia couldn’t gauge her emotions. “Do you still love him?”

Alexia paused. “Yes,” she said at last. “I suppose I do. I daresay it sounds ridiculous, but meeting Billy Hamlin’s ex-wife this week really got me thinking.”

“Meeting Billy Hamlin’s . . .” Lucy shook her head despairingly. “Now you really have lost me. What on earth does she have to do with you and Teddy?”

“Sally and Billy had been divorced for well over a decade before Billy was killed. But when I met her, she still had so much compassion for him, so much love. It was really touching. Like they were two parts of the same body.”

“Please.” Lucy gave a dramatic eye roll, drained her glass, and poured herself another.

“I’m serious,” said Alexia. “And it struck me, that’s what it’s like with Teddy and me. After all these years together, he’s as much a part of me as my arm or my leg. I can’t just cut him off. You must feel the same with Arnie, don’t you?”

“I don’t know if I do or not,” Lucy said matter-of-factly. “Arnie’s never killed a man, buried him in our backyard, and lied about it.”

“True. But if he had? Don’t you think you’d forgive him?”

“No.” Lucy was so certain, so brutally final about it.

“Even if he did it to protect Summer?”

“No. Never.”

“Really? But how can you know that, Lucy? You’ve never been in that situation.”

Lucy shrugged. “In my book, some things are beyond forgiveness. It’s as simple as that. Let’s eat.”

They ordered food, and the mood instantly lightened. Alexia filled Lucy in on the progress of her search. Her meetings with Chief Harry Dublowski, with Jennifer Hamlin’s friends and family, with the various business associates who had abandoned Billy and driven him bankrupt back in the nineties. Finally, she told Lucy about the information on Milo Bates that Sir Edward Manning had unearthed for her.

“Billy always claimed his partner had been abducted and killed, but everyone dismissed it as a morbid fantasy. The police, his wife, everyone.”

“But you think differently?” Lucy sipped her ice-cold Chablis and speared a deliciously buttery sliver of lobster ravioli with her fork.

“There was a body, just one body, of a white male, washed up in the Hudson the year that Milo Bates took off.”

Lucy laughed. “But that could be anyone! A homeless man or a kid on the run. Do you have any idea how many people go missing in this city? How many wind up dead?”

“Yes, I do,” Alexia said excitedly. “Close to a thousand. But only half are men, and only a handful show signs of torture, which is what Billy said happened to Milo. This one white guy had been tortured and thrown into the river alive, to drown. That’s exactly what happened to Jennifer Hamlin. Exactly!”

Lucy took this in. “Where’s the body now? Can you test it? For DNA or . . . something. Whatever it is they do on CSI.”

“Unfortunately not. Unclaimed John Does are cremated after two years. But I’m certain it was Milo Bates, that he was killed by the same psychopath who murdered Jennifer Hamlin. Billy’s voices weren’t all in his head. One of them was real.”

“So you keep saying. But how do you know?”

“Because the same person called me, in my early days as home secretary. Right after Billy showed up in London. They called Cheyne Walk spouting biblical mumbo jumbo, making threats. And they used a voice distorter, just like the one Billy described. I hardly think that’s a coincidence, do you?”

Lucy frowned. “You never mentioned any weird phone calls to me at the time.”

“Didn’t I?”

“No. And you told me everything else. Your whole past life, Billy, what happened in Maine that summer. How come you never brought this up?”

“I guess I didn’t think it was that important.” Alexia waved a hand dismissively. “If I’d let every crackpot out there bother me, I’d never have succeeded in politics for as long as I did.”

“So the calls didn’t scare you?”

“Not really. Maybe a little. But I never took them too seriously. Till now, that is. When Sally Hamlin described the voice Billy was so afraid of, I knew at once. It was the same bastard who called me. I’d bet good money that the voice is our killer. And he’s still out there.”

“You think he killed Milo Bates?”


“And Jennifer Hamlin?”


“What about Billy? He doesn’t exactly fit the pattern, does he?” said Lucy.

“No.” Alexia looked away. “I don’t know what happened to Billy.”

Part of her wanted to tell Lucy the truth: that it was Teddy who had ambushed Billy at his London flat and stabbed him to death. She’d told her everything else, after all. What difference would one more gruesome secret make? But something in Lucy’s tone made Alexia hold back. She couldn’t bear the thought of alienating Lucy, her one remaining rock and only support. Besides, she had promised Teddy she would keep his secret about Billy, and Alexia De Vere honored her promises. This wasn’t her confession to make.

Lucy scraped the last of the creamy lobster sauce off her plate with a small sigh of satisfaction. “I take it you’ve gone to the police with this new information?”

Alexia’s silence spoke volumes.

Lucy dropped her fork with a clatter. “You haven’t, have you?”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Alexia! You just said yourself you might be in danger from this ‘voice’ person. He’s still out there. Why wouldn’t you report what you know?”

“Because I have no proof. No recordings, no phone records. Nothing. And because the police already decided they don’t believe Billy’s testimony. And because I fly to London tomorrow. I don’t have time for statements and interviews, especially when I know they won’t be followed up anyway. It’s not as if I’m still in office. Nobody cares what happens to me.”

“I care,” Lucy said angrily. “I don’t like this at all.”

They ordered dessert—sticky toffee pudding for Lucy and a simple sorbet selection for Alexia. No wonder she looks so thin, thought Lucy. She eats like a bird. And after a few minutes, they fell back into their usual friendly banter. Alexia paid the bill and the two women walked outside together to hail separate cabs.

“Is it strange,” Lucy asked, “being back in New York after so long in England?”

The city lights twinkled around them like the lights of a giant Christmas tree. Manhattan felt alive tonight. Both women sensed its pulse in the warm summer air, the throbbing heartbeat of a living, breathing city.

“You know the strangest part?” said Alexia. “And you’re the only person in the world I can say this to. But for the first time in forty years, I feel connected to Toni Gilletti. To the girl I used to be.”

Lucy said, “Is that right?”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon