The Tides of Memory by Sidney Sheldon

“The Vineyard was the same as it always is. Lovely. Peaceful.”

“And New York?”

Alexia looked up sharply. “How did you know I was in New York?”

“I think Angus mentioned something,” Teddy said nonchalantly. “I was surprised. You never mentioned it in your letters. I always thought you loathed the city.”

“I needed a change of scene,” lied Alexia. The last thing she wanted to discuss with Teddy was her research into Jennifer Hamlin’s murder. Since his confession about Billy, they hadn’t touched on the subject again. They couldn’t, not if the marriage was going to survive. But there was one question she needed to ask. Now, while she had the chance.

“Have you ever heard of a company called HM Capital?”

Teddy looked bemused. “What on earth makes you ask that?”

“It’s a long story,” bluffed Alexia. “Nothing important. I just wondered if the name rang any bells.”

“All right. Well, yes, it does, as a matter of fact. It’s one of Arnie Meyer’s shell companies. An investment vehicle. Based out of Cayman, if memory serves.”

Alexia felt a tingle of something—excitement, or maybe apprehension—hearing Teddy confirm what her own research suggested. When she first saw Arnie Meyer’s name on the list of company directors, she thought she must have made a mistake. But it soon emerged that Arnie was not only a director, but the founder and primary investor in HM Capital. The other names on the directors’ list were all professional trustees, lawyers, and accountants who provided the business with tax advice. HM Capital was Arnie Meyer. And it had systematically set out to destroy Billy Hamlin’s business.

“What does it invest in?”

“Emerging markets,” Teddy said confidently. “Former Soviet republics primarily. Oil and gas.”

“Nothing else?”

“Not that I know of.”

“They don’t invest in automotives, for example? In the U.S.”

“No.” Teddy frowned. “What’s all this about, darling?”

“Honestly, it’s nothing.” Alexia smiled reassuringly. “I was thinking of making an investment, that’s all. I wanted to get your thoughts.”

“I’ll give you my thoughts.” Teddy suddenly sounded furious. “Tell Arnie if he wants to try and get money out of this family, he can damn well come to me. How dare he prey on you like that, at such a vulnerable time? I knew he was having some liquidity problems, but I never realized things had got that bad.”

“Please calm down, darling. No one’s been pressuring me, least of all Arnie. I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

To Alexia’s relief, two prison guards came in at that moment and, very politely, asked her to leave. Taking her in his arms, Teddy forgot about Arnie Meyer.

“Thank you for coming to see me.”

“I’ll come as often as I can. Just as soon as they tell me where you are.” Alexia kissed him tenderly on the cheek.

“Look after Roxie,” Teddy called over his shoulder as he was led away.

“I’ll do my best.”

Alexia watched as the man who’d shared her life for forty years was led along the corridor, out of sight. A wave of emotion surged up within her, but she pushed it back down. There was nothing she could do for Teddy now. But she could still help bring Jennifer Hamlin’s killer to justice.

Arnie Meyer had a connection to Billy Hamlin. As bizarre as that sounded, it was true. Teddy had confirmed it. Arnie Meyer, Alexia’s neighbor and friend, had used his shell company, HM Capital, to deliberately wreck Billy’s business. According to Billy’s ex-wife, that more than anything was what had driven poor Billy over the edge.

Teddy clearly knew nothing about it. His bafflement earlier had been genuine and he’d bought Alexia’s investment excuse hook, line, and sinker.

But somebody must know.

I have to talk to Lucy.

Summer Meyer stared at Karen Davies’s computer monitor. She was so disappointed she could have wept.

“This is it? This is all you have?”

“That’s it,” said Karen. “She was in and out very quickly. No one you know, then?”

Summer might have known the woman on the screen. But it was utterly impossible to tell from this footage. Grainy, low resolution, and in black and white, it showed her only from behind and above. As she approached the front desk there was a split second when the camera captured a partial profile. But other than that, her face was hidden the entire time. For a moment Summer had thought there was something familiar about her—the way she walked, perhaps, or her body language as she leaned forward over the desk. But she quickly realized she was clutching at straws.

I want to see something so badly I’m making it up.

“Would it be all right if I took a copy of the footage home with me?”

She didn’t expect to glean much more from the images, but at least if she had them on her home PC, she could study them more closely.

The secretary glanced warily around her before ejecting the disc and pressing it into Summer’s hand.

“I don’t have a copy, only the original. Take it and bring it back to me when you’re finished with it. But for God’s sake, don’t lose it. David would have my guts for garters if he knew. He didn’t even want me to call you, you know. He was well ruffled after you came in the first time.”

“Was he?” said Summer, pocketing the disc. She wondered what Drake Motors’ manager felt he had to hide. “Well, thank you, Karen. And I promise to take care of it.”

“My pleasure.” The older woman winked. Summer Meyer’s little “investigation” was the most interesting thing that had happened to Karen Davies in a long time. “We girls have got to stick together, ’aven’t we?”

Later that night, Summer lay sprawled out on the couch in her rented flat in Bayswater, watching Karen Davies’s CCTV footage for the umpteenth time. The more she watched the slender gray figure move across Drake Motors’ shop floor, the more her feeling of familiarity grew. But there was nothing to connect it to. The woman’s clothes, a knee-length skirt and sweater, were dull and unremarkable. She wore a head scarf—no one Summer knew wore head scarves—but perhaps she’d been conscious of the cameras, and done this to help conceal her face? Certainly she could hardly have done a better job of making herself anonymous, short of a balaclava.

Putting the computer aside, Summer turned on the television, flipping the channels to BBC news. Teddy De Vere had been sentenced today. His fifteen-year-term was the evening’s top story. Even now, after so many months, Summer found it hard to believe that soft, kindly, cuddly Uncle Teddy could have killed a man, shot him in cold blood. She was amazed to see that Roxie had turned up at court—two weeks ago she’d been adamant about wanting nothing to do with either of her parents. The news footage showed her looking pretty and relaxed in a fitted black dress, leaving the High Court in her wheelchair at her mother’s side.

Summer smiled. If Alexia and Roxie reconciled, at least some good would come out of this sorry mess. She noticed that Alexia was wearing the cream Chanel jacket that Lucy had given her last year on her birthday. Summer remembered the day well. How resentful and furious she’d felt back then, watching her mom walk across the room with the Chanel shopping bag in her hand, yet another expensive present for a woman Summer had perceived then as coldhearted and self-centered in the extreme. That was before she knew the truth, of course. She remembered Alexia stretching out her arms to receive the bag, and how greedy and graceless Summer had thought her: a spoiled queen accepting a tribute from one of her groveling courtiers.

And then it hit her. So hard, she gasped out loud.

Oh my God, I know.

I know who it is.

Heart hammering, she picked up her laptop again, cursing the seconds it took the disc to reload. At last the grainy figure reappeared. There could be no mistaking it now. There she was.

Michael’s lover.

The woman who had bought him the bike.

The woman who had destroyed his life, and Summer’s.

For a split second Summer felt a rush of satisfaction. She’d solved the puzzle. She’d won. She knew. But the truth was so unspeakable, so unnatural, so wrong, her feeling of achievement soon turned to revulsion. Dropping her head into her hands, Summer Meyer started to sob.

Once she started, she couldn’t stop.

Alexia flew back to America two days after Teddy’s hearing. The flight was in the early morning, and there were no photographers at Heathrow to see her go, only her daughter, Roxie.

“I’ll be back soon, darling,” Alexia promised. “There are a couple of things I need to talk through with Lucy. But it won’t take long. Then you and I can work out a plan for the future.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon