Sidney Sheldon's Chasing Tomorrow(8)

By: Sidney Sheldon&Tilly Bagshawe



“Sir, this apartment is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Miguel Rodriguez. The Rodriguezes have lived here for more than twenty years. I can assure you, there is no ‘Valentina’ at this address.”

Maximilian Pierpont opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again, like a toad gaping uselessly at a fly.

There is no Valentina at this address.

There is no Valentina . . .

Racing back to his car, he called his accountant. “The money we wired on Tuesday, to that Swiss account? Make some calls. Find out who opened the account and where the funds are now.”

“Mr. Pierpont, no Swiss bank is going to reveal that sort of information. It’s proprietary, and—”

“DO IT!”

A vein began to throb in Maximilian Pierpont’s temple. It was still throbbing forty minutes later when the accountant called back.

“I don’t have a name, sir. I’m sorry. But I can tell you the account was closed down yesterday and all funds were withdrawn. That money is gone.”

GUNTHER HARTOG DROVE THE wedding car, a vintage 1957 Daimler Conquest, with Tracy and Jeff cuddled up in the back.

“So, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens. Where to?”

“The Marina da Glória,” said Tracy. “We have a small yacht waiting there to take us to Barra da Tijuca. I packed us some clothes,” she added to Jeff.

Jeff squeezed his wife’s thigh. “I can’t think why. You won’t be needing any for the next week at least.”

Tracy giggled. “Tomorrow morning we’re on a private plane to São Paulo, then on to Tunisia for the honeymoon. It’s too dangerous to fly direct from Rio. Pierpont or his goons might be waiting at the airport.”

Jeff looked at her lovingly. “You’ve thought of everything, haven’t you, darling?”

“I try.”

Tracy leaned into him. She tried to remember if she had ever felt quite this happy before but nothing came to mind. I’m Mrs. Stevens. Mrs. Jeff Stevens! she told herself, over and over. The scam she’d run on Pierpont had gone perfectly. Now she and Jeff really would go straight and leave this crazy life behind them. Jeff could follow his dream of becoming an archaeologist, something he’d always been passionate about. And Tracy could fulfill her dreams too.

A baby. A baby of my own. Mine and Jeff’s.

They would settle down to a normal, domestic life together and live happily ever after.

Tracy closed her eyes and imagined it.

“I must say, I was pleased you went for such a traditional wedding,” observed Gunther, from the driver’s seat. “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.”

“We did?” Tracy and Jeff exchanged puzzled glances.

“Why yes.” Gunther smiled. “Tracy used the ‘barred winner’ scam on Pierpont. Where she had the winning ticket—in this case the land ripe for development—but couldn’t claim the prize herself. That’s as old as the hills.”

Jeff grinned. “Okay, I get it. So go on, then, Gunther. What was new?”

“The money!” Tracy laughed.

“Quite so. The money is new. New to you, at least,” said Gunther.

“Tracy’s identity was borrowed,” said Jeff. “I’m getting good at this game. But what’s blue?”

Gunther Hartog arched an elegant eyebrow. “I imagine,” he said, “that Mr. Maximilian Pierpont is blue. At this precise moment, in fact, I should say that our old friend Mr. Pierpont is feeling very blue indeed.”





CHAPTER 2



LONDON, ENGLAND

ONE YEAR LATER



TRACY TORE OPEN THE plastic wrapper of the pregnancy test and sat down on the toilet.

She was in the downstairs bathroom at 45 Eaton Square, the beautiful Georgian house she’d bought with the proceeds from her first two jewel heists in the early days of her career. Gunther Hartog had helped her pick out the house and decorate it, and Gunther’s impeccable, if slightly masculine, taste was still in evidence everywhere. The red damask wallpaper and eighteenth-century gilt mirror in the bathroom made the tiny room feel like a luxurious boudoir. It reminded her of a time gone by. Before Jeff. Before marriage. Before trying, and failing, to have a baby had become the sole obsession of her life.

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