TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book.

Author Unknown

Tác giả: Sidney Sheldon
Thể loại: Tiểu Thuyết
Biên tập: Bach Ly Bang
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Language: English
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Cập nhật: 2015-09-04 21:01:18 +0700
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Chapter 31
In a private office off the Rue Matignon, Gunther Hartog said, "I understand how you feel about what happened in Madrid, Tracy, but Jeff Stevens got there first."
"No," Tracy corrected him bitterly. "I got there first. He got there last."
"But Jeff delivered it. The Puerto is already on its way to my client."
After all her planning and scheming, Jeff Stevens had outwitted her. He had sat back and let her do the work and take all the risks, and at the last moment he had calmly walked off with the prize. How he must have been laughing at her all the time! You're a very special lady, Tracy. She could not bear the waves of humiliation that washed over her when she thought of the night of the flamenco dancing. My God, what a fool I almost made of myself.
o O o
"I never thought I could kill anyone," Tracy told Gunther, "but I could happily slaughter Jeff Stevens."
Gunther said mildly, "Oh, dear. Not in this room, I hope. He's on his way here."
"He's what?" Tracy jumped to her feet.
"I told you I have a proposition for you. It will require a partner. In my opinion, he is the only one who---"
"I'd rather starve first!" Tracy snapped. "Jeff Stevens is the most contemptible---"
"Ah, did I hear my name mentioned?" He stood in the doorway, beaming. "Tracy, darling, you look even more stunning than usual. Gunther, my friend, how are you?"
The two men shook hands. Tracy stood there, filled with a cold fury.
Jeff looked at her and sighed. "You're probably upset with me."
"Upset! I--- " She could not find the words.
"Tracy, if I may say so, I thought your plan was brilliant. I mean it. Really brilliant. You made only one little mistake. Never trust a Swiss with a missing index finger."
She took deep breaths, trying to control herself. She turned to Gunther. "I'll talk to you later, Gunther."
"No. Whatever it is, I want no part of it. Not if he's involved."
Gunther said, "Would you at least listen to it?"
"There's no point. I---"
"In three days De Beers is shipping a four-million-dollar packet of diamonds from Paris to Amsterdam on an Air France cargo plane. I have a client who's eager to acquire those stones."
"Why don't you hijack them on the way to the airport? Your friend here is an expert on hijacking." She could not keep the bitterness from her voice.
By God, she's magnificent when she's angry, Jeff thought.
Gunther said, "The diamonds are too well guarded. We're going to hijack the diamonds during the flight."
Tracy looked at him in surprise. "During the flight? In a cargo plane?"
"We need someone small enough to hide inside one of the containers. When the plane is in the air, all that person has to do is step out of the crate, open the De Beers container, remove the package of diamonds, replace the package with a duplicate, which will have been prepared, and get back in the other crate."
"And I'm small enough to fit in a crate."
Gunther said, "It's much more than that, Tracy. We need someone who's bright and has nerve."
Tracy stood there, thinking. "I tike the plan, Gunther. What I don't like is the idea of working with him. This person is a crook."
Jeff grinned. "Aren't we all, dear heart? Gunther is offering us a million dollars if we can pull this off."
Tracy stared at Gunther. "A million dollars?"
He nodded. "Half a million for each of you."
"The reason it can work," Jeff explained, "is that I have a contact at the loading dock at the airport. He'll help us set it up. He can be trusted."
"Unlike you," Tracy retorted. "Good-bye, Gunther."
She sailed out of the room.
Gunther looked after her. "She's really upset with you about Madrid, Jeff. I'm afraid she's not going to do this."
"You're wrong," Jeff said cheerfully. "I know Tracy. She won't be able to resist it."
o O o
"The pallets are sealed before they are loaded onto the plane," Ramon Vauban was explaining. The speaker was a young Frenchman, with an old face that had nothing to do with his years and black, dead eyes. He was a dispatcher with Air France Cargo, and the key to the success of the plan.
Vauban, Tracy, Jeff, and Gunther were seated at a rail-side table on the Bateau Mouche, the sightseeing boat that cruises the Seine, circling Paris.
"If the pallet is sealed," Tracy asked, her voice crisp, "how do I get into it?"
"For last-minute shipments," Vauban replied, "the company uses what we call soft pallets, large wooden crates with canvas on one side, fastened down only with rope. For security reasons, valuable cargo like diamonds always arrives at the last minute so it is the last to go on and the first to come off."
Tracy said, "So the diamonds would be in a soft pallet?"
"That is correct, mademoiselle. As would you. I would arrange for the container with you in it to be placed next to the pallet with the diamonds. All you have to do when the plane is in flight is cut the ropes, open the pallet with the diamonds, exchange a box identical to theirs, get back in your container, and close it up again."
Gunther added, "When the plane lands in Amsterdam, the guards will pick up the substitute box of diamonds and deliver it to the diamond cutters. By the time they discover the substitution, we'll have you on an airplane out of the country. Believe me, nothing can go wrong."
A sentence that chilled Tracy's heart. "Wouldn't I freeze to death up there?" she asked.
Vauban smiled. "Mademoiselle, these days, cargo planes are heated. They often carry livestock and pets. No, you will be quite comfortable. A little cramped, perhaps, but otherwise fine."
Tracy had finally agreed to listen to their idea. A half million dollars for a few hours' discomfort. She had examined the scheme from every angle. It can work, Tracy thought. If only Jeff Stevens were not involved!
Her feelings about him were such a roiling mixture of emotions that she was confused and angry with herself. He had done what he did in Madrid for the fun of outwitting her. He had betrayed her, cheated her, and now he was secretly laughing at her.
The three men were watching her, waiting for her answer. The boat was passing under the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, which the contrary French insisted on calling the New Bridge. Across the river, two lovers embraced on the edge of the embankment, and Tracy could see the blissful look on the face of the girl. She's a fool, Tracy thought. She made her decision. She looked straight into Jeff's eyes as she said, "All right. I'll go along with it," and she could feel the tension at the table dissipate.
"We don't have much time," Vauban was saying. His dead eyes turned to Tracy. "My brother works for a shipping agent, and he will let us load the soft container with you in it at his warehouse. I hope mademoiselle does not have claustrophobia."
"Don't worry about me.... How long will the trip take?"
"You will spend a few minutes in the loading area and one hour flying to Amsterdam."
"How large is the container?"
"Large enough for you to sit down. There will be other things in it to conceal you--- just in case."
Nothing can go wrong, they had promised. But just in case....
"I have a list of the things you'll need," Jeff told her. "I've already arranged for them."
The smug bastard. He had been so sure she would say yes.
"Vauban, here, will see to it that your passport has the proper exit and entrance stamps, so you can leave Holland without any problem."
The boat began docking at its quay.
"We can go over the final plans in the morning," Ramon Vauban said. "Now I have to get back to work. Au revoir." he left.
Jeff asked, "Why don't we all have dinner together to celebrate?"
"I'm sorry," Gunther apologized, "but I have a previous engagement."
Jeff turned to Tracy. "Would---"
"No, thanks. I'm tired," she said quickly.
It was an excuse to avoid being with Jeff, but even as Tracy said it, she realized she really was exhausted. It was probably the strain of the excitement she had been going through for so long. She was feeling lightheaded. When this is over, she promised herself, I'm going back to London for a long rest. Her head was beginning to throb. I really must.
"I brought you a little present," Jeff told her. He handed her a gaily wrapped box. In it was an exquisite silk scarf with the initials TW stitched in one corner.
"Thank you." He can afford it, Tracy thought angrily. He bought it with my half million dollars.
"Sure you won't change your mind about dinner?"
"I'm positive."
o O o
In Paris, Tracy stayed at the classic Plaza Athénée, in a lovely old suite that overlooked the garden restaurant. There was an elegant restaurant inside the hotel, with soft piano music, but on this evening Tracy was too tired to change into a more formal dress. She went into the Relais, the hotel's small café, and ordered a bowl of soup. She pushed the plate away, half-finished, and left for her suite.
Daniel Cooper, seated at the other end of the room, noted the time.
o O o
Daniel Cooper had a problem. Upon his return to Paris, he had asked for a meeting with Inspector Trignant. The head of Interpol had been less than cordial. He had just spent an hour on the telephone listening to Commandant Ramiro's complaints about the American.
"He is loco!" the commandant had exploded. "I wasted men and money and time following this Tracy Whitney, who he insisted was going to rob the Prado, and she turned out to be a harmless tourist just as I said she was."
The conversation had led Inspector Trignant to believe that Daniel Cooper could have been wrong about Tracy in the first place. There was not one shred of evidence against the woman. The fact that she had been in various cities at the times the crimes were committed was not evidence.
And so, when Daniel Cooper had gone to see the inspector and said, "Tracy Whitney is in Paris. I would like her placed on twenty-four-hour surveillance," the inspector had replied, "Unless you can present me with some proof that this woman is planning to commit a specific crime, there is nothing I can do."
Cooper had fixed him with his blazing brown eyes and said, "You're a fool," and had found himself being unceremoniously ushered out of the office.
That was when Cooper had begun his one-man surveillance. He trailed Tracy everywhere: to shops and restaurants, through the streets of Paris. He went without sleep and often without food. Daniel Cooper could not permit Tracy Whitney to defeat him. His assignment would not be finished until he had put her in prison.
o O o
Tracy lay in bed that night, reviewing the next day's plan. She wished her head felt better. She had taken aspirin, but the throbbing was worse. She was perspiring, and the room seemed unbearably hot. Tomorrow it will be over. Switzerland. That's where I'll go. To the cool mountains of Switzerland. To the château.
She set the alarm for 5:00 A.M., and when the bell rang she was in her prison cell and Old Iron Pants was yelling, "Time to get dressed. Move it," and the corridor echoed with the clanging of the bell. Tracy awakened. Her chest felt tight, and the light hurt her eyes. She forced herself into the bathroom. Her face looked blotchy and flushed in the mirror. I can't get sick now, Tracy thought. Not today. There's too much to do.
She dressed slowly, trying to ignore the throbbing in her head. She put on black overalls with deep pockets, rubber-soled shoes, and a Basque beret. Her heart seemed to beat erratically, but she was not sure whether it was from excitement or the malaise that gripped her. She was dizzy and weak. Her throat felt sore and scratchy. bn her table she saw the scarf Jeff had given her. She picked it up and wrapped it around her neck.
o O o
The main entrance to the Hôtel Plaza Athénée is on Avenue Montaigne, but the service entrance is on Rue du Boccador, around the corner. A discreet sign reads ENTREE DE SERVICE, and the passageway goes from a back hallway of the lobby through a narrow corridor lined with garbage cans leading to the street. Daniel Cooper, who had taken up an observation post near the main entrance, did not see Tracy leave through the service door, but inexplicably, the moment she was gone, he sensed it. He hurried out to the avenue and looked up and down the street. Tracy was nowhere in sight.
The gray Renault that picked up Tracy at the side entrance to the hotel headed for the Étoile. There was little traffic at that hour, and the driver, a pimply-faced youth who apparently spoke no English, raced into one of the twelve avenues that form the spokes of the Étoile. I wish he would slow down, Tracy thought. The motion was making her carsick.
Thirty minutes later the car slammed to a stop in front of a warehouse. The sign over the door read BRUCERE ET CIE. Tracy remembered that this was where Ramon Vauban's brother worked.
The youth opened the car door and murmured, "Vite!"
A middle-aged man with a quick, furtive manner appeared as Tracy stepped out of the car. "Follow me," he said. "Hurry."
Tracy stumbled after him to the back of the warehouse, where there were half a dozen containers, most of them filled and sealed, ready to be taken to the airport. There was one soft container with a canvas side, half-filled with furniture.
"Get in. Quick! We have no time."
Tracy felt faint. She looked at the box and thought, I can't get in there. I'll die.
The man was looking at her strangely. "Avez-vous mal?"
Now was the time to back out, to put a stop to this. "I'm all right," Tracy mumbled. It would be over soon. In a few hours she would be on her way to Switzerland.
"Bon. Take this." He handed her a double-edged knife, a long coil of heavy rope, a flashlight, and a small blue jewel box with a red ribbon around it.
"This is the duplicate of the jewel box you will exchange."
Tracy took a deep breath, stepped into the container, and sat down. Seconds later a large piece of canvas dropped down over the opening. She could hear ropes being tied around the canvas to hold it in place.
She barely heard his voice through the canvas. "From now on, no talking, no moving, no smoking."
"I don't smoke," Tracy tried to say, but she did not have the energy.
"Bonne chance. I've cut some holes in the side of the box so you can breathe. Don't forget to breathe." He laughed at his joke, and she heard his footsteps fading away. She was alone in the dark.
The box was narrow and cramped, and a set of dining-room chairs took up most of the space. Tracy felt as though she were on fire. Her skin was hot to the touch, and she had difficulty breathing. I've caught some kind of virus, she thought, but it's going to have to wait. l have work to do. Think about something else.
Gunther's voice: You've nothing to worry about, Tracy. When they unload the cargo in Amsterdam, your pallet will be taken to a private garage near the airport. Jeff will meet you there. Give him the jewels.and return to the airport. There will be a plane ticket for Geneva waiting for you at the Swissair counter. Get out of Amsterdam as fast as you can. As soon as the police learn of the robbery, they'll close up the city tight. Nothing wilt go wrong, but just in case, here is the address and the key to a safe house in Amsterdam. It is unoccupied.
She must have dozed, for she awakened with a start as the container as jerked into the air. Tracy felt herself swinging through space, and she clung to the sides for support. The container settled down on something hard. There was a slam of a car door, an engine roared into life, and a moment later the truck was moving.
They were on their way to the airport.
The scheme had been worked out on a split-second schedule. The container with Tracy inside was due to reach the cargo shipping area within a few minutes of the time the De Beers pallet was to arrive. The driver of the truck carrying Tracy had his instructions: Keep it at a steady fifty miles an hour.
Traffic on the road to the airport seemed heavier than usual that morning, but the driver was not worried. The pallet would make the plane in time, and he would be in possession of a bonus of 50,000 francs, enough to take his wife and two children on a vacation. America, he thought. We'll go to Disney World.
He looked at the dashboard clock and grinned to himself. No problem. The airport was only three miles away, and he had ten minutes to get there.
Exactly on schedule, he reached the turnoff for Air France Cargo headquarters at the Fertnord sign and drove past the low gray building at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, away from the passenger entrance, where barbed-wire fences separated the roadway from the cargo area. As he headed toward the enclosure holding the enormous warehouse, which occupied three blocks and was filled with boxes and packages and containers piled on doilies, there was a sudden explosive sound as the wheel jerked in his hand and the truck began to vibrate. Foutre! he thought. A fucking blowout.
o O o
The giant 747 Air France cargo plane was in the process of being loaded. The nose had been raised, revealing rows of tracks. The cargo containers were on a platform level with the opening, ready to slide across a bridge into the hold of the plane. There were thirty-eight pallets, twenty-eight of them on the main deck and ten of them in the belly holds. On the ceiling an exposed heating pipe ran from one end of the huge cabin to the other, and the wires and cables that controlled the transport were visible on the ceiling. There were no frills on this plane.
The loading had almost been completed. Ramon Vauban looked at his watch again and cursed. The truck was late. The De Beers consignment had already been loaded into its pallet, and the canvas sides fastened down with a crisscross of ropes. Vauban had daubed the side of it with red paint so the woman would have no trouble identifying it. He watched now as the pallet moved along the tracks into the plane and was locked into place. There was room next to it for one more pallet, before the plane took off. There were three more containers on the dock waiting to be loaded. Where in God's name was the woman?
The loadmaster inside the plane called, "Let's go, Ramon. What's holding us up?"
"A minute," Vauban answered. He hurried toward the entrance to the loading area. No sign of the truck.
"Vauban! What's the problem?" He turned. A senior supervisor was approaching. "Finish loading and get this cargo in the air."
"Yes, sir. I was just waiting for---"
At that moment the truck from Brucère et Cie raced into the warehouse and came to a screaming halt in front of Vauban.
"Here's the last of the cargo," Vauban announced.
"Well, get it aboard," the supervisor snapped.
Vauban supervised the unloading of the container from the truck and sent it onto the bridge leading to the plane.
He waved to the loadmaster. "It's all yours."
Moments later the cargo was aboard, and the nose of the plane was lowered into place. Vauban watched as the jets were fired up and the giant plane started rolling toward the runway, and he thought, Now it's up to the woman.
o O o
There was a fierce storm. A giant wave had struck the ship and it was sinking. I'm drowning, Tracy thought. I've got to get out of here.
She flung out her arms and hit something. It was the side of a lifeboat, rocking and swaying. She tried to stand up and cracked her head on the leg of a table. In a moment of clarity she remembered where she was. Her face and hair dripped with perspiration. She felt giddy, and her body was burning up. How long had she been unconscious? It was only an hour's flight. Was the plane about to land? No, she thought. It's all right. I'm having a nightmare. I'm in my bed in London, asleep. I'll call for a doctor. She could not breathe. She struggled upward to reach for a telephone, then immediately sank down, her body leaden. The plane hit a pocket of turbulence, and Tracy was thrown against the side of the box. She lay there, dazed, desperately trying to concentrate. How much time do I have? She wavered between a hellish dream and painful reality. The diamonds. Somehow she had to get the diamonds. But first... first, she had to cut herself out of the pallet.
She touched the knife in her coveralls and found that it was at terrible effort to lift it. Not enough air, Tracy thought. l must have air. She reached around the edge of the canvas, fumbled for one of the outside ropes, found it, and cut it. It seemed to take an eternity. The canvas opened wider. She cut another rope, and there was room enough to slip outside of the container into the belly of the cargo plane. The air outside the box was cold. She was freezing. Her whole body began to shake, and the constant jolting of the plane increased her nausea. I've got to hold on, Tracy thought. She forced herself to concentrate. What am I doing here? Something important... Yes... Diamonds.
Tracy's vision was blurred, and everything was moving in and out of focus. I'm not going to make it.
The plane dipped suddenly, and Tracy was hurled to the floor, scraping her hands on the sharp metal tracks. She held on while the plane bucked, and when it had settled down, she forced herself to her feet again. The roaring of the jet engines was mixed with the roaring in her head. The diamonds. I must find the diamonds.
She stumbled among the containers, squinting at each one, looking for the red paint. Thank God! There it was, on the third container. She stood there, trying to remember what to do next. It was such an effort to concentrate. If I could just lie down and sleep for a few minutes, I'd be fine. All I need is some sleep. But there was no time. They could be landing in Amsterdam at any moment. Tracy took the knife and slashed at the ropes of the container. "One good cut will do it," they had told her.
She barely had the strength to hold the knife in her grasp. l can't fail now, Tracy thought. She began shivering again, and shook so hard that she dropped the knife. It's not going to work. They're going to catch me and put me back in prison.
She hesitated indecisively, clinging to the rope, wanting desperately to crawl back into her box where she could sleep, safely hidden until it was all over. It would be so easy. Then, slowly, moving carefully against the fierce pounding in her head, Tracy reached for the knife and picked it up. She began to slash at the heavy rope.
It finally gave way. Tracy pulled back the canvas and stared into the gloomy interior of the container. She could see nothing. She pulled out the flashlight and, at that moment, she felt a sudden change of pressure in her ears.
The plane was coming down for a landing.
Tracy thought, I've got to hurry. But her body refused to respond. She stood there, dazed. Move, her mind said.
She shone the flashlight into the interior of the box. It was crammed with packages and envelopes and small cases, and on top of a crate were two little blue boxes with red ribbons around them. Two of them! There was only supposed to be--- She blinked, and the two boxes merged into one. Everything seemed to have 'a bright aura around it.
She reached for the box and took the duplicate out of her pocket. Holding the two of them in her hand, an overwhelming nausea swept over her, racking her body. She squeezed her eyes together, fighting against it. She started to place the substitute box on top of the case and suddenly realized that she was no longer sure which box was which. She stared at the two identical boxes. Was it the one in her left hand or her right hand?
The plane began a steeper angle of descent. It would touch down at any moment. She had to make a decision. She set down one of the boxes, prayed that it was the right one, and moved away from the container. She fumbled an uncut coil of rope out of her coveralls. There's something I must do with the rope. The roaring in her head made it impossible to think. She remembered: After you cut the rope, put it in your pocket, replace it with the new rope. Don't leave anything around that wilt make them suspicious.
It had sounded so easy then, sitting in the warm sun on the deck of the Bateau Mouche. Now it was impossible. She had no more strength left. The guards would find the cut rope and the cargo would be searched, and she would be caught. Something deep inside her screamed, No! No! No!
With a herculean effort, Tracy began to wind the uncut rope around the container. She felt a jolt beneath her feet as the plane touched the ground, and then another, and she was slammed backward as the jets were thrust into reverse. Her head smashed against the floor and she blacked out.
The 747 was picking up speed now, taxiing along the runway toward the terminal. Tracy lay crumpled on the floor of the plane with her hair fanning over her white, white face. It was the silence of the engines that brought her back to consciousness. The plane had stopped. She propped herself up on an elbow and slowly forced herself to her knees. She stood up, reeling, hanging on to the container to keep from falling. The new rope was in place. She clasped the jewel box to her chest and began to weave her way back to her pallet. She pushed her body through the canvas opening and flopped down, panting, her body beaded with perspiration. I've done it. But there was something more she had to do. Something important. What? Tape up the rope on your pallet.
She reached into the pocket of her coveralls for the roll of masking tape. It was gone. Her breath was coming in shallow, ragged gasps, and the sound deafened her. She thought she heard voices and forced herself to stop breathing and listen. Yes. There they were again. Someone laughed. Any second now the cargo door would open, and the men would begin unloading. They would see the cut rope, look inside the pallet, and discover her. She had to find a way to hold the rope together. She got to her knees, and as she did she felt the hard roll of masking tape, which had fallen from her pocket sometime during the turbulence of the flight. She lifted the canvas and fumbled around to find the two ends of cut rope, and held them together while she clumsily tried to wrap the tape around them.
She could not see. The perspiration pouring down her face was blinding her. She pulled the scarf from her throat and wiped her face. Better. She finished taping the rope and dropped the canvas back in place; there was nothing to do now but wait. She felt her forehead again, and it seemed hotter than before.
l must get out of the sun, Tracy thought. Tropical suns can be dangerous.
She was on holiday somewhere in the Caribbean. Jeff had come here to bring her some diamonds, but he had jumped into the sea and disappeared. She reached out to save him, but he slipped from her grasp. The water was over her head. She was choking, drowning.
She heard the sound of workmen entering the plane.
"Help!" she screamed. "Please help me."
But her scream was a whisper, and no one heard.
The giant containers began rolling out of the plane.
Tracy was unconscious when they loaded her container onto a Brucère et Cie truck. Left behind, on the floor of the cargo plane, was the scarf Jeff had given her.
o O o
Tracy was awakened by the slash of light hitting the inside of the truck as someone raised the canvas. Slowly, she opened her eyes. The truck was in a warehouse.
Jeff was standing there, grinning at her. "You made it!" he said. "You're a marvel. Let's have the box."
She watched, dully, as he picked up the box from her side. "See you in Lisbon." He turned to leave, then stopped and looked down at her. "You look terrible, Tracy. You all right?"
She could hardly speak. "Jeff, I---"
But he was gone.
Tracy had only the haziest recollection of what happened next. There was a change of clothes for her in back of the warehouse, and some woman said, "You look ill, mademoiselle. Do you wish me to call a doctor?"
"No doctors," Tracy whispered.
There will be a plane ticket for Geneva waiting for you at the Swissair counter. Get out of Amsterdam as fast as you can. As soon as the police learn of the robbery, they'll close up the city tight. Nothing will go wrong, but just in case, here is the address and the key to a safe house in Amsterdam. It is unoccupied.
The airport. She had to get to the airport. "Taxi," she mumbled. "Taxi."
The woman hesitated a moment, then shrugged. "All right. I will call one. Wait here."
She was floating higher and higher now, ever closer to the sun.
"Your taxi is here," a man was saying.
She wished people would stop bothering her. She wanted only to sleep.
The driver said, "Where do you wish to go, mademoiselle?"
There will be a plane ticket for Geneva waiting for you at the Swissair counter.
She was too ill to board a plane. They would stop her, summon a doctor. She would be questioned. All she needed was to sleep for a few minutes, then she would be fine.
The voice was getting impatient. "Where to, please?"
She had no place to go. She gave the taxi driver the address of the safe house.
o O o
The police were cross-examining her about the diamonds, and when she refused to answer them, they became very angry and put her in a room by herself and turned up the heat until the room was boiling hot. When it became unbearable, they dropped the temperature down, until icicles began to form on the walls.
Tracy pushed her way up through the cold and opened her eyes. She was on a bed, shivering uncontrollably. There was a blanket beneath her, but she did not have the strength to get under it. Her dress was soaked through, and her face and neck were wet.
I'm going to die here. Where was here?
The safe house. I'm in the safe house. And the phrase struck her as so funny that she started to laugh, and the laughter turned into a paroxysm of coughing. It had all gone wrong. She had not gotten away after all. By now the police would be combing Amsterdam for her: Mademoiselle Whitney had a ticket on Swissair and did not use it? Then she still must be in Amsterdam.
She wondered how long she had been in this bed. She lifted her wrist to look at her watch, but the numbers were blurred. She was seeing everything double. There were two beds in the small room and two dressers and four chairs. The shivering stopped, and her body was burning up. She needed to open a window, but she was too weak to move. The room was freezing again.
She was back on the airplane, locked in the crate, screaming for help.
You've made it! You're a marvel. Let's have the box.
Jeff had taken the diamonds, and he was probably on his way to Brazil with her share of the money. He would be enjoying himself with one of his women, laughing at her. He had beaten her once more. She hated him. No. She didn't. Yes, she did. She despised him.
She was in and out of delirium. The hard pelota ball was hurtling toward her, and Jeff grabbed her in his arms and pushed her to the ground, and his lips were very close to hers, and then they were having dinner at Zalacaín. Do you know how special you are, Tracy?
I offer you a draw, Boris Melnikov said.
Her body was trembling again, out of control, and she was on an express train whirling through a dark tunnel, and at the end of the tunnel she knew she was going to die. All the other passengers had gotten off except Alberto Fornati. He was angry with her, shaking her and screaming at her.
"For Christ's sake!" he yelled. "Open your eyes! Look at me!"
With a superhuman effort, Tracy opened her eyes, and Jeff was standing over her. His face was white, and there was fury in his voice. Of course, it was all a part of her dream.
"How long have you been like this?"
"You're in Brazil," Tracy mumbled.
After that, she remembered nothing more.
o O o
When Inspector Trignant was given the scarf with the initials TW on it, found on the floor of the Air France cargo plane, he stared at it for a long time.
Then he said, "Get me Daniel Cooper."
If Tomorrow Comes If Tomorrow Comes - Sidney Sheldon If Tomorrow Comes