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Authors: Douglas Kennedy

The Heat of Betrayal

BOOK: The Heat of Betrayal
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About the Book

About the Author

Also by Douglas Kennedy

Title Page



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight


About the Book

Robin knew Paul wasn't perfect. But he said they were so lucky to have found each other, and she believed it was true.

In the heady strangeness of Morocco, he is everything she wants him to be – passionate, talented, knowledgeable. She is convinced that it is here she will finally become pregnant.

But when Paul suddenly disappears, and Robin finds herself the prime suspect in the police inquiry, everything changes.

As her understanding of the truth starts to unravel, Robin lurches from the crumbling art deco of Casablanca to the daunting Sahara, caught in an increasingly terrifying spiral from which there is no easy escape.

With his acclaimed ability to write page-turners that also make you think, Douglas Kennedy takes the reader on a roller-coaster journey into a heart of darkness that asks the question: what would you do if your life depended on it?

About the Author

Douglas Kennedy's previous novels include the critically acclaimed bestsellers
The Big Picture
The Pursuit of Happiness
A Special Relationship
The Moment
. He is also the author of three highly-praised travel books.
The Big Picture
was filmed with Romain Duris and Catherine Deneuve;
The Woman in the Fifth
with Ethan Hawke and Kristen Scott Thomas. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages. In 2007 he was awarded the French decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2009 the inaugural Grand Prix du Figaro. Born in Manhattan in 1955, he has two children and currently divides his time between London, Paris, Berlin, Maine and New York.



The Dead Heart

The Big Picture

The Job

The Pursuit of Happiness

A Special Relationship

State of the Union


The Woman in the Fifth

Leaving the World

The Moment

Five Days


Beyond the Pyramids

In God's Country

Chasing Mammon

The Heat of Betrayal
Douglas Kennedy

Again for Christine

Run up the sail, my heartsick comrades;

Let each horizon tilt and lurch—

You know the worst: your wills are fickle,

Your values blurred, your hearts impure

And your past life a ruined church—

But let your poison be your cure.

from Louis MacNeice, ‘Thalassa'


I didn't know where I was any more.

The sky outside: was it a curved rotunda of emerging blue? The world was still blurred at its edges. I tried to piece together my whereabouts, the exact geographic location within which I found myself. A sliver of emerging clarity. Or maybe just a few basic facts.

Such as:

I was on a plane. A plane that had just flown all night across the Atlantic. A plane bound for a corner of North Africa, a country which, when viewed cartographically, looks like a skullcap abreast a continent. According to the Flight Progress Monitor illuminating the back-of-the-seat screen facing me, we were still seventy-three minutes and eight hundred and forty-two kilometres (I was flying into a metric world) from our destination. This journey hadn't been my idea. Rather I'd allowed myself to be romanced into it by the man whose oversize (as in six-foot-four) frame was scrunched into the tiny seat next to mine. The middle seat in this horror movie of an aircraft. No legroom, no wiggle room, every seat taken, at least six screaming babies, a husband and wife fighting in hissed Arabic, bad ventilation, bad air conditioning, a one-hour wait for the bathroom after the plastic meal they served us, the rising aroma of collective night sweats hanging over this hellhole of a cabin. Thank God I made Paul pack his Zopiclone. Those pills really do induce sleep in even the most impossible conditions. I put aside all my concerns about pharmaceuticals and asked him for one, and it gave me three hours' respite from this high-altitude sweat-box confinement.

Paul. My husband. It's a new marriage – just three years old. Truth be told, we love each other. We are passionate about each other. We often tell ourselves that we are beyond fortunate to have found each other. And I do truly believe that. He is the right man for me. Just as, the day before we legalised our relationship and committed to each other for the rest of our lives, I was silently convincing myself that I could change some of Paul's worrying inclinations; that, in time, things would tick upwards, stabilise. Especially as we are now trying to become parents.

Out of nowhere, Paul suddenly began to mumble something in his sleep, its incoherency growing in volume. When his agitation reached a level that woke our neighbour – an elderly man sleeping in grey-tinted glasses – I touched Paul's arm, trying to rouse him out of his nightmare. It was several more unnerving moments of shouting before he snapped awake, looking at me as if he had no idea who I was.

‘What . . . where . . . I don't . . .?'

His wide-eyed bemusement was suddenly replaced by the look of a bewildered little boy.

‘Am I lost?' he asked.

‘Hardly,' I said, taking his hand. ‘You just had a bad dream.'

‘Where are we?'

‘Up in the air.'

‘And where are we going?'


He appeared surprised at this news.

‘And why are we doing that, Robin?'

I kissed him on the lips. And posed the question:



up in the music of chance. A random encounter, a choice impulsively made . . . and fate suddenly has its own interesting momentum.

It was fate that had brought us to Casablanca.

The ‘fasten seat belts' sign had now been illuminated. All tray tables stored away. All seats upright. The change in cabin pressure was wreaking havoc with the eardrums of all the babies around us. Two of the mothers – their faces veiled – tried to calm their children down without success. One of the babies was staring wide-eyed at the cloaked face in front of him, his anguish growing. Imagine not being able to see your mother's face in public. She is visible at home, but in the world beyond, all that can be seen is a slitted hint of eyes and lips: to an infant jolted awake by a change in cabin pressure, it would be even more reason to cry.

‘Little charmers,' Paul whispered, rolling his eyes.

I entwined my hand with his, saying:

‘We'll be down on the ground in just a few minutes.'

How I so want one of our very own ‘little charmers' sitting next to us.

Paul suddenly put his arm around me and said:

‘Am I still your love?'

I clutched his hand more tightly, knowing just how much reassurance he craves.

‘Of course you are.'

The moment he walked into my office three years ago I knew it was love. What do the French call it? A
coup de foudre
. The overwhelming, instantaneous sense that you have met the love of your life; the one person who will change your entire trajectory because you know . . .

What exactly?

Was it really love that made me swoon? I certainly thought so at the time.

Let me restate that. Honestly.

I fell in love with Paul Leuen straight away. As he told me later, much to his surprise he too felt ‘a profound change in my
raison d'être
' after walking into my office.

That phrase is so Paul. He loves to ornament his language – something I still find endearing when he doesn't overplay his hand. It serves as an intriguing counterbalance to the spare, hugely controlled line drawings that once made his name as an artist; a talent which, though he's recently been thwarted by self-doubt, still remains astonishing to me.

So Paul also fell in love on the spot – with the woman he'd been sent to in order to sort out his messy financial affairs.

That's right, I'm an accountant. A numbers cruncher. The person you call as a barrier between yourself and our friends at the Internal Revenue Service.

Accountants are usually grouped with dentists as purveyors of a profession that they privately loathe. But I happen to know quite a few other certified public accountants, and most of them – from the grey bookkeepers to the corporate high-flyers – tend to like their work.

I certainly like it – and that's speaking as someone who came to the numbers-and-tax game in her thirties. No one grows up proclaiming: ‘I want to be an accountant.' It's a bit like driving down an open road, then veering down a lane that looks staid and humdrum. But then, much to your surprise, you find it has its own intriguing allure, its own singular sense of human narrative. Money is that fault line along which we pirouette. Show me a person's numerical sum total and I can develop a portrait of their immense complexities: their dreams and aspirations, their demons and terrors.

‘When you look at my financial records,' Paul asked me, ‘what do they tell you about me?'

Such directness. A flirtatious directness, even though – when the question was posed – he was still just a prospective client with wildly disorganised books. Paul's tax problems were considerable, but not insurmountable. His salary at the state university was taxed at source. His problem was that when it came to sales of his artwork, he'd frequently been paid in cash and had never thought about paying tax on it. Though the total was reasonably modest – maybe $15,000 per annum – stretched over a ten-year period that was a not-insignificant sum of taxable income which some sharp-eyed IRS inspector now wanted declared and paid for. Paul was being audited and the little local bookkeeper who'd been handling things for him for the past decade ran scared once the IRS started knocking on the door. He told his client that he needed someone who was skilled at negotiating with the taxman. And he recommended me.

Paul's financial problems, however, weren't simply limited to undisclosed income. His spending habits had landed him in severe cash-flow difficulties. Wine and books were his principal vices. There was a part of me that privately admired someone with such an unfazed approach to life that, while being chased by the electricity company for his quarterly bill payment, he thought nothing of spending $185 on a bottle of Pomerol 1989. He would also only choose the finest French-made charcoals and pencil leads for his etchings and these art supplies alone accounted for another $6,000 in annual outlay. When he went to the South of France for a vacation, though he would stay in a friend's guest cottage outside the medieval village of Eze – which cost him nothing – he would easily rack up another ten grand's worth of gastronomical indulgences.

As such, the first impression I had of Paul Leuen was of someone who – unlike the rest of us – had somehow managed to avoid all the pitfalls of the workaday, routine life. And I always wanted to fall in love with an artist.

BOOK: The Heat of Betrayal
6.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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