Sidney Sheldon's Chasing Tomorrow(9)

By: Sidney Sheldon&Tilly Bagshawe

After peeing on the test stick, Tracy replaced the plastic cap and laid the stick flat on the tiles around the basin, waiting for the requisite five minutes to pass. In the beginning she’d watched the tiny square window the whole time, as if she could make that longed-for second pink line appear simply by willing it to do so. Now she looked away, forcing herself to think about other things.

She thought about Jeff, on day three of his new job at the British Museum, and how happy he’d been when he bounded out of bed this morning, like a puppy chasing a shiny new ball.

“Can you believe it?” he’d asked Tracy two weeks ago, when he heard he’d gotten the job. “Me! Officially employed as a curator of antiquities at the British Museum. Isn’t that a trip?”

“Of course I can believe it,” said Tracy loyally. “You know as much about those treasures as anyone else on earth. More than most professional academics. You deserved that job.”

The truth, as they both knew, was that Professor Trenchard had pulled some serious strings to get Jeff the position. Tracy and Jeff had met Nick Trenchard, a world-renowned archaeologist, on their honeymoon in Tunisia. Jeff had signed up for a dig at a Roman hill fort that Professor Trenchard was heading and the two men hit it off immediately. Strangely perhaps, as on the surface they had little in common. The professor was in his early sixties, cerebral, shy and utterly obsessed with the late Roman Empire. Jeff Stevens was an ex–con man with no formal education, who could have written what he knew about the Emperor Constantine II on the back of a postage stamp. But his enthusiasm and passion for learning were quite astonishing, as were his natural intelligence and capacity for hard work.

“I wish all my students were like your husband,” Professor Trenchard told Tracy over dinner one evening at Jeff and Tracy’s hotel. “I’ve never seen such commitment from an amateur. Is he this driven about everything?”

“When he wants something badly enough,” said Tracy.

“I do feel guilty, monopolizing so much of his time when you’re on your honeymoon.”

“Don’t.” Tracy smiled. “We picked Tunisia because of its rich history. Jeff’s dreamed of going on a dig here his whole life. I’m just happy to see him so happy.”

She meant it. She was happy, watching Jeff thrive as they began their new life. She was happy when they returned to London and Jeff enrolled in class after class on everything from Byzantine sculpture to Celtic artwork to ancient Roman coins to Chinese ceremonial armor. Without effort it seemed, without sacrifice, he had traded the thrill of their old life as thieves and con artists, robbing only the bad guys and making a fortune for themselves in the process, for the thrill of acquiring new knowledge. And Tracy was happy. For him.

For herself, unfortunately, things were a little more complicated.

The truth was, she’d simply assumed she would get pregnant right away. She and Jeff made love every night of their honeymoon and often during the day as well, when Jeff would sneak away from Professor Trenchard’s dig for “lunch” at the hotel. She took a test as soon as they got back to London and was so astonished when it was negative that she went to see her doctor.

“You’ve only been off the pill for a month, Mrs. Stevens,” he reassured her. “There’s no reason to think that anything’s wrong. However, if you do decide to have your fertility tested, I can recommend Dr. Alan McBride at Seventy-seven Harley Street. He’s the best in the business and a thoroughly nice man.”

Tracy tried for six more months. She made sure she knew when she was ovulating, and that she and Jeff were having sex at the right time. Not that that was difficult. They were still having sex all the time. The happier Jeff felt, the more his libido went through the roof. Tracy still enjoyed their lovemaking. I’ve married the most handsome, charming, clever, wonderful man in the world, she reminded herself. I should be dancing in the streets. But for her, the transition from their old life had not been so easy, and she wasn’t always in the mood the way she used to be. Part of it was stress about the baby, or rather the lack of a baby. But another, huge part of Tracy mourned the loss of her old identity. She missed the adrenaline rush of the daring heists she and Jeff used to pull off together; the thrill of outsmarting some of the most brilliant, devious, corrupt minds in the world, of beating them at their own game. It wasn’t about the money. Ironically, Tracy had never been particularly materialistic. It was about the rush. Sometimes she would watch Jeff while he slept after sex, a look of pure contentment on his face, and feel almost aggrieved.

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