Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon

Matt Daley didn’t sleep that night. Instead he lay staring at the ceiling of his hotel room, his mind refusing to shut down. He realized he was starting to think of this killer as a shadow, unreal, like a character in some kind of potboiler mystery. But of course, he wasn’t a shadow. He was human, flesh and blood, and he was out there tonight, sleeping and eating and thinking and living his life, despite the series of horrific crimes he had committed. Lisa Baring knew that man, not by name, but in a far more intimate, more real way. Lisa Baring had touched him, just like Angela Jakes, Tracey Henley and Irina Anjou had all touched him before her. She had heard his voice, smelled his breath and his sweat, felt the weight of him on top of her, inside her. To Matt he might seem like an enigma, a ghost. But to Lisa Baring he was very, very real.

I have to do it. Somehow I have to meet Lisa Baring.

I have to get to her before he does.

INSPECTOR LIU CLOSED HIS EYES AND counted to ten. He had never much liked Western women. They were too opinionated, too stubborn, too arrogant. He couldn’t imagine why Miles Baring hadn’t chosen a more docile, pliable, Chinese woman as a wife. It would certainly have made his—Liu’s—job a lot easier.

“I’ve told you why, Mrs. Baring,” he repeated patiently. “Your life may be in danger.”

Lisa Baring continued packing her things into a Louis Vuitton overnight case, ignoring him. Her doctors had discharged her from hospital that morning and she was up and dressed for the first time in weeks, wearing clothes her Hong Kong housekeeper, Joyce, had brought from home: Hudson jeans that accentuated her long legs, a white muslin blouse from Chloé and her favorite Lanvin ballet pumps. Her dark hair was tied back in a loose ponytail, and simple Tiffany diamond studs gleamed at her ears and neck, illuminating a face so naturally lovely that no makeup could have improved it. Inspector Liu knew her to be in her midthirties, but as he watched her now, it was hard to believe. Her skin glowed like a teenager’s. Unfortunately, she was as headstrong as a teenager too.

“I appreciate your concern, Mr. Liu,” she said breezily, “but I have no intention of living the rest of my life like a prisoner, looking over my shoulder. I don’t want police protection.”

“You need it, Mrs. Baring.”

“Be that as it may, I refuse it. I decline it. I’m grateful for the offer, but my answer is no.”

Famed though he was for his equanimity, Inspector Liu felt a rare flash of real anger. “This isn’t simply about your own safety, Mrs. Baring. As you know, we understand from Interpol that whoever raped you and killed your husband has raped and killed before. He will almost certainly try to do so again. We have a duty to prevent that from happening, to protect possible future victims. Surely you can see that.”

Lisa’s perfect face looked pained. “Of course I can see that. No one is more eager to bring this bastard to justice than I am, Inspector, or to stop him from striking again. As I told you before, if he tries to make any sort of contact with me, or anything remotely suspicious happens, I will let you know immediately. But in the meantime, I must be allowed to live my life as I see fit. Miles and I have a holiday villa in Bali. It’s secluded and safe. I’ll be staying there until the media frenzy here dies down.”

Inspector Liu drew himself up to his full five feet four inches and said authoritatively, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Baring, but I’m afraid that’s absolutely out of the question.”

Fifteen minutes later, in a blacked-out limousine on her way to Chek Lap Kok Airport, Lisa Baring spared a thought for the hapless Chinese policeman. He seemed like a sweet man, and he obviously meant well. But Lisa had seen enough cops in the past three weeks to last her a lifetime. Hong Kong was full of memories of Miles and what had happened, not to mention the media attempting to beat down her door. She had to get away.

At the North Satellite Concourse, the Barings’ G6 was waiting. Seeing it brought a tear to Lisa’s eye. Miles had loved that plane. It was his pride and joy.

“Welcome back, madam.”

Kirk, the pilot, welcomed Lisa aboard.

“I’m so sorry about what happened. If there’s anything I can do, anything at all…”

Lisa put a hand on his arm. “Thank you, Kirk. But all I want is to get out of here.”

“We’re next up,” he assured her. “Make yourself comfortable.”

Make myself comfortable, thought Lisa as the jet’s engines roared to life. Wasn’t it wrong to be comfortable with Miles lying dead on a slab somewhere, his cold corpse mutilated by knives and bullets? Fresh tears welled in her eyes. I can’t let myself think about Miles. I’ve got to block it out. Nothing’s going to bring him back.

It was easier said than done. As the plane lifted up through the clouds, reminders of her husband were everywhere. There was Miles’s office tower, nestled next to the giant Bank of China building like a baby hiding beneath its mother’s wing. If only it could have protected him! If only anything could have. She closed the window blind, but Miles was everywhere inside the plane too. The soft tan leather seats that he’d lovingly picked out himself when they upgraded the plane. His own seat, beside Lisa’s, still bearing the faint imprint of his body. Even his kindly eyes staring down at her from the portrait on the wall. Poor, poor Miles. What crime did he ever commit, beyond being rich and happy? Who in the world had he hurt? Who did either of us ever hurt? Miles had tried to make Lisa happy too. But not even the brilliant Miles Baring could achieve the impossible.

It wasn’t until they began their descent that it occurred to her. We came to Bali on our honeymoon. Suddenly, being here felt wrong. Disrespectful. But it was too late now. She’d told Inspector Liu that she would be in Bali. Until the case was closed, and the press lost interest in Miles’s murder, this must be her chosen prison.

That was all her life was in the end, she thought sadly: a series of prisons. Some of them had been luxurious, like this one. Others, long ago, had been cold and lonely and dark. But for as long as she could remember, she had never been free.

She knew now that she never would be.

As she closed her eyes, a memory came back to her. Or perhaps it wasn’t a memory? Perhaps it was a dream.



A warm beach.

She let herself drift away.

POSITANO WAS BEAUTIFUL. SO BEAUTIFUL SHE had almost forgiven him for France.

The hotel was old and distinguished. Its clientele was exclusive, rich but not flashy, European aristocracy mostly.

“You’re a sucker for a title, aren’t you, darling?” he teased her.

She liked it when he teased her. It reminded her of the old days.

“What you wouldn’t do for a coronet on that pretty little head of yours, eh? It’d suit you too. You were born for it, I’d say.”

They were at the poolside bar, sipping martinis and watching the sun go down. She thought, I wish we could do this more often. Just relax. The barman smiled flirtatiously as he refilled her glass. He was handsome, olive-skinned and dark-haired, with mischievous almond eyes. For a moment she panicked, afraid that her husband had seen the smile, that he would be angry. It was strange how he could make her feel so safe, yet at the same time she remained afraid of him. But he hadn’t noticed anything. In fact he seemed more interested in the old man playing chess with his daughter at the far end of the bar than he was in her.

They finished their drinks and walked back to their room as the sun oozed into the horizon. Once they were inside, her husband locked the door and undressed, as unselfconscious as a savage in his nakedness. And why wouldn’t he be, with that body? Michelangelo couldn’t have sculpted a better one.

“I saw that barman looking at you.”

He walked toward her and she felt the hairs on her forearms stand on end.

“I…I don’t know what you mean,” she stammered. “No one was looking.”

He pushed her down onto the bed. “Don’t lie to me. You liked it when he looked at you, didn’t you? You wanted him.”

“That’s not true!”

Hands tightened around her neck. “It is true. Did you want that old man too, at the end of the bar? Hmm?” With his knee he forced her legs apart. “Let’s face it, he’s more your type. Old and rich.”

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *