“Yes, I know, I know.” Lisa waved her hand dismissively. “Inspector Liu told me. He wants to keep me under lock and key until they catch this guy. But as the police in…four countries is it now?…seem to have singularly failed to catch this man for the past decade, the idea of hanging around was not exactly appealing.”
Matt smiled. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected of Lisa Baring. If he was honest, he thought she’d be some sort of meek and mindless trophy wife, the kind that rich old men usually went for. But she was nothing like that at all. She was feisty and fiery and sharp-tongued. If there was a soft center underneath, she did a good job of hiding it. He liked her.
Lisa looked at him suspiciously. “You still haven’t answered my first question. Who are you? And what interest do you have in me and my safety? Are you a reporter?”
“No, absolutely not. I’m a victim, of sorts. Like you. The man who killed your husband also killed my father.”
The blood drained from Lisa Baring’s face. Was it possible?
“Who was your father?”
“A man named Andrew Jakes.” Matt closed his eyes. A wave of nausea and dizziness washed over him. He slumped back onto the pillows. “I don’t feel so good.”
Lisa summoned one of the maids for a glass of water. She handed it to Matt. “Drink this.”
Matt sipped the water slowly and began to revive. Lisa, on the other hand, still seemed to be reeling with shock.
Eventually she asked him, “How did you know I’d be here? In Bali.”
“I didn’t,” Matt said. “I thought you were still in the hospital in Hong Kong. But no one would let me near you there, and I knew you and your husband had a place in Bali, so I came out looking for clues.”
“What sort of clues?”
“Anything that might link you or Miles to the other victims. I hoped you might come here, eventually. To get away from the media circus. But I wasn’t expecting you to be in the villa last night. That’s the truth.”
There was no earthly reason for Lisa to believe him. Yet she found that she did. There was an honesty in his face, an openness that invited trust. It was an emotion Lisa Baring had almost forgotten she was capable of.
“And did you find any?”
Matt looked puzzled.
“Well, no.” He rubbed his head ruefully. “Some old lady whacked me over the head with a frying pan before I got the chance.”
“Do the police know you’re here? Interpol?”
Matt was taken aback. He hadn’t expected her to ask him such a direct, specific question. He didn’t want to lie to her, it felt wrong, but Danny McGuire had made him swear up and down not to mention their connection, and a promise was a promise.
“All right, Mr. Daley.” Lisa Baring stood up. “Try and get some rest. We’ve both had a long night. I’ll have Mrs. Harcourt bring you some food later. If you’re up to it, perhaps we can discuss this further at dinner this evening.”
Matt’s eyes widened. “You’re letting me stay here?”
Lisa turned to the guards at the door. “If he needs to use the bathroom, or anything else, one of you is to go with him. Don’t let him out of your sight.”
MATT HELD TIGHTLY TO THE BANISTER as he came downstairs. His head felt a lot better, but he was still unsteady on his feet. The villa radiated peace and tranquillity, like the Aman hotel in Morocco he and Raquel had stayed in on their honeymoon. Since arriving in Asia, Matt realized guiltily, he’d barely thought about Raquel or the divorce at all. Perhaps it was a defense mechanism. Denial. Why worry about things you can’t change? That sort of thing. He knew he’d have to go home and face the music eventually. But here in this magical, idyllic, otherworldly spot, his domestic problems barely seemed real.
Matt swallowed hard. Lisa had changed into a simple white cotton sundress. She wore plain, twisted-rope sandals, and her hair was piled up into a messy crown of dark curls on top of her head. The effect was at once innocent and knowing, pure and alluring. Raquel was a great-looking woman, but hers was a brash sexuality, a take-no-prisoners, in-your-face, va-va-voom appeal that required short skirts and a lot of makeup to achieve its full effect. Lisa Baring was the opposite. It was an overused phrase, but Lisa fit it perfectly: she was a natural beauty.
“Much better, thank you,” said Matt.
Lisa took a seat at one end of a simple oak dining table, laden with a buffet of fresh local produce: squid sautéed in garlic; fresh, sliced papaya; warm, baked roti gambang, a delicious, seeded Indonesian bread. She gestured for Matt to sit. “Are you hungry?”
“I am now,” said Matt. “This looks incredible.”
She was being friendly, welcoming even, but there was still a wariness there. Probably inevitable, under the circumstances, but Matt did his best to dispel it. “I don’t blame you for doubting my motives,” he said, heaping his plate with bread and delicious-smelling seafood. “I’d be cautious too in your position. But I promise you, I only want what you want.”
“And what’s that?”
“To know the truth, presumably. And to catch this bastard, whoever he is.”
Lisa poured two glasses from a carafe of red wine on the table and handed one to Matt.
“I’m not sure I believe in ‘the truth.’ As if there’s only one. Everybody’s truth is different, isn’t it?”
The wine was excellent, full-bodied and fruity. Matt swirled it around in his mouth thoughtfully, enjoying the array of different tastes on his palate before answering.
“I disagree. I think the truth is the truth. People lie to themselves, that’s all. They see what they want to see.”
“And what do you see?” Lisa asked archly.
I see an intelligent, gorgeous, desirable woman I’d like to take to bed this instant. It was clear she was avoiding the subject of her husband’s murder. Maybe it was still too early for her to talk about it. Too painful. “I see someone who acts tough but feels terrified inside.”
This seemed to amuse her. “That’s quite some X-ray vision you have, Mr. Daley. But I’m afraid it’s off the mark. I’m neither tough nor afraid. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other, trying to get from one day to the next.”
“And what is next for you, after all this?” Matt asked. “You can’t hole up in Bali forever.”
Lisa looked wistful. “No. I suppose not. But I don’t like thinking about the future, Mr. Daley.”
“Please, call me Matt.”
“Things happen, Matt, things that you can’t control. Bad things. None of us controls our own destiny. I’ve learned the hard way that that’s just an illusion. Why make beautiful plans only to see them collapse into pain and death and dust?”
Watching her sad brown eyes, Matt felt an overwhelming urge to protect her, to comfort her, to make everything all right. Danny McGuire had admitted to feeling something similar for Angela Jakes after his father’s murder, but it had distracted him from pinning Angela down, from unraveling the truth before she took off for Europe and slipped forever from his grasp. Matt Daley wasn’t about to make the same mistake with Lisa Baring.
“How much did Inspector Liu tell you about the other murders?”
Lisa frowned. “Must we talk about that?”
“It’s why I’m here, isn’t it? Why you let me stay. Deep down you want to know the truth.”
Lisa didn’t respond to this. It was unnerving being psychoanalyzed by this attractive blond stranger, especially when he was right. Instead she answered Matt’s first question. “Liu didn’t tell me much. Just that similar crimes had been committed before, that Interpol thought it possible we were dealing with a serial killer, and that my own life might be in danger. He didn’t get into specifics.”
“Fine. I will.” Over the course of the next hour, Matt told her all he knew about his father’s murder and the killings of Sir Piers Henley and Didier Anjou. He and Lisa finished the first carafe of wine and she called for a second. Lisa listened calmly throughout his narrative, showing little or no emotion.
When Matt finally finished, she said: “I’m not sure it’s the same man.”
“What do you mean? Of course it’s the same man.”
“It may have been the same man for the earlier attacks. But I’m not sure the person you’re describing is the man who killed Miles.”
“What makes you say that?”
Lisa tore off a chunk of bread and dipped it pensively in her wine. “Little things. Like the giving-the-money-to-charity part. Miles didn’t leave a penny to charity, and I haven’t even begun to think about what I’m going to do with my inheritance. But more importantly, the whole thing smacks a little too much of some kind of Robin Hood complex, don’t you think? Taking from the rich to give to the poor?”