Bizarrely, this idea had not occurred to Matt. It seemed so obvious when Lisa said it now. “Possibly, yes.”
“Well, I know nothing about the man who raped me. But I can tell you this: he was no Robin Hood.”
At the mention of the word rape, a heavy silence settled over the table, an almost visible cloud of shame. Matt found himself wishing that he knew this woman better, well enough to take her in his arms and comfort her, to assure her that none of this was her fault. As it was, he changed the subject.
“Tell me about Miles. About your marriage.”
Lisa smiled, but it was a sad smile. “You mean tell you whether I married a man thirty years older than myself for love or for his money? What do you think?”
Matt blushed. That was what he meant, but he didn’t realize he’d been so obvious.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“It’s all right,” said Lisa. “We may as well be honest with each other. I didn’t love Miles. That much is true. But I liked him. He was a kind man and he treated me well. I’ve reached a point in my life where I value kindness. I was lucky that he chose me.”
She speaks about it so passively, thought Matt. “He chose me.” As if it were an arranged marriage, and she had no say in the matter.
“How did the two of you meet?”
“At a conference in Shanghai about a year ago.”
“A year?” Matt looked surprised. “You hadn’t been together very long, then?”
Lisa played with her napkin under the table. “No. We were married for nine months. It all happened very quickly. Our romance. Miles was a brilliant man and very considerate toward me.”
“But not toward everyone?”
“He was in his later years. I think, when he was younger, he was probably a bit more ruthless, a bit more ambitious. He had a first wife, before I was born, and children. I don’t think he treated them very well. But by the time we met, he had mellowed considerably.”
Matt thought about Andrew Jakes. What a crappy husband he’d been to his mom, how he’d abandoned him and Claire without a shred of remorse, but how in later years he’d transformed into a doting partner to Angela.
“People change, I guess.”
“Yes, they do. But the past can’t be changed, and justice can never be outrun. We must all make atonement for the wrongs we do. We must all pay the price.”
It was such a strange thing to say, Matt wasn’t sure how to react. Was she saying that Miles Baring somehow deserved what had happened to him? Surely not. Her grief for her ex-husband seemed genuine, and she spoke of him with obvious affection and respect. But then what “price,” what “atonement,” was she talking about? Perhaps they’d both had too much wine.
Either way, Matt was grateful when the maid returned to clear away the plates, bringing decaf coffee and a slab of bright green pandan, a sweet Balinese rice cake to break the awkward silence. Sipping their coffee, they talked about other things, each of them evidently enjoying the other’s company. Lisa asked Matt a lot of questions about his childhood. She seemed fascinated by Andrew Jakes’s abandonment of his mother, and openly disbelieving that he, his mom and Claire could have gone on to have such happy lives afterward. Yet when Matt quizzed her about her own childhood, she was reluctant to talk. She grew up in New York but wasn’t particularly happy there. She had a sister but they’d lost touch a long time ago. That was the most he was able to get out of her.
Noticing Matt rubbing the back of his head, she said, “I’m sorry about that clobbering you took. I’d really like you to stay here while you recover.”
“What about the guards?” asked Matt, half jokingly. “Will they be watching me pee the whole time, or do you trust me to go by myself now?”
Lisa grinned. “I trust you. You’d be here as my guest.”
“Are you sure you don’t want your privacy?” Matt asked, more seriously now. “I’d be happy to find a guesthouse or a local hotel. I wouldn’t want to intrude. I mean, obviously technically I am an intruder…”
Lisa laughed. “I’m quite sure. I’m not planning on leaving here anytime soon. And I could use the company. And who knows? Perhaps, together, we’ll unravel this mystery, find the missing link that connects these terrible murders…if there is one.”
“Well, if you’re really sure,” said Matt, “I’d be delighted. Thank you.”
“Good.” Lisa Baring smiled. “Miles always used to say that two heads were better than one.”
THAT NIGHT AS HE LAY IN bed, Matt stared at the ceiling fan spinning around and thought how his life seemed to be spinning equally fast. How on earth did I wind up here, in a luxury villa in Bali of all places, the guest of quite possibly the most interesting, attractive woman I’ve ever met? And how ironic that a sadistic killer, the man who murdered my father and raped that woman, should have played Cupid.
He ought to call Danny McGuire in Lyon and inform him of developments. And he would. But not quite yet. Matt Daley wanted to keep Lisa Baring to himself for a little while longer. To figure out what made those intelligent eyes so sad in the peace and tranquillity of this magical island.
Think of it as a vacation, he told himself as he drifted off to sleep between soft Egyptian-cotton sheets. A long-overdue vacation. Raquel, the divorce, Danny McGuire, and everything about life on the outside felt wonderfully far away.
For the first time in months, Matt Daley fell asleep happy and excited at the prospect of what tomorrow might bring.
MRS. JOYCE CHAN. INTERVIEW COMMENCING, NINE A.M.”
The plump Chinese woman blinked at Inspector Liu nervously. She was afraid of policemen generally, but of this one in particular. He carried himself with importance and kept frowning, tapping his left foot against the leg of his chair in an irritated manner. Joyce knew she hadn’t done anything wrong, but that didn’t necessarily matter when it came to the Hong Kong police. If they wanted a scapegoat and chose her, there was nothing she could do about it.
Inspector Liu was in a bad mood. But it had nothing to do with Joyce Chan. In fact, he was very much hoping that the housemaid from the Barings’ mansion might finally provide him with the breakthrough he so desperately needed in this case. With Lisa Baring being so stubbornly uncooperative, Inspector Liu had made precious little headway in catching Miles Baring’s killer, a failure that was starting to embarrass not just Liu himself, but his superiors. Indeed, it would not be stretching the point to say that Inspector Liu had come to hate Miles Baring’s widow, with her arrogant, Western beauty and her refusal to submit to his authority. Any sane woman would have been grateful for police protection, under the circumstances. And any genuinely grieving woman would have wanted to stay and help the police catch the man responsible for her husband’s death, not to mention her own violation. The fact that Lisa Baring hadn’t done these things, but had fled to a compound in Bali, outside of Inspector Liu’s jurisdiction, further hardened the detective’s heart against her. Lisa Baring was listed as the sole beneficiary in her husband’s will. That gave her motive. By her own admission, she was present when the murder took place. That gave her opportunity. Of course, she hadn’t raped herself. But did she know more about her “attacker” than she was letting on? And if so, was she afraid of him, or protecting him?
Inspector Liu would have dearly loved to force Lisa Baring to return to Hong Kong and answer these questions herself. But short of arresting her, for which he had no grounds, his hands were tied.
That was where Joyce Chan came in.
“How long have you worked at 117 Prospect Road, Mrs. Chan?”
Sweat trickled down the maid’s fat cheeks. “Long time. Mr. Baring buy house, 1989. I working there two year later. Long time.”
“And what were your duties?”
Mrs. Chan looked at Inspector Liu blankly.
“Your job. What was your job?”
“Oh. I in charge all the maids on bedroom floors. Level two and three. They change sheet, keep it clean. I organize.”
“I see. So you were a supervisor. You did not clean yourself.”
She nodded eagerly, pleased to have provided a correct answer. “Supervisor. Yes. Only sometime I clean for Mrs. Baring. Special thing.”
Inspector Liu’s ears pricked up, like a deer scenting danger on the wind.
“What sort of ‘special thing’?”
Mrs. Chan’s hands shook. She mumbled, “Private thing.”
Belatedly, Liu realized that the poor woman was terrified. He tried to reassure her. “You’re not in any trouble, Mrs. Chan. This is all very helpful information, I assure you. It may help us to catch the man who killed Mr. Baring. Do you understand?”