Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon

“Fine,” said Matt petulantly. He hung up the phone.

“Hey. Is everything all right? I heard you shouting.”

Lisa walked out to the pool. She wore a long midnight-blue kimono robe belted at the waist and her long hair loose, brushed, clearly ready for bed. Matt lit up at the sight of her. She’s an angel. My angel. I mustn’t worry her with this nonsense.

“Everything’s fine.” Matt forced a smile. “Nothing to worry about. Just a misunderstanding with a friend.”

“Someone from home?”

Home. Wasn’t this home?

“Sort of.”

Lisa flicked a switch and the stone fire pit burst into life. The flames cast a warm orange glow over her skin. “May I sit with you?”

Matt’s smile broadened. “Of course.” He patted the seat beside him. The urge to reach out and touch her was so strong it was unbearable. “Have you been working?”

“Trying to.” A shy smile. “Being the executor of someone’s will is harder work than it sounds. The numbers make my eyes swim. I can’t seem to concentrate.”

They sat in silence for a moment, watching the dancing flames.

“They had a fire pit like this in Positano,” Lisa murmured vaguely. “Miles loved it so much he had the same one put in here.”

Matt said nothing. He didn’t want to talk about Miles or hear about his and Lisa’s past vacations. Not now.

Then suddenly Lisa blurted out, “I keep thinking about what happened to me. The rape.”

Matt held his breath. It was the first time she had spoken about the night of the attack in months, and the first time he’d ever heard her use the R-word.

“Do you want to talk about it? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Pulling her knees up to her chest, Lisa leaned in against him, slipping a silk-robed arm around his waist. She’d never come this physically close to him before, not of her own accord. Matt closed his eyes, lost in her warmth, her scent—jasmine and patchouli oil—the gossamer caress of her hair. Had he ever felt like this with Raquel? This desperate with longing, this intoxicated with desire? If he had, he couldn’t remember. In fact, at this moment he could barely remember his wife at all.

When Lisa spoke, her voice was quiet but firm. “I want to talk about it. I need to. I need to talk about it with you.”

AFTERWARD, MATT DALEY WOULD STRUGGLE TO remember every detail of that night. Lisa pouring her heart out about the rape. Nervously at first, her voice halting and awkward, but becoming surer as her fear turned to anger. She told him how the man had punched her and choked her, forcing her to perform hideous, perverted acts while Miles watched. How she had tried to detach, to separate her psyche from the vicious assaults on her body. How she knew all along that the man would hurt Miles, but yet how shocked, how terrified she was when she saw the gun.

Her words speeded up, a snowball of pain gathering speed and bulk as she hurtled through the whole, awful story. Then suddenly, bang, the snowball exploded, her anger spent, and the tears began to flow.

She sobbed in Matt’s arms. “He shouldn’t have done it. He knew I didn’t want him to do it. I told him to stop, I begged him! But what could I do? What power did I have? What power have I ever had?”

She was rambling, her words a complex mixture of emotions, part sorrow, part anger and part guilt. It was the last part that tortured Matt the most, although he knew it was common for rape victims to feel guilty, as if they were somehow to blame for what had happened to them. The last thing Lisa needed was Inspector Liu or Danny McGuire trying to implicate her with their half-baked theories. He had to protect her from that.

She cried for what felt like hours. Matt cried too—for her, for himself, for the violent, twisted world that allowed this sort of horror to happen to an innocent, beautiful woman like Lisa. Somewhere during that long, tearful embrace, the last barriers between them fell, the last shards of restraint gave way.

Matt couldn’t remember who had undressed whom or who had initiated the first kiss. All he remembered was giving himself to Lisa body and soul, surrendering in a way he had never surrendered to a woman before. And Lisa gave herself to him just as fully, her need and longing every bit as great as his own. Their lovemaking was beautiful. She was beautiful, silken and warm and all-consuming. They made love under the stars on the deck by the pool, then in the water. Then Matt dried her like a child and carried her to the bedroom and she begged him to do it again, and again and again. That was the most wonderful thing of all. Lisa’s desire, her hunger, was a glorious surprise after so many long weeks of diffidence and uncertainty. It was as if Matt had unlocked a door and another woman entirely had taken control of Lisa’s body: a sexual, wanton, completely uninhibited woman.

Matt moaned with pleasure as she took him in her mouth, then straddled him, bucking and gasping as she exploded into yet another orgasm. When she climaxed she dug her nails into his back, pulling him inside her as if she wanted to consume him, to possess him. Matt joyously submitted, losing himself in the moment. The funny, reserved, thoughtful woman he’d come to know these past few weeks was gone, replaced by this magnificent creature, this animal, ravenous, desperate and wild.

Matt lost count of the hours they spent exploring each other’s bodies. All he knew was that they were still awake, wrapped in each other’s arms, when the first rays of dawn crept through the shutters. And that sometime shortly afterward he sank into a deep, delicious, utterly sated sleep.

When he woke, bright sunlight stung his eyes like acid. Protectively pulling the bedclothes up around Lisa, Matt raised his forearm to shield himself from the glare. Mrs. Harcourt must have opened the blinds, her way of saying that she needed to make up the room.

“Karen, would you mind closing those please?” Matt rasped. “We, er…we had a late night.”

A brusque male voice shouted something in Indonesian and it suddenly hit Matt: That’s not the housekeeper. Before he could say or do anything, six armed police had surrounded the bed, guns drawn.

“Lisa Baring?”

Lisa stirred.

Then opened her eyes.

Then screamed.

“Lisa Baring. We have a warrant for your arrest.”

“On what charge?” demanded Matt.

The Chinese officer looked at him and smiled. Then he smashed his gun into the side of Matt’s face. The world faded to black.


LISA BARING LOOKED INTENTLY AT THE man sitting opposite her. The last time she’d seen Inspector Liu was in her hospital room at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. On that occasion she’d paid little attention to him, a grave mistake, as it turned out. She remembered Liu only as short, physically nondescript and deferential. Despite his frustration about her refusing police protection, he had treated her with the respect due to a patient, a rape victim, and the widow of an important and powerful man.

Today, he looked different. Transformed. As he sat behind a Formica-topped desk in this plain white interview suite in Hong Kong’s Central District, his round face, glossy black hair and small, neatly manicured hands remained the same as she remembered, as did his cheap suit and thin polyester tie. But his manner had changed utterly. His formerly placid features seemed suddenly to have come alive, his mouth animated, his eyes glinting with something that Lisa couldn’t quite place. Excitement? Cruelty? His body language was aggressive, legs apart, hands spread wide on the table, torso and head thrust forward. He thinks he’s in control, and he likes it.

“I’ll ask you again, Mrs. Baring. How long have you and the man you were arrested with this morning been lovers?”

“And I’ll answer you again, Inspector. His name is Matthew Daley. And it’s none of your goddamn business.”

She knew she was provoking him, probably not the smartest thing to do under the circumstances, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. He was so arrogant, so rude. And the things he was suggesting about Matt were just preposterous.

It was strange how confident she felt, under the circumstances. When she’d awoken this morning in her bedroom at Mirage to find six men training guns on her head, the flashbacks to Miles’s murder were so strong she honestly thought she would pass out. If Matt hadn’t been there to calm her down, she probably would have. Darling Matt. How could anyone think he was mixed up in any of this? She wondered where he was now, and prayed he wasn’t being mistreated. She’d had no time to process what had happened between them last night, what with being frog-marched onto a plane, bundled into a squad car and dumped unceremoniously into this bleak interview room in a squat building in Central with the obnoxious Inspector Liu firing questions at her like poison darts.

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