Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon

Closing her eyes, Lisa could feel Matt Daley’s hard, passionate body pressed against hers. The rush of desire was so strong, she blushed. But it was mingled with other emotions. Fear. Guilt. It was so hard to untangle anything of what she was feeling with the awful Liu breathing down her neck. Still, she was not as afraid as she thought she would be.

Because I’m not alone anymore. I have Matt now. Matt will save me.

The door opened.

“Lisa, darling. I got here as fast as I could.”

Not Matt Daley, but a salvation of sorts. John Crowley, Lisa’s attorney, was the managing partner at Crowley & Rowe, one of Hong Kong’s leading law firms. In his midfifties, tall, dark and distinguished-looking, John Crowley positively radiated authority. He wore monogrammed cuff links and a bespoke suit that cost more than Inspector Liu earned in a year, and smelled of Floris aftershave and self-assurance. Lisa noticed the way Liu visibly shrank in his presence.

“John! How did you know where to find me? They wouldn’t let me call.”

“I know,” said Crowley, taking a seat without being asked. “Just one of Inspector Liu’s many breaches of protocol. I was contacted by a friend of yours, a Mr. Daley.”

Lisa’s eyes widened. “They’ve released Matt already?”

“Naturally. Once he produced his passport, it became clear he wasn’t even in the country on the night of Miles’s murder. Any suggestion of his involvement is pure fantasy. As is any suggestion of yours.” John Crowley looked at his vintage Cartier watch impatiently. “Inspector Liu, on what grounds are you detaining my client?”

“We have the necessary authority.” Liu handed over a stack of papers, apparently warrants, all in Chinese. John Crowley glanced at them as if he were contemplating using them to blow his nose, then tossed them imperiously aside.

“Has Mrs. Baring been charged?”

“Not yet. She’s here to answer some questions. There are discrepancies, serious discrepancies, between Mrs. Baring’s account of what happened on the night in question and her staff’s.”

John Crowley turned to Lisa. “When were you arrested? What time?”

“This morning. Around ten o’clock, I think. I’m not sure, I was asleep when they broke in.”

Crowley looked again at his watch. “That was nine hours ago. Which means that Inspector Liu has a maximum of three additional hours in which to finish his questions. If he doesn’t charge you by then, you’re free to go.”

Inspector Liu glowered at the lawyer. He suspected that Danny McGuire from Interpol was involved in this somehow. That instead of returning his, Liu’s, call, McGuire had taken matters into his own hands and contacted the U.S. embassy, preferring to deal with expats than with the local Chinese police. Interpol was supposed to be impartial, but McGuire, Crowley, Lisa Baring, and Matt Daley were all American. Americans had a way of sticking together.

“As you rightly say, Mr. Crowley, time is limited. So I’d appreciate it if you stopped wasting it. Mrs. Baring…” Liu turned on Lisa. “At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital you told me that your husband had no living relatives that you knew of that we needed to contact. In fact, as you well knew, Miles Baring had a daughter by his first marriage. Alice.”

“That’s true. But Miles had no contact with her, nor she with him. After his divorce his ex-wife moved back to Europe and he lost all contact with her and the child.”

“A man of your husband’s means could easily have taken steps to trace them, or could have instructed his estate to do so after his death. Indeed, Mr. Baring had made such arrangements, had he not, before he met you?”

“I…I’ve no idea,” Lisa stammered.

“It was you who convinced him not only to marry you but to leave his entire fortune to you upon his death. Isn’t that right, Mrs. Baring?”

Lisa opened her mouth to speak, but John Crowley stepped in. “She’s already told you, she knew nothing of the provisions in Miles’s will before he met her. It’s not unusual for men to change their wills in favor of their wives after marriage.”

“What is unusual, Mr. Crowley, is for bereaved widows to lie repeatedly to the police who are attempting to apprehend their husband’s killer,” Liu shot back. “Mrs. Baring, you made a sworn statement that you did not know how to disable the security system at Prospect Road. Yet your maid, Joyce Chan, asserts that Mr. Baring explained it to you on numerous occasions.”

“I…he might have tried. I’m not very good with technical things.”

“Why did you instruct the servants not to enter the upper floors of the property the night your husband was killed.”

“I don’t remember.”

“Was it so that you could admit your lover?”


“Do you deny you had a lover?”

“Yes, I deny it. Of course I deny it.”

John Crowley did his best to deflect and obstruct, but Liu kept hammering away, insisting that this lover existed, that Lisa had helped him into the house, and demanding over and over again to know his name. Were there so many that she couldn’t remember? How many men had she slept with before Miles? And during the marriage? How many men had she slept with since Miles’s death, when she was supposedly grieving? Or was Matthew Daley the only one? How did she know Mr. Daley? She must have invited him to join her in Bali, which implies she knew him from before.

By the time the three hours were up and Inspector Liu released her, on condition that she not leave the island and “cooperate fully” with his investigation, Lisa was emotionally and physically exhausted. But she’d managed not to tell Liu anything about Matt’s past. At the end of the day, Matt was a victim too. If he wanted to talk about his father’s murder, or his interest in the other crimes, that was up to him.

John Crowley took Lisa’s arm as they left the building. The poor thing was still shaking. “You did very well. Try not to worry about it too much. I highly doubt they’re going to charge you with anything.”

Lisa shook her head. “He looked at me with such hatred. Like I wanted this to happen. Like I wanted Miles to die. I didn’t want any of this. It just happened. Maybe it had to happen, I don’t know. But there was nothing I could do to stop it.”

John Crowley looked at her strangely. It seemed a bizarre choice of words, to say the least. Why on earth would Miles’s murder have “had to happen”? Then again, after the grilling Liu had just put Lisa through, perhaps it was a miracle she could string a sentence together at all.

“You must rest. Can I drive you home?”

Lisa looked at him blankly. Home? Where was that? Certainly not the house on Prospect Road. “You said Matt Daley was the one who called you about me. Do you know where he is staying?”

“I’m right here.”

Matt’s sweet, tired, good-natured face emerged from the sea of Asian faces still crowding the sidewalks even at this time of night. Lisa didn’t think she’d ever been so happy to see another person in her life. She fell into his arms.

“Are you okay?” he whispered, hugging her tightly. “Did they hurt you?”

“No. I’m fine.” She kissed him, making no attempt to hide her affection in front of John Crowley. The lawyer suppressed an irrational wave of jealousy. He didn’t have many clients as attractive as Mrs. Baring, and he’d enjoyed playing her white knight this afternoon.

Matt said, “You must be Mr. Crowley. Thanks for showing up so quickly.”

“Not at all. Thank you for contacting me.” The two men shook hands. “Everything went well today. I think Liu’s grasping at straws. But make sure you don’t hand him any ammunition,” he added to Lisa. “Stay in Hong Kong, lay low and keep in touch. If the police contact you again, let me know immediately.”

“Of course.”

Matt watched John Crowley jump into a cab. His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “He’s damn good-looking for a lawyer.”

Lisa laughed. Wrapping her arms around Matt’s neck, she pressed her lips lightly to his. “Are you jealous?”


They kissed again, and Lisa marveled at how happy she felt, how safe. She’d experienced more than her fair share of male jealousy in the past, and up till now that had only meant pain. But with Matt Daley it was different. Safe in Matt’s arms, she could look back and see that most of her life had been spent under a dark cloud of fear, waiting for a man’s jealousy to explode in rage and violence, waiting to be hurt. She’d accepted it because it was all she knew. And because of the secret, the secret that had destroyed not only her life but the lives of so many others. The secret to which only one man had the key, and that Matt must never, ever know.

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon