“But,” Albert Dumas said obligingly, “I had a thought a few hours ago about other physical evidence. There were numerous hair samples collected at the Hong Kong crime scene. Nowhere else. Just at the Baring house.”
Claude Demartin vaguely remembered. “The Chinese ran tests on those at the time, though, and got nowhere. And those guys don’t mess around. Their forensic facilities are some of the best in the world.”
“True. But the Anjou evidence was never logged in any police database. They could only study what they had, and they never had access to our data.”
Claude felt the familiar tingle of excitement he always got when a case was about to break. Human behavior was riddled with errors and inconsistencies. But forensic evidence, if properly handled, never lied.
Albert Dumas grinned. “I am now able to tell you, with a hundred percent certainty, that one of the hairs found in Mr. Baring’s bedroom—item 0029076 in Inspector Liu’s evidence log—is an exact DNA match to the semen retrieved from Mrs. Anjou.” He handed Claude Demartin the relevant piece of paper.
“It was the same man,” Claude whispered excitedly. “The same killer.”
Albert Dumas frowned. “That’s for you to decide, Detective. I couldn’t possibly hazard a guess.”
“But the results…”
“Tell us only that the man who inseminated Irina Anjou on May 16, 2005, was the same man whose hair was found in Miles Baring’s bedroom. That much is a scientifically provable fact. Anything beyond that is mere conjecture.”
Claude Demartin practically ran out to his car.
“Put me through to Danny McGuire. Tell him it’s Claude Demartin. I have some news.”
THE MOMENT MATT DALEY’S HEAD HIT the pillow he felt intensely drowsy. Projecting confidence was one thing. Feeling it was another. The stress of choreographing his and Lisa’s escape plan must have taken more out of him than he’d thought.
Once we’re away from here, in Morocco, I’ll be able to protect her. We’ll start again, just the two of us. New jobs, new lives, new identities.
He felt guilty about his sister, Claire, and his mother. It wasn’t just Danny McGuire who Matt had disappeared on these past couple of months. It was his entire life back home. His past life, as he was now beginning to think of it. Before he met Lisa. Before he was reborn. His divorce attorney left daily messages, the tones of his e-and voice mails becoming increasingly desperate. If Matt didn’t sign this or that paperwork, or show up to this or that hearing, Raquel would get everything.
Everything and nothing, thought Matt. Let her have it. Lisa has enough money for both of us, and it’s not as if we need much.
He was already half asleep when his cell phone rang.
Wearily, Matt hit ignore then switched the handset off.
The last thing he remembered was Lisa’s lissome fingers softly stroking his hair.
“HI, YOU’VE REACHED MATT DALEY. PLEASE leave a message.”
Danny McGuire could have wept. He hadn’t “reached” Matt Daley. No one, it seemed, could reach Matt Daley, not now. His obsession with Lisa Baring had made him unreachable.
“Matt, this is Danny. We have firm forensic evidence placing Lisa Baring’s lover at the crime scene on the Anjou case. Are you hearing this? Whoever raped Irina Anjou conveniently left us a hair sample in your girlfriend’s bedroom. So you were right. The killings are linked. And I was right. You’re in serious danger right now. You need to get the hell away from that woman, and you need to call me back. Please, Matt. Call me.”
Danny hung up.
With a heavy heart, he dialed Inspector Liu’s number.
MATT DALEY HAD HORRIBLE DREAMS. HE woke gripped with panic. Where am I?
Everything seemed unfamiliar. The bed. The room. Even the smell in the air was foreign, thick and wet and heavy like a rain-soaked blanket. He sat up. Slowly, things came back to him, like distant objects emerging from a deep fog.
The Peninsula. The escape plan.
I have to get up.
He staggered to the window and opened the blinds. Daylight flooded the room. But it wasn’t the pale lemon light of dawn. It was the brilliant blinding glare of midmorning. Something had gone terribly wrong. He’d slept through his alarm. But how?
His head throbbed painfully. The whiskey… Had he been drugged?
Spinning around, he stared at the empty bed.
Empty bed. It hit him like a punch in the stomach.
The bed was empty.
Lisa Baring was gone.
THE HOTEL WAS GLORIOUS. IT BOASTED a sumptuous lobby, hallways lined with red velvet carpets, a spectacular Roman-themed spa and a bedroom suite larger than most Manhattan apartments. Best of all were the views, across Sydney Harbor to the famous opera house, rising like some grand ship with sails billowing against the skyline.
Lisa had always wanted to come to Australia. But not like this.
“What’s the matter?”
In linen Ralph Lauren pants and a blue silk shirt, he looked as handsome as ever. With more money to spend than he’d had before, he’d developed expensive tastes in clothes and watches that would have looked flashy on some men, but he wore them well. Then again, he wore everything well.
“Nothing. I’m tired.” Tired of looking over my shoulder. Tired of the nightmares, the loneliness, the deceit.
Lisa was standing by the window. Walking up behind her, he started rubbing her shoulders.
“Did all that sex with Matt Daley take it out of you?”
“Stop it,” she snapped. “He’s a nice man, okay? Besides, you were the one who told me to get close to him.”
It was true. He had told Lisa Baring to get close to the American, to find out what he knew. Inspector Liu was clearly stumbling around in the dark, like all the other detectives he’d dealt with. But Daley was different. He didn’t think like a cop, he thought like a human being, like somebody’s son. That alone made him dangerous.
“You fell in love with him, didn’t you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Lisa. She didn’t want to talk about Matt. Not here. Not with him. She comforted herself that at least, with her out of the picture, Matt would be safe. He’d get over her eventually. Then he could go back to L.A. and his life and pick up where he’d left off. What she wouldn’t give to be able to do the same!
She turned around to face him. “Look, I’ve done what you asked. With Miles. With Matt Daley. I have the money, I can wire it wherever you want. But what about your side of the bargain? When can I see my sister?”
“‘Soon’? Soon when? You promised!”
He grabbed her violently by the throat. Lisa whimpered in fear. How had she ever been attracted to him? Ever trusted him?
“When it’s over, that’s when. When all the guilty have been punished.”
The guilty. Who are the guilty? Was Miles guilty, really? Did he deserve to die? And what about the others, the men you slaughtered all those years ago? What about their poor wives?
There was a time when she’d believed that Miles was guilty. When she’d seen the world the way he saw it. But meeting Matt Daley had changed all that. It was as if Matt had woken her from a trance, brought her back to reality. But by then it was too late.
He released his grip and Lisa slumped back against the wall, tears streaming down her cheeks. When he reached for her again, she cowered in fear, but this time his touch was gentle, brushing away the tears.
“Don’t cry, my angel. Just one more, I promise, and it will all be over. How would you like to go to India?”
“No!” Lisa sobbed. “Please. I can’t. I won’t.”
“Yes, you will…” He stroked her hair. “You need to rest first, that’s all. Like you said, you’re tired. But you know you’ll help me in the end. We’ll help each other. Remember: your sister’s counting on you.”
DANNY MCGUIRE TURNED RIGHT ONTO CLIFFWOOD, enjoying the sensation of the breeze on his face and the warm L.A. sunshine on his back as his open-topped rental car sped up the hill. It had been so long since he’d driven in Los Angeles, and his last memories of the place had been so grim, he’d entirely forgotten how much he had once loved it. Brentwood especially was glorious in the sunshine, with its clean, wide suburban streets lined with blossoming trees of every size and color, its pleasant Spanish-style homes and neatly kept yards, its white picket fences and yellow school buses and smiling, healthy-looking residents.
I must bring Céline here, he thought, just as soon as she can stand the sight of me again. Since Claude Demartin’s breakthrough at the Chaumures Laboratory, relations had thawed not only with Inspector Liu in Hong Kong but with the French and British police forces too. Even the powers that be at the LAPD were suddenly willing to let bygones be bygones and get behind Operation Azrael. As a result, Henri Frémeaux had finally given Danny a half-decent budget, more manpower and free rein to devote the bulk of his time to the operation for the next six months. Danny was delighted, but Céline had burst into tears when he told her, especially when he announced that he was kicking things off with a monthlong trip to the States.