Since smuggling her laptop back from Asia, he’d already searched every crevice of every drive it contained, from old e-mails to photo files to Word documents, looking for something, anything, that might tell him who this man was. Lisa’s lover. The one she was protecting. The one who had stolen her from him. But there was nothing. The only lead Matt had was a single vacation photograph, an amateurish shot showing Lisa hand in hand with a man. Lisa’s face suggested that the photo was relatively recent, a year or two old perhaps but no more. She was just as Matt pictured her every night in his dreams. But the man’s face was obscured by a dazzling light. Very bright sunshine, perhaps, or a reflected camera flash. Both of them were dressed in shorts and T-shirts, and standing in front of an aged stone harbor wall.
Bringing up the photo, Matt examined it again. The wall looked European. Europe in the summertime. A sign in the top left-hand corner caught his eye. He zoomed in, waited for the image to refocus, then zoomed in again. At last he saw it, a single word, hand-painted in cursive, italic script: GELATO.
Italy! They were in Italy. An Italian harbor. Somewhere on the coast.
With a jolt Matt’s mind jumped back to Bali. On the veranda at Mirage with Lisa…staring into the fire…watching the flames dance the night they first made love…What was it that she had said?
“We had a fire pit like this in Positano. Miles loved it.”
The man in the picture wasn’t Miles Baring. But maybe it had been taken on the same trip to the Amalfi coast.
Was that where she met him? Was that where the nightmare all started, where she somehow fell into his trap?
Matt Daley had promised Danny McGuire he wouldn’t do anything stupid. Breaking promises to Danny McGuire was starting to become a bad habit.
Closing the computer with trembling hands, he started to pack.
DAVID ISHAG GAZED OUT THE WINDOW of his twenty-third-floor office in Mumbai’s central business district, grinning like an idiot.
David Ishag wasn’t an idiot. Born to an Indian mother and an English father of Jewish descent, David Raj Osman Kapiri Ishag was one of the most well-respected entrepreneurs of his generation. He had engineering degrees from both Oxford and MIT, and was the founder and CEO of Ishag Electronics, India’s fastest-growing exporter of component hardware. At forty-eight years old, though he looked much younger, with his mother’s smooth coffee skin and his father’s strong patrician features, David Ishag was handsome, brilliant and obscenely rich. Although he considered himself Indian—Ishag Electronics had offices all over the world, but the Mumbai tower overlooking Nariman Point would forever be its headquarters—in reality, David Ishag was a true global citizen. Raised in India, educated in England and America, steeped in not one or even two but three religions—his mother’s Christianity, his father’s Judaism, and the Hinduism of his native land—David could fit in almost anywhere. More even than his academic brilliance, it was his global worldview, and his ability to relate to people from all cultures and walks of life, that had made David Ishag the business phenomenon that he was.
This morning, however, his famed commercial acumen was in sleep mode.
This morning, all David Ishag could think about was a beautiful woman’s face.
THEY HAD MET TWO MONTHS EARLIER at a charity function. It was one of those tedious, overdone white-tie affairs at the Oberoi, where hedge fund and private equity types bid hundreds of thousands of dollars for lackluster raffle prizes ostensibly in order to “Raise Money for Street Kids” but more truly in order to show off in front of their girlfriends. Normally David avoided these things like the plague. He gave plenty of money to charity, anonymously and by bank transfer, like any normal, decent human being, and had zero interest in being pursued around a ballroom by dozens of frenzied, money-hungry socialites. The women at these events were worse even than the men, shameless gold diggers with faces shot up with Botox and craniums full of nothing at all. They could virtually smell your net worth from across a room, the way trained police dogs sniffed out hidden caches of drugs. They scared him.
Unfortunately, being a prominent member of Mumbai’s business community meant that occasionally David Ishag had to put in an appearance at such charitable functions. On this particular evening, for the first time ever, he was glad he had.
He saw her at a corner table, looking as bored as he was. Not the arrogant, affected boredom of the models who eyed David when he walked in, so intoxicated by their own beauty that they considered everybody else beneath them, but the genuine, profound boredom of an intelligent person who finds herself stuck making small talk with a table full of braying donkeys.
She was simply dressed in a decidedly noncouture black column, but her beauty needed no adornment. With her high cheekbones, pale skin and intelligent dark brown eyes, framed by a sharply cut Cleopatra bob of black hair, she had a presence, almost an aura that drew David to her. Catching him staring, she looked up and smiled.
Her name was Sarah Jane Hughes. She was a schoolteacher, working for a charity that helped educate slum children across the subcontinent. She was Irish, only a few years younger than David and hilariously funny. Her imitations of the investment banking bores at her table had David in stitches for days afterward, just as her haunting face had him skipping out of meetings early just to check if she’d called him back and agreed to go out on a date.
David Ishag had dated other girls who played hard to get. The smart ones knew that Mumbai’s most eligible, and also its most confirmed, bachelor was unlikely to be impressed by neediness. But Sarah Jane wasn’t playing. She was genuinely busy, with the children at her school, her teaching, her life. She’d had no idea who David was when they met, and when she found out, she didn’t care.
David Ishag already knew he was in love. For him, it was instantaneous. But once Sarah Jane agreed to go out with him, it had taken him a month to persuade her that she felt the same way. Just when he’d started to believe it was never going to happen for him, that the tabloids were right when they said he simply wasn’t the marrying type, David had found the woman of his dreams. He was sublimely, ridiculously happy.
The buzzer rang. “Someone here to see you, Mr. Ishag. A young lady.”
David’s heart soared. Sarah Jane! They weren’t supposed to see each other till dinner tonight. After she’d accepted his marriage proposal last week—David had wanted to fly her to the perfect romantic location, Mauritius or at the very least Goa, to pop the question, but Sarah Jane point-blank refused to take time off work, so in the end he was forced to produce the ring over dinner at Schwan’s—they had a lot to discuss. But David knew that if he had to wait another six hours to see her, he wouldn’t get a stroke of work done today. He was delighted she’d bothered to come all this way, leaving her beloved classroom.
But when the office door opened, David’s heart sank. Not Sarah Jane. Elizabeth Cameron. My lawyer. He’d totally forgotten about their meeting.
Elizabeth Cameron smiled. “Thank you for seeing me at such short notice.”
David tried hard to maintain his professional demeanor, but the disappointment was etched on his face. “Not at all, Elizabeth. What can I do for you?”
Elizabeth Cameron was blond, attractive and ambitious. A promising young lawyer, she knew how important a big client like David Ishag was to her firm, not to mention to her own career. Please, please don’t let him shoot the messenger.
“It’s not good news, I’m afraid. Ms. Hughes has returned the documents to us. Unsigned.”
If David Ishag looked surprised, it was because he was. The papers in question were a fairly standard prenuptial agreement. Sarah Jane was the one who’d wanted a quick wedding, somewhere private and low-key, with no elaborate preparations. “As soon as you sort out the legals, we’ll do it” had been her exact words.
“Are you sure she understood what the papers were?”
Elizabeth Cameron shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Quite sure. She read them thoroughly. I handed them over myself. Her response was…well, it was…” She trawled her memory banks for an appropriate word. Forthright…pithy…
“Spit it out, girl,” said David with uncharacteristic anger. “What did she say? Exactly.”
The lawyer swallowed hard. “Well now…exactly…she said she wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man on earth. She said I could give you back your wretched contract, along with this.” Reaching out her hand, she pressed an exquisite Bombay sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring into David’s palm. “If I’m being completely honest, she did then suggest that you might like to, quote, stick, unquote, both the ring and the documents up your—”