Kerensa lives a life of privilege few could imagine. Loving husband. Luxury home. Financial security.
But in the attic of their sea view mansion is a secret waiting to be discovered, threatening to destroy their perfect marriage.
When their daughter’s au pair uncovers Dominic’s carefully constructed illusion, one lie at a time, it ends in murder.
I twist the wedding band round my ring finger as I gaze at the vast expanse of land surrounding the back of our home. Dominic said I’d grow into it but it’s still too big.
My face is pressed up against the window so I can smell the peppermint toothpaste on my breath. I rub the condensation away with the sleeve of my jumper, leaving a smear on the glass.
I lean back and rest my spine on the cushions of my window seat, reflecting on the face that stares at me. Her hollow-eyes, pale skin, dark hair, dry lips. She doesn’t look how I feel. Content. Appreciative. Privileged. Instead she appears haunted.
Most would think me lucky, but every marriage has its secrets. Some people are just better at hiding them.
Beneath a cornflower blue sky lies the garden border, containing rows of shrubs and flowers. The stone yard in front of it, dotted by cherry blossom trees. Beyond that, the lush green field that ends at the entrance to the forest where the ferns frame the grounds. To the right, just out of my line of view, behind the hedge is the summerhouse where our wedding took place. The photographs destroyed in the flood, caused by the burst riverbank that runs alongside it, after the storm. Though Miss Bergh, Annika, our most recent au pair, told me the water couldn’t possibly reach as far as our cliff-top mansion. Her face pinched with a scowl when I tried to put her right.
And she would know. I’ve never left the house.
‘You must be mistaken,’ she said. ‘I’ve lived here since I arrived from Poland, in the nineties. The river has not burst its bank in all my thirty years. Besides, even if it had, this house is two levels above the floodplain which is sloped towards the sea.’
Did Dominic overhear?
Is that why my husband dismissed her?
I stand, take my empty beaker into the kitchen and head upstairs to the toilet. I don’t make it as far as the bathroom before something lands on my nose. Wet like a raindrop. I look up at the ceiling and see a damp patch, slightly bowed, the white paint now urine yellow.
Dominic doesn’t know the first thing about DIY. Won’t ask for my advice despite the fact I’ve read every book shelved in the downstairs library, including those about household maintenance, and won’t call a tiler – which is whom we likely need – because it’ll mean letting a stranger into his home.
I enter the bathroom to pee, ignoring the cracked plasterboard, the wallpaper beneath it that’s saturated and hangs above my head as I descend the stairs, pretending I can’t hear the occasional drip.
On my return to the lounge I pick up a book, the only thing I can do since the television stopped working a decade ago, and the radio antenna won’t pick up a signal unless you take it into the dining room which we can’t afford to heat. Or so Dominic told me when I complained the room was starting to smell and black mould spores were beginning to climb the wall surrounding the leaded sash windows.
I glance up at the clock on the mantle, the battery hasn’t been replaced since Christmas last. The year he threw the turkey I’d burned onto the lawn for the crows to feast on.
I have to estimate the moments I spend alone by the sky which has been slate grey all day but is now streaked violet above the clouds that are haloed by a sun that looks like an orange that’s been dipped in blood.
I put the bookmark on the velvet seat beside me and read the same paragraph twice before my mind wanders fully to thoughts of Dominic.
Not because the hero is romantic but because he’s just been accused of cheating on his wife. And the way he reacts to the accusation: deflective and furious reminds me of the way Dominic responded when I asked him what had happened to our wedding photographs.
My skin prickles when I look up and through the glass and see the charcoal and indigo sky, and start to think that maybe the familiar rattle of Dominic’s rusty car that billows black smoke
from the exhaust as if on fire won’t arrive.
I know I rely on him too much but I don’t have a choice
Thank you, Louise Mullins and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
Louise Mullins writes full-time using the experience she gained in a prior life working in the field of forensic mental health, working with offenders and survivors of serious crimes.
Website : http://www.louisemullinsauthor.com
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-You-Bad-page-turning-psychological-ebook/dp/B08BGT3C4L/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1S9YJ662QIRNO&dchild=1&keywords=love+you+bad+louise+mullins&qid=1626418594&sprefix=love+you+bad+l%2Cstripbooks%2C190&sr=8-1