Married to rich and famous rock guitarist, Nick Quenington, and living in a country mansion, from the outside Eve’s life appears to be perfect.
Heartbroken when they can’t conceive a child, Eve’s adoption hopes are threatened when Nick and his band are accused of drugging and raping a fan. Despite vehemently denying the allegations, the band are subjected to trial by social media.
Eve’s belief in Nick’s innocence leads her to passionately defend him to the press, but sales and downloads take a nosedive, the upcoming tour is cancelled and their music dropped from radio stations. And, as more accusations emerge, Eve begins to have her doubts.
A story of love, deceit, betrayal and revenge.
Nick is pacing the hallway outside the boot room; a small card in his hand, he’s rehearsing a statement he must have agreed with Kendra. In an English winter, his tanned face and unruly dark curls are at odds with his formal jacket. Beside him, she’ll look so pale.
Though tempted to simply grab the nearest coat, she needs to get this right because, once the pictures are splashed across the tabloids, every detail will be pored over. This isn’t her first encounter with the paparazzi – she’s learnt the importance of controlling the narrative before it takes control of you. Like it or not, every part of her image will tell its own story.
She unties her hair hoping it will soften her face. Best not wear her riding boots or expensive insulated wellies – she needs to look relatable. Her grey lace-ups should be unremarkable. The navy pea jacket is smart enough to show she’s taking this seriously but is ostensibly not the product of some swanky designer. That settled, on impulse she adds a scarf – the chunky hand-knitted one Tania sent her for Christmas; its imperfections will lend her outfit a homely touch.
‘What d’you think?’ she asks, presenting herself for Nick’s approval.
His smile is an effort. ‘You look lovely, but then you always do.’
Before she can question him further, he shuts his eyes, takes a quiet moment to control his breathing like he’s learnt to do before any performance.
‘Okay,’ he says, ‘let’s get this done.’ Shoulders back. ‘You ready?’
‘As I’ll ever be.’
He grabs her hand. ‘Okay, let’s go.’
Instead of the usual side entrance, they emerge through the front door. As soon as they step outside the noise is amped up and the commotion at the gate steps up a gear – camera motors whir, flashes go off in a volley. Their names are called out with increasing desperation.
Eve concentrates only on putting one foot in front of the other. Breath clouding the air, their footsteps crunch the gravel, side by side as they approach the gates – this is Judgement Day.
Like the showman he is, Nick leaves it until they’re only a few metres away before blipping the small device that opens the gates. Taken by surprise, those
pressed up against it stumble forward to avoid falling. Wrongfooted, they regroup and rush forward jostling for position.
Nick stills the disorder with a raised hand. Fluffy microphones are extended. They all wait upon his words.
For one moment, Eve is terrified he’ll pull the cue-card from his pocket. Instead, he begins an impassioned statement refuting all the allegations. When they ask him about the footage, he’s careful to insert the word deepfake several times into his answer without directly accusing anyone. It’s an impressive performance – word perfect.
She’s caught off guard when someone shouts her name. Like the limbs of some enormous hairy spider, all the microphones swivel in her direction. Nick’s grip on her tightens. The faces before her blur. She only needs to get through this and then it will all be over and done with.
They grow quiet as they wait for her statement.
‘I’ve known Nick since we were at school together.’ Flashes light up the air like a storm. Despite the cold, she’s sweating profusely. ‘And in all the years I’ve known him, he’s always shown the greatest respect not just to me but to all the women he knows and works with. Rock musicians have a reputation for behaving wildly – badly you might say – but Nick has always been a deeply moral man. I know he would never behave like… in the way he’s being accused of.’
‘You’re saying it’s a pack of lies?’ A man’s voice though she’s not certain which one.
‘I’m saying I believe my husband is completely innocent.’
A woman this time, ‘So you’re standing by your man, Eve?’ Such a tired bloody cliché.
‘Look, I know this man – he’s my soulmate – and I know he wouldn’t do…’ She’s not going to use the words. ‘The awful things he’s accused of.’ She turns to Nick, forces her mouth into a smile. ‘I believe in him. In us.’
The strain must show on her face; that picture will tell its own story. Softening her eyes, she leans in and kisses Nick – a chaste kiss she plants not on his mouth but on his cheek. The whirs and flashes reach a crescendo.
A man in a green beanie hat shouts, ‘Have you spoken to Lina Wolff?’ It’s unclear who this question is aimed at.
‘No, I haven’t,’ Nick tells him. ‘But you can bet our lawyers will be in touch with her.’
A tall redhead thrusts her microphone in his face. ‘So, you’re planning to sue Miss Wolff for defamation?’
‘Like I said, the group will be consulting our lawyers.’ Had they noticed how he’d hesitated? Would they make something of that?
Nick looks each of them in the eye. ‘That’s all we have to say at this time, folks.’ His raised hand waves. ‘Have a safe journey home.’
Ignoring further entreaties, they plaster on smiles before turning their backs. On their heels, the pack scurries behind them, wanting more. Eve’s careful to hold her head high as they continue to walk towards the house.
She’s grateful their front door is strong enough to repel a siege – at least for a while. Like a blow, the sound of it closing echoes along the hallway. Vengeful wasps disturbed, the more persistent individuals continue to rap at the door.
Afterwards, when she tries to replay the scene, she can’t remember any of the many urgent questions shouted after them as Nick led her back inside.
Thank you, Jan Turk Petrie and Random Things Tours
About the Author
Jan Turk Petrie is an award winning writer based in the Cotswolds area of England (UK). A former English teacher with an MA in Creative Writing, she has also penned numerous, prize-winning short stories.
Her novels in order of publication:
The Eldísvík Trilogy – a fast paced future-world Nordic thriller series set in 2068 in a fictional Scandinavian city state. Vol 1 – ‘Until The Ice Cracks’; Vol 2 – ‘No God for a Warrior’ – & Vol 3 – ‘Within Each Other’s Shadow’
‘Too Many Heroes’ – a post-war thriller set mainly in the East End of London.
‘Towards the Vanishing Point’ – is a period literary domestic drama and the story of an enduring friendship between two women and the sinister man who marries one of them.
‘The Truth in a Lie’ – is Jan’s first contemporary novel. A story of love, loyalty, betrayal and the damage done by untold secrets
‘Running Behind Time’ – is a time-slip novel. There’s a wrinkle in time on the 15:15 train from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa…
Twitter handle: @TurkPetrie