The Detective’s Wife, by Joanne Clancy
Life can change in an instant.
What if your life was one big lie? What if no one knew your darkest secret?
Ben Miller is torn between two worlds. He has spent a lifetime running from the secrets and lies of his past, until an unexpected encounter forces him to face the consequences of what he did one fateful night seven years ago.
Vanessa Murphy is a high-powered lawyer, used to getting her own way–whatever the cost. However, the pretence of living a successful life is about to come crashing down around her. Soon, she will be locked away and hated, unless she can get rid of Ben Miller, who is the only piece of damning evidence against her.
What happens when the past and present lives of two strangers horribly collide?
Find out in The Detective’s Wife, a story about the secrets we keep, the ties that bind us, and the true cost of the lies we tell.
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Vanessa Murphy turned the radio up full blast, hoping that the music would help her forget the day from hell. It was almost 1a.m., and she had just finished work. She was used to be being one of the last to leave the law offices of Wilson, Taylor & Morgan where she was desperate to make partner, but 1a.m was late, even by her standards. She let out a long, low, sigh of relief that the day was nearly over and she had met the deadline.
She blinked the sleep from her eyes as she left the bright lights of Dublin city behind and headed towards the suburbs. The streets were deserted, and most of the houses were in darkness. She turned the radio up even louder and sang along tunelessly. She stepped on the accelerator, anxious to be home and tucked up in bed with her Kindle.
Suddenly, a shadow leapt out of the darkness and landed directly in front of her car. There was a dull thud and a simultaneous crack. The car jolted and slowed down, but didn’t stop. Vanessa stared out the windscreen, stunned. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing; there was a man hanging onto the bonnet of her car.
She stared at the man, but kept driving. He stared back at her. She reached into her handbag for her phone, wondering whom to call. It seemed logical to call the police, but she had already committed a crime–hit and run–only she had taken her victim with her.
The man was saying something; she could see his mouth moving, but she couldn’t hear him. There was a spot of blood on his shirt; maybe it was dirt. He looked rough and unkempt. Maybe he was homeless. Maybe he was crazy.
Her heart pounded with apprehension, while her lawyer’s mind tried to find a solution. Clearly, the man was out of his mind; why else would he have run in front of her car? A bolt of hostility flashed through her. This strange man had forced her to commit a crime. He had appeared out of nowhere. Even if she tried explaining to him that it was his entire fault, he wouldn’t understand. She kept driving.
Ben Miller was drunk, but the adrenaline and sharp pain coursing through his veins quickly sobered him up. A car had just hit him. His body was collapsed over the silver bonnet, his jacket was ripped and the skin on his stomach was caught in the grille.
Part of him was relieved that it wasn’t a police car. The cold January wind blew through his long, scraggly hair.
“Help,” he whispered. He could hardly breathe. He expected the police to catch up with him at any minute. Usually, he was too fast for them, but he’d been too drunk to notice the car as he ran out of the park, and away from their torchlight.
His heart pumped fear and panic throughout his broken body. Pain seared through his chest, arms and stomach. He couldn’t feel his legs. Straining to look down, he was horrified to see that his legs were stuck under the car, probably twisted and broken. He couldn’t see anything past his knees, where they disappeared completely under the car.
He tried to focus on the ground, but it was blurring and swirling in the familiar way that too much cheap vodka repainted the world. He closed his eyes, and tried to focus. When he opened them, he could see that the road was moving beneath him at a dangerous speed. His heart froze. The driver had no intention of stopping.
He tightened his grip on the bonnet, and peered through the windscreen at the driver. She was in her early twenties, with short, platinum blonde hair and blue emotionless eyes that stared dead ahead. Did she even realise that she had hit him?
“Hey,” Ben croaked, his voice was a whisper. Breathing was becoming increasingly painful. “Hey!” He forced himself to try getting her attention, but the woman didn’t flinch. She continued staring straight ahead, driving steadily along the dark, deserted road. “Help!”
The sharp pain in his chest was suffocating. He strained to see any sign of the police or another vehicle, but there was no one around. He clung to the bonnet as it rounded a bend, knowing that if he fell, the car would run him over.
The car slowed and pulled into a driveway. He heard the garage door open behind him. Something told him that he had to stay in the driveway if he had any chance of escape. The pain in his lungs was excruciating. The car didn’t stop. Instead, she pulled into the garage.
His back grazed the garage wall. He peered at the woman behind the wheel. Her face was expressionless, and her eyes were like steel. She switched off the engine. The garage was eerily quiet.
“Call for help,” he whispered.
The woman stayed in the driver’s seat staring straight ahead, as if she were in a trance. Then her eyes shifted and met his, just as the garage doors began to close.
“Are you crazy?” Ben asked, pushing his voice as far as he could. “Are you high?” He had once known an addict who was so high on meth that he hadn’t realised he’d cut his leg down to the bone with a chainsaw. “Do you have a first-aid kit? Maybe you’re a nurse.”
The sharp pain in his lungs was exacerbated with every word, but he felt compelled to keep talking. “Call for help, please.”
However, her face remained unchanged and her eyes were unmoving as she looked at him with strange indifference. He was just an insect on her windscreen.
Vanessa examined the man through the safety of the windscreen. He seemed disoriented, but not badly injured. He looked like he could get up, walk over to her, and break her neck in one angry motion.
His mouth was moving and sneering. She wondered what threats he was whispering at her. He probably wanted to kill her. Once she got out of the car, she’d have to run into the house and lock the door to the garage.
She opened the car door. His smell hit her violently, surrounding her, and trapping her. Had she hit a beer keg instead of a man? Not only was he crazy, but he was also drunk.
“Run,” the man whispered, jolting her out of her thoughts. His loud wheezing filled the small garage. Vanessa’s face twitched with anxiety. She didn’t know what to do. “Help,” he whispered again.
She stared at the ground and focused on walking around the back of the car, away from him. Carefully, she moved through the space between the car and the garage door. A sudden screech from the car alarm made her jump.
“Please,” the man wheezed.
Vanessa kept walking. She climbed the two steps and opened the door to her house. Without looking back, she locked the door behind her.