Just Tell Me (The Justice Series)

BOOK: Just Tell Me (The Justice Series)
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Chapter 1

May

Nicole’s face exploded in pain as her head slammed against the mirror in the bathroom. She felt her skin rip against the sharp glass. 

“You’re pathetic”
Andrew’s words rang in her ears “No man’s ever going to want you”

His words were
silenced only by the pain and the realisation she had to get away.  She looked at the mirror. It was splintered where the side of her forehead had hit the glass like a spider’s web.  The smear of bright red blood highlighted the lines and she touched the mirror as part of the glass fell apart under her hand.  It pricked her finger and landed in the sink and at that moment she just wanted to pick it up and stab it through his neck. A trickle of sticky blood ran down into her eye and she wiped it with the back of her hand as the tears diluted the red. 

Dizziness pricked at her
chest and she put her hand on their Farrow and Ball bathroom wall, leaving a smear on the pristine cream.  Andrew stood and calmly watched her as she stared at the shard.  Their perfect bathroom was covered in blood, it carried on pouring down her face dripping onto the Molton Brown hand wash.

“Clean this mess up” he slurred the words “you clumsy bitch”.
 

Clumsy.
  That was the word she used in A&E when she was unable to pull the last particles of glass from her head.  They had been out for dinner with friends and she had sat quietly in her chair, she was too dull. Too talkative and she was a flirt, an embarrassment. Why can’t you be normal like the rest of them? He kept hold of her arm as they walked into the apartment and he had pushed her against the wall, his hands all over her. She had pushed him away and escaped to the solitude of the bathroom.  It was always in that room, the place she had tried to escape to.  No lock on the door anymore now he had pushed the flimsy door through to get to her, to carry on the taunting.  He had only pushed her. He rationalised with her later, she was over exaggerating.  It was only sex with his girlfriend, was she frigid? 

Clumsy.
  It was also the word she used at 2am on the following Friday night when she felt the searing pain in her ribs.  Fractured as she fell against the toilet.  That night had started well, Nicole had finished work and rushed back to prepare the dinner party. Andrew had texted her to say he was working late and would make it before their friends arrived. Their perfect friends. Nicole had no idea how and when these work acquaintances had become her friends.  David and Joanna, a chartered accountant and a financial consultant.  The perfect friends for a solicitor and a barrister.  Nicole had tidied the already clean apartment, cooked a dinner of warm goats cheese and walnut salad. She intended to grill the lamb chops once the starters were served and just had the time to make herself presentable by the time they arrived. 

Andrew had walked in a few moments behind them, his tie was unfastened and she could smell the wine and cigarettes on his breath.
  He had spent the night drinking and flirting with Joanna, while Nicole made polite conversation with David.  Dull as ever.  Andrew caught her eye and glared at her.  Nicole didn’t care anymore, what else could he do to her now? She suspected he was cheating on her, but if it meant he didn’t try to have sex with her again it was fine by her.  Sex.  It had been at least six months; it was the only thing she could hold against him, the last card in her pocket. 

She knew
in her heart she should just walk away, but they had a joint mortgage on their apartment and over £100,000 in negative equity.  Besides he was right. Who else would want a 28 year old woman who had been told she couldn’t have children?  She was damaged goods.     

June

Daniel rushed down the platform at Manchester train station, the conductor blew the whistle for the 18.05 to Edinburgh and he jumped on the train just as the doors were about to close.  A thin film of sweat covered his face. His suit felt claustrophobic in the busy train even though he had taken his jacket off. The air smelt stale from hundreds of passing commuters and he walked through the carriages, irritated at missing the previous train, losing his first class reservation. About to give up on the chance of a seat, he spotted an empty space next to a woman at the back of the last carriage and squeezed past the knees and elbows in the cramped aisle. Daniel paid little attention to the woman he sat next to, he pulled his laptop from its case ready to get some work done on the three hour journey ahead.

He pulled his iPod out of his jacket pocket and plugged the white headphones into his ears, pressing
shuffle on the silver device, loosing himself to the haunting melodies of Lana Del Ray. His laptop powered into life and emails pinged as he connected to his network, he opened one from his accountant to review the quarterly projections in more detail.

Daniel coul
d sense the woman next to him move, he knew she was looking at his screen.
The cheek of it.
Distracted,
he turned to glare at her, irritated by her invasion of his laptop, but as his eyes met hers he held his breath for a second. Her large oval eyes were flecked with hazel and tendrils of dark hair framed her face.  That mark on her forehead, a deep cut.  
Where did she get that from?
He looked away as his heart skipped a beat, for the first time in his life he didn’t know what to say to a woman. His reaction took him by surprise. 

The accounts stared back at him from his laptop
screen but he was unable to concentrate. He felt as though he had been hit in the stomach and took a breath as he glanced at her again.  Her hand was on her laptop and she quickly moved it away as it left a damp imprint on the shiny metal, he willed her to turn round again. He needed to look in those eyes again, her lips and the way her hair fell but she was looking out of the window once more. 

Nicole
had been out of breath from running down the platform at Manchester station to try to secure a seat on the busy train, her rib had ached as she tried to steady her breathing.  June in the city was damp and muggy and she had rushed to catch this train up to Edinburgh for the annual company event, held in the largest hotel in the Scottish city and Nicole was glad to get away. The only thing she was looking forward to was three days without Andrew, three days where she didn’t have to look over her shoulder. Grateful to find the spare seat at the back of the train she finally sat down, she wanted to place her head on the cold train window but a greasy mark smeared the glass and she imagined the oily haired occupier who had rested their head against it. Anxiety flushed through her as the train set off and she was finally anonymous with her thoughts, what was she doing with her life? She couldn’t tell anyone she was being physically abused, she felt so ashamed.

She tried to push it
away and thought of her friends Anna and Libby and the weekend that had passed. A well deserved night out with her proper friends in Leeds. She was surprised that Anna was playing such a dangerous game, flirting with her Finance Director in a club. A cardinal sin but part of her wondered if she should be more like her friend.
It would probably backfire on her like all my relationships
, she smiled cynically.

Andrew had tried to stop her going as usual and she knew she wou
ld pay for it when she got back but he had just sulked, barely talking to her. He was a stupid ignorant man. He contradicted himself, he said no one else would want her but at the same time he analysed her every move, controlling her with his questions and even now she couldn’t stop thinking about him but for all the wrong reasons. Why couldn’t she just walk away? Move back in with her parents and try to get the finance sorted? They would help her through it, but she couldn’t face the look on their faces when she told them. 

The train steadily moved north,
grey industry made way for green open fields and the sun peeked out of dark rainclouds to celebrate the last hour of the day before it set.  She loved the train to Scotland. The wild hills and natural light was a refreshing change, the sound of the train was hypnotic and she felt her eyes grow heavy as she started to doze.  Briefly aware that someone had occupied the empty seat next to her she subconsciously moved closer to the window, avoiding the greasy mark.  She took a deep breath and could feel the pain in her chest as her fractured rib argued with her lungs, the bruising had reduced but the pain was still acute. 

The
sun just started to set over the green hills and the stone farmhouses, bathing the ground in an orange glow. The farm buildings looked like models and she caught a glimpse of a farmer riding a quad bike with his cattle. She wished she was riding it with him, free of Andrew and her worries. Her stomach rumbled and her mind moved to the delights of hotel food, a table was already reserved in the fine dining restaurant. Being a passionate foodie she was already pondering steak or sea bass, the benefit of lone business travelling was the table for one and a good book.  And no Andrew. 

Nicole
took a glance sideward as she heard the stranger sat next to her typing on his laptop. She could never resist a sneak at another person’s life to see what they were writing and she leaned over discretely.  He glared over at her and their eyes met. Trapped for a moment in the intensity of his stare she blushed and turned away. Embarrassment flushed her face, not just to have been caught peeping at his laptop but also shocked at his amazing blue eyes, piercing and inquisitive as he caught her. His dark hair was short and he had the start of stubble shadowing his jaw, his tanned skin contrasted against the crisp whiteness of his shirt. 
Oh God he was gorgeous
.  She wished she was Anna for a moment, confident and alluring instead of shy and awkward when faced with men.  Her eyes watched the view from the window as her heart raced in her chest, but the ache in her rib intensified with every breath reminding her of who she was and how no man would want her.

He is the most gorgeous man I have ever seen
she cringed at herself, she was finished with men and even if she was single he wouldn’t look twice at someone like her. She could smell his aftershave, the soft manly aroma of something expensive, reminding her of pine cones, wood smoke and horse leather.  The close proximity of him was suddenly overbearing, she closed her eyes again trying to force the image out of her mind. Her heart was beating too quickly, she realised she was gripping her laptop with her hand and quickly moved it away. It left a damp mark where her fingers had been, she slid a glance right again and he was looking at the mark her hand had left.  Nicole did not look up again to meet his gaze. 
He probably thinks there’s something wrong with me
.  She resolved to sit on her hands for the next three hours of the journey.

Never had a man had such an effect on her and she was unnerved by her body’s irrational response, she tried to think about steak or sea bass again but her appetite had disappeared.
 
He’s probably married with children
she thought cynically. Andrew would kill her for even looking at him, she needed to face the life she had and not some fantasy in her head. 

She tried not to dwell that aged 28 her life was not going t
he way she had always planned, not with Andrew.  That fucking arsehole. She regretted every minute with him but felt trapped with that hideously massive mortgage taken before the recession hit and now she had no choice.  He would never let her go, she would be faced with half the liabilities for the rest of the mortgage and it was worse than being married.  He had been perfect when they had first met, four years ago. A barrister that made her laugh and gave her confidence but it was only when they had moved in together she realised she was just an accessory. A broken one. 

Nicole
had blocked out the memories of the months of fertility treatment. That last visit to the consultant had shattered any illusion of how it might not be her, how their chances of conceiving naturally were almost nil.  Andrew’s violent outbursts had got worse and she was thankful she had never got pregnant. She thought about the money she had spent on him even though he earned more than her, he would never put his hand in his pocket. The holidays to the Maldives and the expensive restaurants he liked to eat in amounted to thousands. 

When
she thought about her future years when she should have been getting married and having children, her heart sank.  Now she could see herself trapped with Andrew, childless as she went to the christenings and naming ceremonies of her friend’s children. 

Childless an
d in debt
, she thought sadly.
Abused by my boyfriend
. He had once told her no one would believe it if she told them the truth, and anyway she would have to prove it.
 It was you that slipped.
She could hear his voice in her head.
I only pushed you for fucks sake. Of course I didn’t actually hit you
. Her hand went to the mark on her forehead, it was still painful to touch and she knew she would have a permanent scar. She had nothing left inside her but hatred and resentment. He had worn away her confidence and she had become obsessed with her career, a welcome distraction from her domestic setup. It was the only thing she could control in her life, she couldn’t leave him, he had a hold over her financially and emotionally. The realisation of her depressing situation hit her hard.


Drink?”  She looked round and the stranger looked over at her again.  He had been watching her as she moved her hair from her neck, she was unable to look at his gaze and realised it wasn’t him asking her for a drink. A man was pushing the drinks trolley wearily up the aisle and repeating himself “Drinks? Snacks? Coffee?” to no one in particular. 

BOOK: Just Tell Me (The Justice Series)
5.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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