20 October 2016
Blog Tour: Extract of All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll
Eight months, two weeks and four days. That’s exactly how long Kate had been married before she began to see a very different and slightly worrying side to Damien.
She could still remember it vividly. They had been due to have dinner that evening with a business contact of his, along with his wife. Not just any business contact though – Damien had so many, it was impossible to keep up with them all – this was a guy who’d flown in all the way from Missouri especially for the night and Damien was hoping to persuade him to come on board as a Globtech investor. Kate knew it was a huge deal for him and, as ever, the last thing she wanted to do was let him down.
About an hour before they were due to leave, she was still up in her bedroom at Castletown House, blow-drying her hair before changing into a slinky Armani cocktail dress she’d bought in Harvey Nichols earlier that day, a whispery slip of a thing that only someone as long and lean and elegant as her could possibly carry off. From two floors beneath her, she heard Damien coming home from work and moments later, he strode into the room and was straight over to her, locking his arms around her waist and nuzzling deep into her neck.
‘Missed you,’ he said, kissing at her ear. ‘Did you miss me?’
‘Stop messing,’ Kate laughed, playfully pushing him away from her so she could concentrate on putting in her earrings. ‘We only just saw each other this morning!’
‘Far too long to be apart,’ he said, gripping her even tighter. ‘Nine hours stuck in the Globtech office without you? Completely ridiculous. Might have to start bringing you into work with me.’
He looked adoringly at her and a part of Kate glowed, still unable to believe that it really was possible for two human beings to really be this much in love, even after almost a year of marriage.
Their life was completely perfect in every way and although she worried constantly about something going skew-ways, it never seemed to. Day after unbelievable day, she and Damien had remained as besotted with each other as they’d been since they first met. Everyone commented on it; friends teased them for still acting like newlyweds and even the gossip columns were constantly filled with stories about ‘the loved up Mr and Mrs King’.
But then Kate was still naïve enough to find being in the full headlamps of Damien’s attention endearing and romantic. The way he was so full-on and almost obsessive about her, insisting on being with her every night of the week and when they weren’t together, calling and texting all the time. Wanting to know the tiniest detail about her day, wanting to tell her all about his.
‘Oh that’s so sweet . . . he’s nuts about you!’ all her girlfriends had said, not a little enviously.
‘Keeping tabs on you, is he?’ was her mother’s only comment, when Damien had taken to calling in to the family home at all hours before they were married, even if he knew Kate was out on a modelling shoot. He’d sit with her mother, charming her, buying expensive gifts for her, encouraging her to tell stories about what Kate had been like as a little girl. Never in her whole life had Kate dated anyone so unabashedly besotted with her and she found it intoxicating. Like standing out in full, glorious sunshine.
‘So where are we meeting the Sandersons tonight?’ she asked him, focused on her dressing table mirror and fiddling with the back of an earring that stubbornly refused to go in.
Damien pulled a face and locked his arms even tighter around Kate’s waist, kissing the nape of her neck and playing with her long, fair hair. He was still in his work suit and smelt slightly sweaty and musky from a long day.
‘Oh, sweetheart, does it matter?’
‘You’re messing up my hair.’
‘So what? I like it messy. It’s sexier.’
‘Well shouldn’t we get a move on before we’re late?
If we’ve got to drive into Dublin for this dinner, we need to get going.’
‘Let’s not bother,’ he’d said after a pause, sliding his arms even lower down her thighs and pulling her even closer. ‘Let’s just have a night in, just the two of us. We’ve both had a busy week, so why not have this evening to ourselves?’
‘But won’t that be rude to the Sandersons?’ Kate asked, turning around to face him now. ‘They’ve flown in all this way and you’ve been saying all week how much you’ve got to discuss.’
‘Oh, babe,’ he said, rolling his eyes. ‘I’m putting them up in the Merrion hotel. They’ll be fine there, with a bit of room service. It was only a business dinner anyway, we can always do it some other time.’
‘But they’ve travelled from Missouri just for this!’
‘But . . . I was actually looking forward to going out tonight . . .’
‘Ooh, now, sweetheart, I can think of ways to keep you far more entertained here at home instead,’ he’d said, unzipping her dress, pulling her face to his and kissing her as he gently caressed the small of her back.
Half an hour later, tangled up in bed together in a mess of limbs and discarded clothes and Egyptian cotton sheets, Damien reached out to the bedside table for his phone.
‘Hi, can you put me through to the Sanderson’s room, please? Thanks. Hi, Greg, that you? Damien here. Yeah, good to hear your voice too. Listen, bit of a problem this end, I’m afraid. There we were, so looking forward to seeing you for dinner tonight, only Kate’s been in an awful car accident and I’m afraid she’s a bit shaken.’
Kate sat up and looked across the bed at him, horrified.
‘. . . OK to take a rain check on tonight?’ he chatted on, improvising easily as he went. ‘No, no, she wasn’t hurt, thankfully, but she’s completely rattled as you can imagine . . . yeah, the car is a complete write-off . . . no, not the Jag, the Beamer . . . brand new as well . . .’
Kate lay back against the pillows, astonished at how easily the lie just tripped off his tongue. He even embellished it with all sorts of crazy, elaborate details. Apparently she’d been driving along one of the twisty by-roads that led to Castletown when another car came flying round a dangerous bend, crashing into her front right headlight and sending her reeling off the road. A hit and run, apparently. And yes, the Guards had been called, and were confident they’d find the culprits. Teenage joyriders, more than likely. For good measure, he even threw in that he’d taken her to A&E, where she’d been treated for minor shock, then sent home to rest.
What was really chilling was that he was so persuasive, so utterly convincing. If I listen to him much longer, Kate thought, I’ll eventually start to believe this myself.
‘All sorted, babes, we’re off the hook,’ Damien said, hanging up the phone and cuddling her tightly into him. ‘So it looks like it’s just you and me tonight. Bliss.’
She pulled away and hauled herself up on her elbows so she could look him square in the face.
‘You could have just said one of us had a tummy bug,’ she said. ‘There was no need for the three-act opera.’
‘The bigger the fib, the more easily people will believe it,’ he’d shrugged lightly.
Kate said nothing, just looked steadily back at him.
‘What now?’ he said. ‘Did I say the wrong thing?’
‘Nothing. I hadn’t realised, that’s all.’
‘Just what a good liar you are.’