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The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish Read Online (FREE)

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish

Read The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish full novel online for free here.

Prologue

15 January 2013

‘I hate you,’ I said, trembling.

I love you, a voice replied, but it was not the one I wanted to hear; only my own, inside my head, the words incarcerated there forever.

He said nothing. His mouth made vile movements, a bully’s gathering saliva to spit at an object of repugnance, a victim. In his eyes there pooled pure savagery.

And then he sprang.

Chapter 1

Christy, April 2013

Right from the moment she first held the keys in her hand, something felt wrong.

Later, she would regret ignoring that instinct, but at the time she put it down to the simple fact of Joe not being there with her. It couldn’t be helped, of course, it was just one of those things – or several of them. A rescheduled client meeting that could under no circumstances be missed; the estate agent’s half-day closure for staff training (or, as Joe suspected, plans for a long lunch courtesy of the commission earned on their house); her own eagerness to get into the property and start their new life: all conspired to bring her there that morning to pick up the keys alone.

‘Well, congratulations, Mrs Davenport,’ said the agent, and he placed the keys with a ceremonial flourish on the release document for her to sign. There were two sets, one attached to a costly-looking silver key ring with a pretty dragonfly charm – the previous owners’, presumably.

‘Thank you.’ Hand shaking, Christy scrawled her name before snatching up the keys and defending them in a clenched fist – as if someone might step forward and battle her for them! For these were the keys to a house on Lime Park Road, and never in her wildest dreams had she thought she would come to own a property on that street. Yes, she and Joe had always aimed high, but this, this was rags-to-riches stuff, the fairy-tale ending you wouldn’t normally trust.

‘I hope you and your husband have many happy years in your new home,’ the agent said. He was different from the one who’d handled the sale, younger and less sincere: could that be why the encounter felt, somehow, illicit? He could be a con artist, she and Joe the innocent victims of some elaborate sting. Or maybe it was the previous agent who’d been the fraudster?

Illicit? Con artist? Fraudster ? What had got into her? She could tell by the way the man was frowning that her smile looked as problematic as it felt; it was causing disquiet, the way it might if a clown put his face too close. Managing a last choked thank you, she made her exit to the street. It’s just nerves, she told herself; or excitement, the pure, debilitating kind that was hard to distinguish from terror.

Either way, she could have walked the route in her sleep, for she knew Lime Park as well as any postman from the countless occasions she and Joe had roamed it together since first viewing the house. She knew the short parade that masqueraded as a high street, with its mix of cafés, boutiques and estate agents, and the florist’s on the corner that spilled its colours far across the pavement, as if cans of paint had been flung from the windows above. She knew the famous old art school that had stood empty for years before being redeveloped into the complex of luxury flats it was today. She knew the little park, the main gates of which she passed through now, walking in the shade of the old limes that lent the area its name, catching the scent of cut grass on the breeze. And she knew the web of streets beyond, including the one that curved around the park’s southern edge, the one that contained the house to which she held the keys (she was gripping them in her hand still, as if to relax a single finger would be to render the whole business null and void; the fine edge of a dragonfly wing cut painfully into her palm).