Hello, fellow readers and bloggers!
Today I’m taking part in an awesome blog tour, the #Obsession blog tour and I have an exclusive extract just for you! As always, many thanks to Team Avon UK and lovely Helena! Enjoy reading!
One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?
It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.
Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?
Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?
Obsession is a dark, twisting thriller about how quickly our lives can fall apart when we act on our desires.
Please, Rob, will you just grab a glass of wine and sit and talk to me? Even if the children are running wild upstairs. Even if the dishwasher needs unloading. We had a world together before we had the children. A world of quiet conversation on the sofa. Gentle nights out sharing a Chinese, a curry. Trips to the theatre. Trips to the cinema. Holidays that were holidays, not child-care assault courses. And now? The children are drowning me, stopping me from being the person I used to be. No longer Carly, but ‘Mummy’, a stereotypical shadow of what is inside me. Mummy. Mummy. Mummy. The word is beginning to disgust me. As I attempt to park the car, the rear beeper chirruping like a maniac, my stomach tightens as I think of last night. Rob hovering over me as I loaded the dishwasher.
‘Don’t stack the bowls that way. They don’t fit properly.’
He took them out. He put them back in again in a row on the upper shelf.
‘There you are.’ A pause. ‘See.’
And then he turned to me and gave me his concerned, patriarchal look – the look that makes me want to shout; staring at me too intensely, knitting his brows together.
‘Carly,’ he said, ‘I know you’re finding this stage difficult.’
‘Don’t you?’ I asked, standing with my hands on my hips, my arms and legs wide apart. ‘Don’t you find it difficult, Rob?’
‘Demanding. Not difficult.’
‘What’s the difference? You’re getting pedantic enough to become a lawyer.’
‘Maybe. In another life.’
He snapped the dishwasher shut and it started churning water. He challenged me with his eyes.
‘What would you do, in another life?’ he asked.
‘I don’t even know what I want to do in this one.’
‘Nihilistic,’ he muttered.
I looked at him standing in front of me, face laced with a frown, forehead a river bed of wrinkles, and missed him. Missed the man who would have laughed and dragged me to the pub, words like nihilistic never even thought of, dead on his breath before they became real.
‘I’m not perfect enough for you, am I?’ I heard myself shout, hard-edged and strident, tears peppering my eyes. I blinked to push them back. He took me in his arms.
‘Carly, none of us are perfect. You’re as perfect as it gets.’
My body stiffened against his. ‘I know that’s not what you think.’
‘Come on, Carly, leave it, I was only trying to help.’
‘And how exactly do you think criticising me helps?’
My stomach knots as I remember. Rob’s face contorts in my mind and becomes Craig’s. Craig’s face with its slightly suppressed aura of irresponsibility. Perhaps that’s why I am pulled towards him right now. Responsibility is killing me.
I sit in the car, noise sliding around me, and close my eyes. I am undressing Craig, moving my hands across his torso, down, down towards his jeans. I squeeze my thighs together.
How long have I wanted to have sex with him? For as long as I can remember? Or for as long as Rob has wanted Jenni?
I am back thinking of the first time I saw his almost naked body. In a swimming pool at Center Parcs. A child-centred weekend, several years ago. He was wearing white Aussiebum swimming shorts.
‘Mummy, are you all right?’ Pippa squeals, shaking me by the shoulders. I open my eyes. ‘Are you going to take the boys out of the car, or do you want me to?’
She is leaning through the gap between the front seats and unbuckling them for me. I watch her and wonder what it is like to be her age. Loving life without sex, drugs or alcohol.
Getting high on sweets, fizzy drinks and simplicity. If only I could go back to a time when strawberry laces would have satisfied me.
Craig answers the door, bare chested, a damp towel draped around his midriff. His body is not as toned as it used to be; fat nestles self-indulgently on his belly. But then, I’d like to try some self-indulgence right now. His boys run into their house, past his legs, through the hallway into the sitting room.
‘Sorry. Had to clean up after a shout.’
Fireman’s speak for being called out. Craig the hero. I raise my eyes from his torso and hold his gaze.
It’s been so long since I flirted with anyone. Bitch-whore Jenni, is this how it’s done?