Authors: Chris Mooney
Tags: #Thriller, #Ebook Club, #Fiction, #Suspense, #Top 100 Chart
FEAR THE DARK
FEAR THE DARK
Chris Mooney is the internationally bestselling author of the Darby McCormick thrillers and
, which was nominated for an Edgar for Best Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. He teaches writing courses at the Harvard Extension School and lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife and son.
For Jen, my moon and my stars
‘I didn’t mean to kill her, Sarah. It just –’
‘Happened. I know,’ she says in that quiet, soothing voice that made me fall in love with her all those years ago. She swallows and forces a smile. ‘I understand. You don’t have to explain yourself.’
We’ve done this dance before – too many times, I’m ashamed to admit. And, while I’m genuinely sorry each and every time, I also genuinely believe Sarah does, in fact, understand. This isn’t wishful thinking on my part. We’ve been together a long time, Sarah and I; there are no secrets between us. Besides, Sarah couldn’t keep something from me even if she wanted to. She’s not a good actor, for one, but the reality is that she’s not capable of deceit. Doesn’t have it in her. She’s too meek, still wears her heart on her sleeve. One look at her face and I know what she’s feeling. Thinking.
We’re sitting together on the living-room couch, the place, it seems, where we always end up having this conversation. I knock back the rest of my bourbon – my third – and stare into the fire, wondering, again, if there is such a place as hell.
‘It just got away from me. Again.’
‘I know,’ she says quietly. ‘Still, maybe you should have –’
My glare stops her cold. The firewood snaps and hisses.
‘Should’ve what?’ I prompt, aware of the heat climbing into my voice. Sarah knows better than to beat a dead horse. I’ve already apologized. The subject is closed. Done.
She takes another delicate sip of her white wine and stares down into her glass, like there’s an escape hatch hiding somewhere at the bottom. I see how I’ve hurt her, and I take our glasses and place them on the coffee-table. Then I snuggle up next to her and take her hands in mine. Her smile is tight – not out of fear but because even now, after all this time together, she’s still embarrassed about her crooked teeth.
‘You’re beautiful,’ I say.
She reddens and stares down at my hands. The skin is still pink and sore from the hot water and the vigorous scrubbing with the brush. It took a good twenty minutes to remove the blood – especially the blood caked underneath my fingernails. I was so angry, so consumed by rage, that I forgot to put on the gloves. I need to be more careful next time.
And there will be a next time. We both know it.
Sarah clears her throat. ‘A walk,’ she says timidly.
‘We should take a walk. The fresh air will do us both some good.’
‘Honey, it’s the middle of the night. And it’s freezing out.’
‘I don’t care.’ The tentative smile on her face is as fragile as an eggshell.
My heart sinks when I break it. ‘I’m exhausted,’ I say gently. ‘Maybe tomorrow night.’
She puts on a brave face. ‘Whatever you want.’
‘Thanks for understanding.’
She nods, keeps nodding.
I cup her face in my hands, fighting back tears. She swallows, nervous.
‘You mean the world to me. I love you. You know that, right?’
‘I do,’ she says.
And I believe her.
I kiss her forehead. ‘Everything’s going to be okay.’
I smile. Kiss her gently on the lips. She crinkles her nose, like she’s caught a whiff of a bad odour.
‘What is it now?’ I ask sharply.
‘No, go on. Say what’s on your mind.’ I feel the anger, how it’s already moved past the point of no return. I can’t help it – can’t
it. ‘Say it.’
‘Shower.’ Her voice is barely above a whisper. ‘You should take a long, hot shower.’
‘Because I stink? That what you’re trying to tell me?’
‘No. It’ll relax you.’
‘I’m too tired.’
‘I know, baby,’ she says, and my anger retreats like dirty water swirling down a drain. She knows I love it when she calls me
. ‘It’s just that you’ve got blood in your hair again.’
Darby McCormick felt her muscles relax and her stomach unclench when the helicopter’s landing skids touched down. She was so happy – so damn
– she wanted to kiss Ricky the Pilot and his ridiculous
Magnum P. I.
Ricky had fought major crosswinds since taking off from Denver. An hour later, when he began the descent to the helipad belonging to the Colorado State Trooper’s station in Castle Rock, there had been several tense minutes when she was sure the chopper was going to spin out of control and crash into the nearby trees.
Darby thanked him and took off her headset. He didn’t cut the engine; he had to fly back to Denver. She opened the side door to a blast of cold, grabbed her suitcase and rolling forensics kit, and stepped outside, ducking underneath the spinning blades. Hair blowing wildly across her face and shoulders, she made her way to a forest-green Jeep Wrangler, the only civilian vehicle parked in the back of the station.