• Crime Thrillers & Mystery

Is she telling them the truth, or are there more secrets and lies in this marriage than meets the eye?

The Perfect Couple

Jackie Kabler


Chapter 1

It was the silence I noticed first. When Danny was around there was always noise, singing or humming, the tap-tapping of a laptop keyboard, the prolonged clatter of spoon against ceramic mug as he stirred his black coffee vigorously for far too long, in my view, for a man who didn't even take sugar in it – what was he stirring? But I loved it, his noisiness, despite my regular protestations to the contrary. I'd lived alone for far too long before Danny, and the constant clamour made me feel connected, alive. Happy. So that evening, as I pushed the front door open and slid the key out of the lock, expecting a welcoming yell from the living room or to see, within seconds, his grinning face peering around the kitchen door, disappointment hit me like an icy wave.

'Danny? Danny, I'm home. Where are you?'

I could tell even as I spoke that he wasn't in but, flicking the lights on and dumping my overnight bag on the table by the door, I began a quick tour of the house anyway, my footsteps echoing on the polished parquet of the hall floor. My frown deepened as I pushed each door open, the rooms dark and empty. Where was he? He'd promised, the previous evening when he'd emailed to say goodnight, that he'd be here when I got back, that he'd cook dinner. Even promised, I remembered as I headed for the kitchen, to have a bottle of my favourite cava chilling; a welcome home, Friday night treat. If he'd forgotten …

'Dammit, Danny. Seriously?'

I glared at the contents of the fridge. It looked exactly as I'd left it on Thursday morning – a half-full milk container, a block of cheese with one corner hacked off, a pack of sausages with four missing, the four we'd eaten for breakfast before I'd headed off on my latest press trip. No cava. No sign of any fresh food. He hadn't even gone shopping? What was going on? Had something happened at work, delaying him? He'd told me he'd be finishing at lunchtime that day, for once, that he'd have plenty of time to do the supermarket run for a change, save me doing it on Saturday morning as I usually did, while he stayed at home to run the vacuum round and flick a duster over the shelves. A break from the little routine we'd quickly fallen into, happily fallen into, since we'd moved to Bristol, and into the beautiful house in up-market Clifton. It hadn't always been like that, but when we moved he'd said he wanted to help around the house more, do more of the chores I hated, and I hadn't argued. We'd only been in our new home for three weeks, but the words 'domestic bliss' pretty much summed things up, cringeworthy as it sounded even to me.

'You can have a lie-in on Saturday, Gem. You'll be knackered after all that debauchery at your fancy spa hotel,' he'd said over our full English, reaching across the breakfast table to wipe a splodge of ketchup from my bottom lip, his finger soft against my skin.

'It's work,' I'd retorted, waggling my fork at him, then smiling as I speared another piece of black pudding. 'Well … maybe a teeny bit of debauchery too though.'

'I don't doubt it. You journalists, and your hard-livin', hard-drinkin' ways.'

His accent, normally soft west of Ireland, was suddenly full-on Moore Street Market, Dublin, and I swallowed quickly and laughed.

'Yeah, right. We'll have a few drinks, but we'll all be in bed by eleven, I guarantee it. Too many exhausted mummies in the group now. A night away without the kids means they can finally get a decent night's sleep for once.'

He raised his thick, dark eyebrows – once a monobrow, until I'd finally pinned him to the bed one day, brandishing my tweezers – and I laughed again at his comically exaggerated expression of disbelief.

'Oh, shut up.'

'I didn't say a word!'

He'd leapt from his chair then, dragging me from my seat and into a hug, whispering into my hair.

'I'll miss you. But have a great time. You deserve it.'

So where are you now, Danny? I slammed the fridge door and reached into the pocket of my zebra print coat for my mobile, then remembered. Bugger. There'd been some sort of delay with Danny's new workplace providing him with a company mobile phone – it would, they'd promised, finally be ready for Monday – and as he'd handed in his old one when he'd left his previous job, he was temporarily phone-less. For a moment, I considered ringing his office, asking them if he'd been made to work late, then sighed and decided against it. A bit much, probably, when he'd only been in the job for such a short time, to have his wife calling, wondering where he was. Email, then? He still had his tablet, and emailing had worked reasonably well over the past few weeks when we'd needed to get hold of each other. We both had Skype too, for emergencies, although we hadn't needed to use it so far, and just like calling his office, I thought Skyping him might be a bit intrusive. Yes, email.

I perched on the edge of one of the dining chairs and tapped out a message.

I'm home. Where are you? And, more to the point, where's my dinner? And my FIZZ!? G xx

I hit send, checked the time, and stood up with a sigh. Just after seven. I'd go and unpack, have a nice hot shower, change. We could get some food delivered instead of cooking, and maybe Danny could call in at the off-licence on his way home to pick up some bubbly, I thought. I glanced around the kitchen, noticing that at least he'd washed up, wiped down the surfaces, replaced the chopping knives neatly in their wooden block. Everything was spotless in fact, a faint smell of bleach in the air, even the stainless-steel cooker hood gleaming. I felt my mild irritation subsiding. It would be work, that was all. It wasn't his fault he'd been delayed. He'd be home soon. Slipping my coat from my shoulders, I headed back down the hall to retrieve my bags.


The perfect couple … or the perfect lie?

A year and a half ago, Gemma met the love of her life, Danny. Since then, their relationship has been like something out of a dream. But one Friday evening, Gemma returns home to find Danny is nowhere to be seen.

After two days with no word from her husband, Gemma turns to the police. She is horrified by what she discovers – a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. When she sees the photos of the victims she is even more stunned … they all look just like Danny.

But the police aren’t convinced by Gemma’s story. Why has no one apart from Gemma seen or heard from Danny in weeks? Why is there barely a trace of him in their flat? Is she telling them the truth, or are there more secrets and lies in this marriage than meets the eye?


Crime, Thrillers & Mystery - Detective & Crime Fiction




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The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler|A serial killer on the loose|Secrets & lies in the marriage

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