desperately trying, through her terror, to think calmly. She opened her mouth to speak, watching the oncoming headlights, gripping the wheel of her BMW with slippery hands, but the blade just cut in deeper still.

They were cresting a hill, the lights of Brighton and Hove to her left.

‘Move into the left-hand lane. Take the second exit at the roundabout.’

Katie obediently turned off, into the wide, two-lane Dyke Road Avenue. The orange glow of street lighting. Large houses on either side. She knew where they were heading and she knew she had to do something before they got there. And suddenly, her heart flipped with joy. On the other side of the road was a starburst of blue flashing lights. A police car! Pulling up in front of another car.

Her left hand moved from the wheel on to the flasher stalk. She pulled it towards her, hard. And the wipers screeched across the dry windscreen.


‘Why have you put the wipers on, Katie? It isn’t raining.’ She heard his voice from the back seat.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Wrong fucking stalk!

And now they were past the police car. She saw the lights, like some vanishing oasis, in her mirrors. And she saw the silhouette of his bearded face, shadowed by his baseball cap and further obscured by dark glasses although it was night. The face of a stranger but at the same time a face – and a voice – that were uncomfortably familiar.

‘Left turn coming up, Katie. You should slow down. You know where we are, I hope.’

The sensor on the dash would automatically trigger the switch on the gates. In a few seconds they would start to open. In a few seconds she would turn into them, and then they would close behind her, and she would be in darkness, in private, out of sight of everyone but the man behind her.

No. She had to stop that from happening.

She could swerve the car, smash into a lamppost. Or smash into the headlights of a car that was coming towards them now. She tensed even more. Looked at the speedometer. Trying to work it out. If she braked hard, or smashed into something, he would be flung forward, the knife would be flung forward. That was the smart thing to do. Not smart. It was the only option.

Oh, Jesus, help me.

Something colder than ice churned in her stomach. Her mouth felt arid. Then, suddenly, her mobile phone, on the seat beside her, began to ring. The stupid tune her stepdaughter, Carly, who was just thirteen, had programmed in and left her stuck with. The bloody ‘Chicken Song’, which embarrassed the hell out of her every time it rang.

‘Don’t even think about answering it, Katie,’ he said.

She didn’t. Instead, meekly, she turned left, through the wrought-iron gates that had obligingly swung open, and up the short, dark tarmac driveway that was lined by huge, immaculately tended rhododendron bushes that Brian had bought, for an insane price, from an architectural garden centre. For privacy, he had said.

Yep. Right. Privacy.

The front of the house loomed in her headlights. When she had left, just a few hours earlier, it had been her home. Now, at this moment, it felt like something quite different. It felt like some alien, hostile edifice that was screaming at her to leave.

But the gates were closing behind her.


Roy Grace stared at Glenn Branson for some moments in shock. Usually sharply dressed, tonight the Detective Sergeant was wearing a blue beanie, a hooded grey tracksuit top over a sweatshirt, baggy trousers and trainers, and had several days’ growth of stubble on his face. Instead of the normal tang of his latest, macho cologne-of-the-month, he reeked of stale sweat. He looked more like a mugger than a cop.

Before Grace had a chance to say anything, the DS threw his arms around him, clutching him tightly, pressing his wet cheek against his friend’s face. ‘Roy, she’s thrown me out! Oh, God, man, she’s thrown me out!’

Somehow, Grace manhandled him into the house, into the living room and on to the sofa. Sitting beside him and putting an arm around his massive shoulders, he said lamely, ‘Ari?’

‘She’s thrown me out.’

Thrown you out? What do you mean?’

Glenn Branson leaned forward, elbows on the glass coffee table, and buried his face in his hands. ‘I can’t take this. Roy, you’ve got to help me. I can’t take this.’

‘Let me get you something. Whisky? Glass of wine? Coffee?’

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