J.S. Carol shares an extract from his new thriller Kiss Me Kill Me.

Daniel wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into an embrace. A kiss for the top of her head; a long, lingering one for her lips. He broke away, then took her by the hand and led the way to the table. The chair gave a small screech when he pulled it out. She sat down and he guided it back into place with another screech. Then he walked around the table and took his own seat.

‘Carmichael’s is booked for eight. So we can celebrate. I think you should wear the blue dress. Do you know the one I mean?’

Zoe nodded.

‘The diamond earrings I bought for your birthday would go nicely with that, don’t you think?’

She nodded again. And they would. The earrings were from Tiffany’s, eighteen carats and inlaid in white gold; the dress was a Dolce and Gabbana. Carmichael’s was one of Portland’s most exclusive restaurants, a place for being seen. Appearances were important. Whenever there was something to celebrate, this was Daniel’s first choice of venue. The toast popped and Zoe went to get it. She put it in the rack and carried it over to him, then took her seat again, carefully because she hated the way it screeched against the tiles. The sound reminded her of fingernails on a blackboard, and had much the same effect; the disquieting itch that ran the length of her spine got right into her bones.

Daniel picked up the cornflakes box and carried it to her side of the table. He tipped some into her bowl, glanced at her stomach, then took some out. He placed the packet back beside the Raisin Bran and reached for the water jug. Zoe watched the water splash into her glass; she watched it splash on top of her cereal.

They ate in silence. Daniel finished the last of his toast, then wiped his hands on the napkin, rolled it into a ball and tossed it on top of his plate. He walked to Zoe’s side of the table and glanced in her bowl to make sure she had eaten everything.

‘I’ve left lunch in your refrigerator. And remember, dinner’s at eight, so you’ll need to be ready to leave by seven thirty.’

He kissed the top of her head and walked out of the kitchen. His footsteps echoed along the hallway, the front door opened and closed, then silence. Zoe did a slow count inside her head and stopped when she reached twenty-three. A second later, the Porsche Boxster roared three times in quick succession. The noise was loud and obnoxious. This happened whenever Daniel got behind the wheel. He turned the key and punched the gas pedal three times. Once, twice, then once more for luck. The behaviour had an OCD quality, like if he didn’t do it he might crash.

Zoe sometimes wondered if he loved that car more than he had ever loved her.

Sometimes she wondered what would happen if he did crash and die.

How far would you go to escape the one you love? When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive.

It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid. And there’s no way out. Or is there? Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again. But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe. Be careful who you trust …

James Carol is the bestselling author of Broken Dolls, the first in a series featuring former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter. The novel was released in the UK in January 2014 to rave reviews and reached number 1 on the Amazon fiction and thriller charts. In addition, James is writing a series of ebooks set during Winter’s FBI days. Presumed Guilty is the first of these. Under the pseudonym J.S. Carol, he has also written a number of standalones. Kiss Me Kill Me is the latest.


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