A poignant, psychological thriller, that tells of murder, deceit and revenge.
Jerome Millar thinks he killed Sam Crichton thirty years ago. His life is turned on its head when Sam suddenly reappears. Sam threatens to expose Jerome as a murderer and serial philanderer. Jerome hires an assassin to kill Sam. The tension mounts when Jerome discovers that his latest lover is Sam’s wife, and Sam – shocked by his wife’s infidelity – doubles his efforts to gain his revenge.
Jerome’s actions left Sam cruelly disabled. He vowed to himself to hunt Jerome down and not let his disabilities hold back his life. He became a best selling author and a Paralympian. It took him thirty years to find Jerome, but he didn’t expect to discover that his wife, Julie, would be having an affair with the man who tried to kill him.
Sam was left paralysed by Jerome’s evil deed. A full sexual relationship with Julie was not possible, and he always expected her to have an affair at some time, but not with Jerome.
Julie loved Sam, and never thought she’d sleep with another man, but when Jerome offers her failing business a lifeline, she’s falls for his charms and jumps into bed with him for what she believes is a one-night-fling. It turns into a full-blown affair. When she discovers that Jerome is the same man who tried to kill Sam and caused his disabilities, she’s distraught and wants to die.
‘To him who dashed my friendship, like a murderous parent would kill its unwanted newborn by a swift smash of its head against a rock: to him who so maliciously played with one I love: I have no words. Words are too good for you. To my wife I offer only understanding, hope and time.’
‘In the game we play, one group of people, representing 1.7 billion of the world’s 7 billion, sit bemused, befuddled, and ignored. They’re the world’s poor. They are human beings, identical to you and me. And if I had one hope…’
What the fuck am I listening to? Jerome said to himself. He reached to search for another station. He hesitated.
For a moment, he listened to a little more. Compelling stuff, he thought as he drew his hand back and replaced it on the steering wheel. Who is this guy? I don’t usually listen to all this crap. But he’s got a point.
‘With that extract from David Browne’s recent speech to the United Nations’ General Assembly, we close today’s programme. The programme was presented by…’
Oh, him. I should have known, Jerome thought. David Browne was the famous author Jerome had met that morning; a paraplegic, who wrote mainly about human rights issues. Not a subject of interest to Jerome. Once, before boarding a plane, he’d picked up one of David Browne’s novels at an airport. He’d fallen asleep after ten pages, and left it on his seat. The book became an international best seller.
Jerome had left his office early. Near Siberian conditions had hit the southeast of England. Temperatures had been well below freezing for days, and on that particular day, heavy snow had fallen since breakfast. London was covered in three to four inches of the stuff. Many of the capital’s office workers, not prepared for such an extreme climatic change, had been sent home early. As Jerome left his office, the snow-covered streets were filled with frozen commuters, scrambling in all directions for the comfort of a warm bus or train to take them home.
Jerome had a large, comfortable car for his journey. Yet, even for him, the trip from the West End to Chiswick had its problems. Almost as soon as he’d driven his car out from the company garage, his troubles started. An accident at Oxford Circus delayed him for three-quarters of an hour, and then a car skidded and drove into the front of his new BMW. The other driver admitted responsibility, nobody was hurt, and both cars drove away.
But the incident left him in a bad mood. Not only did he have to drive around with an imperfect-looking car for a while, he had the inconvenience of having to arrange the repairs.
To take his mind off the collision, he selected a CD: one of his favourites, an obscure jazz album. By the time the second track started to play, he began to feel more at ease. His thoughts had moved to the person who had given him the CD. He smiled, knowing he’d see her later that night: his other reason for leaving early.
Marlborough Road, in Chiswick, West London, is a street full of large, well-maintained, turn-of-the-last-century, detached and semi-detached houses. Jerome had moved there from Hammersmith three years earlier, once his company became successful. He owned a large, detached house with three reception rooms, a separate study, and six bedrooms. The street, lined with large, old trees, had an agreeable feel to it. Some of the houses were lived in as family houses; others had been converted to flats. The residents came from business, media,
the arts-world, and suchlike. Some people in the road liked to socialise, others preferred to keep themselves to themselves. The key to the street was money. Property prices began at £1m. Rents for a two-bedroom flat started at £1000 a month. Jerome’s financial status looked impressive. His business was valued at about £500m. He’d borrowed £100m to set it up, and it traded well.
By the time he’d reached his front door, he had never felt so cold. Snow had trickled down the back of his neck, and his limbs seemed stiff and heavy. He was sure they’d frozen up. With one hand he fumbled with his keys, and with the other he tried to hang onto his briefcase and a bag of food shopping. ‘Shit,’ he said. His briefcase,
heavy and full of papers, slipped from his hand. He lunged his foot out to stop it hitting the ground. He yelled as the case struck the bridge of his foot. He hopped around for a moment. The intense, searing pain shot right up to his head, making him tremble and feel sick. He flopped against the porch wall, grateful for the support, and let himself slide slowly to the cold, wet stone. For a second or two he sat still. Then, as the raging hurt subsided, replaced by a deep, throbbing ache, he gingerly twiddled his foot backwards and forwards to check if he’d broken anything. It hurt like hell, but his bones seemed intact. With a sigh of relief, he tentatively raised himself up, leaving the case where it had landed, turned the key to his front door, and pushed it open.
On most nights, there would be somebody in to greet him. All he had to do was to ring the bell, and either his wife or one of his two teenage daughters would come running. But on this occasion the house was empty. They had all gone away for the weekend.
It’s bloody freezing, he said to himself as he limped inside. He made for the nearest radiator. ‘Oh fuck, the bloody heating’s off.’ With his snow-sodden coat draped over his shoulders, and his wet shoes making damp impressions on the carpet, he headed for the kitchen to find the controls for the central heating. As he passed through the hall, he tapped the keyboard of his computer to check his emails. He stopped in his tracks. He had a message. From: Sam Crichton – As you once knew him