His wife was planning cold-blooded murder – and Darren knew they’d never get away with it
DARREN entered the kitchen and stifled a gasp. The scene that greeted him was like something out of one of his worst nightmares. His beloved wife, Kate, held a carving knife in her right hand. She was standing over her younger sister, Ella, who was slumped over a kitchen chair.
Back in the living room Neil called out, “Can I help at all?”
A fraction too loudly, Darren replied, “No, everything’s fine! We’ll join you in a minute.”
Darren then confronted his wife. “What on Earth have you done?”
Calmly, Kate explained. “Exactly what we’ve been discussing for a long time.”
“But I was only joking,” Darren whispered, aghast. “It’s a little too late for that.” Darren had never fully understood the politics of Kate’s family, but he guessed there must’ve been a serious rift at some point. He’d always assumed it would be repaired one day, but when Kate’s wealthy aunt died Ella was the sole beneficiary of the will. Kate didn’t seem to mind but as the months wore on she grew resentful of her little sister. Often she’d jest, “If only Ella had an accident then we’d inherit everything.”
To his shame, some evenings Darren had joined in and after a few glasses of wine they’d plan the murder together. Deep down Darren had never been serious. As he stood staring at the body of his sister-in-law he realised the time for joking was over. “We’ll never get away with it,” he whined. Kate grabbed his right arm and gripped it tightly. “Yes, we will. As long as you keep calm.”
“Are you crazy? We’ve got a witness sitting out there.” “You mean another a victim,” Kate said. “You’re not going to kill Neil as well,” Darren hissed.
“Don’t be stupid. I’m going to pin this on him.” “It’ll never stick. What’s his motive?” Kate grinned maliciously as she spun the tale she’d concocted. “Neil has had the hots for my sister for some time now. Alas, it was an unrequited love. On arriving here tonight the pair quarrelled, we did our best to calm them down, but you know what a temper Neil has. He confronted Ella in the kitchen, his emotions got the better of him, he reached for a knife and . . . the rest writes itself.”
Darren was wringing his hands. “What about Neil’s new girlfriend?” Kate shrugged. “What about her?” “She’s due to arrive any minute!” “Ideal. If we play it right we’ll sow the seeds of doubt between her and Neil and then, when we discover the body, she’ll suspect him.”
Kate wiped the knife, cleaning off all evidence of the crime, then balanced it precariously on the side of a plate, on which she also placed a sweet melon. “Have a little faith. Now watch and learn.”
With that, Kate re-entered the main room of their apartment.
“Neil, would you be a darling and do the honours,” she said, handing Neil the plate. As his fingers closed around the handle of the knife, the doorbell rang. Darren flinched, startled.
Neil laughed. “Bit jumpy tonight. Anything wrong?”
“Of course not. I’m fine,” Darren replied, before going to answer the door.
“Sorry, memory like a sieve. What does your new girlfriend do for a living?” Kate asked Neil. “She’s a policewoman,” Neil replied. Darren’s hand froze as it reached for the catch on the front door. He wasn’t sure he’d have managed to open it had Kate not shot him a look of encouragement.
Darren opend the door to find a tall bright-eyed, blonde young woman, smiling and waiting to be invited in. He stared at her blankly, rooted to the spot. Briony, Neil’s girlfriend, coughed politely.
“My apologies,” Darren said. “Where are my manners? Please, come in.” “Thanks.” “You must be Briony.” Darren offered her his hand. Briony took it. “And you’re – sweating?” “Sorry, slaving over a hot oven. You know how it is.” “Your wife’s a hard task master then?” Kate decided it was time to intervene. She got up from the table and approached her new guest. “I wouldn’t say that.”
“It looks as if your husband disagrees,” Briony observed, before adding, “Thanks for inviting me.”
“You’re welcome,” Kate replied, ignoring the barbed remark. “Please, come and sit down.”
Before joining her boyfriend at the table Briony shrugged off her jacket. “Shall I put this in the kitchen?” she asked, holding out a bottle of red wine.
Darren practically snatched the bottle out of her hands. “Here, I’ll take care of that.” Briony laughed. “Easy, tiger.” Once again Kate interjected. “Please sit down and help yourself to a glass of wine. If you’ll excuse us, we’ll just go and check on how the main course is coming along.”
As Briony joined Neil at the table, Kate grabbed Darren’s arm and steered him into the kitchen. Kate shut the door behind them, then rounded on her husband. “What’s wrong with you?”
“You heard him. She’s a police officer,” Darren bleated.
“All the better, so long as you wipe that stupid guilty look off your face.”
Trying his best, Darren gave his wife a weak smile.
“That’s the spirit,” Kate assured him. “Now, let’s get back out there.”
Darren took a deep breath, steeled himself and marched back into the living room, Kate following hard on his heels. T HE sight that greeted Darren turned his legs to jelly. Briony was holding the carving knife aloft, examining the blade carefully. Neil smiled as he offered an explanation for Briony’s curiosity. “She has this thing about knives. I blame her police background myself.”
Ignoring the comment, Briony addressed Kate. “It’s a Sabatier, isn’t it?”
“Naturally,” Kate replied. “I consider them to be the best.”
Placing the knife back down on the table Briony said, “It depends on what you’re using them for.” Her manner changed completely as she suddenly rounded on Darren, “Doesn’t it, Mr Fletcher?”
Darren gulped. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Briony took a sip of wine before replying, “I think you know exactly what I mean.”
Darren reached across the table, took hold of the wine bottle and went to refill Briony’s glass but his hands were shaking so badly he knocked the bottle over. Crimson wine cascaded across the white tablecloth, staining it a deep guilty red.
“Clumsy,” Kate snapped.
Briony shot up from the table. “Here, let me get a cloth.”
She hadn’t taken more than a couple of steps towards the kitchen before Kate blocked her path. “I’ll see to it.”
Briony glowered. “Why don’t you want me to go into the kitchen, Kate?” “Briony,” Neil said. “It’s their house.” “I know that, but aren’t you intrigued by what they’re trying to hide? “We’re not hiding anything,” Darren said. An uncomfortable silence set in. Briony eventually broke it. “I’m sorry. What must you think of me? It’s my job, I’m afraid. You start seeing things that aren’t there. I do apologise.”
Kate tried her best to smile. It didn’t quite work. “No apology necessary.”
“C’mon, let me at least give you a hand getting that tablecloth off,” Briony said, edging back towards the table.
Kate followed but Briony neatly sidestepped her host and pushed the kitchen door open. Neil gasped in horror at the scene that presented itself. Briony turned back to Kate, a triumphant look in her eye. “Darren might be the one with all the nervous twitches and tics, but you’re far too cool for my liking. It was you, wasn’t it?”
Kate picked up the carving knife and confronted Briony with it. “Okay, I admit it. So, what are you going to do about it?”
Before Briony had the chance to reply Ella, who’d been flicking through the rule book of the murder mystery game, grinned and declared Briony the winner. “You took your time,” Ella said to Briony. “Sorry,” Briony apologised, “I wanted to be sure.”
Kate put down the knife in a resigned manner. “What gave it away?”
“Darren’s overacting, for a start,” Briony said.
Darren looked hurt. “What a cheek! I thought I played the role of the downtrodden husband rather well.”
“How about a glass of wine to celebrate?” Neil suggested.
Kate heartily agreed. “As long as we don’t let butterfingers pour. That was the worst crime of the night.”
“I didn’t mean to knock it over,” Darren said.
“For that,” Kate told him, “You can play the victim next time. Perhaps you’ll make a more convincing corpse.”
As Darren embraced his wife he asked, “So, how will you go about killing me?”
With a twinkle in her eye, Kate replied, “You’ll just have to wait and see.”