Marriage is bliss for newlywed Jude Clayton. Lord knows she could use it. After years of battling a destructive mental disorder, she’s hungry for some sense of normalcy. Little does she know, she will find the complete opposite with her new husband Bryce. On the surface, Bryce Clayton is every woman’s dream—make no mistake about it. Handsome, intelligent, wealthy and accomplished, Bryce only has one problem. An obsession.
Poor fragile Jude knows nothing about her husband’s “extracurricular activities.” What she’ll discover about herself in the process is much scarier than anything either of them can imagine. Jude, with her grotesque sense of humor and her many mental abnormalities, has developed an obsession of her own.
As their unconventional “romance” blossoms into a toxic relationship, truth and lies clash. And some begin to wonder: Is Jude a helpless victim to her husband’s deceitful ways or is she a dutiful accomplice?
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July 21, 2009
The first thing I loved about him were his hands.
Bryce Clayton had talented hands—strong fingers, perfect knuckles—beautiful in every way. That man had an orgasmic touch. That’s what I’d like to remember forever, first and foremost. My husband had glorious hands, but they were also weapons. They were destructive beasts that destroyed everything they touched. Including me.
When they reveal the crime scene photos of his body, the only thing I can focus on are those infamous hands. Long broken fingers drenched in blood, tattered fingernails and gnarled knuckles. I can hardly stomach looking at them. I slump forward in the metal chair, clutching my stomach to quell the nausea.
Soft light spills from the florescent beams overhead, drawing beads of sweat from my scalp. Moisture drips like melting paint across my forehead, making me feel like I’ve been embedded in the sun. This is a side-effect of guilt.
“Mrs. Clayton?” the cop utters. “If you’ll work with me, we can get this over with and you can go home.”
Though my eyes lay fixed on the gruesome photos of my husband’s pale corpse, I nod. He proceeds, “Good. Now, we’ll be recording this interrogation for legal purposes, so I’ll need you to state your full name before we begin.”
He reaches across the table toward his recorder and presses a single button: play. We settle in the silence for a moment and I feel his eyes on me, watching then judging. He has already made up his mind about me. Cops are designed to think the worst of everyone. I’d be offended if I didn’t agree with his assessment of me.
When he looks at me, I’m sure he’s sees the same thing every outsider sees. Stupid, homely, little suburban bitch. I’m a walking advertisement for everything that’s wrong with the twentysomethings of today. Spoiled brats with their heads lodged up their asses. Stupid bitch. I see it in his eyes. This man resents me.
“Go ahead, state your full name,” he orders.
I clear my throat, fidgeting with my fingers to distract my rampant thoughts. As I forge the courage to face him, my eyes are swollen with tears, but I’ve not cried a single tear yet and it scares me. What kind of woman doesn’t react to the death of her own husband? A woman like me? I didn’t think I could be so cold…until now.
“My name is Judith Lillian Clayton.”
“And why are you here today, Mrs. Clayton?”
“Your men arrested me. They say I've been a very bad girl,” I say and for some reason I expect him to laugh at my distasteful quip. Instead, I hear a light sigh as if he’s suddenly growing impatient with me. Guess I picked the wrong time to crack a joke.
“For better clarification, give me specifics. Why are you here?”
My heart, it chugs, coagulating blood in my chest cavity. It hurts. Everything hurts, even the strands of my hair. I’m a pulp of walking pain. Hollowed out like someone has eviscerated my insides with an ice cream scooper.
“I killed my husband,” I say.
“When did this incident occur?”
“July 20, 2009. The final day of our honeymoon.”
“I need you to tell me every single thing that happened on your honeymoon,” he says. “Starting with day one.”
“To understand, you’ll have to hear everything,” I say.
“Meaning what exactly?” he asks.
“My husband was a very complicated man, detective. He was absolutely brilliant, but he was also his own worst enemy. He was a bastard, a jackass and an unapologetic asshole, but against my better judgment…I loved him. To understand why he’s dead, you need to know our secrets.”
He pauses, but eventually replies, “Then give me the whole story.”
“You might not like me very much after I tell you this story. Sometimes I don’t even like myself when I think about it,” I say. “So I want you to listen because I won’t be repeating a thing.”
“Are you intentionally being vague, Mrs. Clayton?”
“Not intentionally, no, but I can only tell you what I remember. And that in itself might not be very credible,” I say. “You will have to fill in the rest of the pieces from there.”
“Just try your best. We have all day. Take your time.”
With a lump in my throat, I nod and say, “Yes sir.”
About the Author:
Amber has been writing for as long as she can remember. Yes, she knows how awful her fifth grade plays were, but she didn't care as long as she had to the power to explore her imagination in the darkest ways possible. She grew up in the south where she ate a lot of BBQ and spent too much time reading.
Some would argue that she was an odd child (and an even odder adult) With her morbid sense of humor, Amber has aimed to be as true to her writing as she can by exploring the darker sides of humankind. She loves psychological thrillers and offbeat plots. Her characters might be unlikeable. Her plots might take disturbing twists and turns, but she tries (as always) to explore the most tragic parts of life with as much humor as possible.
Her favorite authors are Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, Tana French and Laura Lippman. Her favorite movies are dark, suspenseful and (sometimes) romantic. Though she hates most romantic comedies, she absolutely loves (500) Days Of Summer, The Spectacular Now and The Fault In Our Stars.
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