Saturday Excerpt: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle
Kick off your weekend with some suspense! Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle is the perfect read for anyone who likes a story with shocking twists and turns. Want to learn more? Keep reading for a preview!
About Dear Wife:
CAN SHE ESCAPE THE PERSON SHE ONCE LOVED?
Beth Murphy is on the run…
For nearly a year, Beth has been plotting to leave her abusive husband. This is her one chance at freedom—one that requires a new look, new name and new city. Each part of her plan has to be carefully thought out, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.
Sabine Hardison is missing…
A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only trace of her the police have to go on, and all signs point to foul play.
The detective on the case will stop at nothing to bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? As Beth’s husband starts piecing together her whereabouts, she’ll have to make a decision about her future that will leave readers breathless.
I hit my blinker and merge onto the Muskogee Turnpike, and for the first time in seven long years, I take a breath. A real, full-body breath that blows up my lungs like a beach ball. So much breath that it burns.
It tastes like freedom.
Four hours on the road, two hundred and eighty-three miles of space between us, and it’s nowhere near enough. I still hear the clink of your keys when you toss them on the table, still tense at the thud of your shoes when you come closer to the kitchen. Still feel the fear slithering, snake-like, just under the surface of my skin.
You have three moods lately: offensive, enraged or violent. That moment when you come around that corner and I see which one it is always inches bile up my throat. It’s the worst part of my day.
I tell myself, no more. No more tiptoeing around your temper, no more dodging your blows.
Those days, like Arkansas, are in my rearview mirror.
For early afternoon on a Wednesday, the highway is busy, dusty semis rumbling by on both sides, and I hold my hands at ten and two and keep the tires between the lines.
Oklahoma is crisscrossed with turnpikes like this one, four-lane highways dotted with cameras for speeding and toll violations. It’s too soon still for one of them to be clocking every black sedan with Arkansas plates that whizzes by, but I’m also not giving them any reason to. I use my blinkers and hold my speed well under the limit, even though what I’d really like to do is haul ass.
I hit the button for the windows, letting the highway air wash away the smell of you, of home. At sixty-four miles an hour, the wind is brutal, hot and steamy and oppressive. It reeks of pasture and exhaust, of nature and chemicals, none of it pleasant. It whips up a whirlwind in the car, blowing my hair and my clothes and the map on the passenger’s seat, rocking it in the air like a paper plane. I reach down, shimmy out of a shoe and smack it to the seat as a paperweight. You’re serious about holding on to me, which means I need to hold on to that map.
It may be old-school, but at least a map can’t be traced. Not that you’d have already discovered the number for the burner phone charging in the cup holder, but still. Better to not take any chances. I took the phone out of the package but haven’t powered it up—not yet. Not until I get where I’m going. I haven’t made it this far into my new life only to be hauled back into the old one.
So far, this state looks exactly like the one I left behind— fields and farms and endless belts of faded asphalt. Sounds the same, too. Local radio stations offer one of two choices, country music or preachers. I listen to a deep voice glorifying the power of forgiveness, but it’s a subject I can no longer get behind. I toggle up the dial, stopping on a Miranda Lambert anthem that’s much more my speed these days—gunpowder and lead—and give a hard twist to the volume dial.
For the record, I never wanted this. Running away. Leaving everything and everyone behind. I try not to think about all the things I’ll miss, all the faces I’ll miss, even if they won’t miss mine. Part of the planning was putting some space between me and people I love most, not letting them in on the truth. It’s the one thing I can’t blame you for—the way I drove a wedge into those friendships all by myself so you wouldn’t go after them, too. There’s only one person who knows I’m gone, and everyone else… It’ll be days, maybe weeks until they wonder where I am.
You’re smart, so I have to be smarter. Cunning, so I have to be more cunning. Not exactly a skill I possessed when we walked down the aisle all those years ago, when I was so squishy in love. I looked into those eyes of yours and promised till death would we part, and I meant every word. Divorce was never an option—until it was.
But the first time I mentioned the word, you shoved me to the floor, jammed a gun into my mouth and dared me to say it again. Divorce. Divorce divorce divorce divorce. I never said the word out loud again, though I will admit it’s been an awful lot on my mind.
I picture you walking through the door at home, looking for me. I see you going from room to room, hollering and cursing and finally, calling my cell. I see you following its muffled rings into the kitchen, scowling when you realize they’re coming from the cabinet under the sink. I see you wrenching open the doors and dumping out the trash and digging through sludgy coffee grounds and the remains of last night’s stir-fry until you find my old iPhone, and I smile. I smile so damn hard my cheeks try to tear in two.
I wasn’t always this vindictive, but you weren’t always this mean. When we met, you were charming, warming up my car on cold mornings or grilling up the most perfect strip steak for my birthday. You can still be sweet and charming when you want to be. You’re like the cocaine they slip the dogs that patrol the cars at the border; you gave me just enough of what I craved to keep me searching for more. That’s part of what took me so long to leave. The other part was the gun.
So no, I didn’t want to do this, but I did plan for it. Oh, how I planned for this day.
My first day of freedom.