Disturbance by Marianne Kavanagh | Extract

Read an extract from the addictive and twisty new thriller by Marianne Kavanagh, Disturbance.

Posted on January 3, 2019 in Extract
Tags: Mystery and Suspense, psychological suspense, psychological thriller

You don’t know what’s going on in Sara’s house… Or in her head.

Disturbance is the dark and twisty new thriller from Marianne Kavanagh, publishing in March 2019. Read on for a sneak-peek extract:

Disturbance by Marianne Kavanagh

The moment of crisis arrived with no fanfare, no warning, on an ordinary working day at the end of November. It was very cold. Even at ten in the morning, the slate roof of the extension outside her office was still sparkling with frost, a shimmer of silver in the clear light.

She could hear the fear in his voice. ‘You’ll have to come and get me. I can’t move.’

At work, Mike had leaned down to retrieve a file from the bottom drawer of his desk and a kind of electric shock, like a cattle prod in his lower back, had made him cry out.

After she’d ended the call, Sara sat quite still, letting the implications sink in. She’d promised to leave straight away – to go to his office, collect him, and take him to see the GP – but she was frozen to the chair. She must have known, even then, that picking up the car keys and walking out of her safe and predictable job was going to change everything. If she’d stayed put, working three days a week in the wills and probate department, she would have had more objectivity. She might have been able to cope.

Eventually, Sara dragged herself to her feet and went to make her excuses. When she told Jane, the office manager, that she had to go because there had been an accident, Jane put on her sympathetic face, thinking that Sara was talking about a car crash. But then Sara explained about Mike’s back, and having to take him to the doctor, and Jane raised her eyebrows and said, ‘Couldn’t he get a taxi?’ Sara, silenced by the stupidity of the suggestion, just stared. After an awkward pause, Jane swallowed and dropped her eyes to her keyboard, which Sara took to mean that she’d won the argument and had permission to leave.

It was a frustrating, thirty-minute drive through slow traffic. Sara’s car – a black second-hand Polo with a reluctant gear stick – shook with elderly nerves each time it stopped at traffic lights.

When she got to the office, Mike was lying on his back on the floor, surrounded by his employees. They stood at a respectful distance, no one daring to acknowledge her arrival, hushed and downcast like mourners round a grave. Mike was very still. She could see from the greyness of his skin that this was much worse than the grumbling pain of the past few months.

He opened his eyes. ‘You took your time.’

Four of them helped him to the car. It was clear that every movement hurt, but he didn’t say a word, the muscles in his jaw rigid.

As she started the engine, she said, ‘Maybe we should . . .?’

He said, ‘Don’t start. For God’s sake, don’t start.’

Fear fluttered in her stomach.

In the weeks that followed, Mike worked from home, lying in a state of desperate immobility on one of the big white sofas in the formal living room. Coffee stains appeared on the velvet cushions and office detritus on the silk rug from Marrakech. Crazed by pain, he rumbled with suppressed rage, bellowing out orders, hurling out blame. Sara scurried about like an overworked waitress, trying to cater for his every need but becoming so muddled and forgetful because of all the shouting that she ended up delivering entirely the wrong things – a charger when he wanted his reading glasses, extra strong mints when he needed his painkillers – so that Mike boiled over with frustration and roared, ‘Are you doing this on purpose?’

Her mistakes multiplied. Every time, without fail, she rushed out to fetch his prescription from the chemist at exactly the moment he needed her most. Once, she came back to find him apoplectic because a motorcycle courier had shouted through the letter box that he couldn’t leave the documents without a signature and Mike had been in too much pain to hobble to the door.

‘You knew he was coming.’

Sara trembled. ‘I had no idea.’

‘They sent you an email.’

‘If they did, I didn’t see it.’

His outburst was savage. ‘For God’s sake, Sara! Fucking concentrate on what you’re doing!’

The house quivered with tension. She flinched each time he yelled. She cried when he threw a whisky glass that narrowly missed her head. She was bawled out so often for misunderstanding what he needed that she ended up doubting her ability to make a cup of tea.

The worst of it was trying to get Mike to eat. Normally a man of large appetites, he lost interest in food completely. This worried her. As she kept telling him, he shouldn’t be taking painkillers on an empty stomach. One cold winter morning, she spent hours making the kind of chilli-laced soup he would normally have devoured with gusto and carried it through to the living room on a tray, the white bowl nestling on a jaunty red-checked napkin.

Mike looked up from the sofa. ‘What’s that?’

‘Lunch.’

‘Take it away.’

She stood there holding it, uncertain what to do. ‘Mike—’

‘I don’t want it.’

‘But shouldn’t you—’

His flailing arm, dismissing her, caught the edge of the tray. It flipped up, tipping the contents of the bowl on to Sara’s front. The soup was hot. She cried out.

He said, ‘Just go away and leave me alone.’

By Christmas, the atmosphere was so sharp and jagged you could have cut yourself. Edward shut himself in his room, protected by headphones that blocked out everything but electronica.

James, her elder son, was disgusted. ‘Is this what it’s going to be like from now on?’

She said, ‘He’s worried about the business. He doesn’t know if they can manage without him.’

James gave her a look that was almost pitying. At eighteen, he forgave his father nothing. ‘That doesn’t mean he can take it out on us.’

It took its toll in the end. You can only be in crisis mode for so long. When Mike, for the third time that week, woke her at three in the morning demanding painkillers, Sara found herself weeping in the bathroom with the shower full on so that he couldn’t hear.

Of course she knew that none of this was Mike’s fault.

But it wasn’t her fault either, which Mike didn’t seem to understand.

Can’t wait to read Disturbance? Pre-order it now.

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