chapter one

The alarm clock flashed a neon green 03:00 in the dark room. The howling wind shook the branches outside and a flower pot fell in a distant. The sound of its fall was drowned by storm. A neighbour’s car alarm went off abruptly. None of these,however, were the reason why Bella couldn’t sleep. She had been lying on her side, staring at the blank wall for the last 4 hours. Inhaling deeply, she shut her eyes and recalled the events of the day.

The first thing she saw this morning was a soft, green 08:00 from her alarm clock. Sunlight spilled in through the window and lit up the room. Birds were chirping despite the cold weather. In an attempt to trap the heat her body had released over the night, she snuggled deeper under her duvet and thought about breakfast. A movement broke her chain of thoughts. Daniel had came in late last night. Again. This time it was an important conference call with a client in Taiwan and the inevitable time difference between the countries that held him back. She turned to face him and the glistening necklace around his neck teased her eyes. Moving closer, Bella noticed a small scratch on his neck. He had two similar scratches on the other side of his neck last Tuesday.

A probing at his neck woke Daniel up. The familiar pair of dark blue eyes greeted him, just like they always have in the last 8 years. Same dark blue eyes. Eight very long years. “If only they were brown,” he muttered. “You need to change that chain, Dan. Maybe then you’d stop scratching your neck,” Bella said as she snuggled closer. Daniel’s finger shot up instantly to his neck and smiled at her. “Don’t worry about it,love,” he said and kissed her forehead. She smiled back and moved her hand across his chest only for him to push it back. “Toilet. Sorry,” he got up quickly. Bella laid her hand on the warm spot where Daniel was and got out of the bed when she heard him walking to the kitchen.

The smell of egg and bacon with a hint of coffee filled the air in no time. Sundays are to be celebrated and she will celebrate before the start of another busy week. A new art gallery was opened last week and Bella was told that the artist came from India. He had captured his India through his oil paintings and wanted to share it with the other side of the world. It was just a stone’s throw away and they could have some cake from Eberto’s on their way back. Setting her coffee down, Bella looked for Daniel to share the plan with him. “Are you going somewhere?” she asked. He was in his jeans and pullover, rummaging through his drawers for a beanie. “Work, sweetheart. I have an important Skype conference call in 30 minutes,” he smiled apologetically at her. With a kiss on her forehead, he was out the front door and it was until he drove away when Bella opened her eyes again. The alarm clock showed her a dark green 09:05 and the sound of children laughing outside drew her to the balcony.

Something was wrong. She has had this dreadful feeling for months now. A particular memory played in her mind. It was a warm night in June. The traffic was bad after a collision between a lorry and a car. Daniel had called to tell her it would take him almost 2 hours to come back. Bella prepared dinner, something to fill her husband’s hungry stomach when he came home. The keys clattered in his cold hand and he’d burst into the living room. His cheeks were flushed and he couldn’t meet her eyes. “Hey, you. You look tired,” she helped him out of his coat. “Umm.. yeah. Terrible traffic. Oh, I’ve left my phone in the car!” he said with his hands on the pockets. “I’ll get it for you. There’s warm soup in the kitchen,” Bella said and headed to the garage. The phone was on the passenger seat and a light waft of rose greeted her as the door opened. ‘Dan was never a fan of air freshener, so why did he get one?’ she thought to herself. Closing the door with his phone in her hand, she walked a little too quickly and stumbled. Her right hand reached for his car to regain her balance and she was ready to wince as her hand touched the bonnet. To her surprise, it was cooler than what she had expected. He hadn’t been driving for two hours.
A loud laughter brought her back to the balcony. A woman walked by happily with her three young boys in the direction of town. They were chattering away and she threw her head back, laughing at their private joke. Bella smiled at them. Sunlight kissed her face and she knew she couldn’t, she wouldn’t waste the beautiful day. “Art gallery and then, cake,” she told the gentle breeze of her plan. A green 10:15 watched her pick up her phone by the bedside table. The door was shut behind her and she hummed Happy by Pharrell Williams, leaving behind a cold mug of coffee, a plate of half-eaten breakfast and Daniel’s laptop bag next to the sofa in the living room.

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