I managed my finances very well, and had my whole life planned ahead of me; buy a house in London, get married, go on a world tour, have two kids (hell, I had even decided their names; yeah, tell me about it), upgrade to a family car, and early retirement. Josh, my live-in boyfriend, lived in the moment and didn’t believe in pre-planning, and that’s why we fell in love with each other, opposites do attract. He loved how organised I was, and I loved how spontaneous he was. Even his career as an investment banker was going great. Long story short, it was going really well for the both of us.
About a month ago, my company management decided to transfer me to the Ipswich office. Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk, England, about 60 miles north east of London. I was shattered, as the housing market there was nothing compared to London. But Tim, my manager, said it’s only temporary. One of our Ipswich offices wasn’t doing as well as the other estate agencies there and the management, seeing my excellent track record, wanted me to go find out why this was the case. Tim said it’s not going to be more than three months, and I will get a hefty bonus if I succeeded in improving sales and sharing some helpful tips/sales pitch with their staff. Also, my hotel stay and travel was to be paid for by the company. I wasn’t too happy about this opportunity as firstly, it didn’t go with my future plans, and secondly, it meant staying away from Josh.
But when I told Josh about it, he was very supportive and encouraging. He hugged me tight and said, “Honey, it’s just a minor setback, I know you will achieve those targets in a month and be back before you even know it. It will look good on your resume too. And Ipswich is just a two hours’ drive from London, so we’ll meet every weekend.” This lifted my spirit a bit. We spent the weekend at home, just cuddling, talking, and watching TV. I set out for Ipswich early Monday morning.
First half of the day at office was spent mostly getting to know everyone. After lunch, I started going over the list of prospective buyers/sellers, that’s when he walked into the office and stood by my desk. He was over six-feet tall, athletic build, blue intense eyes, curly salt-and-pepper hair. He was a very handsome and attractive man. He seemed to be either in his late thirties or early forties, though I later found out he was in his mid-50s.
“Hi, I’m Martin Evans.” He extended his hand to me.
I just sat there with my mouth wide open, I’m sure I looked quite dumb then. Agreed, he was good-looking, but I had met my fair share of good-looking men, hell, even better looking than Mr. Blue Eyes, but never had I experienced such a loss for words before. It was not his looks, no, it was something else, there was something about him that put me on edge, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it yet.
“Hey, you alright?” I snapped back to reality, shook his extended hand and tried to compose myself.
“Hello, I’m Kathy White. Please take a seat. How can I help you?” I managed a weak smile.
He told me he wanted to sell his ancestral three-bedroom house, some 30 mins drive from our office, as he moved to Italy a year ago, and had plans to settle there. He went on for another five mins, talking about how he had just refurbished the property, and how well it’s connected to the city, et al. It was quite hard for me to focus, as I was seeing flashes of different conversations I had with him earlier, but the place and setting seemed so wrong, like it was from a different era or something.
I felt a strong connection to him, like I knew him, and not as an acquaintance, but rather intimately. That was not possible though, as I never dated older men. I teared myself away from these thoughts and realized Martin was done talking and looking at me with suspicion, “Are you sure you are alright, looks like you have seen a ghost or something?”
I again managed an awkward smile, “I just drove here today from London early morning, so just a bit tired, that’s it.” That made him relax a bit. I gave him my perfect sales pitch, and assured him that we’ll get him the best price possible for his house. He looked quite convinced. I setup an appointment for next day mid-morning to view his property. He had taken up residence in an Airbnb apartment. He offered to pick me up from office in his car since it was on the way. I accepted.
I felt restless the entire day after my meeting with Martin. Why does his name sound so familiar? Why does his eyes, face, voice seem so familiar? Why did a chill run down my spine when I shook his hand? For a meticulous know-it-all person such as myself, not having answers was driving me crazy. I somehow managed to get through to the evening.
Once I reached my hotel, I started my research on Martin Shaw. The internet was full of Martin Shaws. It took me a while to find the one, but find I did. I not only searched him on social network sites, but also tried to find if he was in the news or something. After three hours of extensive research (yeah, I am weird that way), I finally had enough on him to write a book. The more I researched, the more I felt I knew him personally. There were some things I learnt about him from his posts, and the news archives, and then there were some things that I just knew.
Martin Shaw was born in 1966 to a lower middle-class family in Cotswold, England. He was the eldest sibling, followed by a younger brother and a much younger sister. He was always a hit among the ladies, as he was both attractive and a glib talker. He was also a very bright student and later managed to get a scholarship at a reputed law school in London, but had to drop out soon as his dad passed away and he had to become the sole bread winner of his family. He started taking home tuition, and doing other part time jobs. He wanted to get rich real fast, but it didn’t seem to happen. Every time he tried something new, he failed. But his law school sweetheart, Elizabeth, always believed in him, she kept in touch with him even after he dropped out. She also helped him financially from time to time, and Martin happily accepted.
After graduation, Elizabeth got a job in a reputed law firm in Ipswich and had to move. Her wealthy father bought her a house there. But she loved Martin so much that she was heartbroken due to the move. She later asked Martin to join her, she didn’t think he would say yes. But again, he happily accepted.
The same year they got married, and the same year Elizabeth died in a car crash. Martin got the insurance money and as per her will, even her house.
He got married again after three years to a wealthy woman, who died whilst on vacation with Martin in Japan, by ‘accidentally’ falling off a cliff. It was the same year she got married to Martin. He collected the insurance yet again.
He was now married to a wealthy woman in Italy. I knew what fate awaited her.
I was so lost in all this that when the hotel room phone rang, it made me jump.
It was Josh.
“Jeez Kat, where the hell are you? I must have called you like a million times. I got worried, and called the hotel reception.”
I saw my phone, 32 missed calls. I had a lot of explaining to do.
“Sorry Josh, my phone was on silent. Since it was my first day here, I was catching up on all the past statistics from the office and other related research.”
This made me guilty, firstly because I just lied to my poor boyfriend who was so worried about me and secondly because I should have been doing what I just told Josh I was doing. After all, that was why I was sent here in the first place. We spoke for another ten minutess, but all this while I was thinking about Martin.
I slept quite poorly that night, and had nightmares. Agreed, that there was something fishy about Martin, but what was more annoying was how I was connected to all of this. I got my answer the same morning.
Martin arrived on time wearing a grey double-breasted tweed jacket, which made him look even more suave and handsome. We got seated in his car and set out to view the property. We made small talk, revolving mostly around house sales. As we started nearing the property, I had a déjà vu feeling, I knew I had been here before, I knew that Martin will take a right and then a left. I knew how the house looked like, even though I had never set my foot here, hell I had never even been to Ipswich before.
Martin parked in the driveway, and quickly got out to open the car door for me. I held on to anything I could to gather the strength to get out. I felt drained and exhausted.
“Hey, you ok, you look pale?” He gave me a concerned look.
“Yeah, I’m alright, don’t worry,” I lied.
He took out the keys from his pocket and was about to open the door when he got a call.
“Sorry, I need to take this call, you mind looking on your own meanwhile?” I nodded.
As soon as I entered the house, I got goosebumps. I had lived here before. I knew where the bedrooms were, I knew how many windows were there, I knew the garden entrance. I climbed the stairs and made my way to the master bedroom. Even though the house was refurbished, the antique wardrobe was still there.
I opened the wardrobe and I knew there was secret compartment at the bottom of the wardrobe, I knew what I was going to find in it. My heart was racing so fast, I thought it will leap out of my chest.
I opened the compartment and took the item, and kept it in my purse. I was just about to close the wardrobe when Martin startled me.
“It’s a beauty, isn’t it? My great grandfather had the wardrobe made, it’s still how I remember it as a kid, new and shiny.”
I knew he was lying, but now was not the time to confront him.
He showed me all the rooms again, and he discussed some more about how he was expecting a good price for it. He was going to sell the antique wardrobe separately, it’s surprising that he didn’t sell it sooner, considering his greedy self.
After 15 mins or so we came back to the car and hit the road. Once on the motorway, I retrieved the item I took from the wardrobe and showed it to Martin, he went pale on seeing the necklace with a heart -shaped diamond pendant.
“Wh…Where did yo…you find it?”
“Exactly where I left it 26 years ago,” I said with a straight face.
‘I… I do... don’t understand.” He was still driving, without paying much attention to the road.
“You remember the day you gave it to me? It was the day I told you I was pregnant. Initially, you didn’t react and left the house.
“I started crying thinking you weren’t ready to be a father yet. But then you came back in the evening, swooped me in your arm, gave me this necklace, and told me how much you loved me, and how excited you were about being a dad. Oh Marty, why did I believe you, I was so happy that day, I felt so complete, I was on cloud nine. Little did I know of your evil plan.
“I knew during my last moments that you had tampered with the car brakes, as I had seen you doing something to the car a day before my death, but didn’t think much of it then.
“My last wish was to make you pay for what you did to me.” Tears started flowing down by face.
Martin was hysterical, and started shivering,
“I… I, who the hell you think you are, you bitch, you ca... can’t be Be... Beth, I killed her 26 years ago, you can’t be her. With this, he took his hands off the steering wheel, took off his seat belt, and started strangling me, I fought back, and pushed him. He accidentally pressed the brake.
A heavy duty truck hit the car from behind, and Martin flew from his car and onto the road and was again run over by another speeding car. All this happened in a fraction of a second.
Elizabeth’s wish was granted.
Surprisingly, I survived without a scratch. And you know what’s ironic, it was Elizabeth’s death anniversary. Also, I was the exact same age as she was the day she died.
The next few hours passed with me being examined for any internal injuries, police recorded my statement. I lied saying Martin lost control, they had no reason to suspect me. I was just a real estate agent Martin met the first time a day before the accident.
Josh came as soon as he heard about the accident, and didn’t leave my side the whole time. Tim too was very sympathetic and asked me to take a few days off and join back the London office. My life returned to normal.
Just today morning, Josh gifted me a necklace with a heart shaped diamond pendant and asked me to marry him.
Written by MonicaMishra0607