Trapped in what seems to be a loveless marriage, Maggie and her husband Chris are dealing with the aftermath of her attempt to have an affair. It fails miserably, because Maggie just isn't quite that savvy, but unfortunately she flirts with a dangerous man. When he comes to force Maggie past text messages and wanton phone calls, both Chris and Maggie cross a line that can't be undone.
Hanuted by a tumultuous, albeit innocent past, the police make Chris an easy target for the blame with Maggie watching as the drama unfolds. Maggie is not a pretty girl.
The Binds that Tie by New York Times best selling author Kate Moretti has a somewhat Gone Girl feel; it plays at the context of a psychological thriller, and while not quite as twisted a Gillian Flynn, Moretti holds her own in this genre. Kate Moretti is a talented author and she weaves a solid tale of twists, that lead the reader to twisted ending - not necessarily a plot twist, but definitely twisted. (Although, that may just be me - I struggle to find a mystery that can keep me truly guessing.) Fans of Flynn's work or the newly acclaimed Robert Gailbraith (a.k.a. JK Rowling) will find Moretti's mystery/thriller an accomplished book to add to their collection.
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She hadn’t meant to kill him. She remembers it as still photographs in motion, like a flip book: the struggle, reaching for something—anything—on the mantel, the surprisingly soft thump as the leaded crystal connected with his skull, the heavy finality of his body slumping on the wood floor. She remembers how she’d thought bone should be harder, stronger, like steel, and how it seemed too
easy to knock out a man. She remembers Chris’s face, long and white, as he stood in the doorway and stared at the body in the living room. His mouth opened, the baseball bat hanging like a failed punch line at his side. He said something—she doesn’t remember what—and she shrugged, thinking he was being melodramatic.
She remembers reaching for the phone and telling Chris to get some water. She’d seen that in the movies, that cold water would wake an unconscious person. She remembers Chris’s hand on her wrist, lowering the phone back into the cradle with a barely audible click. It’s incredible how such a small sound could have such a resonating effect, cleanly dividing their lives in half. After all, it was just a click, like the soft closing of a door. Or the dry-firing of a gun.
The clack of fingers tapping the keyboard kept beat with the top-forty Muzak playing at low volume. The combination comforted Maggie, the tap-tap-tap of a tinny bass-line beat. Sometimes, when a song came on the car radio that Maggie heard at least twice a day, she mentally added the clicking, like a calming metronome.
“Riley Martin is here. She wants you, not me.”
Linda Crawford rapped her orthopedic shoe gently against Maggie’s chair, her lip curled. Maggie studied her coworker, the only other nurse in the pediatrician’s office. Linda was shaped like a beach ball, with a mound of permed blond hair and a permanent sneer. She was in her fifties, and a chronic shoulder injury gave her the wafting odor of IcyHot. Maggie wasn’t surprised most of the kids asked for her instead. She stood and took the file from Linda’s outstretched hand. Quick, easy last appointment of the day.
In the examination room, Riley, a towheaded, spectacled five-year-old, sat giggling on the table. Her father, tall and broad, stood next to her and held her hand. Maggie saw the unabashed love of fathers for their little girls every day, but she’d learned to push down the quick stab in her center. The most staid of men folded like circus performers at the prodding of a child, but the girls, more than the
boys, had that ignition effect. The girls, more than the boys, seemed to take that for granted.
“Hi, Riley. Gearing up for kindergarten?” Maggie donned a pair of rubber gloves and opened the file, scanning for due vaccinations.
“Yes. But Markie isn’t going with me to kindergarten. Daddy says I have to leave him home.” A tired, well-worn brown rabbit sat in her lap, and she rubbed the petal-pink silk on his inner ear.
“Ah, well, you know what? I heard rabbits are really very smart. I don't think they even need kindergarten!” Maggie gathered a pre-filled syringe, tapped it once, and met Mr. Martin’s gaze over Riley’s head. He gave her a wry grin as she swabbed Riley’s arm with alcohol.
“Just a DTaP today, no big deal. It’s not even a real shot, just a little booster. Riley, tell me, are you going on vacation this year?”
Riley launched into a long-winded description of Disney World, and while she was talking, Maggie snuck the needle into her bicep. As Maggie pushed the plunger down gently, Riley gasped.
Maggie laughed. “You barely noticed it! It was the smallest pinch. I told you, just a booster!” She pinched Riley’s chin and slipped a Band-Aid over the puncture wound.
As Maggie removed her gloves and tossed them in the trash, she caught Pete Martin’s eye. He gave her a wink. She smiled back, but as she left the exam room, she rolled her eyes. Pete Martin was over six feet tall, with salt-and-pepper hair and a quick, easy smile that he showered on women all over town.
She tossed Riley’s folder in the To-be-filed bin. Penelope, one of the young, blond twenty-something receptionists, snatched it up. She was sucking on a lollipop, filling the office with the syrupy, juvenile perfume of a grape Blow Pop.
“Riley didn’t ask for you. Pete did.” She twisted her mouth and raised her eyebrows, and Maggie couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh, come on. I swear, Fridays are like well-visit Dad day.”
Maggie shook her head as she turned off her computer for the day. The wall clock above her desk read 3:55. She heard Charlene’s words in the back of her mind. Pretty girls know they’re pretty. Her mother’s voice had a tendency to sneak into Maggie’s consciousness at inopportune moments, a measured timbre with a cultivated borderline British accent that Maggie abhorred. Whenever Charlene spoke, Maggie wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her. You were born and raised in New Jersey, home of the worst accent in America. “Good night, Penelope.”
“I’m not far behind you.” She waggled her fingers in Maggie’s direction and packed up her bag. “Have a good weekend!”
Maggie waved to Linda, hunched over her computer, and stopped in the doorway of Dr. Tantella’s office to say good night. He was so engrossed in the mounds of paper on his desk, he gave her a noncommittal grunt and a quick dismissive flick of his wrist.
As she opened the door to her black Volkswagen and climbed into the driver’s seat, Maggie thought about Penelope’s words. She’d heard it before, though not usually so matter-of-fact. Penelope, with her soup-can blond curls and rounded doe eyes, had probably heard the same things growing up and viewed Maggie as a sort of kin. Maggie wondered if Penelope had a Charlene whispering in her ear. Shhh, don’t protest, just say thank you. The worst part was, Maggie often found her mother was right. Pretty girls do know they’re pretty. Even if they’re never told or they never see it in a mirror, the world teaches them. People give them free coffee and appreciative smiles, hold open doors and lend them quarters at the vending machine. She tied her long blond hair in a ponytail and started the car.
She was digging in her purse for gum when she heard a rap on the window. Her head snapped up, and for a second, all she saw was the white, straight-toothed smile of Pete Martin. She pressed the button to roll down her window.
“I just wanted to say thanks for being so nice. To Riley.” His voice, smooth as butter, filled the car as he leaned in her open window. He smelled sharp, like citrus.
Maggie’s finger twitched over the up button. “No problem. She’s a lovely girl.”
“Last appointment of the day?”
“Yep, headed home. Have a good night.”
“Well, we have to bring Riley’s brother in next week. Will you be in on Wednesday?”
“I’m here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Mr. Martin.”
“You can call me Pete, you know.”
“Dr. Tantella insists on last names. It draws a line, I guess.” She gave a shrug and a polite, thin-lipped smile.
“Okay, then I’ll see you next Wednesday.” He backed up and held up his hand in a friendly half wave.
Maggie rolled up her window and watched him jog back to his car. Yes, pretty girls know they’re pretty. They know because the world tells them.
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