Extract: I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry
In Poppy Page’s mind, there are two types of women in this world: those who are faithful to their husbands, and those who are not. Until now, Poppy has never questioned which she was.
But when handsome, charming Matthew Gordon walks back into her life after almost two decades, that changes. Poppy makes a single mistake – and that mistake will be far more dangerous than she could imagine.
Someone is going to pay for it with their life…
Read on for an extract from I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry!
I Made a Mistake
Central Criminal Court,
London – Summer
Court No. 1 is large and modern, with white walls and an RAF-blue carpet more suited to an office. There is a series of long tables laid out before the judge’s bench, almost like a classroom. The prosecution and the defence barristers in their wigs and black gowns with flapping crow-like wings are seated in separate tiers. Behind them are their respective teams in their sharp suits who lean forward at times to pass a note or whisper in their barristers’ ears. There are computer screens on all the desks, including the judge’s, and even on the wall.
And, of course, there’s the jury. When the jurors first filed in at the beginning of this murder trial, they looked rather stunned and out of their comfort zone. But now, two days in, some are becoming more assured. Others are still twitchy, like the man fiddling with his anorak zip as though there was something wrong with it.
He stops, however, when a woman is called to take the stand. Instantly a deafening silence sweeps across the courtroom. All eyes are fixed on her. She is wearing a loose emerald-green dress with a bright white collar, which she keeps smoothing down as though nervous. The colour suits her auburn hair. Her face is devoid of make-up. She is not wearing earrings, although if you look closely you might see that her ears have been pierced. Her eyes dart from one place to another, resting fleetingly on all the heads turned towards her.
‘Poppy Page,’ says the prosecution counsel in her crisp clear voice. ‘Can you tell me precisely what happened when you met Matthew Gordon, the deceased, at the Association of Supporting Artistes and Agents’ Christmas party?’
The woman starts to answer, but the words appear stuck in her throat. Her fingers are twisted awkwardly as if she is threading one through the other like a child’s game.
‘We talked,’ she says finally.
‘About what?’ says the prosecutor sharply.
The woman looks up to the public gallery. There are quite a few there. It’s a popular place, not just for the family and friends of those on the stand but also for those seeking free entertainment and shelter from the rain. Right now, it’s actually nearly thirty degrees outside. We are, according to the forecasters, set for a heatwave. Both in court and out.
‘About the industry,’ she says. Each word that she utters appears to be a huge effort.
‘Did you talk about anything personal?’
Her eyes meet those of the prosecution barrister who has just spoken. ‘Why would we do that?’
‘That’s for you to tell me, I believe, Mrs Page. Let me ask you another question. Is it true that you used to know the deceased in a… non-professional capacity?’
The woman looks down at the ground. She nods her head in a quick, awkward jerking motion, rather like a puppet on a string.
‘Please use verbal responses only.’
‘Yes,’ she whispers.
‘Louder, please. I’m afraid the court might not have caught that.’
‘How did you originally meet?’
There is silence. The barrister glances at the judge, who wears a pair of thick-rimmed glasses. They appear almost anachronistic, set just below the wig, which looks like it belongs to a different age. He leans forward disapprovingly.
‘Mrs Page,’ he says. ‘Would you like the question repeated?’
She shakes her head and then visibly swallows hard. It almost seems that something is stuck in her throat. She takes a sip of water. After that she looks down at her hands – now perfectly still – as if they are not her own.
And then she speaks.
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