Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty Read Free Book Online

Book: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty Read Free Book Online
Authors: Liane Moriarty
suspiciously shiny after the scratch incident last month. “Scratchgate,” they all called it.
    â€œJealous fuck,” Pete said when Ben showed him the long deliberate scratch left by some evil person’s key on the passenger door. Ben couldn’t work out where and when it had happened. He never left the car in public car parks. It felt like it had to be someone they knew. Ben could name multiple people who might resent him and Jessica enough to have done it. Once he would have found it hard to name a single enemy in his life. Now it seemed they had a nice little collection. He knew Jessica thought it was Ben’s sister who had done it, although she never accused Lucy out loud. He could read her mind by the thin fold of her lips. Maybe she was right. It could have been Lucy.
    Pete fixed the scratch with the same care as if he were restoring a priceless painting, and Ben had been vigilant until right now, when he’d put the car at huge, unforgivable risk by driving down that hellish road.
    Ben should never have given in to Jessica. He’d tried. He stopped the car and told her, calmly and without swearing, that driving a car like this down an unpaved road was negligent and that the consequences could be catastrophic. They could, for example, rip out the exhaust system.
    It was almost like she seriously didn’t care about the exhaust system.
    They’d yelled at each other for ten minutes straight. Proper yelling. Spitballs flying. Their faces red and ugly and contorted. The head-exploding frustration he’d felt during that argument was like something half-remembered from childhood, when you couldn’t express yourself properly and you had no control over your life because you were a kid, so when your mum or dad said you couldn’t have the new Star Wars action figure you wanted with all your heart you totally lost your shit.
    There had been a moment there when he’d clenched his fists; when he had to tell himself, Don’t hit her . He hadn’t known he was capable of feeling the desire to hit a woman. He folded right then. He said, “Fine. I’ll ruin the car. Whatever.”
    Most guys he knew wouldn’t have even stopped for the yelling. They would have just done a U-turn.
    Most guys would never have agreed to this crazy idea in the first place.
    A health resort . Yoga and hot springs. He didn’t get it. But Jessica said they needed to do something dramatic and this would fix things. She said they needed to detox their minds and their bodies to save their marriage. They were going to eat organic lettuce and get “couples counseling.” It was going to be ten days of pure torture.
    Some celebrity couple had come to this place and saved their marriage. They had “achieved inner peace” and got back in touch with their “true selves.” What a load of crap. They may as well have handed over their money to Nigerian email scammers. Ben had a horrible feeling the celebrity couple might have got together on The Bachelorette . Jessica loved celebrities. He used to think it was sweet, a dumb interest for a smart girl. But now she was making too many life decisions based on what celebrities did, or what it was reported they did; it was probably all crap anyway, they were probably getting paid to support products on their Instagram accounts. And there was Jessica, his poor innocent, hopeful Jessica, soaking it all up.
    Now it was like she thought she was one of those people. She wasimagining herself at those trashy red-carpet events. Every time she got her photo taken these days she put her hand on her hip, like she was doing the actions for “ I’m a Little Teapot, ” then turned side on and thrust out her jaw with this maniacal smile. It was the weirdest thing. And the time she took setting up these photographs. The other day she spent forty-two minutes (he’d timed it) taking a photo of her feet .
    One of their biggest fights

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