She closed the door quietly, making sure she avoided the creaky old floor board on the top landing. It was a path she had trodden many times and she could almost feel her footsteps taking her where she had been and moreover, where she had to go before her brain engaged her legs and made her move.

With a final look over her shoulder and down the staircase, she took to the grand hallway that had never offered her anything more than another empty room, another chamber in what had become a microcosm of her empty life she had led for too long.

Tonight she would rectify that and she would never look back. With every step she took, she moved a little closer to freedom, a new life, a better place and somewhere without him. Almost anywhere would be better than living here, with him and those memories. All those terrible, terrifying memories. In time, they would fade as her feelings for him had faded down the years. She would hold him in the contempt he deserved and she would leave with her head held high.

She quickened her pace as she made for the heavy double doors, the sun almost set over the hills beyond and the calm waters beyond almost beckoning her out in the early evening solitude. Onwards she walked and she put her hand on the door handle. She turned it but it wouldn’t move! The door had been locked from the outside and the key must have been left in the door.

As the seconds turned to minutes, her heart raced, her chest tightened and she realised she would have to take one last trip up those stairs, the staircase she had come to despise almost as much as him. She looked up at the huge portrait on the wall and she knew he had been a noose around her neck for too long, his icy cold stare following her as she trod quietly up the stairs. She had left the light on and the warm glow from the bedroom she used beckoned her in one last time, as she sought to find the key for the side door. As she left and quietly closed the bedroom door behind her, she looked across the hallway and her worst fears were confirmed.

The light in the bedroom across the landing was switched on, the glow visible under the door. She thought he was out! She was sure he had said he would out on business all evening but that light was coming from his room. The footsteps coming from his room meant only one thing. She turned and she started moving, at pace. The bedroom door across the hallway smashed open and swung back as it slammed into the wall.

He wasn’t out on business tonight…