The Perfect Girlfriend - because it's not just men who become dangerous stalkers + win 1 of 3 copies
We’ve seen quite a number of books lately where the spotlight has been focused on women behaving badly. Like really, really badly.
From Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (how’s faking your own death to punish your husband sound), to Lullaby (you’ll never trust your nanny again), the exploration of dark women in fiction has proven to be immensely popular amongst lovers of psychological and crime thrillers.
But, the one type of story that I confess I haven’t seen much of is the female stalker archetype. Yes, we’re familiar with men who, based on so many media reports and statistics, are more prone to be stalkers, but that doesn’t mean that women are less guilty.
Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend is making waves in the book world for her portrayal of a woman who is not only downright unhinged, but who firmly believes that her behaviour is absolutely normal based on the fact that she’s in love.
About The Perfect Girlfriend:
Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.
They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she'll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.
Excerpt begins from page 8 + scroll to the bottom to win a copy of the book.
Taking the steps to the third and highest floor, I let myself into apartment 3B. Once inside, I stand still and inhale the welcoming scent of home.
I rely on the glow of the fish tank instead of switching on any lights. Sinking down into the sofa, I remove clothes from my bag. I undress, folding my uniform carefully, then change into black jeans and a jumper.
Using my phone as a torch, I pad, barefoot, into the kitchen and open the fridge. It is almost empty, as usual, apart from beer, some chillies and a ready-made macaroni cheese for one. I smile.
Heading back to the living room, I risk switching on a side lamp. From my bag, I remove a photo and place it on the mantelpiece.
In a perfect world, it would be framed, but I like to keep it close so that I can look at it whenever I like. In the picture, I am grinning happily, alongside Nate, the man I am to marry.
I fold my uniform over my left arm and make my way to the bedroom. Next, I place the trousers, blouse and jacket on the bed and bend down, burying my face into his pillow. I inhale deeply before lifting my head and shining light around the room.
Nothing has changed since I was last here. Good.
As I roll back the mirrored sliding door to the wardrobe, a reflective flash of my beam catches my eyes.
I blink, whilst my sight readjusts. Nate’s spare pilot’s uniform, his jackets, shirts and trousers, all hang neatly, but not as neatly as I can hang them.
I carefully space them out, each roughly three centimetres apart. I leave a gap as I hang my uniform next to his. The way it should be.
I stand back to admire my work.
Light catches the gold emblem on his hat. I slide the door closed.
My last stop is always the bathroom. I check the medicine cabinet. He’s had a cold recently; the menthol inhaler and cough medicine are new.
Returning to the living room, I help myself to an apple from the fruit bowl. I press my forehead against the living room window, crunching small bites whilst looking down below. I can’t see anyone.
Rush hour is over and, presumably,most people are at home, cosy and settled.
Unlike me. I am on the outskirts of my life.
Waiting. That’s what I do, a lot of waiting. And thinking . . .
I know so many things about Nate: that he loves skiing and always smells fresh; the scent of citrus soap clings to his skin. I know that he wants to be promoted to captain before he reaches his mid-thirties.
I know his background inside out: the childhood holidays in Marbella, Nice, Verbier and Whistler; tennis, horse-riding and cricket lessons; the lack of approval from his father when Nate chose to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot instead of following in his footsteps as an investment banker.
His younger sister admires him, but she doesn’t like me.
From social media photos, I can see that he could do with a haircut; his blond curls almost touch his collar.
But what I know, most of all, is that deep down he still has feelings for me.
Nate just suffered a temporary fear of commitment. Although it was crushing at the time, I now understand things a little better.
So, when the perfect time comes to disclose that I now work for the airline too – when he appreciates the lengths I’ve gone to, just to save us – everything will fall into place.
Until then, I have to be patient.
It’s difficult, though. Whenever I see a fresh image of him, I find it hard to eat for days afterwards.
My phone alarm reminds me that it’s time to leave.
I’ve had to train myself to do that, because the thing I’ve realized is that you get away with something once. Then twice. Then, before you know it, you are taking bigger risks.
Time passes in a daze and gets cut too fine. I check to see whether Nate’s flight from Chicago has landed. It has – five minutes early. I rush to my bag, and fumble.
I wrap my apple core inside a tissue and pull out a packet of mini chocolate muffins. Nate’s favourite. It’s a habit I can’t break – adding his preferences to my own food shopping.
WATCH: Meet the perfect girlfriend
I open the freezer door, causing white light to illuminate the wall. I shove the packet towards the back, behind the meat that I know he will never defrost and the peas he never bothers with.
I’d love to leave them somewhere more obvious, like by the coffee machine, but I can’t, so this will have to do.
When he finds them, hopefully he will take a moment to think of me. My shopping lists were always full of food he loved. I never forgot anything.
I retrace my steps to the bedroom and yank my uniform off the hangers which swing, then clatter, as they hit the back of the wardrobe.
Returning to the living room, I take down the photo before reluctantly replacing it in my bag. I put on my ballet pumps and switch off the side lamp. The multicoloured fish stare at me as they complete their lengths.
One, in particular, watches, mouth gaping. It is ugly. Nate named it Rainbow. I have always hated it.
I swallow hard. I don’t want to go. This place is like quicksand, it sucks me in.
I pick up my bag and leave, closing the door quietly behind me, before returning to the station to catch the train to my shoebox, postage stamp, doll’s house of a flat in Reading.
I can’t call it home because being there is like hanging out in the departure lounge of life. Waiting, always waiting, until the gate to my proper life reopens.
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