I have seen, read and received a few amount of questions asking why the final chapter in my published novel, You Let Him In, (Hera Books 2020) didn’t focus on what happened next with Jenny & Daniel after the shocking ending. If you have read and enjoyed the novel, well – I present to you, the unedited final chapter that was removed from the book in mutual agreement between myself and the editors.
Jenny Clifton – One year later
I clutch hold of Michael’s wedding ring; it’s been a whole year since he was murdered. An entire year since that one night changed our lives forever. The man I loved had driven us into debt, cheated on me with the ex-Mrs Taylor, and lost our home. I stare at the ring and wondered why I bothered. I was so intent on finding it because I knew Michael would never have taken it off. I believed he loved me; I thought he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I had no inclination that it was likely for the duration of our marriage that Michael was spending time in hotels with businesswomen. He made me believe it was for work, all that time away from home. He was just feeding his addictions. I will never find out how long or how many women, but I accept now that he led a double life.
I forgive Michael for everything he has done to me. It cost him his life. He’s destroyed my life too. I can’t walk the streets without wondering if I am being followed. I regularly suffer from anxiety attacks but force myself out of the house. Leeds is a big enough city to get lost in, but I struggle to trust people. When I am not at work, I’m sat indoors with Daniel and my parents. I don’t know what I would do without them. Rebuilding my life will take time, but small steps will lead to more significant steps, and before long, I hope I can live more independently again.
I still struggle to sleep at night, and the nightmares slowly fade. Daniel sleeps in my room with me now; we share a double room in my parent’s house. When our home was repossessed, I had no reason to stay there. After I killed Gary Taylor in self-defence, the police investigation found evidence to support that Michael and Gary had a working relationship. They delved into the financial dealings of Gary’s businesses, and combined with actions led by Michael’s accounting firm, they’d known each other for quite some time.
The coroner’s inquest was that Michael was murdered; my evidence supported that the driver of the vehicle was also killed at the hands of Gary. I know I am a survivor, and Sharon, my family liaison officer, confirmed all my actions supported I had no choice but to kill Gary in self-defence. He attacked me, and I feared for my life. I was protecting my son from a monster. Gary was on a path of self-destruction after being diagnosed as terminally ill. Sharon informed me that he had sold most of his assets in the build-up to luring Michael to his death. His house was empty, his businesses wound up, and trying to destroy everything that was Michaels was part of clearing up unfinished business. I know he blamed Michael for losing his wife, the stress that he told me himself, he believed caused his cancer.
Donna and Peter were buried in Looe Cemetery almost four weeks after their murder. I received Michael’s ashes back and scattered them over his parents’ grave. I thought about keeping them, but the reality is that I never really knew my husband. We spent very little time together in the months before his death. I’m in the mindset now that I have to let go of the past. All those good memories I had with my husband have now turned sour.
I’m thankful to my mother and father for stepping in and taking charge of my life when I was at my lowest. They helped me through the barrage of media questions and random newspaper journalists who followed me for days after the news broke. I hate being in the spotlight but moving out of Westbridge helped calm things down. Nobody really knows me up here in Leeds; I can walk the street and be unrecognised as that face in the local paper.
I left our marital home with nothing but a few bags of clothes. I decided to get rid of everything. The contents were sold or went to charity, and I quit my admin job to live back home with my mother and father. I have a new job now. I work as a support teacher in the primary school that Daniel will be attending this September. I feel safer knowing I will be in the same location as him. The trauma of what I ensured has left me with a fear phobia about him. What if I am not with him? Something terrible could happen?
I can’t shift my mind from this psychological issue, but I will seek counselling. My husband walked out the door only to end up dead; I trusted a murderer who tried to kill us after he had already murdered Donna and Peter. No wonder I don’t want to leave the house or speak to people unless absolutely necessary. It will take time to rebuild my confidence again.
Michael had a will and left everything he owned to Daniel and me, but due to the mountains of debts, neither of us was endowed with anything much after the house was repossessed. In Donna and Peter’s will, they had left everything they owned to Michael, but as I am Michael’s next of kin through marriage, all their assets became mine. This was their house, the lodge in Cornwall and their business assets. With support from my parents again, I have now sold everything. The lodge was re-sold, their house was almost mortgage-free, and as for their business, I just closed up the shop and terminated the lease with the landlord.
I’ve put quite a substantial amount of money into a savings fund for when Daniel is older. He has every right to that money as part of their family and the trauma he suffered. The rest I have sat in my own bank account as a potential deposit on a new home soon. I quite like the comfort of my parents at the moment; it’s comforting and safe. I only want Daniel and me to feel safe.
I don’t wear my wedding ring anymore. Just as when I look at Michaels, I don’t feel anything either. Everything I lived for in the period with Michael doesn’t seem real. I feel deprived, cheated, and denied. I’ve been grieving for the old life I thought would be forever. I thought being married to Michael would mean something, that level of commitment for both of us. We had Daniel together. A family life obviously meant nothing to him, as he was more interested in covering up his lies and taking control of everything around him. He never wanted to be caught.
I place Michael’s wedding ring on the table next to mine. These two tiny pieces of gold with our wedding date engraved on the sides were meant to represent our love and the joining of lives together. Now I look at them and feel disappointed. All that time we spent together was wasted. I’ve been such a fool. A fool for believing that what I had was a perfectly ordinary life with a man who loved me.
I pick up the rings and wrap them in the tissue paper I found in my bedroom drawers. I’m ready to let go, move on with my life and make the past stay in the past.
“Goodbye, Michael,” I whisper into the air as I wrap the rings for packaging, “and thank you for giving me our beautiful son.”
I place both wedding rings into a small felt bag. I will keep them safe so Daniel can have them as a keepsake of his fathers when he is older. Undeniably, Michael loved his son, and I shall never tarnish his image for Daniel. He will always know that he loved him, even if I am unsure why he chose to lie to me about so many things.
It hurts, but I made this impulsive decision to remove my ring as a means of closure. The physical scars might have healed from my stab wounds, yet the mental damage might never repair itself. Our wedding rings mean nothing to me now. Our marriage was a sham. My husband was a stranger.
Taking a small gulp to clear the lump in my throat. It’s just going to be Daniel and me from now on.
Here’s to our new beginnings.