The Golden Cage - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

An exhilarating new novel from a global superstar–a sexy, over-the-top psychological thriller that tells the story of the scorned wife of a billionaire and her delicious plot to get her revenge and bring him to his knees.

Faye has loved Jack since they were students at business school. Jack, the perpetual golden boy, grew up wealthy, unlike Faye, who has worked hard to bury a dark past. When Jack needs help launching a new company, Faye leaves school to support him, waitressing by day and working as his strategist by night. With the business soaring, Faye and Jack have a baby, and Faye finds herself at home, caring for their daughter, wealthier than she ever imagined, but more and more removed from the excitement of the business world. And none of the perks of wealth make up for the fact that Jack has begun to treat her coldly, undermining her intelligence and forgetting all she sacrificed for his success. When Faye discovers that he’s having an affair, the polished façade of their life cracks wide open. Faye is alone, emotionally shattered, and financially devastated–but hell hath no fury like a woman with a violent past bent on vengeance. Jack is about to get exactly what he deserves—and so much more. In this splashy, electrifying story of sex, betrayal, and secrets, a woman’s revenge is a brutal but beautiful thing.

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The Golden Cage
By Camilla Läckberg

The Golden Cage

“Sometimes it felt like it was all too easy. But she knew that it would be far from easy. And that there would be a high price. Possibly too high. But she was who she was, and bearing in mind what Jack had done, no act of vengeance could be too brutal.”

A woman plots revenge against the billionaire husband who betrayed her in the deliciously wicked, THE GOLDEN CAGE.

Faye escapes her small town and finds her way to Stockholm to reinvent herself. She’s smart, ambitious and determined to make something of herself. While studying at the distinguished Stockholm School of Economics, she meets the dashing Jack Adelheim. Before too long, Jack sweeps Faye off her feet and marries her. Faye helps Jack lay the foundation for a business that would make him immeasurably wealthy, abandoning her own aspirations to help him succeed. Over the years, Faye stays home with their daughter, while Jack thrives. She’s stuck in a golden cage, spending her days with vapid women, missing the business world, but trusting in Jack’s love despite his increasingly dismissive and demeaning treatment.

Then Faye discovers Jack’s infidelity, and instead of groveling for forgiveness, he kicks her to the curb penniless. But it isn’t until Faye is alone again, devastated both emotionally and financially, that she realizes she is nothing like the person she once was. Determined to reclaim the fire within, she plots to destroy Jack in the same way he’d destroyed her—or rather in a way he can’t even begin to imagine.

“She felt the familiar darkness seep through every pore of her body, the darkness she had managed to forget. She had been pretending it had never existed, that it had never been part of her. But now, very slowly, she started to remember who she was, who she had been.”

Läckberg hatches a scorching story of revenge, rife with all things deliciously soapy—sex, secrets, betrayal, money and murder. It’s also a sharp exploration of women’s experiences with men, their unreserved self-sacrifice, and the deep, unbreakable bonds of friendship. Chapters alternate between Faye’s present and her traumatic past, which stoked her own desire to survive and succeed.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy every brutal, chilling moment of this must-read revenge thriller by the master of Scandinavian noir.

“Faye was hardly the first woman in the world to be humiliated by her husband, to be treated like an idiot, to be replaced by a younger model. Enough of that now, she thought. Together we’re strong, and we’re not going to stay silent any longer.”

Julienne was asleep at last. Her hair was spread out across the pink pillow. Her breathing was calm. Faye stroked her cheek, gently, so she wouldn’t wake her.

Jack was coming home from his business trip to London that evening. Or was it Hamburg? Faye couldn’t remember. He’d be tired and stressed when he got home, but she’d make sure he managed to relax properly.

She carefully closed the bedroom door, crept into the hall, and checked that the front door was locked. Back in the kitchen she ran her hand along the counter. Ten feet of marble. Carrera, naturally. Unfortunately it was ridiculously impractical; the porous marble absorbed everything like a sponge and already had some ugly stains. But Jack had never even considered choosing something more practical. The kitchen in the apartment on Narvavägen had cost just shy of a million kronor, and absolutely no expense had been spared.

Faye reached for a bottle of Amarone and put a wineglass on the counter. The glass touching the marble, the glug as the wine poured—these sounds were the essence of her evenings at home when Jack was away. She poured the wine carefully so there wouldn’t be another red-wine spatter on the white marble, and closed her eyes as she raised the glass to her lips.

She dimmed the lighting, then went out into the hall where the black-and-white portraits of her, Julienne, and Jack hung. They had been taken by Kate Gabor, the Crown Princess’s unofficial court photographer, who every year took a fresh set of enchanting photographs of the royal children playing in the autumn leaves in crisp white outfits. She and Jack had chosen to have their pictures taken in summer. They were standing by the shore in a relaxed, playful pose. Julienne between them, her fair hair lifted by the breeze. White clothes, obviously. She was wearing a simple cotton Armani dress, Jack a shirt and rolled-up trousers from Hugo Boss, and Julienne a lace dress from Stella McCartney’s children’s collection. They had had a fight minutes before the pictures were taken. She couldn’t remember what it had been about, only that it had been her fault. But none of that was evident in the pictures.

Faye went up the stairs. She hesitated outside the door to Jack’s study, then pushed it open. The room was situated in a tower, with views in every direction. A unique layout in a unique property, as the real estate agent had put it when he showed them the apartment five years ago. She had been pregnant with Julienne at the time, her head full of bright hopes for the future.

She loved the tower room. The space and all the light from the windows made her feel like she was flying. And now that it was dark outside, the arched walls enveloped her like a warm cocoon.

She had chosen the décor herself, as she had with the rest of the apartment. She had picked the wallpaper, the bookcases, the desk, the photographs and artwork on the walls. And Jack loved what she’d done. He never questioned her taste, and was always incredibly proud whenever guests asked for the number of their interior designer.

In those moments, he let her shine.

While all the other rooms were furnished in a contemporary style, light and airy, Jack’s study was more masculine. Heavier. She had put more effort into this room than Julienne’s nursery and the rest of the apartment put together. Jack was going to spend so much time in here, making important decisions that would affect their family’s future. The least she could do was give him a refuge of his own up here, almost in the clouds.

Faye ran her hand across Jack’s desk with satisfaction. It was a Russian desk, she had bought it at an auction at Bukowski’s, and it had once belonged to Ingmar Bergman. Jack wasn’t much of a Bergman aficionado—action films with Jackie Chan or comedies starring Ben Stiller were more to his taste—but like her he preferred it when furniture came with a bit of history.

When they showed guests around the apartment he always patted the top of the desk with the palm of his hand twice and said, as if in passing, that the fine piece of furniture had once stood in the world-famous director’s home. Faye smiled every time he did that, because their eyes usually met as he said it. It was one of the thousand things they shared in their lives. Those covert glances, all the meaningful and meaningless gestures that went to make up a relationship.

She sank onto the chair behind the desk and spun it until she was facing the window. Snow was falling outside, turning to slush as it hit the street far below. When she leaned forward and looked down, she saw a car struggling through the dark February evening. The driver turned onto Banérgatan, toward the city center. For a moment she forgot what she was doing there, why she was sitting in Jack’s study. It was far too easy to drift away in the darkness and become hypnotized by the snowflakes pushing slowly through the blackness.

Faye blinked, sat up straight, and rotated the chair so she was facing the large screen of the Mac, then nudged the mouse, and the screen came to life. She wondered what Jack had done with the mouse mat she had given him at Christmas, the one with a photograph of her and Julienne. Instead he was using an ugly blue one from Nordea Bank, a Christmas gift to its private banking clients.

She knew the password: Julienne2010. At least he didn’t have anything from Nordea as his background, and was still using the picture he had taken of her and Julienne in Marbella. They were lying at the water’s edge, Faye holding her daughter up toward the sky. They were both laughing, but Faye’s laughter was more sensed than seen as she lay on her back with her hair floating in the water. Julienne’s bright blue eyes were looking straight into the camera, right through the lens. Into Jack’s eyes, just as blue.

Faye leaned closer, her eyes looking along her own tanned body, shiny with salt and water. Though only a few months had passed since she had given birth, she had been in better shape then than she was now. Her stomach was flat. Her arms thin. Her thighs slim and taut. Now, almost three years later, she weighed at least twenty pounds more than she had in Spain. Thirty, maybe. She hadn’t dared weigh herself for a long time.

She tore her eyes from her own image on the screen and opened the browser, clicked to bring up the history, and typed porn. Link after link appeared, sorted by date. She had no difficulty at all tracing Jack’s sexual fantasies in recent months. It was like a reference book covering his libido. Sexual Fantasies for Dummies.

On October 26 he had watched two clips. “Russian teen gets slammed by big cock” and “Skinny teen brutally hammered.” You could say what you liked about the porn industry, but the titles of the films were at least direct and to the point. No attempts to prettify or embellish, to lie about what was coming and what the person in front of the screen wanted to see. A straightforward dialogue, open and honest communication.

Jack had looked at porn for as long as she had known him, and sometimes she looked herself, when she was on her own. She was scornful of friends who declared that their husbands would never dream of looking at porn. Talk about repression!

Jack never used to let his consumption of porn influence their sex life. It had never been a matter of either/or. But now he no longer sought comfort from her, despite seeking satisfaction from “Skinny teen brutally hammered.”

The knot in her stomach grew bigger with each clip she watched. The girls were young, skinny, submissive. Jack had always liked his women thin and young. It wasn’t him who had changed, it was her. And wasn’t that how most men wanted their women? In Östermalm there was no room for aging and weight gain. At least not for women.

In the past month Jack had watched one particular video seven or eight times. “Young petite schoolgirl brutally fucked by her teacher.” Faye clicked play. A young schoolgirl in a short, checked skirt, white shirt, tie, socks, and Pippi Longstocking pigtails appeared; it seemed she was struggling with her lessons, particularly biology. Informing her that they have arranged for extra tutoring, her conscientious parents go out for the evening, leaving their daughter at home alone. The doorbell rings. A man in his forties, wearing a jacket with patches on the elbows and clutching a briefcase, is at the door. They go into a brightly lit kitchen. The girl gets her homework and opens her books. They go through the muscles of the body.

“When I say a muscle, I want you to show me where on your body it is. Can you do that?” the teacher asks in a deep voice.

The girl opens her eyes wide, nods, and pouts. She manages two muscles. When he says gluteus maximus, the buttock muscle, she pulls up her skirt, revealing the hem of her underpants, and points at the outside of her thigh. The teacher shakes his head with a smile.

“Stand up and I’ll show you,” he says.

She pushes her chair back and stands up. He places his large hand behind her knee and moves it up her leg, under her skirt. He lifts her skirt higher and pulls her underwear aside. Pushes a finger inside. The girl groans. A perfect porn groan. But with a trace of astonished innocence and guilt. An acknowledgment to the viewer that she knows she shouldn’t be doing this. That this is naughty. But she can’t help it. The temptation is too great for her to resist.

He pushes his finger in and out a few times. Then bends her over the table and fucks her. She screams, groans, claws at the table. Begs for more. The whole thing reaches a climax when he tells her to put on her glasses—they have fallen off somewhere along the way—before he ejaculates in her face. Her face contorted with pleasure, her mouth half-open, the schoolgirl receives his semen.

Porn films had to be the clearest indication of just how highly men valued their semen. It was bestowed upon breathless, reverential women with their mouths half-open, always half-open, as if it were a precious gift.

Faye put the computer back in sleep mode with a couple of clicks of the mouse on the ugly Nordea mat. If that was what Jack wanted, that was what he would get.

She pushed the chair back from the desk, and it creaked reluctantly as she stood up. It was pitch-black outside now. The light snow had stopped falling. She picked up her wineglass and left the room.

Faye had everything she needed in her walk-in closet. She looked at the time. Half past nine. Jack’s plane was about to land; soon he’d be sitting in a taxi. Naturally, he used Arlanda’s VIP service, so it wouldn’t take him long to get out of the airport.

She had a quick shower and shaved off the light stubble that had grown out above her genitals. She washed herself thoroughly, then put makeup on, not the way she usually did, but a bit carelessly, like someone with less experience. She rubbed in plenty of blush, used far too much mascara, and, as the icing on the cake, applied some bubblegum-pink lipstick she found at the bottom of her makeup box—probably given to her in a goodie bag at some event.

Jack wouldn’t be getting her—not Faye, his wife, the mother of his child—but someone younger and more innocent, someone untouched. That was what he needed.

She picked out one of Jack’s thin gray ties and knotted it carelessly around her neck. She put on a pair of the reading glasses he was ashamed to wear in public and always hid when they had visitors. Rectangular, black, Dolce & Gabbana. Faye looked at the result in the mirror. She looked ten years younger. Almost like the person she had been when she left Fjällbacka.

She was no one’s wife. No one’s mother. It was perfect.

Faye crept into Julienne’s room to get one of her exercise books and a pink pencil. She froze when Julienne murmured in her sleep. Was she going to wake up? No, she was soon breathing calmly again.

She went into the kitchen to pour herself some more wine but stopped and pulled out a box of Julienne’s plastic cups instead. She filled a large Hello Kitty cup with red wine, one with a lid and a straw. Perfect.

When the key turned in the front door she was sitting looking through The Economist, which Jack insisted on leaving out on the coffee table. She was the only person in the family who actually read it.

Jack put his case on the floor, took off his shoes, and inserted the cedarwood blocks that kept his soft, handmade Italian leather shoes in shape. Faye sat still. Unlike her usual discreet lip gloss from Lancôme, the pink lipstick felt sticky and smelled faintly synthetic.

Jack opened the fridge carefully. He hadn’t spotted her yet. He was moving quietly, probably thought she and Julienne were both asleep.

She watched him from the gloom of the living room. Like a stranger looking through a window, she was able to observe her husband without his knowledge. Jack was always on the alert otherwise. Now, when he thought no one could see him, he moved differently. He was relaxed, almost careless. His usually upright frame was slouching, only slightly, but enough for someone who knew him as well as she did to appreciate the difference. His face was smoother, without the permanent worry line that was always there these days, even on the social occasions that were closely intertwined with his career, with their life, where the laughter and clink of glasses could be transformed into a multimillion-kronor deal the following day.

She remembered what Jack was like as a young man, when they first met. That cheeky look in his eyes, his happy laugh, hands that couldn’t stop touching her, that couldn’t get enough of her.

The light in the fridge lit up his face and she couldn’t take her eyes off him. She loved him. Loved his broad back. Loved his big hands, which were raising a carton of juice to his lips. Soon they would be on her, in her. Dear God, how she longed for that.

Excerpted from The Golden Cage by Camilla Läckberg Copyright © 2020 by Camilla Läckberg. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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