Chapter no 9

Never Lie

Well, we do manage to christen the house. It might not be our new house, but we christened somebody’s house.

Ethan is in a predictably good mood when we’re finished. No matter how many times we’ve had sex, he still acts like it’s the greatest thing in the world and he can’t believe he got to score with me. It’s sweet. He’s a sweet guy. My friends were totally wrong about all the red flags. He’s not perfect, but who is?

Maybe this is the right time to tell him about the baby. He’s in a great mood, he’s excited about the house—how can there possibly be a better time?

“You’re quiet,” he notes as he zips up his khaki pants. “Am I?”

“Yeah. You look pensive.” My lips twitch. “Pensive?”

“Like you have something on your mind.”

This is the time. I could tell him. Maybe he’ll be fine with it. He wants kids eventually. No, this isn’t quite the schedule we planned. But babies happen. You can’t control it.

I open my mouth, ready to say the words. I’m pregnant, Ethan. But they don’t come out. And I’m not sure why.

Maybe I’m reluctant to give him some surprising and possibly upsetting news when we’re stuck in an isolated house, just the two of us, where nobody can hear us and there’s no way to leave.

I blink, startled by my thoughts. That last one made no sense at all—it must be some sort of crazy pregnancy hormone paranoia. Yes, I’m worried Ethan won’t be thrilled about my news, and yes, he has a temper. But he would never hurt me. I know that for a fact.

“I don’t have anything on my mind,” I say finally. “Just a little tired.” I grin at him. “You wore me out.”

Ethan beams, proud of himself. He stretches so that I can see some golden blond hairs on his belly. My husband is so handsome. When I first saw him, I thought he was the most perfect-looking man I had ever seen. I figured after I had known him and dated him for a while, I would notice more and more imperfections. And I have identified a few of them. His eyes are too close together. He’s a bit on the short side for a man. Those curly golden hairs are not just on his chest, but also on his back.

But weirdly, all those imperfections make him even more handsome. I can’t explain it.

“Would it bother you if I took a shower?” he asks. “A shower?”

“Sure. The hot water seems to be running.” He winks. “And I’ve worked up quite a sweat.”

“Yeah, but…” I don’t want to articulate how uncomfortable the idea of him going in the shower here makes me. “You don’t have a change of clothing.”

“It would still be good to get clean.”

I wrack my brain, trying to think of a good reason he shouldn’t take a shower. I can’t think of anything logical. “Are you going to use the master bathroom?”

“I was planning to.”

“Doesn’t it make you uncomfortable though? I mean, the last person who used that bathroom is a dead woman.”

He shrugs. “I guess I don’t care that much. I mean, that shrink woman disappeared like three years ago. It’s not like she used the bathroom yesterday.”

It’s pregnancy hormones. I’m sure that’s what’s making me so uncomfortable about this. There’s no reason Ethan shouldn’t take a shower in the master bathroom. “Fine. I’m going to stay down here.”

“Sure. Finish your wine.”

Right. That reminds me, I have to pour the rest of my wine down the sink so he thinks I drank it.

It’s only when I’m watching Ethan disappear up the spiral staircase that I remember the tape I stashed in the pocket of my coat. When I was in the office, I found that tape recorder, but there were no tapes to play in it. Now I’ve found the motherlode. Ethan surely wouldn’t want me to listen to the tapes, but if he’s going to be busy in the shower, I can do what I want.

As soon as the shower starts running upstairs, I retrieve the tape from the pocket of my coat and return to Adrienne Hale’s office. The tape recorder is right where I left it—on that beautiful mahogany desk. I sit down in the leather chair and examine the buttons on the dusty tape recorder. Record, Play, Rewind, Fast forward, Stop/Eject, and Pause.

Tentatively, I press the Stop/Eject button. The tape deck pops open.

I blow some of the dust off the tape recorder, then I pick up the tape I found in the hidden room. The initials on it are PL. Next to that, it says #2. And the date is from about six years ago. I remove the tape from the case and shake it out, then slide it into the tape deck. With one quick movement, I push the tape deck closed.

I’m not sure if the batteries in the tape recorder are functional. There’s a chance that the Eject function is spring-loaded or something like that. How long do batteries last if you’re not using them? Ethan would probably know the answer to that. But he wouldn’t want me listening to these tapes, so I can’t ask.

I push my index finger against the rewind button. Instantly, I hear a whirring noise as the tape goes back to the beginning. Looks like the battery still works.

After about a minute, there’s a click and the rewind process stops. The tape is at the beginning. Ready for me to listen.

My finger hovers over the Play button. Am I really going to do this? Am I really going to listen to the private sessions from Dr. Adrienne Hale that she recorded and hid away in a secret closet?

Yes. Apparently, I am.

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