Chapter no 36

The Housemaid

Andrew is stuck at work tonight.

He sent me a regretful text at a quarter to seven:

Problem at work. I’m stuck here at least another hour. Eat without me.

I texted back:

No problem. Drive safely.

But inside, I was reeling with disappointment. I had so much fun having dinner in Manhattan with Andrew, and I had been attempting to re-create one of the meals we had at that French restaurant. Steak au poivre. I used black peppercorns that I picked up at the supermarket (after I worked up the nerve to go back in), minced shallot, cognac, red wine, beef broth, and heavy whipping cream. The smell was incredible, but it wasn’t going to keep for another hour or two—steak just isn’t the same reheated. I had no choice but to eat my magnificent dinner all alone. And now it’s sitting in my stomach like a rock while I flick through stations of the television.

I don’t like being in this house alone. When Andrew is here, it feels like his house, which it is. But when he’s not here, the whole place reeks of Nina. Her perfume emanates from every crack and crevice—she’s marked her territory with her scent, like an animal.

Even though Andrew told me not to, I did a deep clean of the house after my shopping trip, trying to get rid of her perfume. But I can still smell it.

As obnoxious as Patrice was in the supermarket, she did me one big favor. Nina was tracking me. I found the tracking app hidden in a random folder, somewhere I never would’ve seen it. I deleted it immediately.

But I still can’t shake the feeling that she’s watching me.

I close my eyes and I think of the warning Enzo gave me this morning. You must get out of here. You are in terrible danger. He was afraid of Nina. I could see it in his eyes when he and I were talking and she passed within earshot.

You are in terrible danger.

I push away a wave of nausea. She’s gone now. But maybe she could still hurt me.

The sun has gone down and when I look out the window, all I can see is my reflection. I stand up from the sofa and walk over to the window, my heart pounding. I press my forehead against the cool glass, peering into the dark outside.

Is that a car parked outside the gates?

I squint into the darkness, trying to figure out if I’m just imagining things. I suppose I could go outside and get a closer look. But that would involve unlocking the doors to the house.

Of course, what’s the difference if the door is unlocked when Nina has a key?

My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of my phone ringing on the coffee table. I hurry over to grab it before I miss the call and frown when I find another blocked

number on the screen. I shake my head. Another spam call. Just what I need.

I press the green button to accept the call, expecting to hear that obnoxious recorded voice. But instead, I hear a distorted, mechanical voice:

Stay away from Andrew Winchester!” I suck in a breath. “Nina?”

I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman, much less whether it was Nina. Then there’s a click on the other line. It’s gone dead.

I swallow. I’ve had enough of Nina’s games. Starting tomorrow, I’m taking back this house. I’m calling a locksmith to change the locks on the doors. And tonight, I’m spending the night in the master bedroom. Enough of this guest bedroom bullshit. I’m not a guest here anymore.

Andrew said he wanted this to become permanent. So now, this is my home too.

I head for the stairs, taking them two at a time. I keep going until I get up to the stuffy room in the attic—my bedroom. Except it won’t be my bedroom after tonight. I’m packing everything up and moving downstairs. This will be my last time in this claustrophobic little room with the weird lock on the outside of the door.

I grab one of my pieces of luggage out of the closet. I start throwing clothing inside, not bothering to be too careful, given that I’m just carrying it down one flight of stairs. Of course, I’ll have to ask Andrew’s permission before I clean out a drawer downstairs. But he can’t expect me to live up here anymore. It’s inhuman. This room is like some sort of torture chamber.

“Millie? What are you doing?”

The voice from behind me nearly gives me a heart attack. I clutch my chest and turn around. “Andrew. I didn’t hear you come in.”

His gaze darts over my luggage. “What are you doing?”

I shove the handful of bras I was holding into the luggage. “Well, I thought I might move downstairs.”


“Is… is that okay?” I feel suddenly awkward. I had assumed Andrew would be fine with it, but maybe I shouldn’t have made that assumption.

He takes a step toward me. I bite down on my lip until it hurts. “Of course it’s okay. I was going to suggest it myself. But I wasn’t sure if you would want to.”

My shoulders sag. “I definitely want to. I… I had kind of a rough day.”

“What have you been up to? I saw some of my books on the coffee table. Have you been reading?”

I wish that’s all I had been doing today. “Honestly, I don’t want to talk about it.”

He takes another step closer and reaches out to trace my jaw with the tip of his finger. “Maybe I could make you forget about it…”

I shiver at his touch. “I bet you could…” And he does.

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