Chapter no 42

The Housemaid

Step Four: Make the World Believe You’re Crazy

I wake up to the distant sound of water running.

I still feel groggy and out of it. How long does it take the body to recover from being deprived of food and water for two days? I look at my watch—it’s the afternoon.

I rub my eyes, trying to identify the location of the running water. It seems to be coming from the master bathroom, which is closed. Is Andy in there showering? If he is, I don’t have much time to get the hell out of here.

My phone is sitting on the nightstand by the bed. I snatch it up, tempted to call the police about what Andy did to me. But no, I’m going to wait. Until I’m far away from him.

Except the phone is filled with text messages from Andy. The sound of his messages must’ve been what woke me up. I scroll through them, frowning at the screen.

Are you OK?

You seemed to be acting really strangely this morning. Please give me a call and let me know you’re all right.

Nina, is everything OK? About to go into a meeting, but let me know you’re OK.

How are you and Cece doing? Please call or text me.

The last text is what gets my attention. Cecelia. I haven’t seen her in two days. Before that, I had never gone one day without her. I wouldn’t even leave her to go on a honeymoon. Where is she right now?

After all, Andy wouldn’t have left me alone with her if I was asleep, would he?

I look up at the closed bathroom door. Who is inside the master bathroom? I had assumed it was Andy, but it couldn’t be. He’s been texting me from work. Did I leave the water running by accident somehow? Maybe I got up and used the bathroom and forgot to turn the sink off. It seems possible, considering how out of it I am.

I throw the covers off my legs. My hands look pale and shaky. I try to get up, but it’s hard. Even though I’ve had water and rest, I still feel awful. I have to hold onto the bed to walk. I’m not sure if I can make it from the bed to the master bathroom.

I take a deep breath, swallow my dizziness, and walk as slowly as I can. I get about two-thirds of the way there before I collapse to my knees. God, what is wrong with me? But I need to know what that sound is. Why is there water running in the bathroom? And now that I’m closer, I can see that the light is on inside the closed door. Who is in

there? Who is in my bathroom?

I crawl the rest of the way there. When I finally make it to the bathroom door, I reach for the handle and push the door open. And what I see when I get inside is something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

It’s Cece. She’s inside the bathtub. Her eyes are closed and she’s propped up in the tub. The water is rapidly filling

the tub, rising above the level of her shoulders. In another minute or two, it will be over her head.

“Cecelia,” I gasp.

She doesn’t say a word. She doesn’t cry or call for me.

But her eyelids flutter slightly.

I’ve got to save her. I’ve got to shut off the water and drag her from the tub. But I can’t get my feet to work, and every movement is like going through molasses. I’m going to save her though. I’ll save my daughter if it takes every ounce of my strength. If it kills me.

I crawl across the bathroom floor. My head is spinning so badly, I’m not sure if I can hold onto consciousness. But I can’t pass out. My baby needs me.

I’m coming, Cece. Please hold on. Please.

When my fingers graze the porcelain of the tub, I almost cry with relief. The water is almost up to her chin now. I start to reach for the faucet, but a harsh voice makes my fingers freeze.

“Mrs. Winchester. Don’t move.”

I reach for the faucet anyway. Nobody is going to stop me from saving my baby. I manage to get the water off, but before I can do anything else, strong hands grasp my arms, yanking me to my feet. In a haze, I see a man in uniform pulling Cecelia out of the tub.

“What are you doing?” I try to ask, but my speech is slurred.

The man who rescued Cecelia ignores my question. Another voice says, “She’s alive, but it looks like she’s been drugged.”

“Yes,” I manage. “Drugged.”

They know. They know what Andy has been doing to us. And now he’s drugged both of us. Thank God the police came. And now a paramedic has Cecelia on a stretcher, and they’re lifting me onto one as well. We’re going to be okay. They’ve come to save us.

A man in a police uniform shines a light in my eyes. I look away, wincing at the unbearable brightness. “Mrs. Winchester,” he says sharply. “Why were you trying to drown your daughter?”

I open my mouth but no sound comes out. Drown my daughter? What is he talking about? I was trying to save her. Can’t they see that?

But the policeman just shakes his head. He turns to one of his colleagues. “She’s too out of it. Looks like she took a bunch of the drugs herself. Get her to the hospital. I’ll call the husband and let him know we got here in time.”

Got here in time? What’s he talking about? I’ve just been sleeping all day. For God’s sake, what do they think I’ve done?

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