Chapter no 50

The Housemaid

It will never happen again. He will never lead me up to the attic again. He will never warn everybody in the neighborhood that I’m crazy and they need to watch my behavior. He’ll never have me locked up again.

Of course, even though he kicked me out, I won’t feel entirely confident until we’re divorced. I have to be careful about that one. He needs to file first. If he gets even a hint that this is my idea, it’s all over.

I lie in the queen-size bed in my hotel room, planning my next move. I’m going to drive up to the camp to pick up Cecelia tomorrow. And then we’ll go… somewhere. I don’t know where, but I need a fresh start. Thank God, Andy never adopted her. He has no claim to her. I can take her wherever I want. I don’t even need to worry about fake identities, but I’ll definitely revert to my maiden name. I don’t want any memories of that man.

There’s a knock at the door to the hotel room. For one horrible moment, I think it must be Andy. I imagine him standing at the door to the hotel room. Did you really think it would be that easy, Nina? Come on.

Up you go to the attic. “Who is it?” I ask warily. “It is Enzo.”

I feel a rush of relief. I crack open the door, and he’s standing there in a T-shirt and soil-dusted jeans, his brow scrunched together. “Well?” he says.

“It’s done. He threw me out.” His eyes light up. “Yes? Really?”

I swipe at my moist eyes with the back of my hand. “Really.”

“That is… incredible…”

I take a breath. “I have to thank you. Without you, there’s no way I could have…”

He nods slowly. “It was my pleasure to help you, Nina.

My duty. I…”

We stand there for a moment, staring at each other. Then he leans forward, and a second later, he’s kissing me.

I didn’t expect this. I mean, yes, I thought Enzo was hot. I have eyes. But we were always so absorbed by the common purpose of getting me away from Andy. And the truth is, after so many years of being married to that monster, I thought I was dead inside. Andy and I still had sex, because it was required of me, but it was always very mechanical—I might as well have been washing the dishes or doing the laundry. I felt nothing. I didn’t think it was possible to have those kinds of feelings for anyone anymore. I was entirely in survival mode.

But now—now that I’ve survived—it turns out I’m not dead inside after all. Far from it.

I’m the one who tugs Enzo by his T-shirt into the queen-size bed. But he’s the one who unbuttons my blouse— except for the one button he rips clear off. And pretty much everything that happens after is a joint effort.

It’s so nice. Better than nice. Amazing. Amazing to be with a man who I don’t despise with every fiber of my being. A man who is good and kind. A man who helped save my life. Even if it’s just for one night.

And God, he’s a good kisser.

When it’s over, both of us are sweaty and hot and happy. Enzo puts his arm around me and I cuddle up beside him. “Is good?” he says.

Really good.” I bury my cheek in his bare chest. “I didn’t think you felt that way about me.”

“I always did,” he says. “From when I first saw you. But I try to be, you know, good guy.”

“I figured you thought of me like a sister.”

“Sister!” He looks aghast. “No. Not sister. Definitely not sister.”

I have to laugh at the expression on his face. But just as fast, my laughter dies. “I’m leaving town tomorrow. You know that, right?”

He’s quiet for a long moment. Is he thinking about asking me to stay? I care about him a lot, but I can’t stay for him. I can’t stay here for anybody. He should know that better than anyone.

Maybe he’s going to offer to go with me. I’m not sure how I would feel about that if he offered. I like him a lot. But I need to be alone for a while after this. It’s going to be a long time before I can really trust a man ever again, although I suspect if there’s anyone I can trust, it’s Enzo. He has proven himself to me.

But he doesn’t ask me to stay. He doesn’t offer to come with me. He says something entirely different:

“We can’t leave her, Nina.” “Excuse me?” I say.

“Millie.” He looks down at me with his dark eyes. “We can’t leave her with him. It is not right. I won’t allow it.”

“You won’t allow it?” I repeat incredulously as I pull away from him. My post-sex euphoria has evaporated. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“I mean…” His jaw tightens. “Millie does not deserve him any more than you did.”

“She’s a criminal!”

“Listen to yourself. She’s a human being.”

I sit up in bed, clutching the blankets to my bare chest. Enzo is breathing hard and a vein is standing out in his neck, and I suppose I don’t blame him for being upset. But he doesn’t know anything.

“We have to tell her,” he insists. “No, we don’t.”

“I will tell her.” A muscle twitches in his jaw. “If you don’t do it, I will tell her. I will warn her.”

My eyes fill with tears. “You wouldn’t dare…”

“Nina.” He shakes his head. “I’m sorry. I… I do not want to hurt you, but this is not right. We can’t do this to her.”

“You don’t understand,” I say. “I understand.”

“No,” I say, “you don’t.”

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