Chapter no 58 – NINA

The Housemaid

Something has gone wrong.

I feel it the second I pull up in front of Andrew’s house. Something terrible has happened inside that house. I sense it with every fiber of my being.

I agreed to return here on one condition. Enzo was to stay with Cece and protect her with his life. There was nobody else in the world I would trust with my daughter. I know a lot of women in this town, and every single one of them was taken in by my husband’s charm. I wouldn’t trust any of them not to hand her over to him.

But that means I am here alone.

The last time I was here was a week ago, but it feels like an eternity. I park outside the gates, on the street behind Millie’s car. I crouch down behind her vehicle and notice the red mark Enzo made on her tire. It’s still there. Is it in the same place it was yesterday and the day before? I have no idea.

“Nina? Is that you?”

It’s Suzanne. I straighten up, backing away from Millie’s car. She is standing on the sidewalk, tilting her head quizzically at me. The last time I saw her, she looked downright skeletal, but it seems like she’s lost even more weight.

“Is everything okay, Nina?” Suzanne asks.

I plaster a smile on my lips. “Yes. Of course. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“We were supposed to have lunch the other day and you never showed. So I popped over to check on you.”

Right. My weekly lunches with Suzanne. If there’s one thing I won’t miss about this life, it’s that. “Sorry. I guess I forgot.”

Suzanne purses her lips. I’ll never forget the way she nodded sympathetically at me while I confessed everything Andy had done to me, then turned around and ratted me out. She chose to believe him over me. You don’t forget that sort of betrayal.

“I heard a terrible rumor,” she says. “I heard you moved out. That you left Andy. Or that he…”

“That he dumped me for the maid?” I catch the expression on Suzanne’s face and I know I’ve hit the nail on the head. Everybody in town is talking about us. “I’m afraid it isn’t true. The rumor mill has it wrong yet again. I was just picking Cece up at her camp, that’s all.”

“Oh.” There’s a flash of disappointment on Suzanne’s face. She was hoping for a bit of juicy gossip. “Well, I’m happy to hear that. I was worried about you.”

“Absolutely nothing to worry about.” My cheeks are starting to hurt from smiling. “Now I’ve had a long trip, so if you’ll excuse me…”

Suzanne follows me with her eyes as I head down the walkway to my front door. I’m sure she has a lot of questions whirling around her head. For example, if I went to pick up Cecelia at camp, where is she? And why didn’t I park in the garage instead of on the street? But I don’t have time to explain myself to this terrible woman.

I have to figure out what happened with Millie and Andy. The first floor of my house is dark. Since the last time I was here, Andy told me to get out of his house, I start by ringing the doorbell instead of bounding inside. And then I

wait for somebody to let me in.

After two minutes, I’m still standing there.

Finally, I take my key ring out of my purse. I’ve done this motion so many times before. Grab the keys, find the copper one with the letter A etched on it, fit it in the lock. The door to my former home swings open.

Unsurprisingly, it’s dark inside the house. I don’t hear a sound.

“Andy?” I call out. No answer.

I walk over to the door to our garage. I push it open and Andy’s BMW is sitting there. Of course, that doesn’t rule out the fact that Andy and Millie took a trip together. They could’ve taken a taxi to LaGuardia. That’s what Andy usually does. I bet they decided to take a spontaneous vacation together.

Except in my heart, I know they didn’t.

“Andy?” I call out, louder this time. “Millie?” Nothing.

I walk over to the stairwell. I peer up to the second floor, trying to detect any movement. I don’t see anything. Yet it feels like someone is in here.

I start to climb the stairs. My legs are shaking underneath me and there is a real possibility they might give out, but I keep walking. I keep going until I get to the second floor.

“Andy?” I swallow a lump in my throat. “Please… If anyone is here, just answer me…”

When I don’t get a response, I start checking the rooms. The master bedroom—empty. The guest room—empty. Cece’s room—empty. The theater—also empty.

There’s only one more place to look.

The door to the stairwell of the attic is open. The lighting has always been horrible in that stairwell. I grip the banister and look up to the top of the stairs. Someone is out there. I’m sure of it.

Millie must be locked in there. Andy must have done it to her.

But where is Andy then? Why is his car here if he isn’t?

My legs barely support me as I climb the fourteen steps to the attic landing. At the end of the hallway is the room where I spent so many horrible days throughout my marriage. There’s a light on in the room. It’s coming from under the door.

“Don’t worry, Millie,” I murmur. “I’m going to help you.”

Enzo was right. I should never have left her here. I thought she was stronger than me, but I was wrong. And now anything that happens to her is on my conscience. I hope she’s okay. I’m going to get her out of here.

I dig the key to the attic door out of my purse. I fit the key into the lock and let the door swing open.

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