When I reach the Garricks’ penthouse, I’ve got four overflowing grocery bags in my arms. I was doing fine juggling them until the last block, when I came close to dropping everything. But through the grace of God, I am here, cucamelon and all. (They are a real thing and I was able to find them at a Spanish produce store.)
Thankfully, I don’t have to fiddle with the doorknob because the elevator doors swing open and I’m able to walk right inside. I was hoping to make it to the kitchen in one straight shot, but halfway there, I have to drop all the bags on the floor and take a break. If I dropped the cucamelon and it broke, I think I would have to sit down on the floor and cry.
While I’m standing in the living room, trying to figure out the best strategy for getting the groceries to the kitchen, I hear it.
Well, muffled shouting. I can’t hear any actual words, but it sounds like somebody in the upstairs bedroom is really going at it. Leaving the groceries behind, I creep closer to the stairwell to see if I can hear what’s going on. And that’s when I hear the crash.
It sounds like shattering glass.
I put my hand on the banister of the stairwell, ready to climb the stairs and make sure everything is okay. But before I can take even a single step, a door slams upstairs. Then footsteps grow louder on the stairwell, and I take a step back.
“Millie.” Douglas stops short at the bottom of the stairs. He’s wearing a dress shirt and his face is pink like his tie is tied a bit too tightly, even
though it’s loose around his neck. He’s holding a gift bag in his right hand. “What are you doing here?”
“I…” I look over at the four bags of groceries. “I bought groceries. I was going to put them away.”
He narrows his eyes. “Then why aren’t you in the kitchen?”
I offer a sheepish smile. “I heard a crash. I was worried that…”
As I say the words, I notice a rip in the fabric of his fancy dress shirt. And not a rip like a seam came loose. He has an angry tear right above the breast pocket.
“Everything’s fine,” he says shortly. “I’ll take care of the groceries. You can leave.”
I can’t take my eyes off the tear in his shirt. How did that happen? The man works as a CEO—no heavy labor involved. Could it have happened just now, up in the guestroom?
“Also…” He holds out the gift bag in his right hand. “I need you to return this for me. Wendy didn’t want it.”
I accept the small pink gift bag. I catch a glimpse inside of silky fabric. “Okay, sure. Is the receipt in here?”
“No, it was a gift.”
“I… I don’t think I can return it without a receipt. Where did it come from?”
Douglas grits his teeth. “I don’t know—my assistant picked it out. I’ll email you a copy of the receipt.”
“If your assistant picked it out, wouldn’t it be easier if she returns it?”
He cocks his head at me. “Excuse me, but isn’t your job to run errands for me?”
I jerk my head back. This is the first time since I started working here that Douglas has spoken to me with such disrespect. I always thought he seemed like a nice enough man, albeit stressed and distracted. Now I realize there’s another side to him.
Although isn’t there another side to everyone?
Douglas Garrick is staring at me. He expects me to leave, but every fiber of my being is telling me that I should stay. That I should check upstairs and make sure everything is all right.
But then Douglas steps between me and the stairwell. He folds his arms across his chest and raises his thick eyebrows at me. I am not getting past
that man, and even if I did, I have a feeling if I knocked on the door of the guest bedroom, Wendy Garrick would assure me that she’s fine.
So in the end, there’s nothing I can do except leave.