The master bedroom in the Garricks’ house is so large; if I spoke, I swear there would be an echo.
I’m putting away a pile of laundry. I would have thought the two of them get most of their clothing dry cleaned, but given Wendy never seems to leave the bedroom, I don’t suppose she dresses in things that require dry cleaning very often. Based on what I’m seeing go through the wash, she mostly wears nightgowns. Right now, I’m folding a delicate white nightgown with lacing at the collar, which looks like it would come down to Wendy’s ankles, based on her height during the one almost conversation we had.
And that’s when I see it.
At the collar of the nightgown, there’s a stain. An irregular stain that is brown layered with red, now ground into the fabric. I’ve seen stains like that before while doing laundry. It’s unmistakable.
Not only that, it’s a fair bit of blood. Right at the neckline, bleeding into the fabric below. I close my eyes, unable to keep from thinking about what the cause of this blood could have been.
My eyes pop open again at the sound of my phone ringing. I take it out of the pocket of my jeans, and my heart sinks. The screen identifies the call as coming from the police station in the Bronx. It doesn’t feel like this is going to be good news.
Well, they probably wouldn’t arrest me by phone.
“Hello?” I say as I sit on the side of the Garricks’ bed, which is roughly the size of an ocean liner.
“Wilhelmina Calloway? This is Officer Scavo.”
My stomach turns—the sound of that policeman’s name makes my skin crawl. “Yes?”
“I’ve got good news for you.”
If this man is still on the case, there’s no good news. But maybe I should try to be optimistic. At this point, I am owed a win. “What?”
“Mr. Marin decided not to press charges,” he says.
That’s the good news? I squeeze the phone so hard my fingers start to tingle. “What about me? I want to press charges.”
“Miss Calloway, we have a witness that saw you attacking him.” He clears his throat. “You’re lucky this is the only outcome. If you were still on parole, you’d be going right back to prison right now. Of course, he could always bring civil charges against you.”
I swallow a lump in my throat. “So where is he right now?” “He was released this morning.”
“You released him from jail this morning?”
Scavo sighs. “No, he was never under arrest. He was released from the hospital this morning.”
That means he’ll be back at the apartment building tonight. Which means I can’t ever go back there.
“Listen, lady,” Scavo says, “you got lucky this time, but you need to be seeing some kind of shrink. Get your anger issues under control. Or else you’re going to end up right back in prison.”
“Thanks for the tip,” I say through my teeth.
Just as I hang up, I look up and realize I’m not alone in the master bedroom. At the other end of the bedroom, standing in the doorway, is Douglas Garrick. Wearing an Armani suit with a red power tie, his dark brown hair slicked back as always.
I wonder how much of that conversation he heard. Of course, it would only be bad if he heard Scavo’s end.
“Hello, Millie,” he says.
I scramble back to my feet and shove my phone into my pocket. “Hi.
Sorry, I… I was just doing laundry.
He doesn’t challenge my assertion with the fact that I was talking on the phone. Instead, he wanders into the room, loosening his red tie with his thumb. He pulls off his jacket and tosses it onto the top of the dresser.
“Well?” he says.
I look at him blankly.
“Are you going to leave my jacket just lying there on the dresser?”
It takes me a second to realize what he wants me to do. His closet is about six feet away from us, and it would have been easy enough for him to hang up his own jacket, but instead, he is leaving it for me. Fair enough, since it’s my job, but there’s an edge to his voice that makes me uneasy. I’ve been noticing it more and more during my interactions with him.
“I’m so sorry,” I mumble. “I’ll hang that up for you.”
Douglas Garrick watches me fiddling with his jacket, studying me carefully. I googled him the other day, but there isn’t much about him—not even a decent photo. He’s apparently an extremely private person. All I could figure out is that he’s the CEO of a very large company called Coinstock, like Brock said. He’s some kind of tech genius who invented a piece of software used by practically every bank in the country. Brock had told me he seemed like a nice guy, but you don’t really know somebody just from a business interaction. Douglas seems like a man who is skilled at turning up the charm when he needs to.
“Are you married?” Douglas asks me.
I freeze at the question, his jacket halfway onto the hanger. “No…” One corner of his lips quirks up. “Boyfriend?”
“Yes,” I say tightly.
He doesn’t comment on my answer, but his eyes rake over me until I start to squirm. It doesn’t matter how handsome he is—I don’t appreciate him looking at me that way. When we first met, I was impressed by how he kept his eyes to himself but I guess that was just for show. If he keeps looking at me like that…
Well, there’s not much I can do about it, I guess. Not after a police officer just accused me of assaulting a man.
I’m about to verbally redirect his eyes to my face when his gaze finally comes to rest on the white nightgown still laid out on the king-size bed. He’s staring at the blood stain on the collar. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I’m certain I hear a sharp inhalation of breath.
“Well.” I look down at the nightgown, then back at Douglas. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to look up how to get tomato sauce stains out of fabric.”
He stares at me for another moment, then thankfully nods in approval. “Good. You do that.”
But I don’t need to google anything. I already know how to get blood stains out of fabric.