Chapter no 17

The Housemaid's Secret (The Housemaid, Book 2)

Douglas Garrick is behind me.

More specifically, he’s crossing the street. The light is red, and he darts into the crosswalk as a yellow taxi leans hard on its horn. I watch him for a moment, my heart pounding. I had somehow assumed it was Xavier who had been following me, but now I’m not so sure. Was it Douglas all along?

“Hang on a minute,” I say to Brock. “I’ll be right back.” “What the…”

I don’t give Brock a chance to finish his thought before I dash after Douglas into the street, forcing a blue sedan to slam on its brakes. The driver curses at me, but I ignore him and keep walking.

What is Douglas doing in the East Village? He lives on the Upper West Side, and he works on Wall Street.

If he was watching me, he’s not anymore. And the other interesting thing is that he’s not alone. He appears to be walking with a woman who has blond hair and is clutching a utilitarian brown purse, slung over her right shoulder.

What’s going on? Why was he watching me? And who is that woman? Even though I haven’t gotten a good look at Wendy Garrick in real life, I’ve seen photos of her, and that woman isn’t Mrs. Garrick.

I follow him for another block. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but I don’t think he has any idea I’m behind him as he and the woman walk along Second Avenue. She’s raising her voice, but I can’t quite hear what they’re saying. And if I get any closer, they might see me.

I don’t know how much longer I can follow him. Brock is still back at the restaurant, and he probably thinks I’ve lost my mind. I hope this little

incident doesn’t make it into his weekly phone call with mom and dad.

Thankfully, Douglas and the woman come to a halt in front of a small brownstone apartment building. Like my own building, this one doesn’t have a doorman. She shuffles around in her purse for a key, unlocks the door, then pushes it open. I manage to get a good look at the woman just before they disappear inside.

It’s painfully obvious what is going on. Douglas has a mistress on the side who lives in this building. It’s still early enough that he could tell Wendy that he’s been working late tonight when he gets home.

But why were they arguing?

Of course, it isn’t hard to imagine. If she’s his girlfriend and he’s married, maybe she is angry that he hasn’t left his wife. The woman was at least in her thirties and didn’t look like a floozy who is just out for a good time. Maybe she is hoping that Douglas will dump Wendy and marry her instead.

I’m still staring at the brownstone, trying to figure out my next move, when my phone starts ringing in my pocket. I cringe when Brock’s name flashes on the screen. I wish I had left my phone in my purse. But at this point, I have to take the call. The guy told me we could move in together, told me he loved me, and then I leaped out of my seat like a crazy person and ran off in the opposite direction.

“Millie?” He sounds baffled on the other line. “What happened? Where did you go?”

“I… I saw an old friend,” I say. “I wanted to catch up with her. I haven’t seen her in years.”

“Okay…” He reluctantly seems to accept my ridiculous explanation, as I knew he would. “Are you coming back?”

I give the brownstone one last look. “Yes. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“A few minutes?”

Whatever Douglas Garrick is up to in that apartment building, I’m not going to figure it out from standing here and staring at the building. So I start walking back to the restaurant, already bracing myself for the third degree from Brock. He’s going to want more of an answer as to why I ran off. But the truth will make me sound insane.

“I’m walking back right now,” I tell him. “I promise.”

“Do you want me to pay the bill?” he asks. “Are you okay? What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” I cross the street to get back to the restaurant, picking up my pace just a little bit. “Like I said, I saw an old friend.”

“You didn’t look okay.” “I am,” I insist. “I…”

Right in the middle of insisting that I am completely fine, I stop talking. Because I am looking at something that makes my heart sink into my stomach.

It’s a black Mazda with a cracked right front headlight. The same one I have seen parked near my apartment building and sometimes near where the Garricks live.

I drop my gaze to look down at the license plate. 58F321. I search my brain, trying to remember what the plate was the last time I saw it. Why didn’t I write it down? I was so sure I would remember it.

But that right cracked headlight. It looks so familiar.

“Millie?” Brock’s voice is coming out of my phone. “Millie? Are you there?”

I stare at this car. All along, I had assumed it was Xavier who was following me. But now I find this car parked close to Douglas’s mistress’s building. Even though I’m not 100 percent sure it’s the same car that’s been following me, I’d be willing to bet good money on it. It does look like a pretty crummy car to be driven by a multimillionaire, but maybe not if he’s trying to be inconspicuous.

Except why would Douglas be following me? After all, I’ve been getting this sensation before I even started working for the Garrick family. That would mean that Douglas has been following me even before I started working for him.

A horrible cold sensation goes down my spine. What is going on here?

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