Chapter no 19

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

The Garrick penthouse seems quiet today.

I heard a sound coming from the guest bedroom, but it wasn’t crying or screaming or anything else suspicious. It just sounded like there’s somebody in there—a woman who I’m not supposed to disturb.

After finding the blood on that nightgown, I genuinely thought Douglas would find an excuse to fire me, but he hasn’t so far. It’s a good thing, considering I need the money. (Brock is still hinting that I should move in with him, but I have managed to deflect him so far.)

And now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I’m not convinced the crimson on the nightgown was as ominous as it seemed at the time. I’m still certain the stain was blood, but there are plenty of innocent reasons for blood stains on clothes. I’ve dealt with enough children with gushing nosebleeds to know it’s a mistake to jump to conclusions. So I’ve managed to put it out of my head.

Well, mostly.

After I tidy up some of the other bedrooms, I head down the hallway to the main upstairs bathroom. In general, the bathrooms aren’t very dirty. It makes sense, considering there are only two people living here, and it hardly seems like they need someone to clean so frequently, but I’m not going to argue with them. I get paid to clean, and if I have to clean something that is already fairly clean, then that’s what I’ll do.

Except when I walk into the bathroom now, there’s something I’ve never seen before. Something that makes me feel like I just got punched in the gut.

It’s a bloody handprint on the bathroom sink.

Well, to be fair, it’s about half a handprint. Like somebody was gripping the sink with a hand caked in blood.

My eyes drop to the floor. I didn’t see it when I first walked in, but now I notice little droplets of blood on the linoleum tiles. They seem to form a little trail.

I follow the trail of crimson droplets out of the bathroom. There are no lights in the hallway, so somehow I didn’t notice it the first time, but now I can make out the specks of blood forming a pathway in the carpeting. And the trail ends at the door to the guest bedroom.

I’m not supposed to knock on the door. Douglas made it very clear when I first started working here. And the one time I did knock on the door, Wendy Garrick was not pleased to see me.

But I think of Kitty Genovese again. How can I not investigate when there is literally a trail of blood leading to the door?

So I raise my fist and knock on the door.

I had heard some sounds before, but it suddenly becomes silent on the other side of the door. Nobody tells me to come in or don’t come in. So I knock again.

“Mrs. Garrick?” I call out. “Wendy?” No answer.

I clench my teeth in frustration. I don’t know what is going on in there, but I’m not leaving until I can verify that she isn’t bleeding to death. I have a rule about not cleaning around dead bodies.

Even though I shouldn’t, I put my hand on the doorknob. I try to turn it, but it doesn’t budge. Locked.

“Mrs. Garrick,” I say, “there’s blood all over your bathroom.” Still no answer.

“Listen, if you don’t open the door, I’m going to have to call the police.”

That gets a response out of her. I hear some scrambling behind the door, and then a slightly choked voice. “I’m here. I’m fine. Don’t call the police.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Please… go away. I’m trying to sleep.”

I could walk away, but really, I can’t. Not after seeing all the blood in the bathroom. It’s not even that the blood was there, but the fact that whoever did it was too injured to be able to clean it up.

“I want to see you,” I say. “Please open the door.”

“I’m fine—I told you. I just had some bleeding from a cracked tooth.”

“Open the door for two seconds and I’ll leave you alone. But I promise you, I’m not leaving until you open the door.”

There is another long silence behind the door. While I wait, my eyes stray to the trail of blood droplets from the bathroom. There are plenty of innocent explanations for it. Perhaps she was shaving and cut herself. Maybe it really was a cracked tooth.

And then there are some not-so-innocent explanations.

Finally, a click comes from the doorknob. The door has been unlocked.

And very slowly, she cracks it open.

And I have to clap a hand over my mouth to keep from screaming.

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