Chapter no 25

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

Wendy grabs me by the arm and pulls me over to the sofa. Given how skinny she is, she is strong. Somehow, I’m not entirely surprised.

I sit down on the sofa and she sits beside me, smoothing her nightgown over her bony knees. The bruises on her face look much better, but her eyes are just as bloodshot as the last time I saw her.

“You said you were willing to help me,” she says. “Did you mean it?” “Of course I meant it!”

The tiniest of smiles touches her lips. I realize at this moment that Wendy is very pretty. Between how wasted her body looks and her bruises, I hadn’t noticed it before. “I took your advice.”

“My advice?”

“After you left,” she says, “I thought about killing myself.” I suck in a breath. “That was not the advice I gave you.”

“I know,” she says quickly. “But it all felt so hopeless. When I had Douglas hire you, that was like my last life boat out of this terrible situation. And when I sent you away, it felt like there was no possibility of ever escaping him. So I went to the bathroom and I thought about slitting my wrists.”

“Oh my God, Wendy…”

“But I didn’t.” She squares her jaw. “Because for once, I didn’t feel entirely alone. And I remembered what you said about reaching out to somebody Douglas doesn’t know. Somebody from my past that he’s never met. And I remembered my old college friend Fiona. She was one of my best friends, and we haven’t talked in ages, and I had no contact with her through social media.”

I raise my eyebrows at her. “So are you going to try to find her?”

“I already did.” Wendy’s usually pale cheeks flush pink. “I tracked down her phone number by calling another friend from college—and I have of course sworn her to secrecy—and this morning Fiona and I talked for hours. She’s got a farm right outside Potsdam in upstate New York. She’s mostly off the grid except for her landline. I told her everything about my situation, and she told me I could stay with her as long as I need to.”

While I applaud her initiative, this won’t solve her problem. Even if he doesn’t find her there, she can’t stay hidden out in upstate New York forever. She won’t even have a way to get a job without any kind of ID or social security number. That’s what Enzo used to help with. With the kind of resources Douglas has, he will find her in a heartbeat when she uses her real name. I’ve also learned from experience that there’s no point going to the cops when it comes to these incredibly rich and powerful men—they know how to grease the right palms.

“I know it’s not a permanent solution,” she acknowledges. “But that’s okay. If I could just stay there for a little while and figure out my next move. Maybe I can find an attorney that can help me navigate the system while I’m hidden from him. Or maybe I can find somebody to help me start over.” She takes a shaky breath. “The important thing is that I won’t be with him anymore. And he won’t be able to get to me.”

“That’s amazing, Wendy,” I say. And I mean it, even though I’m about to lose a very lucrative job. I did save that bracelet she forced on me the other day, and I could probably hock it for a month’s rent. Plus, I have a feeling after my conversation happens with Brock tomorrow, we might be moving in together after all. (Or breaking up forever. One or the other.)

“But here’s the thing,” Wendy says, “I need your help.” “Of course! Anything you need.”

“It’s something kind of big,” she says. “But I’ll compensate you.” “Anything.”

“I need a ride.” Her hand is shaking slightly as she tugs at her collar. “My plan is that when Douglas goes out of town tomorrow, I’ll take off then. He’ll be all the way across the country, so even if he does get an inkling that I’m gone, there won’t be anything he can do about it—not right away, anyway.”


“Fiona says she can pick me up if I can make it out to Albany,” she says. “She can’t leave her farm the whole day. So I need a ride out to Albany. I would rent a car, but I’ll have to give them my ID and—”

“I’ll do it,” I interrupt her. “I’ll rent the car. I’ll drive you to Albany—no problem.”

“Thank you, Millie.” She clasps my hands in hers. “I promise, I’ll give you the money in cash. You don’t know how much I appreciate this.”

“Don’t worry about the money,” I say, even though I am very worried about money in general. “You need it more than I do.”

Wendy throws her arms around me, and it’s only then that I feel how fragile her body truly is. I could crush her if I hugged her just a little too tightly.

When she pulls away, there are tears in her eyes. “You have to know, if you help me, you’re putting yourself in danger.”

“I understand that.”

“No, you don’t.” She licks her slightly cracked lips. “Douglas is an extremely dangerous man, and I’m telling you, he will do whatever it takes to find me and bring me back to him. Whatever it takes.”

“I’m not scared,” I tell her.

But in the back of my head, there’s a voice telling me that maybe I should be scared. That it would be a grave mistake to underestimate Douglas Garrick.

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