Chapter no 27

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

It will be roughly a five-hour drive to our destination, taking traffic into account. Or at least, that’s what my GPS tells me.

Our plan is to find a cheap motel off the side of the highway when we get close to Albany. I’ll drop Wendy off there to spend the night, then Fiona will pick her up the next morning. She’s bringing enough clothing to last a couple of weeks, and enough cash to last several months.

Douglas will never find her.

I park my painfully conspicuous red Hyundai a block away from the building, so the doorman who keeps winking at me will not report to Douglas that his wife got into a red sedan with his housekeeper. The car is so ridiculously red, it’s like I’m driving a freaking fire engine. But there’s nothing I can do about it now.

As I wait in the car for Wendy to materialize, a text message arrives from Douglas on my phone:

Will you be coming tonight?

Douglas asked me to clean while he’s gone. I agreed to do it, and it doesn’t surprise me that he is continuing to monitor and confirm my cleaning schedule, even though he’s going out of town. It makes me a little uneasy, considering he is going to come home to find out his wife has disappeared. But in the interest of trying to pretend things are as normal as possible, I text back:

I’ll be there.

Of course, I will not be there. I will be transporting his wife to a safe place.

Despite my annoyance about the mix-up at the car rental place and the long drive ahead of me, I have to smile to myself. Wendy is finally leaving Douglas. This is what I used to find so rewarding. And this is why I decided to get a degree in social work. What I want is to spend my life helping people like this.

In the rearview mirror, I can see Wendy coming down the street carrying two pieces of luggage. She’s got her hair pinned back in a simple ponytail, a pair of dark sunglasses are perched on her nose, and she’s dressed in a comfortable hoodie sweatshirt and blue jeans.

I come out of the car to help put her luggage in the trunk. She’s absolutely beaming at me. “I forgot how comfortable jeans are,” she comments.

“You don’t wear jeans?”

“Douglas hates them.” She scrunches up her nose. “That’s why all I am bringing with me are jeans!”

I laugh as I throw her luggage into the trunk. We both climb into the car, I start up the GPS, and we get on the road. I haven’t been behind the wheel in a couple of years now, and it feels good to be driving again. Of course, driving in the city is super stressful, but soon I’ll get on the highway and that will be smooth sailing—at least until we hit rush hour traffic.

“So Douglas didn’t suspect anything?” I ask Wendy.

She pushes her sunglasses up the bridge of her button nose. “I don’t think so. He came in to say goodbye before he left, and I pretended to be asleep in bed.” She looks down at her watch. “And right now, he’s probably boarding a plane to Los Angeles.”


She raises her sunglasses to peer at me. “You didn’t tell anyone about any of this, did you?”

“Absolutely not. Not a soul.”

She looks relieved. “I can’t wait to get out of here. I could hardly even sleep last night.”

“Don’t worry. I am a super-fast driver. We’ll be at the motel before you know it.”

As I say that, I come to a screeching halt at a red light, narrowly missing a pedestrian, who graciously gives me the finger. Okay, we need to get there

fast, but more importantly, we need to get there in one piece.

As I wait for the light to change, I glance in the rearview mirror, and I can’t help but notice a car behind me. It’s a black sedan.

And it has a cracked right front headlight.

Or is it left? I crane my neck to look behind me, because I always get left and right confused in the mirror. No, it’s definitely a cracked right front headlight.

I crane my neck further to get a look at the front grill, which has a little circle on it that is the Mazda logo. My heart sinks. It’s a black Mazda with a cracked right front headlight. The same car I have been seeing multiple times in the last couple of months.

I try to catch a glimpse at the license plate, but before I can make out anything clearly, a blast of horns sounds off behind me. Okay, I need to start moving again before somebody gets out a gun and shoots me.

“Are you okay?” Wendy’s forehead is bunched up above her sunglasses. “What’s wrong?”

I debate how much I should tell her. There’s no way I’m going to be able to get a good look at that license plate while I’m driving, but at the same time, she’s already extremely nervous. I don’t want to freak her out and tell her that I think somebody might be following me.

Especially if that someone is her husband.

It doesn’t have to be Douglas. Despite what Mrs. Randall said, it’s entirely possible that Xavier Marin got out of jail. And now he is tormenting me.

But that doesn’t quite make sense. Whether or not he’s in jail, Xavier surely has his own problems right now. He isn’t going to be wasting his time following me into Manhattan, and certainly not all the way to Albany.

As I make my way to the highway, I try to drive creatively. I keep the Mazda in my sight as I change lanes, trying to see if it will change lanes with me. It doesn’t always, but every time I look in my mirrors, it’s behind me. And at one point I managed to catch the first three characters of the license plate: 58F.

The same characters of the car that’s been following me around.

“Millie!” Wendy gasps, as I nearly sideswipe a green SUV. “Slow down, please! I don’t want to get in an accident.”

“Sorry,” I mumble. “It’s just been a little while since I’ve been behind the wheel.”

We finally reach the FDR drive, and I’ve got one eye on my rearview mirror. That black Mazda has been behind me the entire time. And it’s going to be so much easier for the car to continue following me when I’m on the highway. We haven’t hit rush-hour traffic yet, so the lanes should be wide open.

But that also means I can go as fast as I want and avoid him.

As I get onto FDR, I put my foot on the gas, getting ready to gun it. Let’s see if that beat-up old Mazda can do eighty. But then I check my rearview mirror.

The Mazda is gone. It didn’t turn onto the highway with me.

I let out a breath, simultaneously relieved and confused. I was sure that the car was following me. I would’ve bet my life on it. But it turns out it was all just a coincidence. Nobody is following me.

Everything is going to be fine.

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