Chapter no 3

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

I can’t ignore the man banging on the door.

My feet leave a trail of wet footprints behind as I cross the few yards to my door. I bring my eye close to the peephole. A man is standing in front of my door, his arms folded across the breast pockets of his Brooks Brothers business suit.

“Millie.” The voice has become a low growl. “Let me in. Now.”

I take a step back from the door. For a moment, I press my fingertips against my temples. But this is inevitable—I have to let him in. So I reach out, open the deadlock, turn the lock, and carefully crack open the door.

“Millie.” He pushes the door the rest of the way open and slides into my home. His fingers encircle my arm. “What the hell?”

My shoulders sag. “Sorry, Brock. “

Brock Cunningham, who I have been dating for the last six months, shoots me a look. “We had dinner plans tonight. You didn’t show up. And you haven’t been answering your messages or picking up your phone.”

He is correct on all counts. I am pretty much the worst girlfriend ever. Brock and I were supposed to meet at a restaurant in Chelsea after I finished my classes for today, but after Amber fired me, I could barely focus on my class—and I definitely didn’t feel like having dinner out—so I just went straight home. But I knew if I called Brock and told him I didn’t want to go, he would have felt compelled to talk me into it—and as a lawyer, he is super convincing. So I had this plan to send him a text message to cancel, but I kept postponing it, and I was so busy feeling sorry for myself, I then completely forgot.

Like I said, worst girlfriend ever.

“I’m sorry,” I say again.

“I was worried about you,” he says. “I thought something terrible might have happened to you.”


A deafening siren goes off right outside the window, and Brock gives me a look like I’ve asked a very stupid question. I feel a jab of guilt. Brock probably had a ton to do tonight, and not only did I make him wait at the restaurant for me like an idiot, but now he has wasted the rest of his night coming all the way out to the South Bronx to make sure I’m okay.

At the very least, I owe him an explanation.

“Amber Degraw fired me,” I say. “So basically, I’m screwed.”

“Really?” His eyebrows shoot up. Brock has the most perfect eyebrows I have ever seen on a man, and I’m convinced he must get them professionally shaped, but he won’t admit to such a thing. “Why did she fire you? I thought you said she couldn’t function without you. You said you’re basically raising her child.”

“Exactly,” I say. “Her kid wouldn’t quit calling me mama and Amber freaked out.”

Brock stares at me for a moment, and then unexpectedly, he bursts out laughing. At first, I’m offended. I just lost my job. Doesn’t he get how crappy this is?

But then a second later, I find myself joining in. I throw my head back and laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing was. I remember Olive reaching for me and sobbing “mama” while Amber got madder and madder. By the end, I seriously thought Amber was going to pop an aneurysm in her brain.

After a minute, the two of us are both wiping tears from our eyes. Brock puts his arms around me and pulls me closer to him, no longer angry about me standing him up. Brock doesn’t get angry easily. Most people would count that among his good qualities, although there are times when I wish he would show a little more passion.

In general, though, we are in the sweet spot for our relationship. Six months. Is there any better time in a relationship than six months? I genuinely don’t know because this is only the second time I have reached that landmark. But it seems like six months is that perfect time when you shed the early relationship awkwardness, but you’re still showing each other your best side.

For example, Brock is a handsome thirty-two-year-old lawyer from a well-to-do family. He seems just about perfect. I’m sure Brock has bad habits, but I don’t know what they are. Maybe he cleans the earwax out of his ear canal with his finger and then wipes it on the kitchen counter or the sofa. Or maybe he eats the earwax. I’m just saying, there are a lot of bad habits he might have that I don’t know about, some of them not even involving earwax at all.

Well, he does have one imperfection. Despite the fact that he’s a strapping young man whose face is flushed with good health, he actually has a heart condition that he developed as a child. But it doesn’t seem to affect him at all. He takes a pill every day and that seems to be the extent of it. But the pill is important enough that he keeps a spare bottle in my medicine cabinet. And his illness and uncertainty about his life expectancy have made him a little more eager to settle down than most guys.

“Let me take you out to dinner,” Brock says. “I want to cheer you up.”

I shake my head. “I just want to stay home and feel sorry for myself.

And then maybe look online for jobs.”

“Now? You only just lost your job a few hours ago. You can’t wait at least until tomorrow?”

I raise my eyes to glare at him. “Some of us need money to pay the rent.”

He nods slowly. “Okay, but what if you didn’t need to worry about the rent?”

I have a bad feeling I know where this is going. “Brock…”

“Come on, why don’t you want to move in with me, Millie?” He frowns. “I’ve got a two-bedroom apartment overlooking Central Park, in a building where you won’t get your throat slit during the night. And you come over all the time anyway…”

It’s not the first time he has suggested moving in with him, and I can’t say he doesn’t make a persuasive argument. If I moved in with Brock, I would be living in the lap of luxury and I wouldn’t have to pay a dime for it. He wouldn’t even let me contribute if I wanted to. I could focus on getting my college degree so I could become a social worker and do some good in the world. It seems like a no-brainer.

But every time I consider telling him yes, a voice in the back of my head screams: Don’t do it!

The voice in my head is just as persuasive as Brock’s. There are a lot of good reasons to move in with him. But there’s one good reason not to. He has no idea who I really am. Even if he really is eating his own earwax, my secrets are much worse.

So here I am, in the most normal and healthy relationship of my adult life, and it seems like I am determined to screw it all up. But I am in a bit of a bind. If I tell him the truth about my past, he might leave me, and I don’t want that. But if I don’t tell him…

One way or another, he’s going to find out everything. I’m just not ready for that.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Like I said, I need my own space right now.”

Brock opens his mouth to protest, but then he thinks better of it. He knows me well enough to know how stubborn I can be. See? He’s already learning some of my worst qualities. “At least tell me you’ll think about it.”

“I’ll think about it,” I lie.

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