Chapter no 34

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

The gears in the elevator are grinding more than usual.

I wonder how old this elevator is. I read somewhere that elevators were first used in homes in the late 1920s. So even if this elevator is one of the very first elevators in history, it’s still less than a century old. So that’s comforting, I guess?

Still, one of these days, I’m certain that all the ancient gears are going to rust mid-turn and I will just be trapped in this elevator for the rest of my life.

I glance down at my watch. It is just under twenty minutes since Wendy called me. I tried calling again to let her know I was on my way, but she didn’t pick up. I’m scared about what I’m going to find when I get up to the twentieth floor.

My God, can this elevator go any slower?

Finally, the elevator grinds to a halt and the doors swing open. The sun has dropped in the sky, and the penthouse is dark. Why hasn’t somebody turned on the lights? What’s going on here?

“Hello?” I call out.

Then a terrible thought occurs to me.

What if Douglas is here? What if he forced Wendy to call me and asked me to come over, so he could punish me for helping her? That seems like the sort of thing he is capable of.

I feel around in my purse for my mace. I locate it next to my compact, and I pull it out, gripping it in my right hand.

“Wendy?” I squeak.

With my left hand, I reach into my jeans pocket, where I stuffed my phone. I don’t want to call the police, but at the same time, I have a terrible feeling about what I’m going to find in this penthouse.

I step into the living room, my footsteps on the floor as loud as gunshots in this quiet, vacuous apartment. My heart stops when I spot the red staining the carpet. And then the body lying strewn across the sectional sofa.

“Wendy!” I cry out.

This is so much worse than I thought. Douglas isn’t searching for his wife or trying to exact revenge. He already found her, and now she is lying dead on the sofa. I run over to her, expecting to see a gaping knife wound on her chest and crimson staining the front of her dark blue dress. But I don’t see any of that.

And then she opens her eyes.

“Wendy!” I feel like I’m about to fall over from a heart attack. I wish I had some of Brock’s medication available, because my heart has gone into some crazy irregular rhythm. “Oh my God! I thought you were—”

“Dead?” She sits up on the sofa, and that’s when I realize the crimson on the floor is red wine that’s spilled from a glass tipped over on the coffee table—Douglas will go crazy if I don’t get it cleaned up. She laughs bitterly. “Oh, I wish.”

I was so focused on searching her body for wounds or blood, I didn’t notice the fresh bruise blossoming on her left cheek, where the last one had almost faded. I wince at the sight of it—I can only imagine what caused such a thing.

“Your face,” I breathe.

“That’s not the worst of it.” Wendy props herself up on the sofa, and she flinches and grabs her rib cage. “He definitely broke my ribs.”

“You need to go to the hospital!”

“Not a chance.” She shoots me a look. “But I could use an ice pack.”

I run into the kitchen and find an ice pack sitting in the freezer. I cover it in a dish towel, then I bring it out to her. She takes it gratefully, debates for a moment where she wants to put it, then finally rests it on her chest.

“He was waiting for me,” she says in a voice that is not much louder than a whisper. “When we got to Fiona’s farm in Potsdam. He was already there. He knew.”

I shake my head. I don’t understand how this happened. I had expected he might find her eventually, but so fast?

“I don’t know how he found me so quickly.” She shuts her eyes as if trying to ward off a headache. “I thought there was a chance he might find me eventually, but not so quickly. I thought I had more time…”

“I know…”

“Millie.” She shifts so that the ice pack slides out of place briefly. “Did you tell anyone where we went?”

“Absolutely not!”

Well, that’s not entirely true. I did tell one person. I told Enzo.

But telling Enzo is as good as telling nobody. Enzo would never breathe a word about something like this. If anything, he would try to protect her.

“I was stupid to think I could ever get away from him.” She adjusts the ice pack. “This is my life. It’s easier if I just… accept it.”

“You shouldn’t accept it.” I reach out and squeeze her hand. “Wendy, I’m going to help you. You do not have to spend the rest of your life putting up with him.”

“I know you mean well…”

“No.” My jaw twitches. “Listen to me. I’m going to help you. I promise.”

Wendy doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t believe me anymore. But I’m going to make this right somehow.

I won’t let Douglas Garrick get away with hurting her like this.

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