Douglas goes slack seconds after the gunshot rings out through the apartment. It’s louder than I expected, loud enough that the neighbors certainly will have heard. Well, maybe not. The walls and ceilings are likely soundproof in a place like this and we’ve got the floor below us as a buffer.
On the plus side, Douglas’s fingers slide off Wendy’s neck.
Wendy collapses to her knees, coughing and crying and clutching her throat, while her husband lies beside her on the floor, his body immobile. After a second, a pool of crimson spreads beneath him onto the plush carpeting.
The gun falls from my fingers and lands on the floor beside me with a loud thump. I feel completely frozen. Douglas Garrick isn’t moving at all, and the puddle beneath him keeps growing. I meant to shoot him in the shoulder, enough to wound him and force him to take his hands off Wendy, but not enough to kill him.
Looks like I missed.
Wendy rubs her watery eyes. Miraculously, she’s still conscious. She kneels beside her husband, placing a hand on his neck, over his carotid artery. She keeps her hand there for a moment, then looks up at me. “There’s no pulse.”
“He’s dead,” she whispers in a hoarse voice. “He’s really dead.”
“I didn’t mean to kill him,” I sputter. “I… I was just trying to get him to take his hands off of you. I never meant to—”
“Thank you,” Wendy says. “Thank you for saving my life. I knew you would.”
We just stare at each other for a moment. I did save her life. I have to remember that. I’ll have to explain it to the police when they get here.
“You need to leave.” Wendy rises to her feet, even though her legs look shaky. “We… we can wipe the fingerprints off the gun. That should work, shouldn’t it? Yes, yes, I’m sure it will. I won’t call the police for a couple of hours, and then I’ll tell them… Oh! I can say I thought Douglas was an intruder and shot him by accident. It was all an accident, you know? They’ll believe that. I’m sure they will.”
She’s talking fast—she’s in a panic. As much as I would love to have the heat taken off of me, there’s a huge hole in her story. “But the doorman saw when Douglas entered the building.”
She shakes her head. “No, he didn’t. Some of the residents have access to the back entrance, and he always comes in that way.”
“Is there a camera there?” “No. No camera.”
“What about the cameras in the elevators?”
“Those?” She snorts. “Those are merely decorative. One of them broke five years ago, and the other has been out of commission for at least two years.”
Could this really work? I just shot Douglas Garrick in cold blood. Is there any chance I could get away with this without any consequences? Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time.
“Leave now.” She steps over Douglas’s body, carefully sidestepping the pool of blood. “I will take responsibility for this. This is on me. I brought you into this, and I am not going to drag you down with me. Get out of here while you still can.”
“Go!” Her eyes look almost as wild as Douglas’s did when his hands were wrapped around her neck. “Please, Millie. This is the only way.”
“Okay,” I say quietly. “But… if you need me…”
She reaches out to squeeze my arm. “Believe me, you’ve done enough.” She hesitates. “You should delete all our text messages. The ones from me, and also the ones from Douglas. Just in case.”
That is an extremely good idea. Wendy and I have discussed some things that I wouldn’t want the police to know about if they started
investigating this murder. And it might be better if they don’t see the texts between me and Douglas, noting today would be my last session. I grab my purse, and my hands are shaking almost too badly to do it, but I manage to delete the conversations with both the Garricks off my phone.
“Don’t try to contact me,” she says. “I will take care of this, Millie.
I start to argue, but then I shut my mouth. There’s no point. Wendy has already decided that she wants to take the heat, and it’s in my best interest to let her. I say goodbye to the penthouse, knowing I will never set foot in this place ever again. The last thing I see when I leave the bedroom is Wendy standing over Douglas’s dead body.
And she’s smiling.