Chapter no 52

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

In the face of my marriage falling apart, I decide some retail therapy is in order. Namely, we require new furniture.

I wait until I’m back in the city, because you can’t possibly find anything decent on the island. Unbeknownst to me, Douglas arranged to have most of his furniture moved from his apartment to our penthouse, and all of it is dreadful. It looks like the sort of furniture you would purchase from a store with the word “discount” or “warehouse” in its name. I can barely stand to look at it.

I tried to explain to Douglas that the furniture in a home must fit together, and that classic, old pieces would fit not only with each other, but also with the décor of our gothic building. Douglas just looked at me blankly because I wasn’t speaking in JavaScript or Klingon or whatever it is he understands best. Finally, he nodded and told me to get whatever I wanted.

So I’m on my way out to hunt for some beautiful antiques with which to decorate our penthouse when I run smack into Marybeth Simonds in the lobby of my building.

Marybeth is a receptionist at Douglas’s company. I’ve met her a handful of times, and she’s pleasant enough. Early forties, blond hair that’s turning to gray, and a bland-looking face. She wears all these tacky skirts that are the absolute exact right length to make her calves look as wide as possible. The first time I laid eyes on her, I determined her not to be a threat to my husband’s fidelity, and I never gave her a second thought.

“Wendy!” she exclaims. “Oh, I’m so glad I caught you.”

She’s clutching a manila envelope, likely some incredibly uninteresting documents meant for Douglas. She has to fetch them for him, because he rarely comes to the office. He prefers to work in any number of random coffee shops scattered throughout the city, or else in our Long Island home.

“Is Doug in?” she asks me.

“I’m afraid not.” I glance down at my watch. “And I don’t have time to take any random paperwork for him. You’ll have to leave it with the doorman.”

Marybeth’s smile falters slightly, but she nods. Douglas likes her because of her good-natured quality, which I suspect means that she’s a doormat. “Of course, sure thing, Wendy. Where are you headed?”

I am slightly taken aback by her familiarity, but I am reminded of how when I was poor, the daily lives of the incredibly wealthy used to fascinate me. I used to read articles about people like me. “I’m just buying some furniture,” I tell her.

“Furniture?” Her eyes light up. “You know, my husband Russell is the manager of a furniture store. It’s a small store, but the furniture there is incredible. And he would give you a great deal.” She digs around in her purse, nearly dropping the manila envelope, and finally comes up with a white rectangular card with a small stain of lipstick on it. “This is his card. Just tell him I sent you over.”

I take the card between the tips of my index finger and thumb, reluctant to touch it after it was in Marybeth’s mystery bag. “Yes. Perhaps.”

“Well…” She smiles brightly at me. “It was good seeing you, Wendy.”

She starts to walk over to the doorman, but before she can, I call out her name. “Marybeth?”

She turns, that same pleasant smile plastered across her features. “Yes?” “I would prefer if you refer to me as Mrs. Garrick,” I tell her. “We aren’t

friends, after all. I’m your boss’s wife.”

Marybeth struggles to maintain the smile on her lips. “Of course. I’m so sorry, Mrs. Garrick.”

I wonder if I’m being mean. But I didn’t marry one of the richest men in the city just to be called Wendy by his receptionist.

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