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Chapter no 53

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

Just to prove that I am not the most horrible woman on the face of the planet, I decide to buy a piece of furniture or two from Russell Simonds. May as well throw them a little of our business. And if it’s truly too tacky to have in my home—which I suspect it will be—I can always donate it.

It’s no surprise that the furniture store is compact. I expected boxy, stiff sofas, but instead when I walk in, I am confronted with a lovely chest of drawers. I stop for a moment to admire the stunning oak dresser that has been carefully sanded and stained, and it’s ordained with a beautiful ornate mirror. I run my finger over one of the three dovetailed drawers, each of which contains a small keyhole.

This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I need this for my home. “It’s a beautiful piece, isn’t it?”

I pivot my head to identify the owner of the rich deep voice behind me. For a split second, I almost think that I’m looking at my husband. But no, this man is most definitely not Douglas Garrick. He is roughly the same height as Douglas, with a similar build—or the build Douglas might have if he went to the gym every once in a while—and his hair is about the same color, although trimmed neatly. Despite working in a furniture store, he is wearing a crisp white dress shirt and an expertly knotted tie. This man looks like the man that I had hoped to turn Douglas into when I first met him at that modern art exhibit. He is Douglas 2.0, while my husband is barely even the beta version.

“It’s a vintage piece,” he tells me, “but I restored it personally.” “You did an amazing job,” I breathe. “I love it.”

He smiles at me and my knees tremble slightly. “Now that’s no way to bargain.”

“I have no interest in bargaining,” I say. “When I want something, I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”

There’s a flicker of amusement in his eyes at my comment. “I’m Russell.” He holds out a hand to me, and when I take it, a delightful tingle goes up my arm. “This is my store, and I would love to sell you this dresser today. I bet it would look great in your apartment.”

Russell Simonds. This must be Marybeth’s husband. Somehow I expected a man with a potbelly and a large bald spot on the top of his gray hair. Not this man.

“I’m Wendy Garrick,” I tell him. “Your wife Marybeth works for my husband. She suggested I come here.”

That playful smile lingers on his lips. “I’m glad she did.”

I end up buying about half the store before I’m done. Every time Russell tells me about another piece of restored vintage furniture, I simply have to have it. And then when I’m handing over my credit card with the shockingly high limit, he takes out his business card, this one impeccably crisp and white, and he scribbles ten digits on the back.

“Any problems with the furniture,” he tells me, “you just let me know.” I slide the card into my purse. “I absolutely will.”

And as Russell rings up my purchases, I can’t help but think there is one other thing in the store that I would like to bring home with me. And when I want something, I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

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