Chapter no 55

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

I have called Douglas multiple times, and he’s not picking up. I also have sent him numerous text messages that he has not responded to.

I don’t know what’s going on. I tried my credit cards at another store, and they were again declined. So it wasn’t the fault of the restaurant.

I called the credit card company to try to get to the bottom of it. And they told me something shocking. My cards have been canceled. All of them.

I finally decide to drive out to our house on Long Island to talk to Douglas. Despite our gorgeous apartment in the city filled with antique furniture, he prefers the house. He says he likes the quiet. He sleeps better without the constant honking and sirens in the city, and he likes the fresh air. But Long Island is so painfully dull. There’s absolutely nothing to do here and nowhere decent to shop.

When I get to the house, it’s empty. I realize I haven’t been here in over a week, even though Douglas sleeps here nearly every night. I suppose my husband and I have become more distant recently. The only time we ever have sex is once a month, when we’re trying to conceive.

The house is clean, at least—when I walked in the door, I half expected to find dirty pizza boxes and used socks slung over the sofa, because Douglas can be a bit of a slob. The living room looks… cozy, I suppose would be the word. Douglas got rid of the white sofa I picked out, and he’s replaced it with a dark blue one with beat-up-looking cushions. I sit down on the sofa to wait for him to come home, and I have to admit that it’s comfortable, even though it is incredibly ugly.

It isn’t until nearly nine o’clock that I hear the sound of the garage door opening. I sit up straighter on the sofa, then decide to stand. This is going to be the sort of conversation you need to stand up for. I can just tell.

Douglas enters through the back a minute later. His hair is more disheveled than usual, and he has circles under his eyes. His tie is hanging loose around his neck, and when he sees me in the living room, he stops short.

“You canceled my credit cards,” I say through my gritted teeth. “I was wondering what it would take to get you over here.”

Does he think this is some sort of joke? “I was trying to have lunch and my card got declined. I had no way to pay. Do you realize that?”

Douglas steps into the living room, pulling his tie the rest of the way off. “What? Didn’t Russell have his credit card?”

My mouth drops open. “I…”

He hurls his tie onto the sofa. “I don’t understand why you’re so surprised. Do you think you can go all over town making out with some other guy and I won’t find out about it? Do you think you can pay for a hotel room on my credit card and I’ll have no idea? How dumb do you think I am?”

“I… I’m sorry.” My heart is pounding. I’ve never ever heard Douglas talk like this, but there’s a part of me that’s glad we’re having this conversation. I’m tired of being married to Douglas Garrick. I’m glad we’re getting it all out in the open. “I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“Oh, please. Is that the best you can come up with?” He looks at me in disgust. “And Marybeth’s husband? How could you, Wendy? Marybeth is practically like family.”

Like family to him, perhaps. I never cared for the woman, even before sleeping with her husband. And now that I know what an inadequate partner she was to Russell, I dislike her even more. “Does she know?”

He shakes his head. “I couldn’t do that to her. It would wreck her.” He snorts. “Not that you would care about that.”

“It’s not like we have the perfect marriage, Douglas,” I point out. “You know it as well as I do.”

My comment takes some of the fight out of him. His brown eyes soften. Deep down, my husband is a bit of a pushover. That’s why I married him in the first place. I knew he would give me everything I wanted.

“I think we should go to marriage counseling,” he says. “I found a therapist who is highly recommended. I know I’m busy, but I’m going to make time for this. For us.”

I imagine sitting with Douglas in a therapist’s office, where we discuss our myriad of problems that add up to the fact that we want completely different things out of life. “I don’t know…”

“Wendy.” He comes close to me and takes my hand in his. I let him for a moment, knowing I’ll take it back in a few seconds. “I don’t want to give up on us. You’re my wife. And even though we’re having some struggles in that area, I want you to be the mother of my children.”

I realize this is the moment I have to come clean with him. I have to rip off the Band-Aid, or else I might never be free of this man. And after all this time, he deserves the truth.

“Actually,” I say, “I can’t have children.”

As it turns out, he is the one who yanks his hand away first. “What?

What are you talking about?”

“Years ago, I had an infection that destroyed my fallopian tubes,” I tell him. It happened when I was twenty-two years old. I had horrible pain in my pelvic area, and the doctors later explained that the infection was asymptomatic until it spread up into my tubes. The pain was so bad that I underwent a laparoscopic procedure to clean out some of the scarring, and that’s when they told me that I would never be able to conceive a child naturally. There’s a small chance you could become pregnant with reproductive technology, but even that is extremely unlikely due to the extensive scarring.

It was devastating to hear at the time. At the time, I cursed my luck. Even though I had grown up poor, I still dreamed of filling up my house with children someday, just like my parents did. I cried for twenty-four hours straight when I found out the news.

But over the years, I discovered it was a blessing. I saw so many of my friends tied down with children and observed how your offspring will bleed your bank accounts dry. I realized I was fortunate to be child-free. Really, that infection was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Douglas is shaking his head. “I don’t understand. Are you saying all this time, you knew that you could never get pregnant?”

“That’s right.”

He falls onto the comfy sofa, a glazed look in his eyes. “We’ve been trying for years. You never even said a word. I can’t believe you lied to me like that.”

I’ve upset him, but it’s for the best. Like I said, the Band-Aid needed to be pulled off. “I knew it wasn’t what you wanted to hear.”

He looks up at me, his eyes slightly moist. “Well, what about adoption?


Oh Lord, the last thing I want is to take care of somebody else’s brats. “I don’t want children, Douglas. I never wanted them. What I do want is to get out of this marriage.”

“But…” His lower jaw trembles. He still has that double chin. In our entire marriage, I have not made any headway in helping him get rid of it. I had believed he was a work in progress, but I never made any real progress. “I love you, Wendy. Don’t you love me?”

“Not anymore,” I say. It’s kinder than telling him that I never loved him. “I don’t want to be with you anymore. I don’t respect you, and we want different things. It’s better to part ways.”

When I have my ten million dollars, I won’t have to worry about him canceling my stupid credit card again. I’ll be independent. Russell can leave his wife, and we can do whatever we want.

“Fine.” Douglas struggles to his feet. “You want out of this marriage?

You got it. But you’re not getting a penny of my money.”

Unfortunately, it’s not up to him. He wants to punish me, but I know my rights. “The prenup gives me ten million dollars. I won’t ask for more than that.”

“Right.” The glazed look is gone from his brown eyes, and now they have become sharp and laser-beam focused on my face. “You get ten million dollars if we divorce. But the prenup says that if I have evidence of you cheating, you get nothing.”

I think back to that thick document that Joe handed me before the wedding. I had considered giving it to a lawyer, but I could see in plain black and white that it said I get ten million in the instance of divorce. I didn’t want to waste thousands of dollars I didn’t have to hire an attorney.

“I’d be happy to show you the clause where it says that.” A smile is playing on his lips. “It’s right on page 178. I don’t know how you could have missed it.”

My hands clench into fists. “Joe tricked me. He was always so determined to make you mistrust me.”

“No, the prenup was my idea. So was the clause about infidelity.” Douglas undoes the top button on his collar. “I told him to act like it was his idea, so you wouldn’t get mad at me. I wanted you to trust me. Even though I didn’t trust you.”

I stare at my husband, my fury growing. “You can’t just throw something in without telling me. That’s… that’s deceiving me.”

His eyebrows shoot up. “Oh, you mean like when you failed to tell me that you could never get pregnant?”

My chest feels tight. It’s become a little hard to breathe. Douglas always talked about how much better the air is out here, but I don’t notice it. “Fine. But good luck proving that I was unfaithful to you.”

Even though it’s going to kill me, I won’t be able to see Russell for a while. I can’t give Douglas any chance to prove my infidelity.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ve already got pictures, videos… you name it.” I gasp. “You hired a detective to spy on me?”

He glares at me with venom in his eyes. “All I had to do was put a few hidden cameras in our own apartment. Subtle much?”

Damn. We should never have been so careless. If only I had known…

“You might be able to get your old job back,” Douglas says thoughtfully. “What did you do? Didn’t you work at some counter at Macy’s? That sounds like fun.”

I hate this man. I have felt a lot of emotions for him over the last three years, but I have never felt this kind of hatred for anyone in my life. Yes, I wasn’t entirely honest with him. But to leave me penniless? He is truly a sadistic person.

“I won’t divorce you then,” I say. “I won’t sign the papers. You won’t get me out of your life.”

“Fine,” he says with maddening calm. “But you’re not getting your credit cards back. And all the bank accounts are in my name—I’m cutting off your access.”

I didn’t know Douglas had it in him. But I suppose you don’t get to be the CEO of such a huge company without having a pair of balls.

“You can still stay at the penthouse,” he adds. “For now. But in a few months, I’m putting it on the market. So you can decide what you want to do.”

With those words, he turns around and heads out of the living room. His tie is still lying on the sofa, and there’s part of me that’s tempted to grab it, wrap it around his neck, and squeeze the life out of him.

I don’t do it, of course, but the idea is incredibly appealing.

Because if Douglas divorces me with proof of my adultery, I get nothing. But if he is dead, according to his will, I get everything.

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