Chapter no 7

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

After I get the laundry going and tidy up a bit upstairs (although admittedly, there’s not much to do), I go down to the kitchen to tackle dinner.

Thankfully, there is a list on the refrigerator door that has been left for me. It’s a printed menu for the week, including recipes and specific instructions on how to get groceries. Some of the writing is by hand—it looks to be more feminine handwriting, but it’s hard to say. As I read the instructions, I start to become less and less enthusiastic about my job:

Pate must be purchased on Tuesday from Oliver’s Delicatessen prior to 4pm.

If only terrine is available, do not purchase. In this case, purchase pate from Francois.

Pate should be served on peasant bread obtained from the London Market. Take one slab and spread gently. Top with cornichon, obtained from Mr. Royal.

All I can think is, what the hell is pate? And what’s cornichon? At least I know what bread is. Except why do I have to go to four stores to buy these three items? And is Mr. Royal a person or a place?

On the plus side, little is left to the imagination. The recipes are sorted by date, so I simply find today’s date and I get started on tonight’s dinner of…

Cornish game hen. Okay, this will be interesting.

Two hours later, I have put away the laundry. The Cornish game hen is cooking in the oven, and it smells quite nice if I do say so myself. I have already put out two place settings in the dining room, so now I’m just

standing in the kitchen, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for the food to be ready. Hopefully, that will coincide with mealtime, which is a strict 7pm.

Just as I’m opening the oven to look in on the hen, the elevator doors grind open—you can hear them a mile away. Heavy footsteps come down the hallway, growing louder. “Wendy!” It’s Douglas’s voice echoing through the apartment. “Wendy, I’m home!”

I step over to the entrance of the kitchen and look out at the stairwell to the second floor. I wait for a moment, listening for the sounds of the door to the guest bedroom opening, hopeful I’ll finally get to catch a glimpse of the infamous Mrs. Garrick, but I hear nothing.

“Hello.” I wipe my hands on my jeans as I come out of the kitchen. “Your dinner is just about ready—I promise.”

Douglas is standing in the living room, his eyes on the stairwell. “Excellent. Thank you very much, Millie.”

“You’re welcome.” I follow his gaze up the stairs. “Do you want me to fetch Mrs. Garrick?”

“Hmm.” He looks down at the two place settings on the Victorian style oak dining table, which looks like where the queen herself might have been served dinner. “I have a feeling she won’t be joining me tonight.”

“Should I bring a plate upstairs for her?”

“No need. I’ll bring it to her.” He flashes a lopsided smile. “She’s still feeling under the weather, I’m sure.”

“Of course,” I murmur. “Let me get the food out of the oven.”

I hurry back into the kitchen to check on the food. I pull a Cornish game hen out of the oven, and it looks pretty amazing. I mean, considering I’ve never cooked it before and haven’t even heard of it before except in a completely theoretical way.

It takes me another ten minutes to cut the stupid thing according to the specific instructions, but finally, I’ve got two beautiful plates of food. I carry them out to the dining room, just in time to see Douglas descending the flight of stairs.

“How is she doing?” I ask him as I set the plates down on the dining table.

He’s quiet for a moment as if considering my answer. “It’s not a good day. “

“I’m so sorry.”

He lifts a shoulder. “It is what it is. But thank you for your help today, Millie.”

“No problem. Would you like me to bring Mrs. Garrick’s plate up to her?”

I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but Douglas’s lips tighten at my suggestion. “You already offered, and I said I would do it, didn’t I?”

“Yes, but…” I stop myself before I say anything stupid. He thinks I’m being nosy, and he’s not entirely wrong. “Anyway, have a good evening.”

“Yes,” he says vaguely. “Good night, Millie. Thanks again.”

I grab my coat and head over to the elevators. I hold my breath, waiting for the elevator doors to slam shut, then my shoulders sag. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about that apartment that makes me uneasy.

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