Page 15

“Miss Taylor?” A deep, masculine voice called from behind. “Miss Taylor?”

“Yes?” I turned around and found myself face to face with the Walsh family’s driver, Francis.

“Are you leaving the party now?” he asked. “Alone?”

I nodded.

“Will Mr. Walsh be joining you?”

“No, and I don’t need a ride,” I said. “I don’t want to accept anything else from Mr. Walsh ever again.”

Ignoring me, he grabbed a black umbrella and opened the front door. He let the umbrella up against the rain and gestured for me to go with him.

“I was ordered to take you home, Miss Taylor.” He wasn’t going to let me leave on my own terms. “I was told this was my priority hours before you arrived.”

“If you insist...” I held back a sigh and walked with him to a waiting black town car.

As he settled into the front seat and adjusted the air settings, I looked at my phone and saw an influx of text messages.

Ben: Instead of going to Hemingway’s, I’ll have Francis take us to your place so we can have a real discussion about this later.

Ben: I’m willing to come to your apartment in Brooklyn, Gillian... BROOKLYN! If that’s not trying to compromise and get on one accord with you, I don’t know what is.

Ben: Did you leave the party? Did you REALLY leave before we could get a photo together?

Ben: Answer my phone calls, Gillian. Now.

Ben: Gillian...?

Francis steered the car down Avenue of the Americas and I wiped away fresh tears. The last thing I wanted to do tonight was wake up to Ben knocking on my door for a conversation.

The car approached a yellow light, and as it came to a complete stop, the perfect way to avoid Ben tonight hit me.

“Francis?” I asked.

“Yes, Miss Taylor?”

“Would you mind dropping me off somewhere else instead of my apartment?”

“Depends on how ‘safe’ this alternate location is.” He looked at me through the rearview mirror and furrowed his brow. “A bar is not an acceptable option.”

“It’s not a bar. It’s The Madison on Park Avenue.”

“Ah,” he said with a smile. “Yes. Your other place of employment will be safe enough. Should I I assume you won’t want me to tell Mr. Walsh that’s where I dropped you off?”

“Yes. Please don’t tell him.”

He nodded, and when the light turned green, he made a U-turn and headed toward the other side of Manhattan. Passing the grand front entrance, he parked near the rear of the building and stepped out to open my door, once again holding the umbrella up for me.

As if he could tell that he probably wouldn’t be seeing me again, he handed the umbrella over to me and shook my hand, wishing me the best of luck.

I knew he wouldn’t get back into the car until he actually saw me go inside, so I pulled out my employee badge and held it against the door. I gave him one last wave before slipping inside and letting the door shut.

I grabbed a Madison tour brochure and held it up to my face, pretending to read as I walked past my supervisor’s office. I was grateful that only the night crew, people I hardly ever worked with, were too busy working on files and handling phone calls to look up.

Keeping my head toward the ground, I headed down the hall and across the lobby, all the way to the freight elevators.

The second the doors opened, I stepped inside and hit “80,” knowing that the floor and the condo it contained would be completely empty like it always was. Ironically, whoever lived there—well, barely lived there, was overly insistent about having the highest level of privacy. All for a unit that was never used.

There were cameras in the hallway, cameras above the door, and an additional passcode to the floor itself. But since I was always assigned to clean this particular unit, I knew how to get around every security measure.

Stepping off the elevator, I held the doors open for a split second, waiting until the hallway camera rotated to the left so I could have a full ten seconds to slip by unseen. I quickly disabled the hidden cameras in the hallway vases, double-checking to make sure there weren’t any new ones. Then I hit the blackout button on the newly installed doorway camera, giving myself an extra five seconds to slip inside without notice.

I knew that doing this was wrong, that if management ever found out just how often I did it, I would be fired on the spot, but I’d become somewhat attached to this condo. Since I always went the extra mile for the invisible tenants who lived here, I sometimes felt like it was mine. And admittedly, whenever I worked late or wanted to escape the pathetic excuse of an apartment I lived in, I always came here.

Out of all the units in the building, this one was the best by far. Its panoramic, floor to ceiling windows stretched across the entire back wall and gave way to a stunning view of downtown with a glimpse of the Hudson River.

There were five guestrooms, three bathrooms, and a master bedroom that still made my jaw drop each time I saw it. The floors were a cool, white marble, and the furniture that filled all of the rooms were either beige or black or some combination of the two. They all looked as if they’d been handpicked out of a designer’s wet dream.

I walked into the state of the art kitchen and hit the lights, overturning all of the collectible Coke cans out of habit. Then I opened one of the cabinets under the sink and pulled out the blue overnight bag I kept hidden behind the cleaning supplies.

“Welcome home.” The speaker system suddenly sounded, echoing throughout the space. “You have four new messages. Please say the password.”