Maxine

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Book: Maxine by SUE FINEMAN Read Free Book Online
Authors: SUE FINEMAN
Tags: General Fiction
Nick grilled salmon for dinner. It looked wonderful, but when they sat down to eat, she said, “I’m not very hungry.”
    “Worried about your husband?”
    “I don’t know what he’ll do when he finds out what I’m doing. He’s used to getting what he wants. He probably thinks that because he married me, he’s earned the right to take control.” Before they married, Lance had been gentle and even tempered, but that changed as soon as they got to Seattle. He had a vicious temper. One time someone cut him off in traffic, and she thought he’d ram into them. The incident had frightened her.
    “To hell with him. Come on, eat your dinner. This fish is too expensive to waste.”
    She ate a bite of fish. “Mmm, this is good.”
    “Of course it is. I cooked it.”
    She rolled her eyes. “You are definitely not modest.”
    His eyes sparkled. “Of course not. I’m Italian.”
    She laughed with delight. Nick’s casual manner and teasing put her at ease. She’d never felt as comfortable with anyone, man or woman. He treated her like a real person instead of a source of money.
    Cara ate a little more and pushed her plate aside. “I wonder if his girlfriend is with him now that I’m gone.”
    He stabbed his fork in the air. “I’ll bet she’s either in Seattle or at your house in California.” Nick finished his dinner and then ate the salmon on her plate.
    Cara sat quietly for a few minutes, her mind on the staff. Mr. Pettibone knew everyone. He knew what they all did, how much they were paid, and how long they’d been there. Mr. and Mrs. Corinth had been hired by the trustees, so she assumed they were paid by the trustees. The others were paid from the household budget controlled by Mr. Pettibone. He was the man in charge, and he prided himself on his discretion.
    As Nick cleaned up the kitchen, Cara walked outside and called her own home in California. “I’d like to speak with Mr. Pettibone, please.”
    “May I ask who’s calling,” said a woman whose voice Cara didn’t recognize.
    “Maxine. This is a personal call.”
    She waited, wondering what was taking so long, then realized the staff didn’t consider this call important. Mr. Pettibone probably didn’t either, because he didn’t recognize the name. After several minutes, he came on the line.
    “Mr. Pettibone, this is Cara Andrews. Please don’t let anyone know it’s me calling. I have a big favor to ask of you, but I don’t want anyone to know what you’re doing.”
    “Yes, of course.”
    Cara paced on Nick’s deck while she talked. “I’d like a list of the names of the staff. I want to know how long they’ve been there, how much money they make, and what their primary duties are. Not everything, just the high points.”
    “When?”
    “I’ll be there one day next week. I’m trusting you not to speak of this to anyone—not the staff or the trustees, and especially not my husband. Trust no one, Mr. Pettibone.”
    “Yes, of course.”
    “I’ll let you know when I’m coming. I’ll use the name Maxine when I call.”
    “You want it all, then?”
    “Everyone who works on the grounds or in the house, including security. Will you do that for me?”
    “Yes, of course.”
    “Thank you, Mr. Pettibone. I can always count on you.” She closed her phone, knowing she’d just taken a giant step toward taking control of her life.
    Nick stood in the doorway. “What the hell was that about?”
    “Mr. Pettibone runs my house.” She walked inside with Nick and sat at the bar while he filled two bowls with ice cream.
    “You were right, Nick. I should know what those people do in my home.”
    Pointing her spoon at the smug, self-satisfied smile on his face, Cara said, “Don’t gloat. I hate it when people gloat.”
    He scooped a bite of ice cream from her bowl. “Did your husband bring anyone with him, like a secretary or assistant?”
    “Not that I know of. If they’re in the house, Mr. Pettibone will know.”
    “Why don’t you

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