The Wife Upstairs Page 2

Bear stops to smell another mailbox, but I pull him on, making my way toward my favorite house.

It’s at the end of a dead-end street, set back farther from the road than the others, and it’s one of the few that doesn’t seem to have a steady stream of people going in and out. The yard is just as green as the other lawns in the neighborhood, but shaggier, and the pretty purple bushes that bloom out front have climbed too high, blocking off windows on the first floor.

It’s the biggest house in the neighborhood, rising taller, two massive wings sprouting off either side, two oak trees climbing high on the front lawn. It was clearly older than the other homes in the neighborhood, probably the first house ever built here.

The sameness of Thornfield Estates means that eventually, all the houses blur together. I like that—a beautiful blur is better than the depressing monotony of my part of town—but there’s something about this house, all alone at the end of a cul-de-sac, that draws me back every time.

I step off the sidewalk, and into the center of the road, to get a closer look.

This part of the neighborhood is always so quiet that it doesn’t even occur to me that standing in the street might not be the safest thing to do.

I hear the car before I see it, but even then, I don’t move, and later, I’d look back at that moment and wonder if I somehow knew what was going to happen. If everything in my life had been leading me to that one spot, to that one house.

To him.


Almost all of the cars in Thornfield Estates are the same, some version of luxury SUV. They’re basically movable versions of the houses—notably expensive, bigger than could ever be necessary. I barely notice them anymore, just register them as champagne or midnight-blue tanks that roll through the streets regularly.

The car that comes flying out of the driveway of my favorite house isn’t an SUV, though. It’s a sports car, an older one with a growling engine, and candy-apple red, bright as a wound against the gray day.

Bear barks, dancing on his back legs, and I try to move out of the way, my fingers getting tangled in the leash as the car’s bumper rushes toward us.

The asphalt is slick with rain, and maybe that’s what saves me because as I step back, my foot skids and I fall, landing hard enough to rattle my teeth. My hood drops over my face, so I can’t see anything except army-green vinyl, but I hear the squeal of brakes, then the soft crunch of metal. Bear is barking and barking and barking, moving nervously, and the leather leash bites into my wrist, making me wince.

“Jesus Christ,” I hear a man say, and I finally manage to push the hood back.

The back half of that gorgeous car now rests against one of the fancy streetlights that line the road. He hadn’t been going all that fast, but the car was so lightweight that the metal had crumpled like paper, and my mouth suddenly goes dry, heart pounding heavily in my chest.

Shit, shit, shit.

A car like that is worth more than most people make in a year. It would take me ages at the coffee shop to even afford a down payment on something like that, and now it’s seriously fucked up because I’ve been gaping at this guy’s house from the middle of the street.

The driver’s door is open, and I finally make myself look at the man standing there, one arm slung across the top of the door.

He doesn’t look like the other men I’ve seen in Thornfield Estates. They wear polo shirts and khakis, and even the ones who are young and in good shape have a sort of softness to them. Weak chins or bellies that sag slightly over their expensive leather belts.

There’s nothing weak or sagging in this man. He’s wearing jeans and boots that are meant to look lived-in, but I know are expensive. Everything about him looks expensive, even his rumpled white button-down.

“Are you alright?” he asks, stepping toward me. Even though it’s raining, he’s wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses, and I can see myself reflected in them, the pale oval of my face against the dark green of my hood.

And when he takes off the glasses, hooking them in the collar of his shirt, his eyes are very blue. A trio of wrinkles pop up over the bridge of his nose as he looks down at me.

It had been a long time since anyone looked at me like they were actually worried about me, and that’s almost more attractive than the nice clothes, the gorgeous car, the perfect bone structure.

I nod at him as I push myself to my feet, yanking on Bear’s leash to bring the dog closer.

“Fine,” I tell him. “I shouldn’t have been standing in the street.”

One corner of his mouth kicks up, revealing a dimple in his cheek. “I shouldn’t have been pulling out of the driveway like a bat out of hell.”

He leans down then, giving Bear a quick scratch between the ears. The dog twists into his touch, tongue lolling out.

“I’m guessing you’re the new dog-walker everyone’s so excited about,” the man says, and I clear my throat, cheeks suddenly hot.

“Yeah, I am,” I say, and he keeps watching me, waiting. “Jane,” I blurt out. “That’s … my name is Jane.”

“Jane,” he repeats. “Don’t see many Janes around lately.”

I don’t tell him that it’s not even my real name, but the name of a dead girl I knew in a dead life. My real name is equally boring, but it’s one he might hear more often than Jane.

“I’m Eddie,” he tells me, offering his hand, and I shake it, painfully aware of how clammy my palm must feel and the grit of the road still embedded in the meaty place just below my thumb.

“Don’t see many Eddies around lately, either,” I say, and he laughs at that. It’s a rich, warm sound that makes something at the base of my spine tingle.

And maybe that’s why when he asks if I want to come in for a cup of coffee, I say yes.


Up close, the house is even more impressive than it is from the street. The front door towers over us, curving into an arch. It’s a defining feature in all these houses, these massive doors. At the Reeds’, the bathroom doors are at least eight feet tall, making even the smallest rooms feel grand and important.

Eddie ushers me and Bear inside, and the dog immediately shakes himself, sending droplets of water to the marble floor.

“Bear!” I say sharply, tugging on his collar, but Eddie only shrugs.

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