As he secures the clasp around my neck, he seals it with a soft kiss to my nape. “Let’s go to bed.”
I wake up naked and alone. On Mateo’s pillow, a new cell phone, a black credit card, and a note.
I sink back into the secure softness of his bed, smiling to myself. The necklace I’d already forgotten about moves around my neck, and I reach up to touch it. It may have been a mistake to take it, but the alternative was to reject him. Considering I can’t even leave if I want to, rejecting him seems like a bad call.
Besides, I never would betray him. Once Antonio Castellanos is taken care of, I have nothing to worry about. I’d certainly never cheat on him. I can’t imagine any woman not being satisfied with Mateo.
I grab my new phone and scroll through to see what’s on it. He’s already put in my approved contacts—him, Mia, Adrian, Ju, and “home.” Presumably the house line, though I’ve never heard it ring.
Once I haul myself out of bed, I have to creep downstairs in last night’s dress. I way overslept and I’m surprised Maria didn’t wake me. I missed breakfast completely, and by the time I get back to Mateo’s room and get it cleaned, it’s going to be lunch.
Maybe I’ll see if I can get the afternoon off, so I can do the shopping Mateo apparently wants me to do.
I don’t feel like calling, so I text Mia on my way back to my room to ask if she wants to grab lunch with me and help me buy some new dresses.
Only, when I get to my bedroom, Elise is inside boxing up my things.
“Uh… whatcha doin’?” I ask, pausing at the door.
Shrugging, she turns back to her task. “Mateo’s orders.”
“Where am I moving?”
My heart drops at that news item. I grab my phone and scroll back to his name in the contacts, then I tap out, “I’m moving to your bedroom?”
It only takes him a moment to reply, “That’s not a shower pic.”
I roll my eyes, cracking a smile. “Are you busy?”
“Never too busy for a shower pic,” he sends back.
I shake my head, calling him since he obviously isn’t.
“Good morning,” he answers, sounding amused already.
“Good morning. You didn’t tell me I was being moved to your bedroom.”
“I thought it went without saying,” he replied.
“What about Lily? We share a room right now,” I remind him.
“Yeah, we’re going to have to do little rearranging. We can talk about it at dinner.”
“I’m coming to dinner tonight, too?”
“Of course. You’ll come to dinner every night now.”
“Am I not a maid anymore?”
“You’ve been promoted,” he says dryly.
I absently rub my thumb across the death necklace. “I found the black card on your pillow—I take it my promotion comes with a raise?”
“A significant one,” he agrees.
“So… I can do whatever I want?”
“This city is your kingdom,” he states. “I left Adrian home to escort you around today. Just let him know whenever you’re ready to leave.”
I’m a little blown away by my newfound freedom. The first thing I do is locate Ju and let her know I’ll take the girls for the day. Mia finally agrees to my lunch invitation, so I tell Adrian we’re going to leave as soon as I’ve showered, but we need car seats for the kids. No one seems to know how to respond to this initially, but by the time I haul both girls outside to head on our little field trip, everything’s running smoothly.
It feels super weird to be in Mateo’s Escalade with both our girls and without him.
I know I’m supposed to be buying myself things, and I will definitely get to that, but since Lily and Isabella are always cooped up, I let them pick our first stop.
As Mia peruses the lunch menu at the American Girl store, she glances at me across the table. “This is not what I thought you meant by a girls’ day.”
“I’m buying you shoes after this,” I inform her.
Lighting up, she nods and goes back to her menu. “Never mind, this is perfect.”
Isabella puts her new doll on the table. “What do you want to order, Monicella?”
“That’s a name,” I remark.
“And mine’s… Cheeby,” Lily puts in, holding up her new blond doll.
“These girls are never getting personalized pencils,” I state.
“They can’t even write,” Isabella informs me.
“Oh, good, problem solved then.”
Seemingly struck by inspiration, Mia grabs her phone out of her purse and addresses Isabella. “Hey, can I get a selfie with you and your new doll?”
“Sure,” Isabella says, bringing her doll up next to her face and grinning.
She leans in and snaps the picture, then starts texting. Glancing at me between words, she says, “My mom still think I’m her nanny.”
My eyes widen. “You were Isabella’s nanny?”