She offers me a drink, “yes please,” I responded.
“What would you like; I’ve got wine: red or white, a beer or a soft drink.”
“Erm, I’ll have a beer thank you.”
Caroline walks to the kitchen and I sat looking around the room at her style of furniture and ornaments; she didn’t seem to have many family pictures although there was one with her and what looked like an older lady. The place was immaculate, I could tell she was house proud and everything seemed to have its place.
Caroline came back in and handed me a beer, she sat next to me on the settee with her glass of wine, I asked her for a coaster as I knew this was not the type of place to put your drink anywhere.
We spent the evening talking about what we had in common, whether she had kids, pets, brothers, and sisters.
She told me she had no siblings but she did have a dog, we spent the rest of the evening talking about what we wanted out of life.
I had so many beers I kept going to the toilet, she asked me to be quiet when going to the toilet as she didn’t want the dog to start which was annoying because she constantly had the radio on loud.
On the way back from the toilet I glimpsed the time and I had been here 6 hours already. It was time to go home, I asked her if I could leave my car and get a taxi as I had drank more than I had expected, she agreed and so I left and arranged to pick up my car the next morning.
The next morning I woke to my phone ringing, it was Caroline asking if I wanted to come over for lunch, I agreed and told her I’d see her around 1pm.
Months passed and we’d grown too really like each other, we were now in a relationship and I felt comfortable in who she was.
I began to realise that Caroline was a strong, independent woman with not much family but was successful with the cards she had been dealt. I was happy to wait to be intimate with her as I knew this was a long term investment; my family took to her instantly. I hadn’t stayed over at Caroline’s yet but I was looking forward to the day that I did.
My sister and I went over one Sunday to help her put up a chest of draws, I took a few beers because we were going to make a day of it. It was the first time my sister had been to Caroline’s, as she walked in she paused, “Caroline where’s your dog?” At that moment I realised I had always heard the dog but I had never seen him.
“It’s okay Mandy he’s locked in his own room.”
“The dog has his own room?” questioned Mandy.
“Yes, it’s just easier,” Caroline said, “this way he isn’t under everyone’s feet when visitors come, plus it’s difficult to leave him outside as it’s a communal garden”.
“Oh yes of course” said Mandy.
Whilst they were talking I had made my way over to the kitchen and popped open a beer.
“Anyone want one?” I asked.
Mandy said she wanted one and Caroline said she had wine. We spent the day putting up the chest of draws, laughing and joking. Now and again she would close the door behind her so she could take the dog out for a pee.
“What kind of dog does she have?” Mandy asked.
“Do you know M, I’ve got no idea,”
“Don’t you guys go for dog walks and all that crap?”
“Nah, like I said I just hear him scratching and whimpering at the door sometimes.”
“Maybe you need to get a dog so you can do doggie things together,” Mandy joked.
“Shut up and open another beer for me,” I demanded
“MANDDDD,” I shouted, “turn the radio down, she’s always got the radio blasting.”
“’’Kayyyy,” Mandy shouted back.
It got late and Caroline said I could stay over but I had work the next day and as much as I wanted to I knew traffic would be hell in the morning. We had a long snog at the door with my sister shouting “Come on, put her down or get a room!”
A few days later I was running late for work, which I knew would happen. I arrived at work when Dave comes running up to me, “I think you need to go in the meeting room mate,” he said with a concerned look on his face.
“Why what’s up?” I said confused.
“Dunno mate, they wouldn’t say.”
I walked into the meeting room curious to what was going on, there were two police officers in there waiting for me, they asked me to confirm my name and address at which time I was repeating. “What’s going on?”
They asked me if I knew a Caroline McGinley
“Yeah, that’s my girlfriend, is she alright?”
The police showed me pictures of a wooden box and asked me if I had ever seen it
“Yeah, I glimpsed it when the dog’s room door was ajar going to the toilet, why?”
“How many times have you visited Caroline in the last 6 months?”
“Probably every other day,” I replied.
“We need you to come down the station.”
“WHAT! What’s going on?”
“An older family member reported child abuse and when investigating we found her child gagged and bound in the wooden box.”