This is part 4 of ‘Mince Pies and Murder’, if you need to catch up before reading: click here.
Emmeline closes the door to her bedroom and sits on the edge of the bed, examining the pictures of her family pasted onto the bauble. There’s one that isn’t quite right, the picture of her at two years old wearing one of those enormous puffed out skirts that only look at home sitting on top of a toilet roll. It’s the most horrific colour, a sickly peach that borders on the colour of something one might produce after a night of heavy drinking or eating badly cooked food. She’s smiling in the picture, huge gaps between shiny white baby teeth on plain view between her wide open lips. A little boy is pasted beside her, his head slightly above as though he’s stood next to her but is taller. She doesn’t recognise him. Having looked at this picture a number of times it’s clear to her that the picture is meant to be beside hers, but the boy is not one of her relations.
She pulls out the little pile of letters from beneath her pillow and replaces them with the bauble. The letters start of at some degree of friendliness with suggestions of going for coffee, dinner, movie; but they develop quickly into ‘long and passionately secret encounters’, running away together and getting married. Either way, the scrawling green pen tells her, she’d have to leave her job and give herself over to the complete mercy of this new lover. She’d not replied, at first thinking they were a joke, and then living in denial of the existence of a stalker in kind who wanted her submission to his greater power and manhood.
She closes her eyes and pictures each of her memories with Patrick in turn. He’d been friendly when she’d arrived, taken her under his wing and welcomed her to the team. He’d brought her coffee most mornings, and once he’d bought her a minuscule birthday cake when she’d refused to take her 30th as holiday. He’d cooled down a little bit after the promotion, she supposes, but she hadn’t noticed at the time having been so absorbed in her own success. It was probably a mistake, she thinks, opening her eyes and surveying the inside of her room. At least he hasn’t tried to come in yet.
Tucking the letters back under her pillow she walks to the window and looks out, judging the distance to the ground below. Too high. She is uncertain what happens when men this power hungry have the object of desire within their grasp, but it’s doubtful that he’ll let her go now. Possibly not ever. Newspaper headlines flash through her head: Disappearing Detective. Loner Detective Vanishes At Christmas. Murderer On the Loose. In her panic she’d almost forgotten the murder… everyone thought she’d killed that girl! She couldn’t really ask for help in her present state.
She pulls the blind closed and begins fumbling in the bottom of her wardrobe, looking for the floorboard where she hides her passport and a little cash in case of emergency or robbery. Gone. Empty. Dammit. She needs to prove that she hadn’t killed that girl. She’d looked like she was about to go on a date, all preened and in a nice dress, freshly done nails by the look of them. Unless she’d just got back from a date instead. Either way, there was a lover of some kind involved, or someone who’d pretended to be…a detective perhaps who was hoping to get his partner all to himself? Paranoia, has to be.
Second hiding place. A tiny box on the top shelf of her wardrobe, so short that you couldn’t feel it when it was pushed all the way to the back. Bingo. A second mobile phone. She switches it on and crosses the fingers of her left hand, praying it has some juice.She dialls 9-9-9 and hides it in the inside pocket of her jacket just as her partner opens the door without knocking.