Many thanks to Jedbeaker for editing this story.
In this story you'll find much more romance than in other Winterfrog stories.
It was the last Friday in June and I, Eric Robertson, had left my job for my four-week summer vacation. On the way home I picked-up my seven year old daughter, Amanda, at my wife's parents. They took care of her during her school summer break until Anita, my wife the past nine years and I began our summer vacations.
This year we had not planned or booked any long holiday trips because Anita had suggested and I had agreed, to do some maintenance work on our house. So we planned to take only short one-day trips, now and then depending on the weather.
Anita left her job at noon so both Amanda and I had great expectations about a nice celebration and family fun when we came home. Anita's blue Renault Clio was parked in our driveway just as expected, but we were surprised when we did not get any reply when Amanda was running around in the house shouting, "Mom, dad and me are home now!"
At first, I thought Anita had gone talking with some of the neighbors at their house. I tried to calm down the worried Amanda by saying, "Mom is only away for a few minutes and will be back soon." But when she realized that Anita hadn't done any shopping or preparation for the summer vacation celebration, even I understood that she was into something that she obviously hadn't known about in the morning.
My second thought was that she was out with her co-workers for some kind of celebration that had been decided that day. What surprised me was that she had not called me or sent me a text message about her new plans. We always used to do that when one of us was expected to come home late for some reason.
Two hours later without any message from Anita, I began to be really worried about the situation and began calling several of her friends and co-workers. But none of them had any further information about Anita to share with me.
At Anita's job they had celebrated the coming summer holidays already during the eleven o'clock coffee break because everybody with a family wanted to hurry straight home after the job. None of her friends knew if Anita had any special plans for the day. I didn't call her parents because if they had known anything, I was sure they would have told me when I was there getting Amanda.
One thing was for sure. Anita had been in our house since she parked her car in the driveway because her car key was hanging from the hook where it lived when not in use. One further confusing thing was that she hadn't left any message on a "Post-It" on the fridge. We always did that if we hadn't talked or left any other kind of message.
Anita and I had a fair marriage, not perfect but at least not worse than average. We met eleven years ago at a party and had been married for nine. I had been faithful during our marriage and there had never been any reason for me to suspect Anita of cheating. No quarrels about financial problems, no health problems and, at least in my opinion, still a good sex life. When talking about sex, Anita had always told me that she was satisfied with her life and promised to tell me if she had suggestions or new expectations of any kind. In most matters we were just like many other Scandinavian middleclass families.
Of course, the hope was for her to come home during the evening and give me a fair explanation about what had happened. But as the time went by my hope began fading away and at three o'clock in the morning I went to bed with the hope that Anita would be in her bed when I woke up in the morning.
But she wasn't.
It was a hard awakening for me to realize that there was a problem, a huge problem indeed. After a few phone calls to Anita's parents and her best friends I had to admit that nobody knew any more than when Amanda and I came home yesterday.
However, Anita's parent's and sister became really worried and rang me at least once a hour during the day even though I had promised to call them if there was something new.
After lunch I even went to the police who asked me to calm down because almost all people missing during the summertime usually return within a few days.
Back home while investigating everything about Anita's absence, strange details began to pop up. Some of Anita's clothes and a suitcase were missing, as well as her laptop computer, her pills and passport. That really confused me a lot. There were still no messages from her, so I decided to search for further clues.
Our file at the Telecom company's website that showed incoming and outgoing calls to our landline gave no clue to what Anita had done. There was nothing of interest at all. The next thing to check was our joint bank account and it didn't give anything. Of course, all information about the bank account in Anita's name only was closed to me just as all the information about her cell phone usage.
Though her passport was gone, I really doubted that she had left the country. Too many small things she used to take with her abroad still remained at home which gave me an idea. If she was somewhere within a close distance, she could just come back to the house and take what she needed when Amanda and I were away somewhere. I couldn't stop Anita from doing that, but it might be possible to get evidence of her visit.
Therefore I went to a big electronics store and bought two video cameras. One was very small for hiding indoors and one was better for outdoor use. The indoor camera was activated by movement and could even record sound. It was placed so that it was impossible to avoid being seen by it, even if somebody went in via the front or back doors. The outdoor camera took pictures of my driveway at a rate of ten pictures per minute so it could be checked daily in a short time.
It was a terrible time for me and for Amanda although I did my best to comfort her by saying that mom would be back soon and would call us as soon as she had time. Though I did my best, it didn't sound very convincing, not even to a seven year old child. My almost sleepless nights were a real hell while thinking about where Anita could be and why she had done this to Amanda and me. A woman might abandon her husband for several reasons but it is very uncommon that a mother leaves her seven year old child without any message or explanation. That is especially true when the woman doesn't have any known problems with health, finances, work or marriage. It didn't matter how much I thought about it, Anita's absence still remained a mystery.
Nothing happened until the next Wednesday when a policewoman named Carolina Person rang me and wanted to see me. I told her, "You name the place and time and I'll be there."
She replied, "In ten minutes at your house." I accepted.
Carolina was a surprisingly pretty woman who looked a few years younger than me with her blond hair in a ponytail, blue jeans and a red top. She greeted Amanda with very friendly small talk and met me with a bright smile on her face, obviously playing "the good cop". She asked me, "Is it okay for you if we use our first names Carolina and Eric?"
I told her, "No objections". But I had serious doubts about if this lovely lady could get anything done about my missing wife. But I decided to be polite and asked her, "Would you like to look around in the house or talk first?"
She preferred talking and I started Amanda's favorite DVD film in the living room while Carolina and I sat down at the kitchen table waiting for the coffee to be ready. She began with information about her plans for the case and then continued with, "In a case like this I'm on your side but only as long as you are telling me the truth. Lie to me and you will be in big trouble; very big trouble, indeed. Can we agree about working with the truth?"
She obviously preferred playing the 'good cop' even though she knew that the husbands in most similar cases are not as innocent as they pretend to be. But as I had nothing to hide, the reply could only be, "Yes, we can agree. I promise to do everything I can do to help you solve this mystery"
After giving honest answers to all her questions she promised to do her best to check if Anita's phone had been in use and if there had been any bank account activity. But due to the summer holidays, she couldn't promise any fast action about these matters for the time being. Carolina had no objections about my video cameras.
After talking with me, Carolina had a short friendly chat with Amanda and at the front door, she looked me right in the eyes and said, "I have my own daughter, the same age and can't understand how anybody can voluntarily abandon a child."
Now I was sure that the police would regard missing Anita to be a higher priority. It was well known that the spouse was the main suspect in similar cases. And it had happened several times that an innocent spouse had been jailed for several months. Innocent or not innocent didn't matter for being suspected. But my co-operation with Carolina ought to keep me free as long as they didn't find anything against me.
.... There is more of this story ...