Caroline, The Missing Person

Caroline, The Missing Person

Rated 'PG'

By: Jana~

~~Disclaimer~~

*****~*****

--The day seemed like any other when Richard arrived at work that Monday morning, and on time for a change. He hung up his coat as he did before work every week day, then headed for the coffee maker...

"Oh great... no coffee..." Richard complained to himself... "Hey! Caroline! You want me to make the coffee?" he called out to the upstairs.

It was more of a rhetorical question, so he started making the coffee without waiting for a response.

"Caroline..." he called again, this time expecting an answer. Getting none, he walked over to the stairs that led to her bedroom and stood on the bottom step. Reluctant to go up, he called again...

"Caroline?"

It was more of a question now. Why wasn't she answering him? It wasn't like her to over sleep. Hesitantly, Richard climbed the stairs and knocked on her door. Because it wasn't shut all the way, his knocking caused it to swing open a bit...

"Caroline?"

He walked into the bedroom, realizing immediately that she wasn't there. Her bed was made and he guessed that she had been gone for a while... her perfume wasn't strong like she had been there recently... it was very faint. Richard walked back downstairs and looked everywhere for a note. No note.

*Maybe she's at Annie's...* he thought to himself. Or if she wasn't, Annie probably knew where she was... so he went across the hall to ask...

--"What?" Annie asked, answering the door looking tired and disheveled...

"Sorry to pull you away from WHOM-ever you were doing..." he quipped... "But, I was wondering if you've talked to Caroline this morning..."

Annie glared at him for his little sarcastic wisecrack, then shook her head...

"No, I haven't seen Caroline since Saturday. Why?"

"She's not home... and she didn't leave a note..."

"Well, she probably took a quick trip to the store. Maybe she thought she'd be back before you came in to work..."

"Yeah... maybe. But, something doesn't seem quite right..."

"Why? What?" Annie was more humoring him than anything, fairly uninterested in what he had to say.

"Her perfume... it wasn't strong. It was real faint... like she hasn't been there for a while..."

"Her perfume was faint?" Annie asked with an amused tone... "Talk about being in love..."

"Would you PLEASE stop saying that?! I'm NOT in love with Caroline!"

"No... you're not in love..." she seemed to get serious... "You just have 'strong, strong feelings' for her!" she teased, then laughed and shut the door in his face. Richard scowled and walked back into Caroline's apartment.

--He started working on whatever he could find to work on, but without her instruction, there was only so much he could do. Hours went by and there was still no sign of, or word from her. Richard was getting more and more worried as the day dragged on.

When Annie entered the loft some hours later, and Richard told her Caroline was still not back, she became worried as well...

"I think we should call the police..." Annie suggested.

"Already did. They said she has to be missing for 24 hours before they can file a missing persons report."

"The last time anyone saw her was MORE than 24 hours ago! I'm calling!"

*****~*****

--"Ok, Mr. Karinsky... you say you left on Friday night and she was here..." the policeman asked Richard...

"Right..."

"And she never mentioned anything about going anywhere..."

"Also right..." Richard was annoyed by the officer's questions, but his concern for Caroline was foremost on his mind. If answering his redundant questions could help find her, he was willing to be inconvenienced.

"And then when you got here this morning, she wasn't here..." The officer could tell Richard was annoyed, and thought it odd.

"Correct... and she didn't leave a note, which is not like her..."

"Ok... now, Ms. Spadaro... the last time you saw Ms. Duffy was Saturday, late afternoon..." the officer turned his attention to Annie...

"Right..."

"She didn't say anything to you about going anywhere?"

"No... she didn't..."

"Ok... does anything seem wrong here? Like, does anything seem stolen?"

"No... I don't see anything out of the ordinary... except..."

"Except?"

"Well, her coat is here. If she left to go somewhere... she would have taken her coat..."

"Ok." the officer jotted that down... "Does Ms. Duffy have any enemies that you know of?"

"No... she's well liked..." Annie couldn't imagine anyone disliking her...

"What about boyfriends?"

"She doesn't have one at the moment..."

"What about ex-boyfriends?"

"Well... Joe..."

"Joe...?"

"Joe DeStefano. He's a veterinarian..." Annie informed

"Did they break up on good terms?"

"He cheated on her..." Richard interjected...

"What about perspective boyfriends? Anyone trying to date her?" the officer asked both of them...

Annie and Richard exchanged looks. Richard knew what she was thinking, and the look on his face told her to tread carefully. She shook her head...

"No... I don't think so..."

The policeman could tell she was holding something back.

"Ok, well, if you think of anything else, give us a call..." he said as he headed for the door...

"What? That's it?" Richard asked, his shock obvious.

"Well, sir, usually the missing person turns up on their own. We have your list of her friends. We'll talk to the people in the building and the people on this list. If, after a while she doesn't show up or we can't find her... we'll send the file to NCIC. They'll take the case from there and search for her nationally."

*****~*****

--After two days with no sign of her, Richard and Annie were beside themselves with worry... and they weren't the only ones. The police started to suspect foul play. The officers paid Annie another visit...

"Look, Ms. Spadaro... if you are holding something back, you could be looking at jail time for hindering an investigation..." the officer warned.

"I'm not holding something back..." Annie tried to sound convincing, but they knew she was hiding something.

"You know, whatever it is, we'll find out sooner or later..."

"Look, it's nothing... ok?"

"Let us be the judge of that..."

"It's just... Richard..."

"Karinsky? The assistant?"

"Yeah... he... kinda... has a thing for Caroline. BUT he would NEVER do anything to hurt her!"

"What are Ms. Duffy's feelings towards him?"

"I don't know. She likes him... but... I don't know. Beyond that I don't know..."

"Does she know about his feelings for her?"

"I don't think so..."

Annie didn't want to tell them about Richard's feelings for Caroline, but she didn't feel like she had any choice. She didn't tell them about the love letter though. She knew Richard couldn't have had anything to do with Caroline's disappearance, and she didn't want the police officers to get the wrong idea. Still, if she didn't tell them what they wanted to know, she could've been in a lot of legal trouble. She hoped she didn't just start something with her admission about his feelings... but she was afraid she had... and she was right...

*****~*****

The police did some investigating and found out information that gave them the legal right to get a search warrant for Caroline's loft. They couldn't find any signs of foul play at first... till they tested for blood with luminol. Luminol is a chemical, that when used with a certain type light, will show where blood has been even after it has been washed up. When no blood can be found just by looking, luminol testing is used. They found what was described as a 'fair amount' of blood in the kitchen sink with the luminol test, and that, along with other information, gave the police what they needed for an arrest.

*****~*****

--Richard was pacing the floor of his apartment like a caged animal. He was trying to get his mind off Caroline... an impossible task, but he had to do something or he felt he would go mad. He started to paint, but wasn't at it for very long when the door to his apartment was literally kicked open.

--The police entered and immediately threw Richard to the ground, handcuffing him.

"What are you doing!?" Richard shouted as his face was pushed to the floor...

"Richard Karinsky, you are under arrest in connection with the disappearance of Caroline Duffy. You have the right to remain silent. If you give up this right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you want or cannot afford one, one will be provided to you by the courts..."

They finished reading him his Miranda rights and he was taken down to the police station while officers searched his apartment.

*****~*****

--At first, Richard was eager to talk to the police officers. He just wanted to get everything cleared up. The thought of him doing anything to hurt Caroline was preposterous... and he told the officers that...

"We understand why you would SAY that Mr. Karinsky... but do you want to know what we see here?" the officer asked rhetorically... "We see a man in love with his employer. A man that maybe... admitted his feelings to his boss. And maybe he got shot down... she didn't feel the same..."

"What?!"

"That's right... we know all about your feelings for Ms. Duffy..."

"How...??" Richard wondered out loud... "Annie..." he said quietly to himself.

"Then we do some searching. Turns out, you're listed as one of the largest beneficiaries in Ms. Duffy's will."

"What? You're kidding, right?"

"You're also listed on her employer/employee company insurance policy... if anything happens to her, you are entitled to $100,000.00!"

"I didn't know that!"

"Of course you didn't, Mr. Karinsky..." the officer patronized Richard... "And we found your finger prints all over the victims apartment..." he added.

"Of course you did! I've worked there for... forever!"

Richard was beyond exasperated now. The police think he did something to Caroline for financial gain. Richard rested his head in his hand and slumped over, sighing deeply...

"Then, we found blood in the kitchen sink..."

Richard's head shot up and he looked at the officer, his concern apparent...

"Blood? Oh my God! Caroline is hurt? How much blood?" Richard's voice edged panic...

"Enough..." the officer stated simply...

"Enough? Define 'enough'..."

"Look... Richard..."

"Richard? Oh, we're on a first name basis now?" Richard asked sarcastically...

"If you tell us what happened, we can make this easier on everyone. What happened? You told her you were in love with her and she shot you down? So you fought maybe? You hurt her on accident maybe? Then maybe you panicked..."

"I want that lawyer now. And don't I get a phone call or something?"

*****~*****

--Richard didn't know who else to call, so he called Annie...

"Annie... it's Richard. I need your help..."

"With what?" Annie asked, sounding a bit amazed... it wasn't like Richard to ask for her help...

"I've been arrested Annie. The police think I did something to Caroline..."

"Oh my God..."

"I didn't know who else to call..."

"Ok, I dated this guy who is a lawyer... he owes me a favor..."

"I bet..." Richard quipped sarcastically.

"Do you want my help or not?" Annie didn't appreciate his humor...

"Yes. I'm sorry..."

"Ok then..." Annie huffed... "I'll be there as soon as I can..."

*****~*****

--She called the lawyer she had dated, and the two of them headed for the police station.

"Why did you tell them about my feelings for Caroline?" Richard asked Annie, he sounded exhausted and frustrated...

"They didn't give me a lot of choice! They said I could be facing legal trouble if I was holding something back! I had to tell them!"

"Yeah..."

"Richard, I am so sorry..." Annie apologized...

"It's ok Annie, you didn't know they would do this. Thanks for bringing me a lawyer..."

"Well, Richard, let's start from the beginning..." the lawyer said as he pulled out a legal pad and a pen from his briefcase.

--Richard told the lawyer everything...

"I didn't do anything to her. I could never hurt her..." Richard was choked up, and Annie could tell...

"Well, first of all... all they have is circumstantial evidence. They don't even have a body..."

Richard winced at the lawyer's words... "Oh God..."

Just the thought of Caroline being hurt was making Richard physically ill.

"Caroline's fine Richard..." Annie assured him... "She's somewhere... we'll find her..."

Annie wasn't convinced of that, but thinking about the alternative was too frightening.

"The next step is getting you released on bail..." the lawyer added...


*****~*****

--The next day they were in a court room in front of a judge. The lawyer began to tear apart all the so-called evidence the prosecutors had...

"My clients finger prints are in Ms. Duffy's apartment because he works there, the blood they found with luminol could've been there for weeks or even months, my client had no knowledge of being ONE of the beneficiaries in Ms. Duffy's will, nor did he know about the insurance policy. Furthermore, both the will and the insurance policy stipulates that a 'body' be identified and autopsied before any monies or property is to be given. Why would anyone kill someone they truly loved for the money, then hide the body so he couldn't get the money?" the lawyer argued... "There is no real evidence that a crime has even been committed. We ask that bail be waived and my client be released on his own recognizance."

The prosecutor argued that the serious nature of the crime warranted a large bail be set, and informed the court of his quick and hasty trip to Paris he had taken less then a year ago, suggesting that he was a 'flight risk'. The judge agreed and bail was set at $50,000... an amount too high for Richard to post, so he had to stay in jail.


*****~*****

--Richard was out of his element, and it was obvious. He tried to keep to himself, but with the close quarters, that was easier said than done.

"Hey! New guy! What you in for?" Richard's cell-mate asked, his lack of intelligence fairly obvious.

Richard just casually looked up at him and without batting an eye replied... "I killed a man just to watch him die..."

The cell-mate just looked at him a moment, as if stunned or confused, then smiled...

"Yeah, that's fun... huh?"

Richard's eyes got wide from shock and nervousness, but he managed a slight smile. He then picked up a magazine and pretended to start reading it, hoping to avoid further conversation.

*****~*****

--Annie was terrified and panic-stricken. Her best friend had been missing for almost a week and Richard was in jail, suspected of being involved. At a loss for what to do next, and desperate for someone to talk to, she called Del and asked him to come over. When there was a knock at the door, she just assumed it was him...

She flung the door open, and her eyes bulged and her jaw dropped in shock at who she saw standing at her door...

"Hey, Annie... why does my loft look like a tornado has been through it?" Caroline asked, not exactly noticing her friends dumfounded expression at first, but within a moment, she did... "What? What's wrong?"

Annie just made an odd sound and shook her head...

"Where have you been?!" she asked finally, almost sounding angry.

"Didn't you get my note?"

"No! What note?! Where?!"

"I left it on the kitchen counter..." Caroline stated as she started to walk back into her apartment, Annie close behind. "Right here is where I left it..." she informed, pointing at the counter near the sink.

"We couldn't find any note! Even the police couldn't find a note! And they tore this place apart!"

"The police? Why were the police here?"

"Because we didn't know what had happened to you! We were concerned!" Annie snapped, then her expression quickly went to one of sadness, mixed with relief. She reached out and hugged her tightly... "The police were thinking you might be dead..."

"Dead? Oh my God! No wonder you're so upset! What about Richard? Does he think I'm dead? Is he ok? Where is he?"

Annie had almost forgotten about Richard for a moment...

"Oh my God, Caroline... Richie is in jail! They think HE had something to do with your disappearance!"

"He's in jail?! You're kidding! Why would they think that?!" Caroline asked as she headed for the door, dragging Annie with her...

"I'll explain it on the way..."


*****~*****

--Caroline explained everything to the officers, and after providing proof of who she was, they started the paperwork to release Richard.

"Can I go see him? While you do the paperwork?" Caroline asked the officer.

He nodded and made a quick call, arranging for Caroline and Richard to have an interrogation room all to themselves to talk in.

--Richard was not told where he was being taken, the officer just silently escorted him to the room.

"You can't just tell me where you're taking me?" Richard asked as they approached the room. The officer said nothing. Richard sighed and shook his head, irritated by the officer's actions.

The officer opened the door and Richard absently looked inside the room. His mouth dropped open and he audibly gasped...

"Caroline?"

Caroline smiled, taking one small step in his direction. Richard walked inside and the officer closed the door. He resisted the urge to run up to her and embrace her...

"I can't believe-- We thought-- They said-- Where were you?" Richard stuttered, a million questions fighting to get out at the same time.

"Cuba..." Caroline replied.

"Cuba?! What's in Cuba?"

"My brother. He went to Cuba to help out at this medical clinic and there was some trouble... and he needed money... and his birth certificate-- Well, it's a long story..."

"Why didn't you leave a note? Why didn't you tell your parents? They're worried sick!"

"I did leave a note! I don't know what happened to it. I called my parents while in the cab on the way here... after Annie explained everything to me. My brother didn't want them to know what was going on. He didn't want them to worry..."

"Everything?" Richard asked, referring to the statement about Annie, not even really hearing the last 2 sentences. Had Annie told her about his feelings for her? Did she explain why he was in jail? Because the police had found out about his feelings for Caroline and assumed the worst...

"Yeah..." Caroline answered, being careful not to reveal too much in her tone of voice. She knew everything. She knew why the police suspected Richard of foul play, she even knew about the letter he had written all those months back. She knew this wasn't the time to discuss all that though, so she was cautious about saying too much.

Richard just looked at her for a moment... trying to determine if she had any knowledge about his love for her. He couldn't tell. Frustrated, he hung his head...

"What's wrong?" Caroline asked.

"I was worried. They thought you might be dead..."

"I know. I'm sorry for making everyone worry..."

"They said they found blood in the kitchen sink..."

"Blood? I don't-- Oh! I cut myself on Salty's can of cat food shortly before Chris called..."

"And your coat..." Richard stated softly...

"What about it?"

"Why didn't you take it with you?"

"I just... forgot it. I was worried about Chris..."

"They said it was a sign that you were taken against your will..."

Caroline could hear the waver in his voice... the anguish...

"I really did leave a note..."

Richard just nodded.

"They're doing all the paperwork right now, so that they can release you..."

"Ok..."

"I really am sorry for making you worry..."

"I know. I'm just glad you're ok..." Richard stated softly... "You have no idea how glad..."

Caroline smiled to herself, then approached him slowly. She touched his shoulder and he looked up at her. His eyes showed many emotions, and Caroline could see each one of them... love, concern, fear, relief, nervousness... just to name a few. She smiled and put her arms around him, holding him tightly. He melted into her warm embrace, clutching onto her desperately.

"Richard?" Caroline asked, trying to get his attention while still locked in their embrace...

"Yeah?"

"Since you didn't get my note... can I assume that you didn't get any work done?"

Richard pulled back and glared at her jokingly...

"I was a little busy being thrown in jail..." he quipped. She smiled and reached out to touch his face gently...

"I'm really sorry for all you've been through..."

Richard could see something in her eyes when she looked at him. Love? Pity? No, it wasn't pity... but it couldn't be love. Fate wasn't that kind to him. He placed his hand over hers, and Caroline could feel him trembling. She smiled and leaned into him, kissing him tenderly on the lips.

Richard just stood silent, unsure of what that meant... of why she kissed him...

"Why...?" he asked, barely above a whisper.

"Why what?"

"Why did you kiss me?"

Caroline opened her mouth to answer when suddenly...

"Ok Mr. Karinsky... you're free to go!" he police officer announced cheerfully, flinging the door open abruptly. Richard and Caroline, startled by his entrance jumped back away from each other...

"Uh... thank you." Richard said, trying to regain his composure.

Richard and Caroline looked at each other for a moment, their eyes expressing what their voices couldn't. He smiled a small, nervous smile, then gestured towards the door...

"Shall we?" he asked Caroline. She patted his back as they turned and headed for the door...

"Yes, we shall..."

THE END