I picked up my phone and dialled my baby sister’s number.
Niki Byrne, 39, South Gladstone, QLD.
I’d just got engaged to my partner Steve and couldn’t wait to tell Renee, 25.
She was as excited as I knew she’d be.
“I’m organising your hens night!” she squealed happily.
Even though I was 10 years older than her, we’d always been close.
She was like a big sister to my son Jordan, 11, and Steve’s four boys, always happy to join them on the Xbox or the trampoline.
We’d all been sad when she’d moved four hours away to Kingaroy for a job as a turbine operator a couple of years before.
She earned good money though. I was proud of her. And we kept in constant contact by phone.
For my hens night, she hired a girl to do everyone’s make up, made us dress as fairies with glowing penis headbands, and arranged for a chauffeured Hummer to take us to a strip show.
It was hilarious. And she insisted on paying for it all too.
“That was the best night of my life,” I laughed afterwards, hugging her.
A couple of months later she called to tell me her ex had moved into a unit next to hers.
His name was Glen Duggan and they’d only dated for a few months before they split. I’d never met him.
“Why would he do that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m a bit freaked out about it.”
I had a bad feeling. Who moves next door to their ex? It was weird.
Then he made threats against her.
She was scared and started sleeping with a knife under her pillow for protection.
Her dad, my stepdad John, was a former policeman. With his help she reported the threats but nothing happened.
Whenever I tried to talk to her about it she changed the subject.
It was like she was trying to put it behind her.
She came home for a family engagement party and for a joke we both bought the same purple chiffon-style dress with diamante decorations.
She didn’t get to wear hers though because her luggage was misplaced.
A few weeks afterwards Renee called to say she’d landed a job on the coast.
It meant she’d be closer to us again.
“That’s fantastic,” I said. “I can’t wait.”
The day after her 26th birthday, I called her for a chat. It was after 10pm and she’d just come off a late shift.
We got talking about relationships.
“All I want is what you and Steve have got and what Mum and John have,” she sighed.
“You’ll find someone,” I said.
Just then I heard someone knocking on Renee’s front door really loudly.
“Who’s that? It’s 10.30 at night,” I said.
“I don’t know,” she answered.
“Don’t open it,” I said protectively.
“I’ll just see who it is,” she said.
As she walked to the front door her phone cut out.
About five minutes later she texted me: “I’m going to bed.”
“Who was at the door?” I replied.
“No one,” she wrote back.
The next day I was helping some friends out on a cleaning job when my son Jordan, rang.
“Mum, the police are here,” he said…
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