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‘This is term time. You’ve taken them out of school to come to London in late October? Come on Lenka. And where is Marek?’

‘Marek, um…’ She took another drag of her cigarette and her eyes began to fill up. ‘Marek has had a bit of trouble, with business.’

‘His business being organised crime.’

‘Don’t say that!’

‘What do you want me to say? Mafia? Or are we just going to pretend that he runs the most lucrative ice cream shop in Eastern Europe?’

‘It’s a real business, Erika.’

‘I know it is. And why couldn’t you just both be content with that?’

‘You know what life is like back home. You left all those years ago and you never came back.’

‘Where is Marek?’

‘He’s gone away.’


‘To the High Tatras. One of the local guys thinks Marek has been stealing from him.’

‘Local mafia guys?’ Lenka nodded. ‘And has he?’

‘I don’t know… he doesn’t tell me anything. Last week he made me change the SIM card in my phone. This morning he told me I had to go, leave until things have calmed down.’ She was now crying, tears pouring down her face.

‘Oh, I’m sorry… come here…’ Erika put her arms around Lenka as she sobbed. ‘You can stay here, no worries. You’ll be safe and we’ll sort something out.’

‘Thank you,’ said Lenka.


* * *


A little while later they were lying side by side in Erika’s bed. Jacob and Karolina were fast asleep in the living room. Erika lay against the window, so that Lenka could have the baby beside her on the floor.

‘That guy earlier is a colleague. Peterson, James is his first name. I was going to invite him in for coffee…’

‘Just coffee?’ asked Lenka.

‘Yes. Maybe… I don’t know.’

‘He’s handsome.’

‘I know, but it isn’t that, isn’t just that. I wanted to wake up with someone, not be alone every morning, but I had a few drinks and I’m glad you were here. It would have been stupid to jump into bed with him. We have to work together.’

‘You worked with Mark.’

‘That was different, we got together before we joined the force. And we were husband and wife when we started out as police constables, everyone just took it as a given… Now I’m in charge of a murder investigation. I have to lead people. I don’t want to be doing first dates and one night stands with one of my team.’

‘I miss Mark,’ said Lenka. ‘He was a good man. The best.’

‘He was,’ said Erika. She wiped tears away with the back of her hand.

‘I don’t think Marek is a good man,’ said Lenka.

‘He loves you, and the kids. He looks after you. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation, and you’ve got to make the best of it.’

‘Maybe, me coming here is a good thing. You won’t be alone. You get to wake up next to me tomorrow morning,’ said Lenka.

‘Trust you to turn things around to your favour,’ laughed Erika. She turned and looked at her sister in the darkness. They looked alike in many ways, but Lenka was more daring with what she wore, she always had on tons of makeup and she’d kept her hair long whereas Erika’s was cropped short.

‘What’s the case you’re working on?’

Erika quickly told her all about the case, and Jessica Collins.

‘Karolina’s the same age. I couldn’t imagine it if she was abducted,’ said Lenka. It hung in the air, and it took a long time before Erika could go to sleep.






The rain continued to fall on Manor Mount. The water coursed down drainpipes, and alongside the kerb, gathering speed as it moved down the steep hill. There was a hollow echo as it poured into the drains, and it hit parked cars, and the plastic domes of the rubbish bins with a rattle.

Gerry stood in the shadows across the road, sheltering under a large tree and the scaffolding of a half-built house. A long thick wax jacket covered his large muscular frame, and the hood was up casting his face further in shadow.

He’d been prowling the area on foot earlier in the evening, a plan forming. It had been easy to find her address online from the electoral register. There was only one Erika Foster who spelt her name with a ‘k’. He had to get in and out of her flat quickly. He now had Amanda Baker under surveillance, and DI Crawford was feeding much of the important information about the case back to her, but Gerry could read people, and Crawford was an idiot, and not in DCI Foster’s trusted circle.

He now had access to her phone. The text message hadn’t raised alarm bells, it had been a stroke of luck that her sister had left those voicemails from a withheld number, but he needed her landline and he needed to hear if she talked to anyone at home.

As Gerry approached the block of flats, he’d seen a tall black guy outside getting into a cab. Moments after it drove away, he’d been rewarded with a glimpse of the detective when she came running out of the building, a pained expression on her face, searching for someone. Then she saw the cab just turning the corner at the bottom of the hill and her shoulders had sagged. She’d stayed there for a moment, her smooth pale face turned up to the heavens, eyes closed.

Gerry had felt the first stirrings of an erection. The pain on her face, the smooth skin and those red lips parted in pain… the rain was heavy and the blouse she wore rapidly became slick to her skin. Her breasts were small but pert.

He closed his eyes and focused. When he’s opened them she had moved back down the drive and was opening the door to the communal entrance.

He’d stayed standing under the scaffolding, watching as until lights had gone out in her downstairs flat. He liked it, the dark, the sound of the rain in the empty street, the feeling of being hidden, hiding.

He then turned and walked off into the rain.






When Erika woke, it was still dark outside, and took a moment to find her bearings when she saw Lenka was already up, pacing the small bedroom. She rocked Eva in her arms, who was making little clucking crying noises.

‘What time is it?’