She closed her eyes and drifted off.
When she woke again it was dark, and Marsh was sitting beside her bed. He wore a smart shirt and his leather jacket. The pain was starting to encroach: her face, her legs, her arm. She also felt closer to her emotions, to the fear. The memories. That she thought she was going to die. The burning in her lungs when she hadn’t been able to hold her breath any more, and she’d pulled in water . . . The dead girl in the back of the car with her, and then the girl’s blurred face when the car had submerged, her dark hair spreading out in a halo around her head.
‘You’re going to be okay,’ said Marsh, reaching over and gently taking Erika’s right hand. She noticed her left was bandaged, and that she could only hear on one side – the opposite side to where Marsh was sitting.
‘You’ve had an operation. You’ve got a pin in one of your legs, and a fractured cheek . . .’ Marsh tailed off. He was clutching a bunch of grapes on his lap. It was almost comical. ‘You’ll make a full recovery . . . I’ve put a card on your bedside table. Everyone at the station has signed it . . . You did well, Erika. I’m proud of you.’
Erika tried to say something. On her third attempt, she managed it: ‘David?’
‘They arrested him at Ebbsfleet. He’s in custody, along with his father, Giles Osborne and Igor Kucerov. Isaac went back through the forensic evidence and has found a match to some small hair fibres found on Mirka Bratova, the second victim. They match David’s DNA. And we have Linda’s testimony, and forensics are all over the car. They pulled it out of the quarry with – with the girl inside . . .’
Marsh smiled awkwardly. He reached out and took Erika’s hand. ‘Anyway, there’s plenty of time to tell you everything. What I really wanted to say is that I’m here if you need anything. And I’m here as a friend . . . Marcie sends her love, and she went out and got you some toiletries. I’ve put them in your locker.’
Erika tried to smile, but the pain was becoming sharp and angry. A nurse came in and checked Erika’s chart. She went to the drip and pressed a button.
‘Peterson . . . I want to thank Peterson,’ said Erika.
There was a beep, and Erika felt a coldness trickle through her hand. Marsh and the hospital room blurred to a pain-free whiteness.
Erika breathed deeply, feeling the clean air fill her lungs. Next to her, on the wooden bench, Edward did the same. It was a comfortable silence, as they stared out at the moors, which spread away in greens and browns. Clouds hung heavy in the distance, twirling into a knot of blue-black, which was heading their way.
‘There’s a storm brewing,’ said Edward.
‘Just a minute longer . . . I love it here. Even the grass is greener up north,’ said Erika.
Edward laughed beside her. ‘Is that a metaphor, lass?’
‘No. It really is greener.’ She grinned. She pulled her eyes away from the beautiful view to Edward, who sat next to her, swaddled in his thick winter coat. A thin gravel path separated Mark’s headstone from the bench where they sat.
‘I’m finding it easier to come here now,’ said Edward. ‘Once you get over being confronted with those letters in gold, his date of birth and the date when he, you know . . . I come here a lot and I talk to him.’
Erika started to cry again. ‘I don’t know where to start; what to say to him,’ she sobbed, searching her coat for a tissue.
‘Just start,’ said Edward, handing her a little pack of tissues. He tilted her face up to his. Her hair was starting to grow back at the patch on the side where she’d had a long row of stitches.
‘Okay,’ she said, pulling out a tissue and wiping her face.
‘Tell you what, I’ll nip back, put the kettle on. You just talk. Course, you’ll feel like a lunatic at first, but there’s no one about . . .’
He patted Erika on the shoulder and started off down the path. She watched as he walked away. He turned and smiled, before picking his way cautiously through the graves and down to the village. She noticed how similar his gait and his movements were to Mark’s. She turned back to the grave.
‘So, I solved five murders . . . And I narrowly escaped the murderer, twice,’ she said. ‘But, that’s not what I came up here to tell you . . .’
Her phone rang in her pocket. She pulled it out. It was Moss.
‘Hello, boss. I thought, it’s been a couple of months, and I’d give you a call . . .’
‘Hello,’ said Erika.
‘Is it a bad time?’
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