Erika wrote in the margin: Who took this picture?

She barely noticed when the shutters went up on the canteen serving-hatch, and bleary-eyed officers began to file in for breakfast. She read on, fascinated by Andrea’s life.

In 2012, a new friend appeared on the scene, a girl called Barbora Kardosova.

Slovak name?? wrote Erika, in the margin.

Barbora was dark and beautiful like Andrea, and rapidly seemed to become a close friend, even joining the family holiday in 2012 and 2013. In Barbora, Andrea seemed to have found a boy-hunting partner in crime. Although they now sought boys in a more sophisticated way, pictured together with a string of dark-haired hunks in expensive nightclubs, or around equally expensive sun loungers.

Andrea seemed to have made Barbora a genuine friend, posting pictures where they shared downtime, in which Andrea wore no make-up and was much less conscious of the camera. In many ways, Andrea was prettier without her war paint, larking about with a genuine smile on her face. In one picture, the girls posed side-by-side in front of a mirror, wearing oversized pullovers that hung down to their knees. The huge pullovers were old lady-ish. Barbora’s was embroidered with cats chasing balls of wool, while Andrea’s was embroidered with a giant ginger cat reclining in its basket. The phone camera flash was reflected in the top corner of the mirror. Andrea’s sister Linda had commented, ‘Get out of my bedroom you fucking cow!’

Andrea had liked the comment and posted :).

Then, in late 2013, Barbora abruptly vanished without explanation, defriending Andrea. Erika flicked back through the pages to check nothing was missing. Barbora didn’t appear once in a photo after this point. She didn’t so much as ‘like’ a post. Around six months later, in June 2014, Andrea’s Facebook profile was deactivated. There was no explanation, or message to her friends saying she intended to leave Facebook.

Erika shifted her attention to the phone records. In comparison, they were bland and sparse. Crane had annotated the numbers, which consisted of regular calls to Andrea’s fiancé, Giles Osborne; to a local Chinese takeaway on a Saturday; and on the same seven Saturdays leading up to Christmas, phone votes for The X Factor. The rest of the phone calls were to her family, to the florist her mother ran in Kensington, and to her father’s secretary. There were no calls the night she vanished, even though the phone was found with her at the murder scene. The phone records covered eight months, only going back to June 2014.

There was a clattering as a cup was dropped and shattered on the stone floor. Erika looked up, realising that it was now light and the canteen was filling up. She checked her watch and saw that it was ten to nine. Not wanting to be late for the briefing, she gathered up her papers and left. She ran into Superintendent Marsh in the corridor.

‘I read last night’s log,’ he said, raising an eyebrow.

‘Yes, sir. All will be explained. I have a strong lead.’

‘Which is?’

‘I’ll tell you in the briefing,’ she said, as they reached the incident room. When they entered, Erika could see that the whole team had assembled at their desks. They fell silent.

‘Okay. Morning everyone. I’ll start by saying that Sergeant Crane managed to pull a full Facebook history for Andrea, and phone records, which is great, fast work. Andrea was very active on the site, and then last June she deactivated the profile. Also, her phone records only go back to June 2014. Why? Did she change her number?’

‘She met Giles Osborne last June,’ said DCI Sparks.

‘Yes. Now, why would she change her number and deactivate her profile around the same time?’

‘Maybe she was turning over a new leaf. Some guys get jealous if a woman has exes and a history,’ said Singh.

‘She obviously used Facebook to meet blokes, and then she got engaged and didn’t need it any more,’ said Sparks.

‘But her phone records are – well they’re almost too robotic. Are you telling me she met the man of her dreams and her life was complete; she needed no other interactions?’

‘I didn’t say that,’ said Sparks.

‘No, but there’s something fishy about it. She made no calls the night she vanished. Let’s dig around. Find her old phone and pull the records, and see if she had a second phone we don’t know about? Also, find out everything you can about a girl called Barbora Kardosova, pronounced “kardosh-ova”. She was a very close friend of Andrea between 2012 and 2013 and then she vanished. Did they fall out? Where is she now? Can we talk to her? Check her out. Find her. And also, any old boyfriends. Andrea wasn’t short of male attention; see what you can dig up.’

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