‘Go on,’ said Erika, and he plunged his hand in. ‘Put pressure on them, time is ticking. I take it you’ve heard about the vanishing barmaid, Kristina?’

The team nodded, chewing on their doughnuts and sipping coffee.

‘What about Andrea’s phone and laptop? Did you pull off anything interesting?’ asked Erika.

‘No. Well, we found most of the photos we’ve already seen on her old Facebook profile, and there are endless games of Candy Crush Saga. She seemed to be obsessed with that game. She appeared to just use her laptop for games and the usual iTunes. The iPhone recovered from the crime scene is virtually empty. No photos or video, and barely any texts.’

Chief Superintendent Marsh poked his head around the door to the incident room. ‘DCI Foster, can I have a word please?’

‘Yes, sir. Moss, Peterson – can you brief everyone on what we found under Andrea’s bed?’ asked Erika. She put the last of her doughnut in her mouth and left the incident room, following Marsh to his office, where she brought him up to speed about the mobile phone box under the bed with the receipt, and the vanishing barmaid from The Glue Pot.

When she had finished, Marsh looked outside the window into the dark night. ‘Just don’t burn your team out. Okay, Foster?’

Marsh seemed a little more relaxed. Erika wondered if it was the newspaper headlines, which had moved focus from the progress the police were making to the tragedy of Andrea’s death. For today, at least, the focus was on a beautiful young girl who had had her life snatched away from her.

‘The press office has done a great job of shaping the news cycle,’ said Marsh, as if following Erika’s thoughts.

‘Is that what you call it these days? Shaping the news cycle?’ asked Erika with a wry grin.

‘Look, there’s even a bit about you,’ he said, reading: ‘“The case is being led by DCI Erika Foster, an experienced officer who successfully brought multiple-murderer Barry Paton to justice. She was also commended for her success in conviction rates for honour killings within Manchester’s Muslim community . . .” And they’ve used a good photo; the one of us at Paton’s trial.’

‘Why didn’t you go the whole hog and give them my address, too?’ snapped Erika. ‘I haven’t had a letter from Barry Paton for a few months. He did send me a letter to congratulate me on having my own husband killed, though.’

There was a silence.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Marsh. ‘I thought you’d be pleased, but I didn’t think. I’m sorry, Erika.’

‘It’s okay, sir. It’s been a long day.’

‘I’ve had HR on to me. They say you still haven’t provided them with an address,’ said Marsh, changing the subject.

‘So you’re now running errands for Human Resources?’

‘You are also required to see a doctor; you had exposure to body fluids last night,’ added Marsh, indicating the now grubby bandage on the back of Erika’s hand. For the first time, she thought back to what Ivy had said, about the little boy being HIV positive. She was shocked by how little she cared.

‘I haven’t had time, sir,’

‘To what? Go to a doctor? Or find a place to live?’

‘I will see a doctor,’ said Erika.

‘So where are you staying?’ asked Marsh. ‘We need to know where to contact you.’

‘You’ve got my mobile . . .’

‘Erika. Where are you staying?’

There was an awkward pause.

‘I’m not staying anywhere, yet.’

‘So what did you do last night?’

‘I worked through.’

‘You are leading a major murder investigation. Pace yourself. This is day two. If you carry on like this, what are you going to be like on day seven?’

‘There won’t be a day seven, not if I have anything to do with it,’ said Erika, defiantly.

Marsh handed her a card. ‘It’s for a drop-in clinic. Also, we’ve got the flat Marcie inherited from her parents. The tenants have just left. It’s close to the station and it would save you going through all the bureaucracy of renting. Come by my house later, if you’re interested. You can get the keys.’

‘Okay, thank you, sir. I’ve got some more work to do here first.’

‘Before nine, if possible. I try to get an early night during the week.’

When Erika came back into the incident room, she was met by PC Singh, who was triumphantly holding a piece of paper.


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