‘I’m back at work; I’m in London,’ said Erika.
‘I will come. But right now I have to work.’
‘That’s good, love. What work are you doing?’ he asked. Erika felt she couldn’t tell him she was hunting a brutal killer. She wondered if he had seen the press conference on the news.
‘I’m with the Met Police, a new team.’
‘That’s good, lass. Keep yourself busy . . . When you get some holiday, I’d love to see you.’
‘I’d like that.’
‘I go past your house a lot. There’s a young couple renting it. They seem nice, although I haven’t been and knocked on the door or nothing. Not sure how I’d explain who I was.’
‘Edward, everything is in storage. I didn’t throw anything away. We should go through the boxes. I’m sure there are things . . .’
‘Let’s take it one step at a time,’ said Edward.
‘How did you get my new number?’ asked Erika, realising she was on her new phone.
‘I phoned your sister. She said you’d been kipping on her sofa; she gave me your number. I hope that’s okay?’
‘Of course it is. Sorry. It’s just the copper in me, always wanting to work things out . . .’
‘I just want you to know, Erika, that you’re not alone. I know people weren’t kind up here, and you can’t blame most of them, but you lost him too . . .’ Edward’s voice cracked. He went on, ‘I just hate to think of you being alone. You’ve got me, love, for what it’s worth.’
‘Thank you,’ said Erika softly.
‘Well, this will be costing me a fortune, ringing up London, so I’ll be off . . . It’s good to hear your voice, Erika. Don’t be a stranger.’
‘You too – I mean, no, I won’t.’
There was a click and a beep, and he was gone. Erika put her hand on her chest and took a deep breath. A rush of warmth flooded through her and she had to blink back the tears.
Her phone rang again in her hand. She saw it was Moss.
‘Boss. Where are you?’ she said.
‘You’re not gonna believe this. Another body has been discovered. This time in the water at Brockwell Park.’
‘Is there an ID on the victim?’ asked Erika.
‘Yes. It’s Ivy Norris.’
The Brockwell Park and Lido in Dulwich was less than three miles from the Horniman Museum, where they’d discovered Andrea’s body. Erika hurtled past the clock tower, which was lit up and showing it was ten-fifteen. Large drops of rain burst on the windscreen and rapidly became a downpour. Erika flicked on the wipers and leaned forward to see through the whirling water. Two uniformed officers swam into view, standing beside a cordon at the lido entrance. Erika came to a lurching stop, and emerged into the rain, which was roaring as it hit the surrounding parked cars.
‘DCI Foster,’ shouted Erika above the noise and holding up her ID. The officers lifted the tape and she passed through.
The park and lido were popular in the summer for swimming and picnics, but in the darkness of a rain-lashed January night they were bleak and depressing. Moss and Peterson were waved through the police tape just behind Erika, bringing a powerful torch, its beam illuminating their way along a series of concrete paths, past a boarded-up ice-cream hut and a pavilion with its paint peeling away. They emerged into a clearing, unable to make out anything. Thunder rumbled in the distance and lightning lit up the vast open-air swimming pond. Up ahead was the glowing outline of a large white forensics tent. A path of polythene had been marked out along the muddy water’s edge. Three crime scene assistants in white overalls were kneeling in the mud, working fast to take an impression of a set of footprints. A crime scene officer met them at the tent, and they quickly suited up as the rain continued to roar on the canvas.
A bright halogen light shone down on the still form of Ivy Norris. She lay on her back in the mud, amongst a churned up mess of brown, smearing her clothes and body.
‘Please stand on the boxes,’ said a CSI, indicating where a series of platforms had been placed around the body to preserve evidence in the mud underneath.
They approached Ivy’s body, moving from platform to platform until they were at her side. Her greasy hair was pulled back from her yellowing face and her face was frozen in the same wide-eyed fear as Andrea. Her nose had been flattened amongst a mess of clotted blood. She wore the coat and jumper Erika had seen her in a few days previously, but she was naked from the waist down. Her legs were painful to look at: emaciated, with clusters of scars, bruises and needle marks. Her pubic hair was grey and matted.
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