Erika scrabbled in her leather jacket and found her notebook, still there after all these months. She noted down the name of the fiancé, a Giles Osborne, and wrote: Did Andrea run away? She looked at it for a moment, them scrubbed it out ferociously, tearing the paper. She tucked the notebook in the back of her trousers and went to put her ID in the other free pocket, but paused, feeling it in her hand for a moment: its familiar weight, the leather case cover worn into a curve after years resting against her buttock in the back pocket of her trousers.
Erika went to a mirror above a row of sinks, flipped open the leather case and held it out in front of her. The ID photo showed a confident woman, blonde hair swept back, staring into the camera defiantly. The woman looking back at her, holding the ID, was scrawny and pallid. Her short blonde hair stuck up in tufts, and grey was showing at the roots. Erika watched her shaking arm for a moment, then flipped the ID closed.
She would put in a request for a new photo.
Desk Sergeant Woolf was waiting in the corridor when Erika emerged from the women’s locker room. He waddled along beside her, noticing she was a full head taller than him.
‘Here’s your phone; it’s all charged and ready to go,’ he said, handing her a clear plastic bag containing a phone and charger. ‘A car will be ready for you after lunch.’
‘And you’ve nothing with buttons?’ snapped Erika, when she saw a smartphone through the plastic.
‘It’s got an on/off button,’ he snapped back.
‘When my car arrives, could you put this in the boot?’ she said, indicating her suitcase on wheels. She moved past him and through the door of the incident room. Conversation fell quiet when she entered. A short, plump woman approached her,
‘I’m Detective Moss. We’re just trying to sort you an office.’ The woman had wiry red hair, and her face was so splattered with freckles that they grouped together in blotches. She went on, ‘All the info is going up on the boards as it comes in and I’ll have hard copies put in your office when—’
‘A desk is fine,’ said Erika. She went over to the whiteboards, where there was a large map of the Horniman Museum grounds, and underneath, a CCTV image of Andrea.
‘That’s the last known picture of her, taken at London Bridge Station boarding the 8.47pm train to Forest Hill,’ said Moss, following. In the CCTV photo, Andrea was stepping up into the train carriage with a shapely bare leg. Her face was fixed with an angry expression. She was dressed to the nines in a tight leather jacket over a short black dress, wearing pink high heels and carrying a matching clutch bag.
‘She was alone when she boarded the train?’ asked Erika.
‘Yes, I’ve got the CCTV video here that we took the image from,’ said Moss, grabbing a laptop and coming back over. She balanced it on a pile of files and maximised a video window. They watched the time-lapse video, a view of the train platform taken side-on. Andrea walked across into shot and into the train carriage. It only lasted a few seconds, so Moss placed it on a loop.
‘She looks really pissed off,’ said Erika.
‘Yeah. Like she’s off to give someone a piece of her mind,’ agreed Moss.
‘Where was her fiancé?’
‘He’s got a watertight alibi, he was at an event in Central London.’
Several more times, they watched Andrea move across the platform and into the train. She was the only person in the video; the rest of the platform was empty.
‘This is our Skipper, Sergeant Crane,’ said Moss, indicating a young guy with close-cropped blond hair who was simultaneously on the phone, searching through files and shoving a whole Mars bar in his mouth. He attempted to swallow as much of it as he could. Out of the corner of her eye, Erika saw Sparks put the phone down. He pulled on his coat and made for the door.
‘Where are you going?’ she asked. Sparks stopped and turned.
‘Forensics just gave us the okay to go down to the crime scene. We need a fast ID, in case you’d forgotten, Ma’am?’
‘I’d like you to stay here, Sparks. Detective Moss, you’re with me today – and you, what’s your name?’ she asked a tall, handsome black officer who was taking a call at a desk nearby.
‘Detective Peterson,’ he said covering the phone.
‘Okay, Detective Peterson. You’re with me too.’
‘What am I supposed to do then, just sit here twiddling my thumbs?’ demanded Sparks.
‘No. I need access to all CCTV covering the Horniman Museum and surrounding streets,’
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