‘Are you?’ snapped Linda fixing them with a stare. Erika took a deep breath.

‘When we spoke to you before, we asked if you had any information that could help us with our enquiries. You failed to mention to us that Andrea had a second phone,’ said Erika.

Linda went back to bunching daffodils.

‘Well?’ said Moss.

‘You didn’t ask me a question. You made a statement,’ said Linda.

‘Okay. Did Andrea have a second phone?’ asked Erika.

‘No. I wasn’t aware she did,’ said Linda.

‘She reported it stolen in June 2014, but kept the handset and bought a pay-as-you go SIM card,’ said Moss.

‘So, what? You’re here on behalf of the insurance company to investigate insurance fraud?’

‘We found your criminal record, Linda. You have quite the rap sheet: assault, shoplifting, credit card fraud, vandalism,’ said Erika.

Linda stopped bunching the daffodils and looked up at them. ‘That was the old me. I’ve found God now,’ she said. ‘I’m a different person. If you look close enough, we all have a past we regret.’

‘So when did you find God?’ asked Moss.

‘I beg your pardon?’ asked Linda.

‘Well, you’re still on probation, and you caused eight thousand pounds’ worth of damage to Giles Osborne’s offices four months ago. Why did you do it?’

‘I was jealous,’ said Linda. ‘Jealous of Andrea, of Giles. She found someone, and as I’m sure you can imagine, I’m still looking.’

‘And what did Andrea and Giles have to say about your harassment?’

‘I apologised, I said it would never happen again and we all made up.’

‘He forgave you for killing his cat too?’ said Moss.

‘I DID NOT KILL HIS CAT!’ cried Linda. ‘I would never do something like that. Cats are the most beautiful, intelligent creatures . . . You can stare into their eyes, and I think they know all the answers . . . If only they could talk.’

Erika shot Moss a look, not to go too far.

Linda’s puddingy face clouded over and she slammed her hand down on the glass table. ‘I didn’t do it. I am not a liar!’

‘Okay, okay,’ said Moss. ‘Can you tell us who this man is in the picture with Andrea?’ She placed the photo of Andrea at the party with the dark-haired man next to the pile of daffodils.

‘I don’t know,’ said Linda, glancing at it.

‘Look at it properly, please, Linda,’ said Moss, holding up the photo in front of her face.

Linda looked at the photo and back at Moss. ‘I told you, I don’t know.’

‘How about this one?’ said Moss, pulling out the picture of Linda with Andrea. ‘This photo was taken of you and Andrea on the same night, at the same bar. He probably took this photo.’

Linda looked at the photo again and seemed to compose herself. ‘You see, officer, your use of the word probably is quite telling. I came to that bar a few minutes before closing for a drink. I’d been working here all evening. When I arrived, Andrea was alone; whoever she’d been there with had gone. She’d waited for me so we could have a drink and a catch-up before the family Christmas events took over. This man may well have been there, but not at the same time as me.’

‘Did Andrea mention him?’

‘Andrea always had a lot of male attention when she went out. I only agreed to meet her if she promised not to go on about boys all evening.’

‘Don’t you like boys?’

‘Boys,’ Linda snorted. ‘You know, two intelligent women can pass an evening without having to talk about men, surely?’

‘What was the name of the bar?’ asked Erika.

‘Um, I think it’s called Contagion.’

‘Who was Andrea there with?’

‘I told you, I don’t know. Andrea had a revolving door of party mates.’

‘Where was Giles?’

‘I would have thought that he’d left by then so he could avoid having to see me.’

‘Because you harassed him, vandalised his offices, and killed his . . .’ finished Moss.

‘How many more times, I did not kill Clara!’ cried Linda. Tears welled up in her eyes. She pulled down a sleeve of the tabby jumper and wiped her eyes. ‘Clara was . . . she was a lovely animal. She would let me hold her. She wouldn’t let many other people, not even Giles.’

‘Then who poisoned her?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Linda, softly. She pulled out a lump of balled tissue paper from the pocket of her jumper and scrubbed at her eyes until they started to look red.

***

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