‘Christ, I knew this was a bad idea,’ said Marsh.

‘No. This is good. She’s really connecting with people. This press conference is much more real and genuine than before,’ said Colleen. Marsh gave her a sideways glance, but she was glued to the screen.

The press conference then cut away to a wide shot as Erika, Moss, and Peterson made their way up the steps and back into the station. The television cut back to the BBC News studio, where the news anchor asked the reporter at the scene for his comments.

‘This is a bold move by the police, who after several weeks still have very little in the way of evidence. With a suspect at large, time is running out.’

‘What does he mean, running out?’ scoffed Marsh.

On the screen, the reporter carried on, ‘Sir Simon Douglas-Brown has been faced with a fresh round of newspaper revelations over his links to Saudi Arabian arms deals. An extramarital affair has also been hinted at.’

The camera then cut back to the news anchor,

‘This press conference was a marked departure in the police investigation. Whereas in previous weeks the Met seemed to be dancing to the tune of the Douglas-Brown family, are they are now putting forward a credible line of enquiry, based upon evidence which the family would perhaps rather be kept out of the media?’

The camera cut back to the reporter outside Lewisham Row. ‘I think yes. I believe this press conference may have hurt the relationship between the establishment and the police force, but it may well give the police more credibility and autonomy, which will, I’m sure, help to gain back the support of the public.’

‘There, you see; that’s the angle we’re looking for. I’ll make some calls and get the tape of these comments circulated,’ said Colleen.

Marsh felt a prickle of sweat forming on his brow and he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Pulling it out, he saw it was Simon Douglas-Brown.

55

The past few days had passed in a haze of frustration. To have come so close, and then to have to pull back, had left the figure raging inside. Not only had DCI Foster survived, she’d come back from it stronger.

She’s been put back on the fucking case!

After witnessing the appeal from Lewisham Row, where DCI Foster had publicly linked the murders, the figure was torn. There was an instinct to flee far away, to start again, but there was also an itch which needed to be scratched. The link had been made, but the police had nothing. The figure was sure of this.

So, at six pm, the figure drove up to Paddington Train Station, where the cabs dropped off and picked up passengers, and where the girls hung around . . .

The girl looked confused when the figure pulled up in the car. She was standing a little way down the end of a dirty slip road which was used by cabs to turn around, or by people on the lookout for a good time.

‘I can give you a good time,’ she said, automatically. She was a thin girl with a strong Eastern European accent. She shivered in tight leggings, a spaghetti strap top and a large, ratty, fake fur coat. She had pale pointed features and shoulder length, poker-straight hair. Her eyes were surrounded by glittery eye shadow and she was chewing gum. She leaned back against the skip, waiting for a response.

‘I’m looking for a good time . . . Something a bit different, a bit rarer.’

‘Oh yeah? Well, you know, when stuff is rare, it costs more.’

‘I know your boss,’ said the figure.

She scoffed at him. ‘Yeah, they all say that . . . If you’re looking for a discount, you can fuck off,’ she said, going to turn away.

The figure leaned forward and told her a name. She stopped and came back to the window, dropping all pretence of being alluring. Her eyes were frightened. Fear surrounded by glitter.

‘Did he send you?’ she asked, looking around at the cars roaring past.

‘No. But he knows I put a lot of business his way . . . So he’ll expect me to get what I want.’

The girl narrowed her eyes. Her instincts were good. This might be harder than expected.

‘So, you come here and drop the name of my boss. What do you want me to do?’

‘I like outdoor scenes,’ said the figure.

‘Okay.’

‘And I like it when the girl plays scared . . .’

‘You mean you want a rape fantasy?’ said the girl bluntly, rolling her eyes. She looked around and pulled down her top, showing her small pert breasts. ‘That will cost more.’

‘I can afford it,’ said the figure.

She pulled her top up. ‘Yeah? Show me.’

The figure pulled out a wallet and opened it, pushing it under her nose. The money was in a crisp block, glinting under the street lights.

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