‘Did they catch him?’
Peterson shook his head. ‘No, he’s dead now. She was too scared to tell anyone. He told her that if she said anything, he’d kill her. He said he would find a way into her bedroom and slit her throat. For years, she used to wet the bed. I used to take the mickey out of her for that. If only I’d known. When Mr Simmonds died, my parents attended the big memorial service for him at our local church in Peckham. To celebrate his outstanding service to the community.’
‘I’m sorry, Peterson.’
‘My sister’s nearly forty. She’s never been able to escape what he did to her. And what can I do?’
‘You can come back to work. You can be the best police officer that you can… There’s plenty of other bastards out there that you will catch.’
‘I’d love to get that bastard Gary Wilmslow,’ said Peterson, through gritted teeth. ‘If I could have an hour in a room with him…’
‘You know that won’t happen, don’t you? And if you try and make it happen… Well, Peterson, you don’t want to go down that road. Believe me.’
‘I’m just so fucking angry,’ he said, slamming his hand down on the table. Erika didn’t flinch. They sat in silence for a moment, listening to the crickets humming down in the darkness by the apple tree. Erika got up, went to the kitchen cupboard and pulled down two glasses and the bottle of Glenmorangie. She poured a generous measure in each one and took them back over. Handing Peterson one, she sat back down beside him.
‘It’s one of the most unhealthy emotions, anger,’ said Erika, putting her glass down and lighting another cigarette. ‘The name Jerome Goodman still makes my blood boil. I’ve spent hours devising elaborate and painful ways I would kill him. My anger is almost limitless.’
‘Is he the…’
‘He’s the man who killed my husband and four of my colleagues. He’s the man who destroyed my life. My old life, that is. And he’s the man who nearly destroyed me. But he didn’t. I won’t let him.’
Peterson was silent.
‘My point is that bad people are everywhere. The world is filled with good, but it’s equally overwhelmed with bad. People who commit horror and evil. You have to concentrate on what you can do, what you can influence. The ones who you can hunt down. I know it sounds simplistic, but it took a long while to realise that, and it gave me some peace.’
‘Where is Jerome Goodman?’ asked Peterson.
‘He vanished off the face of the earth, after the shoot-out… I don’t know if he had inside help, or got lucky. But he hasn’t been found. Yet.’
She went on, ‘I believe in fate. I know that one day in the future I will see Jerome Goodman again, and I will get him. And he’ll be locked away for the rest of his life.’ She emphasised the last part with a clenched fist.
‘What if you don’t?’
‘Don’t get him?’
Erika turned to him. Her eyes were wide and unblinking. ‘The only thing that will prevent me from getting him will be death. His, or mine.’ She turned away and took a long drink of whisky.
‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry this had to happen to you, boss… Erika…’
‘I’m sorry about your sister.’
She turned back to him and their eyes locked for a moment. Then Peterson leaned in to kiss her. She put her hand over his mouth.
He leant back. ‘Shit, sorry.’
‘No, don’t be. Please, don’t be,’ she said. She got up and went out, returning a few minutes later with a blanket and a pillow.
‘You should sleep on the sofa. Don’t drive.’
‘Boss, I’m really sorry.’
‘Peterson, please. You know me. We’re fine, okay?’ He nodded. ‘And thank you for telling me about your sister. I’m so sorry. But you’ve helped me understand stuff. Now, get some sleep.’
Erika lay awake for a long time, alone in bed and staring up into the darkness. She thought of Mark, and forced herself to picture his face. To keep him alive in her memory. She’d been so close to returning Peterson’s kiss, but Mark had pulled her back. Part of her longed for a man in her bed, a warm body to hold her, but right now it was a step too far.
A step further away from her life with Mark.
Erika woke up just before six. The sun was streaming through the windows. When she came through to the living room, Peterson had gone, leaving a Post-it stuck to the fridge.