Barker thought long and hard. Giles watched him, scrutinising his every move whilst she sipped at her coffee.
He fidgeted with his chair.
He fiddled with his clothing.
He tugged at his ear and stared back at the market entrance.
He turned at every unexpected noise and his breathing was intermittent at best.
After a short time, his eyes returned to Giles and, with a certain amount of trepidation in his eyes, he shook his head defiantly.
‘No,’ he answered.
Giles sighed and set her espresso back down on the table. By the counter, the waitress stood watching them carefully whilst the suited man spoke animatedly down a telephone. Every so often, his eyes would dart over in their direction and he would nod eagerly.
We’re running out of time.
‘I’m getting tired of this game, Barker…’
‘When I am safely in your custody with an immunity agreement in my hand and a guarantee of witness protection, you will get what you want.’
‘Then I don’t get what I want.’ Giles’ words cut through the air leaving Barker looking rather uncomfortable and dishevelled. ‘But more to the point, you don’t get what you want.’
Barker stared back at her flabbergasted. ‘You can’t mean that…’
‘The Bluebell Killer is dead, Barker. I killed him. I shot him and I watched him die.’
She reached up and plucked the scarf from around her neck, thrusting it angrily on to the table. She bent her neck towards him and gestured to the scars on her skin.
‘You see this? This was the mark he left on me before he died. So don’t toy with me with stories of how I got the wrong man.’ She thumped a first down on the table, making the espresso cup jump a fraction into the air. ‘The wrong man would not have done this to me…’
‘There is more to this than just one man…’
Giles cut him off with a vicious hiss.
‘You see those two other there,’ she said, allowing Barker time to turn and observe the suited man and the waitress. ‘They recognised you the moment you came in. I’m not entirely sure what the man is so excited about, but I imagine that news of your escape has now filtered through the media and he’s probably on the line to the local police dispatch office.’
She gave a little shrug of disinterest.
‘Now, one of two things will happen. Either you will be lucky and the policemen who come to get you will be honourable and arrest you, or we’ll end up with another bent copper like Doyle who will simply put a bullet through your brain. Either way, time is not exactly on your side…’
‘Then we must get out of here, now…’
Barker made to stand up.
Giles hand darted out to stop him and, with a little nod down, she directed Barker’s gaze to underneath the table. She watched with satisfaction as Barker’s eyes widened in terror as he saw the gun pointed straight at him, gripped firmly in Giles’ hand.
Giles smiled nonchalantly, her eyebrow flickering up and down.
‘I told you before,’ she said coolly. ‘We are not leaving this place until I get what I want.’
Barker glanced around as though looking for help as he lowered himself back into his chair, keeping his hands firmly planted on the table. ‘You would shoot me?’
‘I shot the Bluebell Killer. You’re a murderer as well. I don’t really see the distinction…’
‘But you’re a police officer…’
‘Well, if you are going to get shot, it might as well be by me. Given how much you’ve turned my life upside down today, I think it is my right, don’t you?’
She had played the game well. Gripping the gun in one hand, she playfully rocked the delicate espresso cup back and forth in the other as Barker watched the suited man finally hang up the phone and turn to explain something to his staff.
‘I don’t reckon we have much time, do you?’
Barker turned back to her.
‘What do you want?’
‘The last time you contacted me, before today that is, you said you were gathering proof of who the Bluebell Killer was. You obviously didn’t think it was Donnovan…’
‘I will tell you everything once I am safely in custody…’
‘Then our deal is over.’
Barker eyed her carefully, his face forming in to a slight smile as he examined the detective sitting opposite.
‘You wouldn’t do that. My evidence is too important…’
‘I imagine we only have to wait a few more minutes to find out.’
The smile vanished and Barker’s face became nervous and contorted once more. ‘I can give you a name…’
‘I already have a name…’
‘No, I mean the name of the man responsible for all of this. Not Donnovan - the man who put him up to it. I can give you his name…’
Giles pouted at him.
‘You seriously want me to believe that the man who helped your party win the election is the same man who killed over a dozen people last year?’
‘Yes,’ pleaded Barker. ‘And when I give you his name, you’ll understand…’
‘A name is easily acquired,’ shot back Giles. ‘I already have part of your story. I know this man arranged for the Britain’s Own Party to win the election by a landslide, which means he probably invested a fair amount of money in you. I know he has influence over certain people in the police force whose identities are known to me, which means he probably has them on the payroll. I’m sure, if I followed the money, it may well lead me back to him…’
’He is a smart man, ‘I’m sure he would have something like that covered…’
Giles’ eyebrow rose. ’Something like that?’
Well, that’s interesting…
‘That certainly is interesting…’
But if that’s the case…
‘That would explain everything…’
Barker’s eyes narrowed with confusion but the rest of his features seemed to brighten up. Giles was aware that, as her brain fumbled through the events of the day, he was watching her with great interest and relief, a relief that passed in an instant when Giles spoke once more.
‘You forget,’ she said calmly. ‘Yours is not the only name I have. I can identify DS Doyle and Alison Carew as being involved. If you will not speak up, I am sure that they will.’
Barker’s face turned pale. ‘You can’t do that.’
Giles put the gun back in her pocket and stood up from the table, smiling down at Barker as she did so. ‘Watch me.’
Barker’s hand darted out to grab her as she began to step away. She looked at him as he stared pleadingly back, his eyes welling up with tears and lips trembling.
‘Tommy Haines,’ he announced, his eyes instantly clouding over with shame. ‘The man you want is Tommy Haines.’
Without giving a way a hint of emotion, Giles slowly lowered herself back in to her seat. The gambit had worked for the moment, but the next few minutes would be decisive. She slowly reached into her pocket and produced her phone. It took a moment for her to find the voice recording function before she placed it carefully down on the table in front of Barker and settled back for the interview. For a moment, Barker looked like he might object but as Giles announced herself and indicated for him to do the same, he immediately followed suit.
‘Daniel Barker,’ he said clearly. ‘Former leader of the Britain’s Own Party.’
Giles nodded in satisfaction.
‘Tell me about Tommy Haines.’
Barker took a deep breath.
‘Tommy Haines is a businessman with a good reputation amongst those who do legitimate business with him. He started off with nightclubs; he had dozens of them across the UK. Then, once he started getting a bit of success, he moved on to real estate, car mechanics, and airplane parts. If you can name it, he probably has a business interest in there somewhere…’
’I was approached by Haines shortly after the general election five years ago. He assured me that he had the means to make my party a success. At first, I thought he was just talking about money and, for a while that seemed to be all there was to it. But, during the local elections two years ago, after my party made some substantial gains in the number of MPs in Parliament, Haines revealed to me that he had essentially arranged for certain constituencies to fall to us. He had blackmailed and bribed us into a position where we had become the only tangible opposition in Parliament.
’At this general election, he promised my party would win by a landslide. All I had to do was give him my word that, when Haines decided the time was right, I would repay that debt in anyway He felt necessary. What I failed to realise at the time was that he wasn’t guaranteeing my own position as the leader of this country. The party won, but I lost out.’
Giles nodded her understanding. ‘Did Haines ever tell you why he was willing to go to such lengths to get you into power?’
‘He made no secret of it,’ Barker replied. ‘It was quite clear from the off, to me at least, that he was doing it to ensure that there was a government in power that he could manipulate to work in his interests. The fact that the Britain’s Own Party’s policies were very closely aligned to Haines’ was, by and large, of little consequence. In the grand scheme of things, our party was a new one. New parties are a lot easier to influence than the old guard…’
He fell back in his seat as though a great weight had been lifted from his mind. Giles stared at him intently before a slight movement by the entrance of the market caught her eye. A group of people had stepped inside the market and were making their way slowly around the edges, seemingly admiring the displays and yet, to Giles’ eyes, they seemed to be scrutinising each individual they passed. At the front of the group was a man Giles recognised.
She turned back to Barker. ‘And what has this got to do with what happened today?’
Barker looked up at her, his face dropping with shame.
‘The morning after the election, Haines found me in a pub drowning my sorrows. It was then he informed me that he still expected me to fulfil my side of the bargain. I tried to wriggle out of it, told him that he had conned me, but he wasn’t having it. I told him that I had nothing now thanks to him, so there was no way I could repay his debt…’ He sighed, shaking his head remorsefully. ‘The repayment was killing that man down at Edenbridge. That was the debt I was able to pay.’
‘It was a hit?’
Barker’s eyes widened. ‘Under duress, yes. Haines’ men supplied me with a gun, they even taught me how to shoot. They knew this man took a dog out for a walk every morning at the same time and along the same route. They knew he passed by an old bunker and advised that it would be a good hiding place. I went down there this morning. I bought a train ticket to Edenbridge and made my way to the bunker and waited…’
His eyes glazed over. ’When the time came, it was incredibly easy. He had his back to me, as you guessed already. It only took one shot. I don’t think he even knew what had happened.
’The rest, you already know. I tried to move the body out of sight but was seen by that lady passing by. I didn’t have much time, either way she was calling the police, so I had to act quickly to create the story that I was the real target. Plenty of people hate me in Britain so it wouldn’t be too hard a sell. I exchanged everything in his pockets with the tickets in my own and rubbed his hand against the gun so that it left his fingerprints on it. I punched the pillbox wall a couple of times to make it look like a big fight had happened and then I was just about ready…
‘It was only when I heard the police sirens that I remembered you. I quickly scrawled both our names on an old envelope I had in my pocket and put it in the dead man. I thought you wouldn’t buy it if I told you that both our names were already on it, so I tried to make it look as though each one was written by a different hand and then told you as much. I sold you the inch of truth so you’d start to question the bigger lie. I thought if anyone was going to help me, it would be you. And I was right, wasn’t I?’
Giles nodded solemnly as Barker fidgeted nervously. His eyes were still wide with fright and his breathing heavy, but the rest of his face seemed oddly calm.
‘Who was the victim? Why was he so important?’
Barker shrugged. ‘They didn’t tell me.’
‘And the Bluebell Killer?’
Barker drew a deep breath.
‘How sure were you that Donnovan was your man?’
‘The case was getting there,’ she replied. ‘We had him linked to a fair few of the murders…’
‘But there were some that you couldn’t link him to.’ Barker replied, his face darkening. ‘Some where his alibi was so strong that you considered abandoning the case against him, am I right?’
Giles’ eyes quivered.
‘How could you possibly know that?’
Barker closed his eyes and exhaled slowly in a state of pseudo-meditation. When they opened again, he stared straight at her – his eyes seemingly stabbing into her’s with the intensity of his stare.
‘Because you never stopped the Bluebell Killer, Detective Sergeant Giles,’ he said quietly. ‘You can’t have killed him.’
‘Because the Bluebell Killer…’ Barker said softly. ‘… is me.’