The interview room was cold, but Giles didn’t mind. Her hair was dishevelled and windswept from the rain, but she didn’t care.
She couldn’t really complain.
People had died – people who didn’t need to die. Two officers: Parsons and…
She didn’t even know the name of the other man.
I should find that out.
It wasn’t right. Those people died because of her.
How could I be so stupid?
Several hours had passed since they had discovered the crash site, but everything that had occurred afterwards had shot by as though in a matter of minutes.
Two officers had died…
When back-up finally arrived, Giles and Harris had been summoned back to Edenbridge station – two good men had died and the Chief Inspector wanted answers. The boss had even made himself personally available to conduct the interviews. Giles had seen this sort of thing happen before. Something had gone terribly wrong and questions had to be answered.
Someone had to take the fall.
Harris had gone first and Giles had been left out in the waiting room, speaking to no one and left with only her own thoughts to piece together what had gone wrong that day. As expected, Harris’ interview had lasted a while. Now he had the evidence, there was doubtlessly going to be a long drawn out conversation where he explained that, whilst Giles’ actions were against all police protocol and her methods questionable at best, the ends had justified the means. In fact, with the exception of Barker’s abduction, which could hardly have been blamed on Giles, the day had unfolded fairly well.
But Giles was not thinking of this as she had waited in that room. Her mind instead had been a whirl of information and thoughts based on half remembered conversations and snippets of visual memories. Unanswered questions and unexplained objects flitted in and out of her mind like streaks of light shooting across a midnight sky…
The dog leash…
By the time that Harris’ interview was over, Giles was relieved to be brought into the interview room where she now sat with a cup of coffee in her hand…
Who is Tommy Haines…?
For ten minutes, she sat there stony-faced and staring unwaveringly at the closed door. For ten minutes she waited for her opportunity to explain…
Who is Max…?
The door handle turned and a man stepped into the room, staring down at Giles with a face so bleak that she felt instantly ashamed. She hadn’t expected to see her own DI that day but, what with everything that had happened, she wasn’t particularly surprised.
DI Bolton closed the door behind him and made his way across the room, taking the seat opposite Giles. He was a tall man, with eyebrows that protruded out so far that his brown eyes had sunken in. His skin clung to his cheekbones as though he was starving although the rest of his physique was that of an athlete. As he settled into his chair, he stared coldly across the table at Giles and remained in a state of absolute motionlessness as his detective slouched over and hung her head in shame.
He was thorough and ruthless. And Giles had disappointed him.
‘I think you ought to know that DI Harris told the Chief Inspector everything,’ he announced, tapping his skeletal-like fingers on the table in front of him.
Giles’ eyes sank lower, settling on his shining Italian shoes that seemed to sparkle in the dim light of the interview room.
‘Oh,’ she replied.
‘The Chief is already talking about suspensions,’ Bolton continued, flexing his hands as a brand new watch slunk out from beneath his shirt cuffs. ‘He’ll have someone’s job by the end of the day.’
Bolton rubbed his forehead, sending the limited light reflected off his watch face and into Giles’ eyes. She glanced up at him as he slowly shook his head from side to side, exhaling deeply as disappointment oozed from his eyes.
‘Eve, why didn’t you tell me?’
‘I knew you wouldn’t approve.’
‘That is precisely why you should’ve reported him.’
‘Yes,’ exclaimed Bolton, getting to his feet and beginning to pace back and forth across the room. ‘You knew what he was asking you was wrong. You should have reported it instead of going along with the plan. For God’s sake you could have been killed.’
Giles shook her head, feeling her mouth drop open as though of its own accord.
‘I don’t understand.’
‘You’re lucky he was honourable enough to step in to protect you. Had he been any less of a man, he might have offered you up and you would be being charged with aiding the escape of suspected murder suspect…’
‘But I did help the prisoner escape…’
‘Under orders, yes,’ Bolton said, coming to a halt and placing both his hands on his waist. ’I mean, what were you doing following his orders anyway? It’s your day off and he’s not even your superior?’
Giles stared back at him, dumbstruck. Bolton breathed out a sigh and settled back in his chair, leaning forward across the table.
‘The Chief Inspector is looking to press charges against him,’ he continued. ‘And then he produced that recording of you talking with Barker and that was the final straw…’
‘You’ve heard the recording?’
‘Yes, I have. And it was a big pile of nonsense that Barker was trying to sell you. I’m not at all surprised that you brought a stop to this farcical affair after that. The idea that Tommy Haines would order a hit is just ridiculous…’
‘Daniel Barker believed it.’
Bolton’s eyes stared coldly back at Giles.
‘Daniel Barker was spinning you a tale. And a foolish one at that. Even if Tommy Haines ordered someone to kill this man, is absurd. The victim was a nobody…’
‘You know who he was?’
‘We do now,’ replied Bolton, ‘thanks to some thorough police work on the part of a local constable. Whilst DI Harris was running about London playing conspiracies, the real work was being done right here by PC Bright…’
Giles looked up.
‘PC Bright found out who the victim was?’
‘With some good, old-fashioned, thorough police work.’
A moment of shame crossed Giles’ mind.
That was pretty much all the things she wasn’t today.
She took a sip from her coffee and bit gently down on her lower lip.
’Who was he - The victim I mean?
‘I told you - a nobody. Just some computer software engineer who liked walking his dog in the fields there.’ Bolton leant back in his chair. ’Absolutely nothing connects him with Haines and, let’s face it, even if there was something, Haines is hardly likely to send a former, failed politician to do the deed, is he? You do know that Haines was backing the Britain’s Own Party in the election, right? He invested millions in the campaign. When Barker lost out on the Prime Minister role, he blamed Haines for not supporting him more personally. He’s been looking for an excuse to bring Haines down for weeks…’
Giles scrunched her face up and shook her head violently from side to side.
‘How do you know all this?’
‘I’ve spent the last hour talking with Prime Minister Dobbs who filled me in on everything,’ Bolton replied, folding his arms and glaring at Giles. ‘Barker was distraught when he missed out on the PM role. He made no secret of it that he planned to take Haines down…’
‘But he knew things,’ Giles urged, sitting up straighter in her chair to match her boss’ height. ’He knew about the case I’ve been investigating. He knew about my informant. He knew about Max…’
‘Did he though?’ Bolton shot back. ‘Or did you just assume…’
Giles opened her mouth to answer, shutting it abruptly as her memory flitted through her first meeting with Barker.
He has a point…
‘He had information…’
Bolton shook his head.
‘He had the name of man he holds a grudge against, nothing more. I heard the recording. He didn’t say anything that would suggest he was Max…’
‘But he wasn’t my informant. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t know anything. How do you explain how he escaped if he wasn’t telling the truth? It wasn’t random. There was a planned attack to get him out of our custody…’
‘Prime Minister Dobbs had an answer for that too. There are plenty of old guard in the Britain’s Own Party who disapprove of the direction he’s taking the government and the party. It’s no tremendous leap of logic to assume they might want to keep Barker out of jail to lead a counter movement. Just as likely is the idea that there are people out there who despise what Barker has done and like as not would love to kill him. I’m sure you can understand that sentiment…’
Giles jumped to her feet. Her head was beginning to ache and her willingness to fight was fading and yet her brain still buzzed with reluctance.
‘But there was more to it,’ she muttered, pacing across the room. ‘Someone had to pass on information so that they knew where the patrol car was. I already suspected a dispatch officer, Alison Carew, of…’
‘Passing information?’ Bolton interrupted, one eyebrow slowly rising. ‘Yes, Harris already pointed that out. It would make sense that someone had given away important information and I suppose Carew, being the daughter of Barker’s political rival, would have a vested interest in giving him up to the wolves. We’ve already put out a call for her, but she seems to have vanished for the time being…’
‘But it’s not just her. There’s Detective Sergeant Doyle as well. He was the man who tried to kill Barker. And then there is what he said about the Bluebell Killer. If he’s right, it would explain how…’
Bolton burst out of his chair in an instant. He pulled himself up to his full height and glared menacingly down at Giles. With a sharp tug, he pulled the front of his tailor-made suit closed and turned his neck with a crack.
‘That is enough,’ he said. ‘You have been played as a fool. By Barker. By Harris. You’re lucky you haven’t been suspended for your role in this. This has been one big game and I am bringing it to an end, right now.’
He took a few steps forward.
‘You will file your report, exactly as it happened. You will say that Harris ordered you to break Barker free and that Barker’s escape is entirely his doing…’
‘I will not do it…’
‘You have no choice,’ spat Bolton. ‘Not if you want to keep your job.’
The two stared daggers at each other for a few seconds before Bolton finally span around on his heels and marched towards the door. It was as he pulled open the door that Giles finally spoke:
‘That’s an expensive suit you’re wearing,’ she said. ‘Nice watch. Top of the range shoes. I didn’t know Detective Inspector’s were paid so much better than Detective Sergeants.’
Bolton turned slowly in the doorway, his eyes flashing with anger and spite as he glared at Giles. In the face of such aggression, his subordinate remained where she was and simply shook her head as disappointment projected from her eyes.
‘So Haines got to you too.’
Bolton took a step inside the room, his fists curling and his face contorting as though he was making ready to throw a punch.
‘You are on a very tight leash, Detective Sergeant Giles,’ he said slowly and deliberately. ‘You had best watch where you step.’
With that, Bolton turned around disappeared out of the door. Giles heard him barking orders outside as he barrelled through the corridor and then all was silent.