needn’t have worried. She followed him into the living room and dropped unceremoniously into a chair. She was wearing baggy trousers which stopped well short of her ankles. Her legs seemed very long as she stretched them out before her.
‘You get on, if you’re busy,’ she said. ‘I’ll wait for Karen. I don’t mind if she’s a while. I need to have a bit of a think, anyway.’
‘Can I get you a drink?’
‘Coffee would be great, if it’s not a bother. Black, no sugar. Thanks.’
Drew disliked people who wanted black coffee. It made instant seem so churlish somehow. They’d obviously really prefer thick dark espresso, made in a proper machine and stronger than any instant could manage to be. But he did his best, piling two large spoonfuls into the medium-sized mug, and hoping it was black enough for her. When he took it through, she seemed to have forgotten her injunction to him to get on with what he was doing.
‘It seems ages ago now,’ she said with a tightening of her features. ‘This morning, I mean. Karen and I went for coffee together, just before it happened. We were talking about him.’
Drew slipped effortlessly into his undertaker mode. ‘How well did you know him?’ he murmured.
‘Oh – fairly, I suppose. We went to a lot of meetings together. He was always rather an ally of mine. We got on famously. I admired the way he worked so hard, building the juice-making up from nothing. He was quite an asset. We need people like him. He’s a big loss.’
‘It’s going to be a huge shock for everyone.’ He spoke with authority, the platitude emerging as a piece of hard information. ‘A sudden death takes people in funny ways. On one level, we all adjust amazingly quickly. We absorb that basic fact of the death without too much difficulty. Butthe trauma goes on for a long time, and takes all sorts of different forms. I must admit I’m a bit worried about Karen. She actually saw it happen, as I suppose you know.’
‘What?’ Geraldine pressed a hand across her nose and mouth, compressing her nostrils for so many seconds that Drew wondered when the next breath would happen. Eventually she inhaled noisily through her fingers. ‘What do you mean?’ she mumbled.
‘She saw him as the bolt hit. It’s not something you’d ever choose to witness. She’s going to have that picture in her head for a long time.’
The woman frowned, her gaze fixed on a patch of wall across the room. ‘Did she see where it came from?’ she asked.
‘Well, no. Obviously not, if she was watching Peter. It doesn’t sound as if anybody saw who did it. He must have been in a car, or one of the buildings, presumably. Must have tucked the weapon inside a coat and just walked casually away, I suppose. Though I think a crossbow’s quite a big thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one close to. Have you?’
‘Poor little Sally was in a bad state,’ Geraldine changed the subject after a perfunctory shake of her head.
‘Yes, she must have been.’ Drew nodded, not at all sure what he thought about that sideof the story. Karen hadn’t mentioned it before today, and it had taken a poor second place to the primary fact of the shooting. Only now did it strike him that this was a glaringly obvious motive for the murder. ‘Was her husband around this morning?’ he asked slowly.
‘No, no. He’s working up near Gloucester on a big new block of flats, doing the electrics. Doesn’t get back till eight most evenings. He’s always landing some contract like that. Can’t be bothered with the small domestic stuff these days.’
‘So he doesn’t know?’
‘About Sally and Peter? I doubt it. Or he didn’t until today. That could all have changed by now, I suppose.’
‘Secrets usually leak out when a person dies,’ Drew observed, from yet more personal experience.
‘Indeed,’ she said, inattentively. She was staring at the wall again. Drew began to feel she was hard work, and he’d much rather be reading