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Скачать книгу Her Last Breath: The new gripping summer page-turner from the No 1 bestseller

Her Last Breath: The new gripping summer page-turner from the No 1 bestseller

Автор:
Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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‘Great,’ Estelle said. ‘Thank you so much for coming.’

He slowly gathered his stuff up, frowning as he looked at her. ‘If this is about the line of questioning …’

‘Oh no!’ Estelle said in a too-high voice. She could feel herself losing it, the stench of the burning flapjacks clogging her nostrils, the memory of the bloody Polaroid and her past seeming to burn into her too. ‘It’s all fine. It’s just that I have an event to run to,’ she lied. ‘You’ll be at the launch party, right? How about we grab ten minutes then, just you and I, to finish this?’

Estelle walked him to the door, legs shaking.

‘Is everything really okay?’ he asked as he stepped out onto the doorstep.

‘Perfect, just busy busy busy.’ Then she closed the door in his face.

She stayed where she was a few moments, sensing his presence outside. When she heard his footsteps, she ran back to the kitchen, getting on her hands and knees and scrabbling under the fridge to find the photo. She pulled it out then leaned against a cupboard, staring at the girl, heartbeat going a million miles a minute.

She frowned, peering closer. The girl looked like the TV presenter’s daughter they’d been talking about last night; the girl who had run away.

She grabbed her laptop, and searched for stories about the missing girl, clicking on the first one she found. As she opened the article, the first thing she saw was a photo of the girl with her arms around a dog, her cheek against its whiskers, a huge smile on her face. Estelle looked at the Polaroid she’d received, then back at the girl.

Yes, it was the same person. She was sure of it. But why was this photo being sent to Estelle? She didn’t have any connection with the girl. And why that message? It didn’t make sense.

Estelle read the article with the photo.

TV presenter makes appeal to missing daughter

TV presenter Chris O’Farrell made a desperate appeal for the return of his fifteen-year-old daughter, Poppy. The presenter of daytime show Here and Now looked distraught as he talked directly to the camera, explaining to viewers that Poppy had run away in the early hours the day before, leaving behind a note.

Poppy.

Estelle peered again at the poppies that had been sent to her. It must be connected.

The thought sent a shiver down her spine.

She quickly clicked on a video accompanying the article about the missing girl.Chris O’Farrell, handsome and silver-haired, looked imploringly into camera. ‘Poppy, please come home, darling. We all love and miss you very much. Sandy’s at the door waiting and whining for you. There will be no harsh words, no accusations. We just want you home.’ His voice broke, his eyes filling with tears. Then the video stopped. Below it was a number to call with any sightings.

Estelle looked at the Polaroid again. She should call the number. She quickly took a photo of the Polaroid as back-up, then dialled.

‘Hello, Metropolitan Police,’ a woman answered.

‘I’m calling about Poppy O’Farrell. Can I be put through to DC Jones?’ she asked, looking at the name of the detective in charge of the case.

‘Can I just ask a few details about why you’re calling first?’ the woman on the other end asked in a bored voice. ‘We’re getting quite a few calls after her father went on air.’

‘I received a photo of Poppy this morning,’ Estelle said.

‘Okay. Do you mean in the post?’

‘With my meat delivery.’ Estelle peered at the blood still under her nails from the meat. She felt nausea build inside.

‘I see.’ The officer was clearly intrigued now. ‘Are you connected with Poppy?’

‘Not as far as I know.’

There was a pause, a rustling of paper in the background. ‘Tell me more about the photo.’

‘It’s a Polaroid photo, a close-up of her.’ Estelle looked at the message on the bottom. ‘And there’s a message on it.’

‘What does it say?’

‘It says, “They say you’re as pure as the driven snow”,’ Estelle read out the note in a trembling voice. ‘“But I know you’re not. I’m watching you. I know everything about you.”’

There was the sound of scribbling. ‘Are you sure it’s Poppy in the photo?’

Estelle looked at the image on the news site. Poppy was peering into the camera, a castle behind her, her long dyed red hair lifting in the wind. Then Estelle looked at the Polaroid photo. ‘It’s definitely her.’

Holding the phone against her ear, Estelle looked up more images from other news sites. In them, Poppy had brown hair. She must have dyed her hair recently.

‘Okay, let me put you through to DC Jones. Can I first take your name?’

‘Estelle Forster.’

‘Do I recognise that name?’

‘I’m a food writer,’ Estelle said. Estelle got that spark of pride she felt when people recognised her name. The publisher’s PR firm had done a great job of getting her in a variety of magazines and newspapers so it was happening more and more.

‘Of course! How interesting. So, is there a number we can contact you on just in case we get cut off?’

Estelle reeled off her phone number, and her address too. Then, after a wait, she was put through to DC Jones.

‘Hello, DC Jones speaking,’ a deep voice answered. ‘How can I help, Miss Forster?’

Estelle repeated everything she’d just told the other woman.

‘I see,’ the detective said. ‘And to confirm, you’re not connected to Poppy O’Farrell.’

‘Not that I know of. It’s all so strange.’

The detective sighed. ‘It doesn’t surprise me, to be honest. Her father’s famous. It brings all the nutters out of the woodwork. I hear you’re a well-known food writer, so your name must be out there too? Maybe it’s just someone trying to get your attention.’

‘Maybe,’ Estelle murmured. She ought to feel better, calmer, speaking to the two officers. But she only felt more confused.

‘We’ll have an officer stop by to take a statement.’

‘When?’

‘We will call you to let you know, probably today, maybe tomorrow. As you can imagine, it’s been rather busy since Mr O’Farrell put that plea out.’

‘Of course.’

‘Call us in the meantime if you receive anything else.’

‘I will.’

He hung up. At least she’d made the call, Estelle thought. But as she looked down at the photo, she couldn’t help but feel frustrated. Why had it been sent to her?

She took a deep breath. She’d done all she could.

‘Interesting cleaning technique there.’ Estelle peered up at Seb, who was watching her with a frown as she scrubbed for the hundredth time at wooden floorboards later that afternoon. The blood from the meat was gone but Estelle had to be sure.

She wiped her hand across her forehead and smiled. ‘Just want it spic and span.’

‘What’s going on? You only clean like this when you’re anxious. We do have a cleaner, you know.’

She paused. She knew she would have to tell Seb about the photo and the note. But she needed more time to figure out how she felt about them.

‘Oh, you know, just the launch of my book in a month,’ Estelle said.

‘You don’t need to worry about that; it’ll be perfect.’

She blew her blonde fringe from her eyes and stood up. ‘You’re right. Want a snack?’
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