This time there would be no mistake. He saw the distinguished looking gentleman at Lucy’s door. It opened; she stood there; greeted him, and waved the man inside. He would give it twenty minutes and break in at the back; it would be easy, the window sills were made of soft wood. A quick flick and he would be in. He’d wait downstairs until he’d gone, then eradicate another loose end; five minutes tops, maybe more if he fancied a last tango. He licked his lips at the thought.
Then that policewoman had come knocking just as he was ready to move. He heard the exchange.
One hour - plenty of time.
He picked his way gingerly to the side alley, along to the back of the terraced houses, and peered over the fences. Snow dampened his footsteps as he approached the back of Lucy’s house. Her gate was unlocked; he sneaked in and up to the kitchen window. Nobody about. A flick of his blade and the catch opened enough for him to flip it open. There, hanging on a nail was a door key; he reached in, took it, and used it to open the back door. No drawn bolts; it was easier than he had imagined.
He took off his boots and left them outside on the mat. No mess, no noise. He slipped on surgical gloves, then helped himself to a glass of coke from the fridge, and chewed on some biscuits he’d found while he waited.
Ten long minutes later, he heard sounds coming down the stairs. Lucy and her punter. He heard her say goodbye, and open and close the front door. He looked at his watch. He had over twenty minutes before the copper came back.
Plenty of time.
He heard her go back upstairs; probably to check on her kid. Too bad about Jasmine, if they found her in time she’d be taken into care. Perhaps have a better life; better than his childhood. Being dressed in girl’s clothes and taunted by his mother. Women taunting him –they were the worst – until he got his revenge on a fag-smoking slut when he was a teenager. Now the tables were turned. He had power over them.
He waited for several minutes, but she didn’t come back down. He looked at his watch. Time was moving on. He sighed, got up, and crept up the stairs. He heard splashing noises from the bathroom; perfect. No need to use the knife. He pushed open the bathroom door. Sitting in a foamy bath was his Lucy with Jasmine. Lucy was praying, and her daughter was giggling and playing with a toy duck.
‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus ...’
She must have felt his presence; she looked up, saw his expression.
‘Don’t,’ she said.
‘I won’t hurt Jasmine,’ he replied. ‘Be still.’
‘Please don’t do this. Please.’
He shook his head. ‘It’s time.’ He got on his knees, and reached out his hands.
Jasmine was oblivious; concentrated on pushing her plastic toy through the foam. ‘Ducky, ducky.’
Lucy continued her prayer. ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death ...’
His hands tightened around her neck, and he pulled her head under the water.