‘So beer is what you usually drink?’
Watching the tension drop out of Matt’s shoulders, Grace looked at her boss.
‘He thinks we don’t know,’ Keith said, never taking his eyes off the screen. ‘That he’s off the hook.’
As agreed at the strategy briefing, Duncan led Matt through various other fairly pointless questions before circling back to the real issue. ‘So you didn’t run into Polly again at the Blue Bar?’
This time Matt leaned over and whispered to his solicitor, who eventually nodded, and Matt clasped his hands together on the table in front of him. ‘I didn’t tell you before,’ he said, looking at Lance, ‘but I did see Polly the following night, after we – you know –’
Lance nodded expressionlessly, as if this was precisely what he’d expected Matt to say, but made no comment.
‘So that would be Friday night, not Saturday, correct?’ asked Duncan, as if the detail were unimportant to him.
‘Yeah, I suppose so.’
‘Had you arranged to meet?’
‘No. We just bumped into one another.’
‘Did you speak to her?’ Duncan pressed.
‘Yeah, but, you know –’ Matt shrugged. ‘Like I told DS Cooper before, we’d both been pretty hammered before when we … Neither of us was interested in a repeat performance.’
Duncan shuffled some papers and appeared to consult one of them before speaking. ‘You were drinking beer all evening, is that right?’
‘You’re not a vodka drinker?’
‘No, not really. Look, I’ve just remembered something.’
‘Did you buy vodka recently? Maybe for someone else?’
Grace knew that no purchase of Fire’n’Ice had shown up in Matt’s debit or credit card history, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t paid cash.
‘What?’ Matt asked. ‘No. Look, the night I went home with Polly, there was this guy –’
‘Pawel Zawodny, her landlord. You told us.’
‘No, not that. That was the next morning. I’m talking about the night before, when we hooked up.’
‘We’d like to talk first about the following night. Friday, the night Polly disappeared.’
‘Nothing happened! I spoke to her as I was leaving. We were both cool with the way things were. I left before her. I was with friends. They’ll tell you.’
Duncan took names and contact details for Matt’s friends before resuming his questioning. ‘And where did you go then?’
‘I don’t remember. Home, probably.’
‘Very well. So what was it you wanted to tell us about the previous night? That would be Thursday.’
Matt sagged with relief. ‘I’d completely forgotten. Polly asked some guy she knew for a lift home. He refused and she really mouthed off at him.’
‘Do you know who it was?’
Matt shook his head. Grace watched him struggle to retrieve a clear memory, to picture the scene. ‘I don’t know. I didn’t pay much attention. And I’d had a fair bit to drink. He seemed familiar, but God knows where from.’
‘Can you describe him?’
Matt blew out some air. ‘Young, white, just a guy.’
‘A student?’ suggested Duncan.
‘Can you remember if Polly used a name?’
Again, Matt thought hard. Suddenly Danny Tooley jumped into Grace’s mind. Danny had said he lived in Wivenhoe, so might Polly have asked him for a lift? Did he own a car? She dimly recalled that, as she’d waited for the kettle to boil at five o’clock that morning, she’d had the impression that some vital idea had come to her just before she’d fallen asleep. What was it? Something to do with Danny and Twitter? No, that wasn’t it. She’d have to work back to it later.
She leaned forward to the microphone that fed into Duncan’s earpiece. ‘Ask if he could’ve seen the man anywhere on campus.’
Duncan relayed the question without any indication that he’d been fed it. But Matt was shaking his head. ‘Maybe,’ he replied. ‘I’ve no idea. Sorry. She got stroppy with him, I do remember that. I was surprised, didn’t expect