Most of us stood, but Claudia sat, in the only chair, and Ray leaned against the windowsill, smoking. My employer stood near the door, where she could see everybody.
"Both of these 'vampire' cases," she began, "were only possible to figure out when the smokescreen was cleared away and the actual facts were examined. As Ray pointed out, it was necessary to get away from the word 'vampire' and to look at the exact attributes of the person in question.
"In this case, there was a lot of talk about whether Claudia had a new lover, replacing Ryan, and who that lover might have been, but that's not relevant. What we need, based on the known attributes of the person who killed Ryan, is somebody who could have been in this room; somebody who would have had a reason to be here, and who could have gained access; somebody who could have had a reason for killing Ryan; and somebody who could have got out through the window and away.
"None of this requires superhuman abilities, not with the right tools. So, after my last visit here, I had Marshall do a search, and I told him specifically to look for mountain-climbing gear. Which he found, in the attic. So, it would have been easy for somebody, somebody who felt threated by Ryan's temper, somebody who knew the house and what it contained, somebody who had the key to the parlor, to–"
Claudia was frowning, smoke curling around her face, and Erika was about to defend her mistress, but someone else spoke first.
"Jan, please stop," said Vicki.
Claudia turned quickly, saying, "Victoria!" but Vicki went and stood next to her chair, placing a tiny hand on Claudia's shoulder.
"Claudia and I have been having an affair," she said, "for the last several months." She looked at Claudia. "I told you she'd figure it out," she said quietly.