Jan sat in a plush armchair and lit another cigarette. "Please tell me about the night of the murder."
"We were sitting and talking, in the library," Erika said. "We went up there after dinner. It's the warmest room in the house, in the winter. Claudia doesn't mind people using it, as long as I'm there.
"I'd made dinner for the three of us, but it was getting chilly in the dining room, so we brought our coffee and dessert up there, to the library. I often make dinner for whoever is around, when she's going to be out. It's no fun just cooking for myself.
"Anyway, we were drinking our coffee and talking, and we listened to some music on the radio, and then Ryan said he was going to bed. He left, and we heard him go upstairs."
"Had he seemed tired, before he left you?"
"No, not really." She laughed. "We thought maybe he and Claudia had made up and he was going to her room. But then we heard a yell, and a man cursing. From upstairs."
"Was it Ryan?"
"It sounded like him. We ran upstairs, Jason and I. We were afraid he was going to hurt Claudia."
"Yes, you mentioned his temper."
"When we got into the room, he was on the floor, bleeding. He said something about 'bitch,' or 'witch,' and then he died." She shuddered and crossed her arms as if hugging herself.
"Was the bedroom door open when you got to the top of the stairs?"
"The door was open," Erika said. "Definitely. And the lights were on in here."
Jason nodded. "We got to the top of the stairs and I remember I could see down the hall and I saw his body, lying there in front of the fireplace."
My employer got to her feet and limped over to the fireplace, looking down the hall to calculate what would be visible from the head of the stairs.
"Was this throw rug here?" she asked, poking at it with her cane. "And he was lying on top of it?"
Erika shook her head. "The rug was bunched up over there, by the window, and his body was mostly on the bare wood. I straightened everything up after the hospital people left. The stain on the floor wouldn't come up, but the rug covers the worst of it."