The urgent thumping on the door made Lillian jump.
‘W-who’s there?’ she called, inching toward it.
‘This is the police, Mrs Sonne. Is everything alright in there?’ A stern voice called from the hall, muffled by the heavy door. ‘Can you open the door?’
She let out a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding in and rushed to unbolt it. She flung it open and found two uniformed officers standing on the threshold. A corona of yellow light from an ancient wall sconce surrounded their capped heads. Lillian shielded her eyes from the light and resisted the urge to throw herself at them, to embrace them.
‘Thank you for coming.’
She stepped aside and motioned for them to enter. The first officer, a tall man with a narrow face and heavy-lidded eyes, stepped inside, removing his peaked cap as he did. He tucked it under his arm. His colleague, a short, stocky woman with cropped blonde hair, cast a glance up and down the hall before she followed.
‘We’re responding to a report of domestic disturbance,’ the first said. ‘Did you make that report, Mrs Sonne?’
‘Call me Lillian, and yes, I reported the “disturbance”,’ she chirped and walked them into a dim lounge. Black candles littered every surface. Their burning wicks caused the shadows to dance. She pointed them to a cream-coloured couch.
Narrow face sat and took out his notebook. Blondie excused herself to look around.
‘Tell me what happened, Mrs Sonne.’
Lillian sat beside him, knees close to his.
‘My husband has never been an observant man, officer…?’ she said.
‘Officer Winters. Lovely. I abhor unobservant men and my husband rarely noticed anything. I’d buy new shoes and he’d no idea. I changed my hairstyle and he’d fail to realise. Today is our anniversary and I’d cooked for him. Beef wellington, his favourite. I’d done my hair just as he liked it and I’d put on his favourite dress,’ she indicated the blue, satin gown with a wave of her hands. ‘What did he do? He ignored me, went to watch the football in the den.’
‘The disturbance, Mrs Sonne?’
‘Hush, I’m getting to that. I’d had enough and confronted him about it.’ Her voice lowered, almost inaudible. Winters leaned closer to hear. ‘He got abusive and he hit me.’
‘And where is your husband now?’
‘Why, Officer Winters, he’s dead. I killed him.’
‘You killed him?’ the officer said slowly.
Lillian smiled, nodded.
She leaned in close, her breath hot on his cheek, and whispered, ‘the devil made me do it.’
A scream echoed from the next room, followed by a wet thud and the cracking of wood.
The officer snapped up straight and stared at Lillian.
‘What was that?’ He demanded.
She ignored him, ‘can I ask you something, officer?’
He didn’t answer, couldn’t turn away from her.