It was midday in Sorrento, and Cesare had only his sandwiches to keep him company. He wondered what Mel was doing now. In fact, it plagued his days.
He could bear it no longer. He had to try her number again.
When she answered, his heart was in his mouth.
“Cesare? How lovely to hear from you. I’ve really missed you.”
Her words were just what he’d hoped to hear.
“Cara mia, I have missed you, too, a thousand times more, believe me.”
Her wonderful English accent made him smile and he could feel his heart race. There was none of the awkwardness he had feared.
They caught up on news, chatting about Antonio and Caroline and their wedding plans, and how Mel was getting on in her new job. Then she said something that made him stand up, pacing back and forth on his office mobile.
“Cesare, there’s something strange going on here.”
She told him about the secret note thrown on her balcony, nocturnal goings-on at the little bay near the Villa Lavanda, and the curious Greg Brodie skulking around on the roof with binoculars.
“I don’t know what to make of it, Cesare. It’s like a jigsaw, but I only have some of the pieces. I love it here and the job’s fantastic, but this place is making me feel on edge. There’s definitely something shady going on.
“It’s beginning to freak me out. This morning I couldn’t shake off the feeling that someone was watching me. I stopped and looked back a couple of times, and I don’t know if I was imagining it, but you’ve always said sometimes hunches can be right. The only person I feel I can trust is Ryan Peacock.”
Cesare felt a stab of jealously. Nevertheless, he reasoned, it was not a bad thing that she had made a friend.
“Be careful who you confide in, Mel. But this Ryan sounds as if he might be OK. It is good for you to have acquaintances outside of the Villa Lavanda.
“If you would like, I can have a word with the local police and see if they have heard of anything strange in the vicinity. I will also get them to check up on this Greg Brodie and on Makso Yurcich. Maybe, soon, I might visit.” He hesitated. “If you want me to.”
“Of course I want you to, Cesare. I’d be only too pleased to see you. We are still friends, aren’t we?”
Cesare suppressed a groan. If only they could be more than friends. He resolved there and then to ask for leave from his superiors and try to find a date he could book to see Mel.
He was desperate to ask her why she had broken off their relationship, but he couldn’t do that over the phone. It had to be face to face.
“Yes, Mel, we are still very much friends.”
When he rang off, he felt much better for having spoken to her.
Immediately he opened the door to his office and yelled for his best detective. The young man jumped to attention and ran over.
“Tomasso, come here, please. There is some research I would like you to do for me. I need you to check out these people.” He scribbled the names down on a piece of paper. “Be careful. I don’t want either of them to get suspicious.”
* * * *