The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 02

After a brief battle with her conscience May had decided not to tell her mother about the invitation. Tish was on her way to Australia and May reasoned she couldn’t possibly come back in time for the party.

A voice made May jump.

“What do you want?” The uniformed guard sounded unfriendly.

“My name is May Maxwell,” she began again.

“No visitors,” the guard insisted in a menacing voice before turning on his heel and retreating to the discreetly positioned security box.

“Hey, come back,” she called after him.

Fuming as he continued to ignore her, May swung round and collided with a man standing behind her.

“Prego.” He stepped aside. “Vincenzo Piace.” He bowed.

“Are you a member of the family?” May demanded.

“Why do you wish to know?”

“Can you get me admitted to the villa? I have an invitation.”

“Not if your name is not on the list,” he repeated the guard’s words. “Is it on the list?”

“No,” May was forced to admit.

“Then I cannot help you. Signor Lombardi takes his security very seriously.”

“I suppose it’s too late to introduce myself as Tish Delacourt?” May asked.

“I thought you told the guard your name was May Maxwell.”

“It is.” She hesitated. “It’s a long story.”

“Which unfortunately I do not have time to hear right now.”

As they were speaking, a taxi drew up. A sulky-faced, slender girl emerged and, running towards Vincenzo, flung her arms around him.

“I am not too late for Auguste’s brunch, am I?” She released him from her embrace, the sulky look replaced with a calculating smile.

“My car wouldn’t start so I had to call a taxi,” she gestured towards the driver,

“which was late, then he chose to come the long way round. I thought I would never get here. The traffic in the market was unbearable.”

“You’re here now, Rebecca, so no worries. Why don’t you go on in and join the others?”

Rebecca linked her arm through Vincenzo’s.

“Let’s get the show on the road.” She smiled up at him. “But I was forgetting – my gift.” She ran back to the taxi and retrieved a small shiny packet from the back seat. “It’s a handkerchief, pure silk, lemon, Nonno’s favourite colour. I picked it up on our way through the market.”

May’s knowledge of Italian was sketchy but she seemed to recall nonno translated as grandfather.

So this was Auguste’s granddaughter. Her apricot wrap-over dress clung to her tanned limbs in all the right places and by May’s reckoning cost a lot more than her own dress that had seen at least three summers and would probably see a few more before she parted with it.

In the background she heard the taxi driver speak rapidly into his radio before starting up his engine.

“Wait.” May leaped forward and yanked open the rear passenger door. “Pensione Betta,” she said, leaping into the back seat.

“Can you take me there?”

With a reluctant shrug the driver acknowledged her presence and after a violent lurch they headed off down the hill in the direction of Bella Acqua.

“Who was that?” Rebecca asked as the taxi drove away.

“May Maxwell,” Vin replied with a thoughtful look, “and I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of her.”

As May settled back in the rear seat of the musty smelling taxi she realised to her dismay she had dropped her invitation.

“Can we turn back?” May gestured at the driver who refused to meet her eye in the rear view mirror. She tapped him on the shoulder, receiving an unhelpful grunt in reply as he put his foot down harder on the accelerator.

Swallowing the lump of disappointment rising in her throat, May leaned back against the sun-scorched seat and closed her eyes, accepting the inevitable. It was time to let fate take over her future. She had totally run out of options.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!