The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 05

Until a few years ago her grandmother would have nothing to do with technology but now like all converts she embraced social media with enthusiasm. Her text was full of smiley emoticons.

“U have to try the life, dancing every night, painting classes, Spanish lessons and lots of suitable escorts.”

Her message signed off with rows of kisses and love hearts.

“You have a visitor,” Betta interrupted as May tapped out her reply.

She looked up in startled surprise as she saw Vincenzo Piace standing in the doorway.

You dropped this.” Vin produced her crumpled invitation out of his pocket.

May put out a hand to snatch it out of his grasp but he held it out of her reach.

“It’s mine. Can I have it back?”

“If your name is Tish Delacourt.”

“You know it isn’t.”

“Then you have your answer.”

May stifled the urge to say what she thought of his behaviour. Vin might provide a lead to her past and it wouldn’t do to make an enemy of him. He was frowning at her as if he couldn’t quite make out what she was doing here and right now May felt exactly the same.

“Thank you for returning my invitation,” she said, “I would like to keep it as a


“Not so fast.” He continued to hang on to it.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You tried to gain access to the Villa


“You know I did.”

“Under a false identity.” Vin spoke slowly and carefully and when May didn’t respond he persisted. “Didn’t you?”

May tossed her head, refusing to be intimidated by his interrogation.

“What if I did?”

“Why are you so keen to attend a party to which you have not been invited?”

“I don’t have to answer your questions.”

The intense scrutiny of his dark brown eyes was making it difficult to act casual.

“Yes you do,” Vin insisted, barring May’s path as she tried to leave the terrace.

“Excuse me.”

“A few more moments of your time if you would be so kind.” Vin did not budge, the tone of his voice suggesting it wasn’t a request but an order.

“Since we’re playing the truth game, here’s a question for you,” May fired back at him. “What is your connection to Sr


“Sr Piace is Sr Lombardi’s right-hand man. Can I offer you some refreshment?” Betta asked her visitor as she finished her telephone call.

Vin flashed her a smile that completely changed his facial expression. May wished he would smile at her in the same way. It would make her predicament a lot easier to bear.

“Thank you, Betta. No-one in Bella Acqua makes better orange juice than you.”

“Right away,” Betta responded with what amounted to a girlish smile.

“So you’re Sr Lombardi’s right-hand man,” May said after Betta had gone in search of fresh orange juice.

“That is correct, and I want to know what you were doing snooping around the villa.” “I was not snooping.”

“I was watching you. You peered through the gates, hid behind a statue when you heard a car arriving, then you approached the gates again but the guard on duty refused you entry.”

The thought of Vin Piace spying on her was unsettling and May hadn’t realised she had been quite so obvious.

“You have been busy,” she said.

“Please,” Vin indicated the seat she had recently vacated, “sit down.”

Betta’s return created a welcome interruption and May watched Vin relieve her of the jug of orange juice and two glasses. He was, she guessed, about thirty years old.

His muscular build suggested he didn’t spend his days seated behind a desk. His fingernails, although short, bore evidence of a dark substance, possibly motor oil. She remembered Betta had mentioned racing cars were the source of the Lombardi fortune.

“I wish to know what you were doing at

the villa,” Vin demanded, after Betta had left the terrace. “I am asking because attempts have been made in the past to kidnap Sr Lombardi.”

May’s mouth fell open in surprise. Accusations of that nature were the last thing she had been expecting.

“I can assure you I had no intention of abducting Sr Lombardi, nor was I casing the joint,” she insisted.

“How did you manage to get hold of an invitation addressed to Tish Delacourt?”

“Do you know Tish Delacourt?” May countered, playing for time.

“I don’t but if you are as innocent as you say you are then answering my question shouldn’t be a problem.”

Mi scusi.” Betta was back, looking a little red in the face. “I do not listen at the door.”

May cast Vin a disbelieving look and saw to her surprise her expression mirrored in his amused eyes.

“Go on, Betta,” he invited with a wry smile.

“You remember the telephone call Salvadore took before Sr Piace arrive?” She looked at May. “It was to confirm a block booking. From tomorrow your room will no longer be available at the pensione.”

“Is there nowhere else for me to stay?”



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!