The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 09

A light breeze disturbed her chignon and she put a hand up to her hair to tweak it back into place, her palm brushing against her ear lobe. She tweaked the loose clasp of her earring back into place as her thoughts reverted to Sr Lombardi. She wondered how he had been talked into allowing her to stay over in his beloved wife’s studio. Given his aversion to strangers it seemed odd he should allow someone he did not know to use it.

With these thoughts whirling around her head she didn’t immediately notice someone standing beside her until a shadow fell across the water. It was Rebecca. Her upper lip curled unpleasantly as she regarded May with an unfriendly gleam in her cat like eyes.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded.

“I have an invitation,” May replied in as pleasant a voice as she could manage.

“I do not know you.”

“And I do not know you,” May countered.

“I heard you ask Vin about me.”

“I asked because I saw you arriving yesterday in a taxi.”

“Vin told me you tried to sneak into Nonno’s brunch.”

“I had an invitation.”

“You stole an invitation.” Rebecca spat the words at May.

May feared the situation could get awkward. One or two of the guests glanced in their direction.

“I’m going to get you evicted.”

“You are not being very polite to a guest,” a voice interrupted the exchange.

An elegant woman extended a hand towards May.

“Sofia Napoli. I am named after the beautiful city.” She laughed. “”

“May Maxwell,” May replied.

“Maxwell?” Sofia repeated the name slowly. “I don’t think I know the name.”

“No-one’s heard of her,” Rebecca intervened.

“Because we do not know someone there is no reason to be rude to them,” Sofia reprimanded her.

She turned her attention back to May.

“Is this your first time in Italy?” she asked.

“I was born here.”

Sofia raised an eyebrow.

“May I ask where?”


“Please don’t think I am now the one who is being rude,” Sofia’s smile curved her lips, “but may I ask you another question?”

“I don’t have to answer it if I don’t want to.”

“I see we speak the same language,” Sofia responded with a friendly smile. “From where did you acquire your earrings?” she asked.

“They were a birthday present from my mother.”

“Were they indeed?” Sofia looked thoughtful. “They are exquisite. I don’t think I have seen anything so beautiful in a long time. I suggest you take great care of them.”

With a slight acknowledgement of her head towards Rebecca she drifted away. “You needn’t think Vin is available.”

Rebecca renewed her verbal attack on May.

“I am going to marry him.”

May did her best to conceal her surprise.

The age gap had to be a significant one and from what she knew of Vin she was sure he wouldn’t suffer fools gladly.

“Congratulations,” she murmured. “I had no idea Mr Piace was engaged.”

“It’s not official,” Rebecca backtracked, sounding less confident, “but it’s understood. We are going to get engaged on my twenty-first birthday and we have

Nonno’s blessing.”

The sound of slow footsteps drew May’s attention to the path leading down to the balustrade.

“Nonno.” Rebecca’s sulky expression melted into a smile. “You must not tire yourself out.”

“Thank you, Rebecca. When I want your assistance I will ask for it.”

May expected Rebecca to flare up at the reprimand but after another venomous glance in May’s direction she lowered her eyes and moved to one side allowing Auguste Lombardi to pass.

“Miss Maxwell.” He turned his attention to May. “I’m sorry if I wasn’t as welcoming as I should have been earlier. I find parties tiring these days.”

“I understand,” May replied. “I’m not too good at this sort of thing, either. Though it’s a lovely party.”

“There’s no need to be economical with the truth.” His eyes twinkled. “You are out of your comfort zone.”

“There are a lot of guests,” May acknowledged, “and I don’t know anyone here.”

“And this party has been too much for you.” Rebecca elbowed her way back into the conversation. “Why don’t I take you back inside, Nonno, where you can rest?” “Thank you,” he acknowledged. “Ms Maxwell, if you would excuse us.”

May watched him lean heavily on Rebecca’s shoulder as she led him back towards the villa. Deciding to follow their example, May headed for the sanctuary of the studio.

“I’ve had a long day,” May replied.

“And you have another long one tomorrow.”

“Do I?”

“I’ll pick you up at nine o’clock.”

“Where are we going?”

“To the circuit.”

“Fitness training?”

“No. The autodromo is for cars.”

May recalled Betta saying the Lombardi fortune had been something to do with motor racing.

“Wear comfortable clothes,” Vin advised as they reached the door of May’s studio. “The autodromo is not for sandals.”

“They’re not mine.” May spoke without thinking.

“I didn’t think they were. If your Limester is anything like my home village, designer dresses are rare.”

Vin’s tie had now given up the battle with his collar and he had even undone the top button of his shirt, May presumed in an attempt to ease his discomfort.

“You’re leaving the party, too?”

“I have done my duty. The diehards will probably remain until the small hours. I hope they won’t keep you awake.”

May stifled a yawn behind her hand.

“On location you get used to unsocial hours. I won’t have any trouble falling asleep. By the way,” May turned back from the studio door opened by one of the maids who had been waiting up to welcome her back, “congratulations on your forthcoming engagement.”

“I wasn’t aware I was engaged.” Vin looked surprised. “But when I am I will let you know about it. ”


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!