The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 12

As May was applying her make-up there was a light tap on the door.

“I thought you might like a glass of this.” Florence held up a bottle of wine and two glasses. “Can I come in?” Taking May’s surprised silence for assent she eased past her.

“We can have a gossip while you’re getting ready for the concert. I’ll sit down here and I promise not to be a nuisance. If you’d rather I went away don’t hesitate to say. I have broad shoulders.”

“I could do with some company,” May admitted.

“Was tea with Auguste an ordeal?” Florence pulled a sympathetic face.

“No, he was charming.”

“Are you up to telling me what’s given you a face like one of your damp English afternoons?” A dimple tugged at the corner of Florence’s generous mouth.

“I suppose Auguste made me feel bad. I mean, I am here under false pretences.”

“Yes, you are. You tried to sneak into the celebrations clutching Tish Delacourt’s invitation, didn’t you?”


“Was this with her approval?” “No,” May admitted.

“You mean you stole her invitation?”

“Yes and no.”

“A good answer, I must use it next time I am in a tight corner.”

“Tish is my mother.” May closed her eyes and waited for the fallout.

“I knew it.” Florence leaped to her feet. “This calls for a big hug. I should have guessed you were Tish’s daughter. You have the same colour of eyes.”

When Florence had finished kissing May on both cheeks she collapsed back down into her chair and took a large gulp of her wine.

“Where is Tish?” she demanded.

“She doesn’t know about the party and she doesn’t know I’m here.” May fiddled with her hairbrush.

“Right,” Florence acknowledged with a slow smile. “You still haven’t answered my question. Where is she?”

“On a cruise with my grandmother.”

“Here, let me.” Florence grabbed the brush from May and eased her hair away from her face. “What beautiful earrings.” She fingered one of them.

“They were a present from my mother.”

“Quite lovely,” Florence said before vigorously brushing May’s hair. “I used to brush Rebecca’s hair when she was a little girl but she won’t let me near it now. It’s all part of the growing up process, I suppose.

Do you have children?” she asked.

“I’m not married,” May replied.

“Doesn’t seem to make a difference these days,” Florence remarked. “What do you think of Vin Piace?”

“Rebecca’s fiancé?”

“Who told you they were engaged?”


“The little minx.” Florence smiled. “She’s always had a crush on poor old Vin, but he’s years older than her. I can assure you there is no arranged marriage, so that leaves the field free for you.”

“Sorry?” May paused, her lipstick in her hand.

“You and Vin, you’d be perfect for each other.”

“You didn’t come here to talk about me and Vin.” May recapped her lipstick with a firm twist, noting her heightened colour in the mirror.

“Actually I didn’t,” Florence looked less sure of herself. “I’ve got zillions of questions I want to ask you but I don’t know where to start and I’m scared you might think I’m being rude.”

“Can I ask you some questions?”

“Good idea. Fire away.”

“You knew my mother in the past?”

“Yes, the three of us used to go around together all the time.”

“There were three of you?”

“Did your mother not mention Lis

Gilbert?” Florence looked flustered.

May shook her head.

“I know nothing of my mother’s past. She would never talk about it.”

“The past is another country to some people.” Florence lapsed into silence.

“Is there anything you can tell me about my mother?”

“I suppose it wouldn’t do any harm.”

May clenched her fists, resisting the urge to tell Florence to stop playing hard to get.


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!