The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 13

After a few moments’ thought, Florence spoke.

“Tish and Lis were a singing duo. They used to work the private party scene. They went to all the best places and mixed with the rich and famous. They called themselves I Bei Gemelli. The Beautiful Twins. Of course

they weren’t twins but they were beautiful.”

“Did you sing, too?” May asked.

“Me? Goodness – I can’t sing a note.”

“How did you meet them?”

“I always loved cars. One day their driver let them down. I stepped in and soon the arrangement became permanent. We went everywhere together. I did all their driving and I have to say it was a challenge.

“You would not believe the amount of luggage they had – equipment, costumes and personal belongings. They had the loan of a van but it was always breaking down because no-one had any money to get it properly repaired.

“There were lots of people, mostly young men – sort of self-appointed roadies – who were more than willing to help us. They made life much easier. Did I say something funny?” she demanded.

“The idea of you acting as nursemaid to my mother somehow doesn’t seem real.”

“You don’t know the half of it.” Florence warmed to her tale. “In those days I had flaming red hair, Tish had flowing chestnut hair and Lis . . . ” Florence sighed and paused in her hair brushing.

“What about Lis?” May asked.

“She was a natural blonde. Her father was Norwegian and her mother Italian. It was an exotic combination. Men would fall over themselves to help us out when things went wrong and Lis wasn’t above using her personal attributes to get us out of a fix.

“It worked every time. The same bunch of guys seemed to follow us around and I’m sure it was because she was so beautiful.” “What happened to Lis?”

“I met Andreas and,” an expression May did not understand crossed Florence’s face, “we split up. It was all rather sudden really, but we were young and still making our lives. Life draws you in different directions when you are young. Things happen then they can’t be undone.”

“Why do you think my mother doesn’t ever talk about her past?” May continued, intrigued.

“I don’t know. Your mother didn’t want to keep in touch with her old friends. Some people don’t.”

“And Lis?” May prompted.

“She married well. No surprises there. She was always ambitious. She wasn’t going to marry a garage mechanic. So,” Florence laid the hairbrush down on the dressing table, “there you have it.”

“Why did you contact my mother after so many years?”

“She wrote a letter of condolence when my Andreas died.” Florence lost some of her exuberance. “I don’t know how she found out but my world fell apart and I didn’t reply to her letter – something I later regretted.

“When I decided to arrange the eightieth birthday celebrations for Auguste I sent an invitation to the address she had put on the envelope. I wasn’t even sure she still lived there. I am so glad you responded. It is wonderful to see you and somehow it makes everything right.”

May was left wondering what had really gone wrong between the girls to cause such a rift when there was another knock at the door.

“The guests have started to arrive.” Vin was outside. “And Auguste is looking for you, Florence.”

“I must go and greet everyone.” Florence sounded relieved that Vin had interrupted them.

He ambled into the studio. His bow tie was again crooked and with a sigh of impatience May stood up.

“Come here,” she said.

“Why?” A faint look of alarm crossed Vin’s face.

“Because,” with a few deft movements of her fingers May straightened his collar and adjusted the wings of his tie, “it needed help.”

She stepped back to admire her handiwork. Mingled with the smell of shower gel was the ever-present faint aroma of motor oil.

“We had a last minute emergency at the autodromo and I dressed in a hurry, thank you.” Vin eased his tie into a more comfortable position. “What was Florence doing here?” he asked.

“Amongst other things, dispensing wine. Would you like a glass?” May indicated the bottle and turned back to her dressing table mirror.

“I’m not used to this sort of thing.” Vin perched uncomfortably on a dress stool.

“Parties or watching a female finish her make-up?” May glanced over her shoulder before taking pity on his discomfort. “I won’t be long.”

“Both, really,” Vin responded.

“Then let me distract you.”

“I think perhaps we had better be going.” Vin jumped to his feet in his hurry to leave.

“Florence and Auguste.” May rubbed a discreet drop of perfume on to her wrists and massaged the remainder into the base of her neck.

“What about them?”

“Are they an item?”

“Not in the way you mean.”

“How do you know what I mean?” May teased Vin, looking at him over the rim of her glass.

“You are asking if they are lovers.” She spluttered into her wine.

“I suppose that was rather obvious,” she admitted, wiping her lips with a tissue, “and you don’t have to answer. I’m merely

trying to get my head round things and it isn’t easy.”


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!