The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 17

The Pocket Novel cover for The Lombardi Emeralds with woman in a green dressing, man in a black shirt behind her on a seaside backdrop at sunset

The shutters had been closed, the curtains pulled and the lights dimmed, creating a velvet soft romantic atmosphere. Gentle music played in the background. May had never felt less romantic in her life.

SMay glanced across to the coffee table. A bottle of wine had been uncorked and placed in an ice bucket alongside two glasses.

“I suggest the first thing we do is sit down, pour ourselves a glass and drink some wine.”

She kicked off her sandals and massaged her feet. She didn’t trust herself to speak and the rhythmic movement of her fingers helped to calm her jangled nerves.

“Your poor feet,” Vin sympathised after putting a call through to the kitchen for supper to be delivered to the studio. “Go easy on them. None of what has happened is their fault.”

“But it is yours,” May hissed at him.

Vin raised his eyebrows at her.

“Perhaps you’d tell me what I’ve done?”

“It’s what you haven’t done.”

“What is bugging you now?”

“Why didn’t you tell me about your father?”

“My father?” Vin repeated slowly.

“Was it his idea to ask you to get me to stay on, to play the lover?”

A cautious look crossed Vin’s face.

“My father runs a garage. He doesn’t even know you.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t he used to be a policeman?” Before Vin could respond May continued. “In charge of bringing my mother to justice?”

“A moment, please . . . ” Vin cautioned.

“Here, you’d better take these.” May removed her earrings.

“May, listen to me.”

They’re part of the missing haul, aren’t they?”

When Vin wouldn’t accept the earrings she placed them on the coffee table.

“No wonder you knew what they were worth. It makes sense now.”

“May, please,” Vin implored, “give me a chance to put my side of the story.”

“You want stories? You can go to your father and tell him you have found the daughter of his jewel thief for him. Is that good enough for you?” May snatched up her glass and swallowed some wine.

“And you can wipe that triumphant smirk off your face.” She spilt some wine as she banged her glass back down on the table.

“You know you’re really not very good at being sophisticated, are you? Your hair has fallen out of its ridiculous bun thing.” Vin paused. “Actually dishevelled makes you look more human, less of an ice queen.”

May put a hand to her collapsed hairdo in an attempt to tuck stray strands back in place.

“I should give up,” Vin advised and held up a small dish of walnuts. “Here, have one of these, they might calm you down.” “I do not need calming down.” Vin placed the dish back on the table.

“As you’ve had your say, I’ll now have mine. My father has no interest in jewel thieves and neither have I. I admit was concerned for Sr Lombardi’s safety when I saw you hanging around outside the villa gates the day we met. I wanted to know what you were doing.

“Later, when I saw your earrings I was intrigued as to how they came into your possession. That is all. You do believe me, don’t you?”

“Give me one good reason.”

“I don’t tell lies.”

“Neither do I and my mother is not a jewel thief.”

“That’s why you have to stay on. To prove your mother’s innocence and to find out what happened all those years ago.”

May suspected she had backed herself into a corner.

“It’s all been such of a shock,” she admitted. “I am so close to my mother yet she never gave the slightest hint of any of this.”

“I sympathise. Anyone would feel the same in your situation.”

“Tish is one of the most honest people I know.”

“Let’s look at this logically. What do you think happened?”

“She must have run away before she could clear her name. Sofia Napoli said the culprits were never caught.”

“That’s my take on the situation, too.”

“What about your father? Doesn’t he know what happened?”

“If he did he wouldn’t say. He never talked about his work and this case happened over twenty-five years ago.”

“Surely there are records?”

“You could try the local newspaper office. There were full reports made out at the time.”

“I’m convinced Florence knows more than she is saying. And Lis Gilbert, the missing member of the group, what happened to her? She has completely disappeared. Why? And why would my mother never tell me anything about anything?”

Vin poured out more wine.

“You need a change of scenery,” he insisted. “The autodromo will be closed tomorrow. Auguste holds an annual garden party for the staff. This year it coincides with his birthday celebrations.”

“I’m not a member of staff.”

“Which is why you need not attend – I will take you for a drive along the coast and show you some of the local beauty spots.”

“Surely Auguste would expect you to be present at the party.”

“I’ll ask Florence to represent me.” There was a tap at the door. “Here’s our supper.” Vin took delivery of the tray. “It looks like the chef has prepared a Quattro Stagioni for us.”

“What’s that?”

“A Four Seasons pizza. Do you like Mozzarella or how about tomato and olives?”

Exhausted by the day’s events, May was forced to stifle a yawn behind the back of her hand.

“And,” Vin added, segmenting the pizza,

“I promise not to outstay my welcome.” He was as good as his word and left as soon as they finished their supper.

“We both need an early night. I’ll see myself out.”

As May was preparing for bed she heard a text ping into her inbox. Suspecting it may be from her mother asking why she had not been in touch she decided not to respond.

Turning out the light, she instantly fell asleep.


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!