The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 19

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

“There you are,” Florence greeted her after she returned to the studio at Villa Lombardi. “Lunch is a buffet on the terrace and I’ve come to collect you.”

May had forgotten to eat breakfast and her stomach reminded her that she was hungry.

“Will Sr Lombardi be present?” she asked.

“Auguste is resting in preparation for this afternoon’s garden party. I understand you and Vin are giving it a miss because he’s taking you for a drive?”

“He thought I should see some of the local scenery.”

“He has asked me to deputise in his absence.” Florence cast May a speculative look. “Where have you been all morning?” “Down at the records office.”

“What were you doing there?”

“I’m trying to find out more about the jewel robberies.”

“And did you discover anything?”

“Not much more than I already knew.”

A group of people was standing around the terrace chatting. To her relief May saw they were mainly autodromo employees, most of whom gave her a friendly smile.

“It’s a holiday today.” Florence picked up two plates. “And with the fine weather we are all making the best of our day off. Tuck in.” She indicated the table groaning with local delicacies.

“Do you know why Lis and Tish split up?” May asked as she and Florence sat down on two of the garden chairs.

Florence bit into a breadstick.

“I can tell you why I split with them. It was Andreas,” she said. “Before he worked for Auguste, he was a chauffeur for a businessman and I kept bumping into him all over the place.

“When the girls were performing I had time to kill, so Andreas and I would go for a walk. A walk became a drink and a drink became a meal. One day,” Florence paused. “I do not know what was wrong with Lis; she could be very artistic.

“Looking back, I think she wanted an excuse for a fight with someone and she chose me.

“There were stories she had a high profile boyfriend and the business of the burglaries unsettled her. She said they were bad for her image. I’m afraid she was very self-centred.”

“Was the boyfriend Hector Lombardi?”

“It is possible,” Florence acknowledged.

“Hector wasn’t involved with my mother, was he?”

“Hector liked blonde girl friends. He wasn’t interested in Tish or me.”

“And your argument with Lis – what was that about?” May prompted.

“I’m not sure now.” Florence turned her attention away from May as if reluctant to look her in the eye.

“Can’t you remember anything?” May asked.

Florence nodded.

“I will tell you what I do remember. After our argument Lis stormed off. Andreas, who couldn’t help overhearing what had happened, seized his chance and asked me to marry him. It was totally out of the blue.

“You see, Sr Lombardi had offered him a job. Andreas was unhappy in his current employment. His boss didn’t treat him well so he decided to move on. I was so annoyed with Lis I accepted Andreas’s proposal. I hate to admit I left the girls in the lurch but I was growing disenchanted with the lifestyle.

“The open road has its challenges and we were always driving to another party and Lis was growing increasingly difficult.”

“Did you tell Tish and Lis you were leaving?”

“I left a note for them. I didn’t trust myself to talk to Lis after the way things were left between us.”

“I see.”

“I think that is probably why your mother did not keep in touch with me. I behaved badly.”

“So you moved here?”

“Within a short time Hector had his accident, I Bei Gemelli split up and that part of my life was over.”

“Vin says my earrings are genuine emeralds and diamonds.”

“What can I say?” Florence sounded evasive. “You could have them valued, I suppose.”

“Vin also says they are part of the Lombardi collection.”


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!