The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 23

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

By now they had reached the villa. The austere brickwork of its peach-coloured stone was softened by the angle of the sun. A stern-faced woman stood on the steps blocking the main entrance.

“There’s no need for concern,” Rosamunde confided to May with a twinkle in her eye. “Alba goes home at sunset.”

“Contessa,” Alba chided, her face softening, “I have excellent hearing.”

“Good,” Rosamunde responded, “in that case perhaps you would get our guests some refreshments. What is on the menu for dinner tonight?”

“Proscuitto and salad, grilled trout followed by apricots and almonds baked in honey.”

“Perfect. Please bring up a bottle of white wine from the cellar and while we are waiting we’ll have some English tea. Would you like to go through to the terrace while I freshen up and see to Drago?”

“Who are these people?” she heard Alba interrogating Rosamunde as they disappeared inside.

“Old friends,” Rosamunde replied. “Now don’t make a fuss.”

May settled down in one of the cane chairs overlooking the bay far below.

“What do we do now?” she asked Vin who sat down beside her.

“You have an expression in your country – go with the flow.”

“Can we trust our hostess? I mean she says she’s a friend of Auguste’s, but we’ve no way of checking and she won’t let us use her telephone. That’s hardly normal behaviour, is it?”

“I have heard of the slightly eccentric Contessa Novelli but I had no idea this was where she lived.”

“Can’t you get us out of this ridiculous situation?”

“What do you suggest I do?”

“I don’t know but you got us into it.” May couldn’t stop herself from sounding grouchy.

“We can’t use the Contessa’s telephone without her permission. You say your mobile’s in the car?”


“In that case . . . ” Vin leaped to his feet.

“Where are you going?” May demanded.

“To fetch your mobile but I need to go now before it gets dark.”

Before May could stop him, Vin had exited through the open French windows and disappeared around the side of the villa.

May took a few moments out to catch her breath and think things through. Had she been the victim of a sophisticated kidnap plan? She jumped to her feet. If she were quick she might be able to catch up with Vin.

“Where are you going, signorina?” Alba appeared carrying a tray of tea things.

“My companion, Sr Piace . . . ” she began. “Has left,” Alba replied, “on the Contessa’s motor scooter.”

May’s legs refused to support her and she sank back into her cane chair.

“He’s left?”

“Do not worry,” Alba added with the ghost of a smile, “the Contessa is not riding pillion. She rarely uses her scooter now but it still has a small amount of fuel in the tank and it should be enough for Sr Piace to run his errand.”

“English tea, how lovely,” Rosamunde trilled from the doorway.

“I have laid out everything you need for your supper, Contessa,” Alba explained.

“Thank you. We can look after ourselves if you want to go home.” Rosamunde leaned forward and picked up a sweet biscuit. “Alba saves these for special occasions. She must like you.”

“She doesn’t know anything about me.” May followed Rosamunde’s example. Her pastry snack now seemed a long time ago.

“But I do.” Rosamunde leaned back in her seat and bit into her biscuit. “You’re Tish Delacourt’s daughter.”


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!