The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 25


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

“It was a long time ago and my memory is not what it used to be,” Rosamunde admitted.

May bit down her disappointment.

“You see there was so much happening at the time and I have to admit in those days I was rather selfish. We were all very self-centred. I shudder with shame when I remember the way we behaved.

“We didn’t notice what was going on around us. We were wrapped up in our little world but I can’t help feeling some of the people who lost their jewels deserved to be robbed and I include myself. It’s not a nice thing to say but I am afraid it is true.”

“No-one seems to remember much about what happened,” May admitted.

“Florence was on the scene at the time and she was at the centre of things,” Rosamunde pointed out.

“She says she’s told me all she does know.”

A loud explosion outside made them both jump and caused Drago to bark and run round in excited circles.

“That sounds like my scooter announcing its comeback. Perhaps you’d better check your handsome companion hasn’t come to grief.”

Vin was standing beside an ancient motor scooter. He unhooked May’s bag off the handlebars. The scooter lurched sideways as it lost its balance.

“This thing’s lethal.” Vin tried to straighten it. “It nearly had me over more than once.” He lodged it under an awning and covered it with a tarpaulin. “I secured the car and I checked on the garage. It won’t be open until nine o’clock tomorrow morning so if Rosamunde meant what she said, we are going to have to stay overnight.”

“Not if I have anything to do with it.” May waved her mobile in the air. “I can’t get a signal. This is too ridiculous for words. We have to get back tonight.”

“Do we?”

“Of course we do. How can you even ask such a thing?”

“You need time away from the villa and the Contessa is a nice lady. It wouldn’t do any harm to stay over.”

Drago came running towards them, nipping at their ankles. Vin scooped him up.

“Now we are here,” he said, “we may as well enjoy ourselves. Wouldn’t you say, Drago?”

The dog nuzzled his ear.

“I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on,” May protested. “It’s almost as if you arranged to break down.”

“You didn’t think I deserted you on purpose, did you?”

May flushed, uncertain how to respond.

“It crossed my mind,” she admitted. “I mean, Alba and Rosamunde disappeared, you rode off on a moped. I’ve got no idea where I am.”

“And you thought you were being held hostage?” Vin’s face lit up with amusement. “I’d love to know why. Did you think I was after your emeralds? I mean, with you locked up here I could have raced back to the villa and stolen them.”

“Now you’re being ridiculous.”

“And you’re not thinking straight. An overnight stay in this beautiful villa is exactly what you need – a complete change of scenery.”

“Come along,” Rosamunde commanded from the terrace, “your tea is getting cold.”

“I meant what I said,” Vin repeated. “We work together. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” May nodded.

“And no more talk about kidnap plots.”

May realised it would be counterproductive not to trust Vin.

“I do have something to tell you,” she said.

“Yes?”

“Rosamunde knew my mother.”

“Now that is a lead.”

“I don’t like being kept waiting,” the Contessa’s voice rang out again.

“We’d best do as our hostess says.” Vin urged May towards the terrace, “Let’s hope she lets slip something else of importance.”

The evening shadows lengthened as, over supper, Rosamunde revealed details of her past life when she and Migoleto travelled the world.

“He was a scoundrel,” she said, “but I loved him and in his way he loved me, but he left me far too soon and with dreadful debts.”

“So you opened up the villa to visitors?” May asked.

“I had to do something after he died. Luckily the villa was in my name and this area is very popular with tourists. I guarantee complete discretion, so,” she added with the familiar naughty twinkle in her eye, “I am always in demand. Any secrets you have are safe with me.”

“We are not hiding any secrets,” Vin said with a stern note in his voice.

“May has a secret in her past.”

“One I know nothing about,” May insisted.

“But you are learning and that is why you are here, is it not?”

“We had no idea of your connection to my mother.”

“I thought that was the reason you wanted to stay over.”

“That was your suggestion,” Vin broke in.

“Maybe it was.” Rosamunde sounded supremely unconcerned by his allegation.

“It was,” May affirmed. “Why did you want us to stay over?”

Rosamunde shifted uncomfortably.

“If you must know I get lonely. I don’t get out too often these days.” A sad look crossed her face. “Darlings, it has been absolutely wonderful having your company over dinner but if you really want to leave, I suppose I can’t stop you.”

May and Vin exchanged an awkward glance.

“We’ll stay.” It was Vin who made the decision.

 

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!