The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 26

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

Rosamunde clapped her hands in delight.

“Wonderful. Please avail yourself of all the facilities. I need my beauty sleep so I will retire to my room. Enjoy the rest of your evening together and finish the wine. It’s from a local vineyard and I’d like to know what you think of it.

“If it meets with your approval I will offer it to my summer guests. You will find everything you need on the first floor. Choose whichever rooms you like. They are all en suite and fully furnished.”

“She’s quite an act, isn’t she?” Vin said after Rosamunde and Drago had departed.

“She told me she and her husband were friends of Auguste. They moved in the same circles, the party set, and my mother and Lis used to entertain them.”

“Did they indeed? It’s another lead, isn’t it?”

“I asked Rosamunde about the jewel robberies and she said everyone was a suspect.”

“I don’t think we are going to get any more out of her now she’s retired for the night.” Vin held up the wine bottle. “We’d better finish this if we’re going to do a report.”

The bubbles sparkled in the reflection of the candles Rosamunde had lit and placed on the table.

“Do you regret your decision to come out to Bella Acqua?” Vin’s question took May by surprise.

She toyed thoughtfully with the stem of her wine glass.

“Whatever secret my mother was hiding it concerns me and it is time I knew about it. I don’t know if she was ever going to tell me what happened, so no I don’t regret it, whatever the consequences.”

“Good – because I don’t regret meeting you, despite your suspicions about me being an agent of my father.”

Vin edged his chair to May’s. Gentle raindrops fell, washing the leaves of Rosamunde’s red and pink potted geraniums a deep green.

“Please . . . ” Not sure of his intentions May backed away from Vin. “I don’t need any more complications in my life.”

“You’ve gone through a lot of emotion recently, haven’t you? Why don’t you take Rosamunde’s advice and enjoy what the evening has to offer? Her guests pay to stay here. We’re getting the full treatment free.”

As an actor, May had heard many such lines delivered both on and off the stage and she could spot a phoney a mile off. Up until now she had thought Vin was genuine. She twirled her glass between her fingers.

“I know that.”

“But?” Vin prompted.

“Running out of petrol? Even Rosamunde saw through that one.” Vin frowned.

“You’re right.”

“You mean you arranged to break down on purpose?”

“I can’t help feeling the tank has been tampered with.”

May shook her head in bewilderment.

“Who would do such a thing and why?”

“I wish I knew.” Vin stood up, “but as I’m fresh out of ideas I’ll see if I can find an umbrella.”


“We are going to take a stroll through the gardens before we turn in for the night. You’d best blow out the candles. We don’t want to set the place on fire.”

Vin and May stood on the balustrade overlooking the pinprick lights of Acqua Maggiore studding the hazy night air. Gentle drops of rain pattered on their golfing umbrella. Music drifted up from the valley below.

“It’s strange to think perhaps my mother stood on this very spot.”

Vin’s fingers touched May’s.

“Maybe you should let the past go.”

“It’s all very well for you to say that but you know who your parents are.”

“I’m sure your mother had her reasons for not telling you about your father.”

“I have a right to know.” May pounded the balustrade with her bunched fist. “It’s not too much to ask, is it?”

Vin placed his arm around her shoulders.

“You’re shivering,” he said, his body warm beside hers, “and the rain’s turning heavy. We’d better go inside.”

May mounted the creaky wooden stairs to the first floor while Vin locked up.

“I don’t suppose it matters which room we take,” he paused as he followed her on to the landing and opened the nearest door. “Sleep well.” He kissed her on both cheeks.

May chose the room next to Vin’s and as she closed the door her bag vibrated against her shoulder. The mobile signal had come too late for her to arrange transport back to the villa. With a sigh of irritation she inspected her texts and, with a sense of growing dismay, she read the one from her mother.


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!