The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 28


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

Their coffee cooled on the table in front of them. After an agonising wait Auguste shook his head.

“I don’t know.”

“I have no wish to distress you,” May said, concerned her enquiries might prove too much for his delicate state of health.

Auguste held up a hand to silence her.

“I have to tell you something which until now has been a closely guarded secret but before I do I need your solemn promise you will not divulge the information to anyone else.”

“I am not sure I could keep such a promise.”

Auguste gave no indication that he had heard her reply.

With a deep sadness etched on his face he was looking across the lake. It reflected his mood, grey and sombre.

“I was out of the country at the time of Hector’s accident,” Auguste spoke in an expressionless voice, “and I did not learn the full details of what happened until it was all over.

“My son wasn’t running away with a stash of jewels, neither was he racing his car, nor did he have a pregnant female passenger with him. I have heard all the stories and none of them are true. None of them are even near the truth.”

“You don’t have to go on.” May put a hand on Auguste’s sleeve, the pain in her chest reminding her to breathe.

“He was actually the victim of a violent kidnapping.”

May gave a gasp as Auguste continued with his story.

“The villains knew I would pay a high ransom for my son’s release. What they did not bargain on was Andreas’s loyalty.”

“How was Florence’s husband involved?”

“In my absence, Andreas had become a role model to my son, a part I should have played had I not been selfishly wrapped up in my own grief. It is something I shall always regret.”

Auguste bowed his head. May was not sure if he would welcome physical contact but she squeezed his fingers.

Auguste held on to May’s hand

“When Andreas realised what had happened,” he went on, “he raced after the getaway car in an attempt to rescue my son. Andreas was an excellent driver. The kidnapper was not. In the ensuing chase the cars crashed.

“The rest you know. Everyone has at least one version of the story. What the locals don’t know they invent, but I have always remained silent on the matter. The affair was hushed up, not because I exerted any influence on the authorities but because they did not want news of the kidnap going public. Events did not reflect well on anyone and I knew nothing would bring my son back.”

“Does Florence know what happened?”

“Like everyone else she thinks what happened was a horrible accident. Her husband was injured but he survived. I chose not to tell Florence all the details and when Andreas recovered some semblance of health he agreed with me.”

“Why have you chosen to tell me your story now?” May asked.

“If you are . . . ” he paused “ . . . my granddaughter, I would like to meet up with your mother. She alone knows the truth.” Auguste passed a hand over his forehead. “Do you think your mother would consider a visit here? I would do my best to make her welcome.”

“From what I have learned she and her friend Lis were more or less accused of being jewel thieves.”

“I did not accuse them of anything. Your mother and her friend attracted much male attention from a group of young men who used them as natural cover for their activities.

“They gained easy access into exclusive venues by helping load and set up equipment, seeing to the car, making sure everything was working. Their presence raised no suspicion.”

“Are you saying they were the thieves?”

“Many years have passed.” Auguste’s voice faded. “Perhaps I have said too much.”

“Can you tell me anything about my earrings?”

A flash of lightning scarred the sky followed by a distant rumble of thunder. Rain pounded the terrace. A manservant entered the room as hastily as his dignity would allow.

“I said we were not to be interrupted,” Auguste snapped at him.

“I am so sorry, Signore Lombardi, but I have come to tell you there has been an accident at the autodromo.”

 

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!