The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 29

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

The circuit of the autodromo was a sea of flashing lights and swarming with high security vested officials as they battled with the heavy rain bouncing off the racetrack.

“What’s happened?” May grabbed the arm of a passing mechanic, but his knowledge of English was limited. He gestured with his arms then disappeared into the throng of officials.

There was no sign of Vin or Florence and Auguste had been whisked away by a uniformed official the moment they arrived. May tried to follow them by ducking under the cordon set up around the circuit but another official restrained her.

“No entry,” he said firmly.

The expression on the security guard’s face discouraged her from disregarding his orders.

“Rebecca,” she called out as the girl pushed past her.

A white-faced Rebecca stared blankly back at her. Her shirt was soaked and her hair hung in rats’ tails.

“You need to get dry.” May tugged at her arm in an attempt to get a reaction. “You’re shaking with cold.”

“I have to see . . . ” She shook May’s hand away.

“No entry,” the guard repeated.

“Inside,” May ordered Rebecca in a firm voice.

The office was deserted and had the appearance of having been abandoned in a hurry.

“Sit down.” May righted a chair that had fallen over before attempting to rub warmth into Rebecca’s lifeless hands.

Picking up a towel draped over the washbasin in the corner of the office, she dried Rebecca’s dripping hair. The rain had turned it such a deep rust May almost expected it to stain the towel.

“Can you tell me what happened?” she coaxed, unsure if Rebecca’s cheeks were wet from the rain or tears.

Incidente,” Rebecca said. “There’s been an accident?” Rebecca did not respond.

“On the track?” May persisted with her interrogation.

“My mother.” Rebecca’s voice was a hoarse croak.

“Florence was involved?” A quiver of alarm jolted May’s spine.

“She skid into barrier.”

“Here, drink this,” May poured out some coffee from the percolator and cupping Rebecca’s hands around the mug raised it to her lips.

Like a docile child Rebecca swallowed a mouthful of the liquid.

“There, that’s better,” May soothed, relieved when some colour returned to her pale cheeks.

A shadow moved in the doorway behind her. Vin gestured to May to join him in the corridor.

“I can’t get much sense out of Rebecca,” she confided.

Vin’s overalls dripped water on to the floor, encircling his feet in dark puddles. He shook his head, spraying raindrops over May’s face. She hardly noticed the discomfort.

“Florence and Rebecca argued,” he explained.

“Do you know what it was about?”

“It was Rebecca who drained my fuel tank.”


“I don’t know.”

“What’s happened to Florence?”

“She accosted me, saying she wanted to do the test drive on one of our high performance cars. She’s a difficult person to cross especially when she’s in one of her moods and before I could say anything she’d snatched the keys off their hook on the wall. She took the horseshoe bend too fast and with the wet conditions the car spun out of control and hit the barrier. She’s concussed and they’re taking her to hospital for a check-up.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

“Can you look after Rebecca until her grandmother arrives?”

May glanced over her shoulder. Rebecca had not moved.

“Where’s Auguste?” she asked.

“He wanted to remain on site but the doctor insisted he return to the villa. There’s nothing he can do here and he wasn’t looking well. I think the shock resurrected memories of Hector’s accident.” A bleeper requested Vin’s presence on the circuit. “I have to go.”

He leaned forward and brushed May’s cheek with a brief kiss. In the distance an emergency siren shattered the silence.

“You’d better go and find out what’s going on,” May urged, her face wet from where Vin’s hair had grazed her cheek. “I’ll take care of Rebecca.”

“Thank you,” he said again before striding off down the corridor.

“I am so sorry,” Rebecca hiccupped. She was still clutching her coffee mug.

May prised it out of her fingers and placed it on the shelf behind her.

“It doesn’t matter,” she assured Rebecca.

“I’m cold.” She shivered.

Wishing she had something for shock, May continued rubbing her hair as dry as she could manage on the small hand towel.


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!