The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 31

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 conversation they had had many times before but Tish had remained resolutely silent on the subject.

“I can’t,” she said in a hollow voice, lowering her gaze.

May expelled a deep sigh.

“Can I ask questions?”

“Why couldn’t you leave well alone?” Tish’s reply came out as a low moan.

“Am I Hector Lombardi’s daughter?” Tish’s eyes snapped back to the screen.

“You’ve met Auguste?”

“Of course I’ve met him.”

“Did he say anything?” “About what?”

Tish shrugged.

“I don’t know.”

“If you mean the earrings, just about everyone has commented on them. Why didn’t you tell me they were real?”

“They’re not.” A look of panic crossed Tish’s face.

“Don’t fib.”

A solitary tear trickled down Tish’s face. She scrubbed it away with the back of her hand.

“You don’t understand,” she said quietly.

“Well, explain, then.”

“It was all so long ago . . . ” Tish’s voice faded away and she looked lost in thought.

“I can’t do this.”

May decided it was time to jerk her mother into action.

“I have some news for you. It may change your mind.”

Tish’s head shot up.


“It’s about Florence.”

“What about her?” “She’s had an accident.”

Tish sagged against her desk.

“Tish . . . Mother,” May began.

“I’m all right,” she insisted, flapping a hand in the direction of her screen, “and I didn’t mean what I said. Call me Tish. What’s happened to Florence?”

“The car she was driving at the autodromo spun out of control.”

“She’s not dead?”

“She’s in hospital.”

“Will she live?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break the new to you like this.” May took pity on her mother. “She’s concussed but otherwise she’s fine.”

May’s alarm deepened. Her mother really didn’t look well. A silence fell between them. Tish sipped water and attempted a frail smile.

“It’s all been such a shock,” she admitted, “coming home and finding you weren’t here. I contacted Archie Fisher and he told me the two of you had split and he had no idea were you were. I haven’t dared tell your grandmother about any of this.”

“How is Coco?” May’s conscience pricked her. Her grandmother had always been the sensitive one in the family.

“I’ve left her in Melbourne,” Tish replied.

“She didn’t come back with you?”

“She’s having such a good time I didn’t see the need. Besides, I had to fly home at short notice when Head Office recalled me.”

“Your meeting.” May had forgotten about it. “What happened?” Tish took a deep breath.

“Bookings are down. The market is going through a tough time. Cutbacks are necessary. I was a victim of the cutbacks.”

“Run that past me again.” May wasn’t sure she had heard Tish correctly.

“I’ve lost my job,” Tish replied in a slow voice.

The colour drained from May’s face as she looked at her mother.

“They can’t do that to you.”

“They can and they have – effective immediately.”

“You’re out of work?”

“You’ve got it in one.”

“What are you doing to do?”

“I’ll survive. I have contacts in the business. It’s time to call in some favours,” Tish replied with a trace of her old self.

“If nothing comes up I can always go out on the road again. Don’t worry about me.”

“Coco’s not stranded in Australia, is she?”

“No, she’s staying on there for a while. She likes the lifestyle and it’s helping her recovery. She’s rooming with a friend so no issues there and she can come home any time she likes. I made sure she had an open

air ticket.”

Tish attempted another smile but it didn’t quite work. May suspected her nerves were in shreds. Like most artists she had a fragile ego and the loss of her job would have been a severe body blow.

“Would you like me to come home?” May offered. “Right now I’m not popular around here, I’ve been stirring up old memories. I don’t think anyone would be too worried if I left.”

May pushed all thoughts of Vin Piace to the back of her mind. Her mother came first.

“No, don’t come home.”

“Why not? You didn’t want me coming out here in the first place, rooting around in your past. I’ve offered you the perfect get out.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Tish acknowledged. “The time for secrets is over.”

“You mean . . . ” May swallowed. “What exactly do you mean?”

“I’m coming out to see you.”


“I’ll be on the first available flight and,” Tish added before she ended the call, “I promise I’ll tell you everything.”


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!