The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 38

Tish exploded into a bout of unladylike laughter. Sofia glared at her before allowing a smile to creep across her face and she too broke into uncontrollable laughter. Auguste, who had maintained a dignified silence, sighed heavily.

“The older generation are supposed to set a good example to today’s youth,” he cautioned.

“You weren’t exactly a role model in your earlier days,” Sofia batted back. “Sorry,” she backtracked with her winsome smile, “you have every reason to be proud of all you have done with the autodromo and the young people you sponsor.”

“Your refreshments, sir.” A housemaid created a welcome interruption.

“Is Vin Piace Alberto Piace’s son?” Tish asked as they sorted out cups and plates.

“You’ve met Vin?” May could not disguise her surprise.

“He collected me from the airport.”


“After my flight landed, of course, May, do try to keep up.”

“Then he picked me up from the station,” Sofia butted in, “and in answer to your question, Tish, Vin is Alberto Piace’s son.”

“He seemed to know all about me.”

“Vin is Auguste’s right-hand man.”

Tish helped herself to another sandwich and a handful of mixed nuts.

“How do you stay so thin?” Sofia demanded.

“Because I lead a full and challenging life – you should try it some time.”

“I’ll have you know my days are full, thank you very much.”

May turned her head from side to side trying to keep up with the speed of their banter.

“How did Vin know which flight you were on?” she interrupted.

“Florence told him.”

“How did Florence know?”

“I told her.”

“You contacted Florence?”

“Now you’re getting the hang of it.” Tish beamed at her. “These mini prawns in pasta are seriously good.” She turned back to the spread on the coffee table in front of her.

“And have you tried those little lemon puffs? They are as light as air.” Sofia put a couple on her plate.

“Why doesn’t everyone eat first?” Auguste suggested. “May, did you have any breakfast?”

“A cup of tea.”

“You have to eat.” Tish looked appalled by this piece of news. “Everything will seem much better on a full stomach and you might not be so cross with me afterwards.”

“Auguste.” Sofia offered him a plate of peach flans. “Would you like one of these?”

“Thank you, no,” he declined. “My pleasure is to play the host. You know, this is the best of my birthday celebrations,” he added. “All I have to do is look at the three of you enjoying yourselves and I’m happy.”

Tish eventually leaned back with a satisfied sigh as Sofia brushed pastry crumbs off her elegant costume and dabbed her lips.

“Now come on out with it, Lis, time to ’fess up,” Tish insisted. “Poor May must be bursting with curiosity.”

“I don’t know where to start,” Sofia admitted.

“I’ll start you off,” Auguste said. Sofia tensed but gave him a brief nod of encouragement. “How did my wife’s emeralds come to be in May’s possession?” A deadly silence fell between Tish and Sofia.

“Go on.” Tish squeezed her friend’s hands. “I’m right with you.”

“I hid them in Tish’s bag,” Sofia mumbled, looking down at the ground.

Auguste leaned forward.

“Why did you do that?” he asked calmly.

“No excuse, I panicked. I thought if they were found in my possession I would have been suspected of their theft.”

“So you shifted the blame on to your friend?” Auguste continued with his line of questioning.

“I had to.” Sofia looked as though her action was the most natural thing in the world. “I was the main culprit. You see, loads of people heard me admiring the earrings. They couldn’t have known Hector would give them to me.”

“Hector gave them to you?” May repeated.

“It’s not a very good explanation, is it, even though it’s true?”

“She was so very beautiful,” Tish sighed, “and Hector was smitten.”


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!